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Embarrassment is usually associated with negative events, such as making mistakes in social situations or at work. What can make it particularly difficult to deal with is that embarrassment often shows on the outside. Blushing, looking down and covering your face with your hands are all typical signs of the feeling, and are often automatic reactions. Yet, could embarrassment be a positive thing?

Genuine and Trustworthy

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that feelings of embarrassment are often signs that a person is genuine and trustworthy: "...although people may feel bad when left red-faced, the trait has many positive connotations." It's not necessarily that people who don't get embarrassed never make mistakes, rather that they don't really care.

Consider a situation where two coworkers assigned to the same project find they've made a big mistake that will be difficult to fix. One is mortified, saying they can't believe they could make such a stupid mistake and feeling guilty for the damage it could cause the company. The other acts coolly, shrugging it off and saying it will be fine. Which seems the more considerate of the two?

Controlling Embarrassment

That said, becoming embarrassed too often and too severely can have negative consequences. Many introvert types find that they're often embarrassed, which makes them less willing to engage with other people and be confident at work. A happy medium is to recognize embarrassment and acknowledge mistakes, but not let that stop you from taking calculated risks. The alternative, which is never being embarrassed or acknowledging that mistakes happen, leads to an inconsiderate and selfish personality. As Susan Cain notes in her book on introversion, Quiet, when it comes to embarrassment, "It's better to mind too much than to mind too little."

A person who's embarrassed cares about how they act in social situations. They're aware of expectations and are self-conscious when they know they've broken them. Many people lament their own bouts of embarrassment but perhaps could learn to embrace these feelings. These are signs that they're socially intelligent individuals who care what others think about them. Indeed, embarrassment is often linked to feelings of pride or lack thereof. Perceived loss of face when a person's pride is damaged can also be a reflection of their personal level of self-respect.

Accepting Slip-Ups

No one is perfect. Even great presidents, movie stars, and athletes make occasional mistakes. In fact, it's those that admit they're wrong and apologize to those they have harmed through error that people tend to respect the most. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" can be a good adage to live by if considered as a measured level of risk-taking. Putting yourself out there to be scrutinized by bosses, co-workers, friends or family is scary, but it's part of growing as a person.

Being aware of physiological responses can help you to understand what it means to be embarrassed and how to keep it to a healthy level. Blushing can't be helped. It happens because your nervous system responds to perceived embarrassment and causes blood vessels to widen. This causes a reddening of the face which many people feel only worsens the impact of an embarrassing situation.

Accept that this is a natural reaction that can't be helped, and is nothing to be ashamed of. It simply means you care enough to have a reaction when you've made a mistake. Recognize any other nervous tics you may have, such as turning your head down. This can look passive, and as a natural reaction is also okay. Just ensure you're not doing it excessively and making yourself feel worse about the situation than necessary. Accept you've made an embarrassing error, then hold your head up high and decide how you're going to fix it.

Social Contexts

If you find yourself embarrassed more often than you'd like, identify situations where you feel this way. Perhaps you feel you say the wrong things on dates, or make more mistakes when you're stressed at work. By pro-actively looking at ways to avoid failure in the future, embarrassing situations can be avoided in the first place. Practicing calming exercises when you're overwhelmed can be a great way of leveling stress to avoid losing focus, for example.

Embarrassment may have become part of human psychology as a means of maintaining order in social situations. As people developed complex societies over time, it became necessary to enforce certain rules to ensure social cohesion. Eventually, these became the laws and social norms we live by today. When we perceive ourselves as trespassing these rules, embarrassment can occur. This reaction is an opportunity to recognize mistakes, learn from them, and try to avoid repeating them for the sake of society as a whole.

Embarrassment is a powerful emotion, and one people often try to avoid at all costs. However, it's good to embrace the knowledge that it can have a positive effect on the way you live your life. Learn from mistakes and remain considerate of the effects your actions have on others. You'll be a far more productive member of society than someone who never feels embarrassed or acknowledges their errors. Embarrassment can be a good thing, just make sure it's not stopping you from achieving your full potential.



