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Why Feeling Embarrassed Is a Gift but Not a Burden

Why Feeling Embarrassed Is a Gift but Not a Burden

Embarrassment can strike at any time.

It might be a glass of wine you’ve knocked over, accidentally scratching someone’s iPhone, or even standing on the paw of a friend’s dog!

Careless mistakes like these, can rapidly induce high levels of personal embarrassment.

However…

Embarrassment is a natural response. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

    That’s right. It’s perfectly natural to feel and look embarrassed when you’ve made a blunder.[1]

    Think of it like this: Embarrassment is a non-verbal way of saying that you’re sorry. It also clearly indicates to other people that you don’t normally make this mistake, and you’re certainly not comfortable with it.

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    Furthermore, researchers have found that people who are prone to feeling and expressing embarrassment are regarded by others as trustworthy. They’re also more likely to be forgiven for any incident/mistake, than someone who shows no signs of embarrassment.[2]

    It’s fair to say that embarrassment makes us feel bad. However, this feeling can act as a prompter, so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. In other words, embarrassment can be an effective learning tool.

    Embarrassment shows people that you care.

    As mentioned above, embarrassment can be a valuable tool in learning how to avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly.

    “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Rita Mae Brown

    Embarrassment can also indicate your emotional openness.

    For example, if you blush easily, this immediately indicates to other people that you’re a sensitive person. And given the choice between dealing with a cold-hearted person, or a sensitive person, I’m sure you can guess who the vast majority of us would choose.

    Personal interactions are vitally important in this world. So, rather than trying to hide your blushes, recognize them as a healthy response to embarrassing situations.

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    So, why not make embarrassment your advantage?

    Are you ready to learn the secrets of transmuting embarrassment into its positive counterpart?

    As you’ll see… it’s like turning lead into gold.

    1. When you stay cool in awkward moments, you’re impressive.

    You’ve just started a new job as a manager at a local convenience store. And you’re keen to build a good impression with your staff. Unfortunately for you, the customer from hell has just walked through the door!

    They approach you and immediately begin to aggressively complain about the store, the staff – and even you. It’s a scenario that could easily see you crumble, and lose face with your new staff.

    Luckily, you manage to keep your cool (at least on the outside), and you deal confidently and decisively with the complainer. Your new team are impressed by your calmness and ability to quickly react to a difficult situation.

    2. When you laugh at your mistakes, you look confident.

    Needing a break from your home, you’ve chosen to take your family to Starbucks for some drinks. Your order a couple of lattes, a frappucino and an iced tea. The drinks are prepared and placed on a tray for you to take them to your table.

    As you make your way across the café, you accidentally catch one of your feet on a table leg. The collision is enough to throw you off balance – and for the drinks to slide off the tray and onto the floor!

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    It’s an embarrassing situation, for sure.

    Fortunately, you have a well-developed sense of humor, and you’re able to see the funny side in the incident. Instead of getting angry by the event, you’re able to laugh it off. It’s an attractive trait, and one that will likely lead you to getting the drinks replaced for free!

    3. When you’re blushing, you build social bonds.

    You’re no social butterfly, but you’ve agreed to go along to a friend’s housewarming party. Before arriving, you start to feel apprehensive about meeting new people.

    Your friend greets you at their door, asks you to come in, and then (to your horror) starts introducing you to a dozen or more people that you’ve never seen before. Your natural shyness is easy to spot, as your face is blushing, and you’re struggling to keep eye contact with everyone you’re introduced to.

    Now, you may regard your behavior as a bad thing, but to the people meeting you, they’re likely to see you in a favorable light. For example, they’ll probably see you as a sensitive and sympathetic person.

    And one other thing… Researchers have found that ‘blushers’ are better at relationships – as they have higher levels of monogamy and trustworthiness.[3]

    4. When you’re very aware of the first-time of something, you do better.

    You’ve just passed your driving test, and for the first time, you’ll be able to drive on your own (without the aid of an instructor). You’re uneasy and nervous about taking your first solo drive. In this tense mental and emotional state, you’ll have heightened senses which will lead to you take extra care and caution.

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    It’s a similar situation when you start a new job. You’re likely to go out of your way to ensure that you don’t make any mistakes – or make a fool out of yourself on your first day. Use this ‘first-time awareness’ to keep you clear from embarrassing situations, or at least to deal quickly and effectively with these situations.

    Just remember that this state should not be your norm. In day-to-day life, you should be relaxed and composed.

    5. When you accepting and enjoy the inevitable, you have a better time.

    It’s your 30th birthday, and your partner has booked a surprise visit to a comedy show.

    While you love comedy, you hate attention.

    As the show moves into full gear, you have a gut feeling that the next comedian is going to pick on you. And he does! He’s heard it’s your birthday, and now he has a whole list of jokes to go through – each of them mocking you relentlessly. You’d love to walk out, but hey, you’re supposed to be having fun!

    The trick to dealing with this embarrassing situation is to accept that it’s happening, and there’s little point fighting against it. Once you shift into this mental state, suddenly the situation won’t seem as bad – and won’t appear to last as long.

    I hope that I’ve been able to give you a fresh perspective on embarrassment.

    You don’t need to be afraid of it. Instead, you can use it as a positive weapon in all of your interpersonal relationships.

    Reference

    [1] Independent: Why Embarrassment Is a Healthy Emotion
    [2] Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Flustered and Faithful: Embarrassment as a Signal of Prosociality
    [3] WikiHow: How to Avoid Blushing

    More by this author

    Craig J Todd

    UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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    Last Updated on February 11, 2021

    20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

    20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

    Dreams — Mysterious, bewildering, eye-opening and sometimes a nightmarish living hell. Dreams are all that and much more.

