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Jesse Martin

August 17, 2012

If you've just broken up, just gotten dumped or your ex left you for another guy, you're going through a lot of powerful emotions. Although there's a lot to be said about the different emotions and how best to handle them, I want to focus on a particular emotion in this article: embarrassment.

A lot of guys feel embarrassed during a breakup. A breakup can give you the sense that you've been rejected or that people are somehow judging you for it. Both can lead to feelings of embarrassment. The worst part is that it adds up to your other feelings dragging you down. You were already feeling worthless and sad and now you've got this embarrassment to deal with. Dealing with a breakup can at times seem as an insurmountable task. It can become hard to get yourself out the front door when you're feeling like this - let alone get over someone.

It's Not Objective

The main thing you need to know is this. Embarrassment is not an external condition. It solely exists in your mind. There are neither specific rules nor social conventions that dictate when someone should or should not be embarrassed. You're embarrassed because you are LETTING yourself be embarrassed. You're creating the state of mind yourself. So stop it!

Embarrassment is not an external condition. It solely exists in your mind.

Unfortunately it's hard to just 'stop' being embarrassed. That's because it's a feeling, emanating from our limbic brain. Feelings aren't easily controlled, and when they are, it's a slow process that requires knowledge about yourself and patience. The best thing you can do is acknowledge the feeling, without judging it, and make a choice not to let it affect you. It probably won't be that easy starting off, but with training, you can become more aware of yourself and how to live with your emotions so you can move on.

Researchers at UC Berkeley did some research in to the evolutionary background of the feeling of embarrassment. One of the conclusions they came to was as follows:

Embarrassment is one emotional signature of a person to whom you can entrust valuable resources. It's part of the social glue that fosters trust and cooperation in everyday life

The research provided some more insights into the emotion of embarrassment:

Moderate levels of embarrassment are supposedly signs of virtue. Their data suggests embarrassment is a good thing, not something you should fight. Here's their reasoning:

  1. They found that people who are more easily embarrassed tended to report higher levels of monogamy, which is generally considered to be a virtue in our modern day society.
  2. Similarly, their studies found that people who are more easily embarrassed tend to show signs of being more generous.
  3. In another experiment, subjects were measured to want to affiliate more with a confederate who appeared embarrassed rather than one who had appeared proud.

So in fact, embarrassment is a not only natural, it's a social tool not available to everyone. You should be thankful that you are able to experience that emotion, and trust that it will help you in other circumstances when you really need it.

Read more on the study here, and for a more in-depth discussion of evolution and human emotions check out Why We Love by Helen Fisher.

Has this article helped you in any way? Let me know in the comments!

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