An anxiety attack is a frightening experience.  Your heart races, your breath becomes short, and you feel a sense of dread -- even if you have no reason to.  You may not always be able to avoid an anxiety attack, but there are steps you can take to calm yourself down and feel better during one.  One of these ways is through grounding yourself to the present.

Grounding yourself to the present is helpful because people often feel anxious about things that happened in the past or will happen in the future.  By reminding yourself that you are in the present, where nothing can hurt you, you can help yourself overcome the attack.  The easiest way to achieve this is to focus on your senses and how they are experiencing the world around you.  Not only will this help to keep you in the present, but it will also help to distract your thoughts away from the anxiety attack.

First, focus on what you are seeing.  If you are in a room, notice what color the walls are, how many windows there are, and what sorts of decorations might be hanging on the walls.  See if there is anything unusual or interesting about the room you are in.  If it helps, you can say what you notice out loud.

Next, focus on listening.  It's easy for many people to become so distracted by tasks or entertainment that they don't stop to listen to the ambiance of a room.  Is there a clock ticking?  Water dripping from a fountain or fish tank?  Maybe there is noise coming from outside.  Try to listen to as much as you can until you can't notice anything else.

Now move on to your sense of smell.  Although not always the case, different rooms, buildings, and locations often have a unique scent to them.  Is there anything unique about the smell of where you are?  Perhaps you can smell food, or maybe furniture polish or clean laundry.

Finally, if you have improved so far, you can try to explore with your sense of touch.  Your hands are almost always touching something.  Maybe the bed, a chair, a wall, or your clothes.  How would you describe the texture of what you are feeling?  Soft?  Hard?  Smooth?  Fuzzy?  Feel its temperature as well.

Engaging all your senses like this should take a few moments.  Hopefully, by the time you've finished, you'll feel better.  Remember, if you feel anxious often and it's interfering with your life, you may want to see a doctor for other treatment methods. 

Anxiety and panic disorders are chronic conditions that can make it difficult to live a normal life, hold down a job or even leave the house. Bad habits can trigger anxiety, leading to a distressing cycle that keeps you stuck and can even lead to other mental health problems. Breaking these bad habits can be the starting point for beating chronic anxiety and reclaiming your life.

Shallow Breathing

Shallow and fast breathing leads to hyperventilation and causes a wide range of symptoms, including breathlessness, choking sensations, chest pain, muscle weakness and tingling in the lips, fingers and legs.  Hyperventilation can trigger panic attacks and is a common cause, as well as a symptom, of anxiety. Retraining your breathing and learning to take slow, deep breaths can take time, as bad breathing habits are hard to break.

Avoidance of Triggers

Avoiding triggers that cause or worsen the symptoms of anxiety is a natural reaction, but it can make the problem worse. For example, if large crowds of people make you feel anxious, it's natural to avoid busy shopping malls, birthday parties and other social events. However, when you avoid doing something you're afraid of, the fear tends to get bigger and stronger.

Exposure therapy can be useful for many people who use avoidance to cope with anxiety. Exposure therapy is often combined with other cognitive therapies and works by gradually increasing your exposure to the situations or objects you're afraid of. The therapist will help to support and encourage you throughout the process.

Excessive Worrying

Excessive worrying is a common problem, especially for people with anxiety disorders. Some people worry about specific things or events, while others worry continuously about many different things.

Worrying about things that are beyond your control makes you feel helpless and worsens the symptoms of anxiety. Sometimes, identifying and labeling your worries can be enough to make them lose their power. Writing your worries down or talking them over with a friend or therapist can also help to put things into perspective.

Watching the News

Focusing on negative events leads to negative thoughts and feelings. Positive stories rarely make the news headlines, which means that watching or reading the news often makes anxiety worse.

Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to avoid the news completely. Social media and other online platforms produce a steady stream of negative news stories, making it difficult to combat chronic anxiety. Limiting your exposure to news coverage is one of the best things you can do when trying to overcome anxiety.

Eating the Wrong Foods

Diet plays an important role in the prevention of anxiety and panic attacks. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential for good mental health. It also helps to prevent nutritional deficiencies, which can sometimes be responsible for anxiety-like symptoms.

Some foods can even cause anxiety. Food and drink containing caffeine and some artificial additives are well-known for making anxiety worse, but any food that causes a reaction can be a trigger. If you believe certain foods could be triggering your anxiety, try keeping a food diary to look for patterns.

Finally, anxiety can be caused or made worse by negative beliefs and distorted thought processes. Changing these beliefs and thoughts can be extremely difficult, so it's usually best to seek the help of a therapist. Cognitive and talking therapies can make a big difference and help to speed up your recovery.


Boundaries are important for keeping relationships healthy and happy. If you don't feel protected, respected, or listened to, it might be time to examine yours. Here are four boundaries you need if you want to improve your relationships.

1. Protect your time

Time is precious and once it's gone, you can't get it back. It's important that you value your time so that others will as well. If you stop what you're doing every time they text, call, or want to hang out, you're not respecting your own time. When people learn you'll cater to them and their needs, they may take advantage. They will begin to expect you there when it suits them. By not enforcing this boundary, you may find certain people becoming upset when you're not at their beck and call. By not setting this boundary you may find that you have no time for your personal projects, self-care, and even your job. Do you have a needy friend who texts non-stop or calls while you're at work? It's time to put your foot down and tell your friend you can't talk on the phone while at work and that if her texts go unanswered for a while it's because you're working. If other people lack boundaries, it's up to you to enforce them if you want healthy relationships.

2. Make sure you're getting and not just giving

In any healthy relationship, there should be a balance between giving and taking. If you do most of the giving, while the other person does most of the taking, this is an unhealthy relationship. There are going to be times when one person gives or takes more because things aren't always 50/50. You should never keep score, but you will notice when you're the one giving and never being thought of in return. If you're naturally a giving person, it might be difficult for you to start setting boundaries with those close to you. Sometimes we get used to relationships being a certain way that we don't consider that it could be better. Your friend or partner may not realize they're neglecting you, so you want to have a discussion with them before assuming they are being selfish on purpose.

3. Don't tolerate manipulation

Manipulation is a tactic employed by people to get what they want. It's important to remember you're allowed to say "no" to anyone at any time. People don't like to hear it, but some will accept it while others refuse to accept it as a final answer. The ones who refuse to hear "no" are the ones who may resort to manipulation. They will try to guilt you by saying you don't care about them or love them. You will naturally feel bad and want to prove yourself, but giving in is a bad idea. If people learn that manipulation works on you, they'll continue to use it. Remind yourself and others that caring about someone and loving someone doesn't mean you give them what they want constantly.

4. Name-calling and abuse is never okay

If you grew up being called names or being abused, it's something you might be used to. You might not flinch anymore when these things happen, but that doesn't mean they are okay. If you're called names by a friend, family member, or spouse, you must stand up for yourself and make it known it's not acceptable. This is a boundary that no one in your life should ever cross. Someone who loves you will not abuse you in any way.

Boundaries are required in all relationships. Without them, you may find yourself unhappy, disrespected, and not feeling loved.

About Insight Therapy

Insight Therapy is a professional mental health private practice located in Champaign - Urbana. Insight Therapy offers individual therapy, couples counseling, family counseling, and professional mediation services to clients of all ages and issues.

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Insight Therapy, LLC
3362 Big Pine Trail
Suite A
Champaign, Illinois 61822

Phone: (217) 383-0151
Fax: (217) 633-4555

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Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Addiction, Couples Counseling, Eating Disorders, Sexual Abuse Survivor, School Anxiety, Women's Issues, Relationship Issues, BiPolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, Family Issues, Couples Counseling, Mediation, and more!