    Here are 20 amazing facts about dreams that you might have never heard about:

    Fact #1: You can’t read while dreaming, or tell the time

      If you are unsure whether you are dreaming or not, try reading something. The vast majority of people are incapable of reading in their dreams.

      The same goes for clocks: each time you look at a clock it will tell a different time and the hands on the clock won’t appear to be moving as reported by lucid dreamers.

      Fact #2: Lucid dreaming

      There is a whole subculture of people practicing what is called lucid or conscious dreaming. Using various techniques, these people have supposedly learned to assume control of their dreams and do amazing things like flying, passing through walls, and traveling to different dimensions or even back in time.

      Want to learn how to control your dreams? You can try these tips:

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      Lucid Dreaming: This Is How You Can Control Your Dreams

      Fact #3: Inventions inspired by dreams

      Dreams are responsible for many of the greatest inventions of mankind. A few examples include:

      • The idea for Google -Larry Page
      • Alternating current generator -Tesla
      • DNA’s double helix spiral form -James Watson
      • The sewing machine -Elias Howe
      • Periodic table -Dimitri Mendeleyev

      …and many, many more.

      Fact #4: Premonition dreams

      There are some astounding cases where people actually dreamt about things which happened to them later, in the exact same ways they dreamed about.

      You could say they got a glimpse of the future, or it might have just been coincidence. The fact remains that this is some seriously interesting and bizarre phenomena. Some of the most famous premonition dreams include:

      • Abraham Lincoln dreamt of His Assassination
      • Many of the victims of 9/11 had dreams warning them about the catastrophe
      • Mark Twain’s dream of his brother’s demise
      • 19 verified precognitive dreams about the Titanic catastrophe

      Fact #5: Sleep paralysis

      Hell is real and it is called sleep paralysis. It’s the stuff of true nightmares. I’ve been a sleep paralysis sufferer as a kid and I can attest to how truly horrible it is.

      Two characteristics of sleep paralysis are the inability to move (hence paralysis) and a sense of an extremely evil presence in the room with you. It doesn’t feel like a dream, but 100% real. Studies show that during an attack, sleep paralysis sufferers show an overwhelming amygdala activity. The amygdala is responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct and the emotions of fear, terror and anxiety. Enough said!

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      Fact #6: REM sleep disorder

      In the state of REM (rapid-eye-movement) stage of your sleep your body is normally paralyzed. In rare cases, however, people act out their dreams. These have resulted in broken arms, legs, broken furniture, and in at least one reported case, a house burnt down.

      Fact #7: Sexual dreams

      The very scientifically-named “nocturnal penile tumescence” is a very well documented phenomena. In laymen’s term, it simply means that you get a stiffy while you sleep. Actually, studies indicate that men get up to 20 erections per dream.

      Fact #8: Unbelievable sleepwalkers

        Sleepwalking is a very rare and potentially dangerous sleep disorder. It is an extreme form of REM sleep disorder, and these people don’t just act out their dreams, but go on real adventures at night.

        Lee Hadwin is a nurse by profession, but in his dreams he is an artist. Literally. He “sleepdraws” gorgeous portraits, of which he has no recollection afterwards. Strange sleepwalking “adventures” include:

        • A woman having sex with strangers while sleepwalking
        • A man who drove 22 miles and killed his cousin while sleepwalking
        • A sleepwalker who walked out of the window from the third floor, and barely survived

        Fact #9: Dream drug

        There are actually people who like dreaming and dreams so much that they never want to wake up. They want to continue on dreaming even during the day, so they take an illegal and extremely potent hallucinogenic drug called Dimethyltryptamine. It is actually only an isolated and synthetic form of the chemical our brains produce naturally during dreaming.

        Fact #10 Dream-catcher

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          The dream-catcher is one of the most well-known Native American symbols. It is a loose web or webs woven around a hoop and decorated with sacred objects meant to protect against nightmares.

          Fact #11: Increased brain activity

          You would associate sleeping with peace and quiet, but actually our brains are more active during sleep than during the day.

          Fact #12: Creativity and dreams

          As we mentioned before, dreams are responsible for inventions, great artworks and are generally just incredibly interesting. They are also “recharging” our creativity.

          Scientists also say that keeping a dream diary helps with creativity.

          In rare cases of REM disorder, people actually don’t dream at all. These people suffer from significantly decreased creativity and perform badly at tasks requiring creative problem solving.

          Fact #13: Pets dream too

            Our animal companions dream as well. Watch a dog or a cat sleep and you can see that they are moving their paws and making noises like they were chasing something. Go get ’em buddy!

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            Fact #14: You always dream—you just don’t remember it

            Many people claim that they don’t dream at all, but that’s not true: we all dream, but up to 60% of people don’t remember their dreams at all.

            Fact #15: Blind people dream too

            Blind people who were not born blind see images in their dreams but people who were born blind don’t see anything at all. They still dream, and their dreams are just as intense and interesting, but they involve the other senses beside sight.

            Fact #16: In your dreams, you only see faces that you already know

              It is proven that in dreams, we can only see faces that we have seen in real life before. So beware: that scary-looking old lady next to you on the bus might as well be in your next nightmare.

              Fact #17: Dreams tend to be negative

              Surprisingly, dreams are more often negative than positive. The three most widely reported emotions felt during dreaming are anger, sadness and fear.

              Fact #18: Multiple dreams per night

              You can have up to seven different dreams per night depending on how many REM cycles you have. We only dream during the REM period of sleep, and the average person dreams one to two hours every night.

              Fact #19: Gender differences

              Interestingly, 70% of all the characters in a man’s dream are other men, but women’s dream contain an equal amount of women and men. Also men’s dreams contain a lot more aggression. Both women and men dream about sexual themes equally often.

              Fact #20: Not everyone dreams in color

              As much as 12% of people only dream in black and white.

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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