Therapy enhances self-confidence and self-acceptance, which is essential to deal with feelings of shame. Experiences of discrimination and stigma underlies the pain of loneliness and leads to stress, anxiety, and depression. There is an increasing demand to cope with emotional problems as well as quick and easy access to professional help is much needed.
The feeling of awkwardness, shame or guilt are often used in our daily life to express our feelings of emotions. They are commonly used interchangeably with each other, but it has a far distinct meaning. Though they are used to express our daily life emotions, if they are deep-rooted, they lead to severe mental health issues. Here, in this paper, I want to discuss how guilt, embarrassment and shame are different from each other and what the sources, symptoms, results of these are and how we can prevent by it, what will be the possible precautions to avoid the consequences of these emotional problems.
“Don’t be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them, and start again.”
Embarrassment it is the recognition of personal or sensitive mistakes to feel bad about yourself and try not to repeat it. It is the difference between what we want about something and what it happens. The researchers said that people who easy experiences an emotional state of awkwardness are the ones who are more generous. But it has a darker side; also, it affects the emotional well-being of the individual.
The people who feel acute social pain often experience vicarious embarrassment. It is also called empathic embarrassment, and the individual so much intensely feels the embarrassing situation of others that he feels embarrassed himself.
The physical symptoms of embarrassment are blushing, start breathing heavily, break into a sweat, and maybe even try to run away. But it is not necessary that everyone blush upon being embarrassed. During blushing, adrenaline release that affects your nervous system, which in turn widen the blood capillaries. So, blood brings closer to your skin, which causes blushing. The receptors in the veins of human necks and cheeks respond to social threats. When embarrassment occurs, a sense of exposure occurs, and it experienced as threatening to one’s social acceptance.
Potential sources of embarrassment are feelings, attitude, expectations to do something but unable to do it due to some reasons. Parents often expect that their children behave nicely in front of others but feel embarrassed if they do anything wrong.
Feelings of embarrassment can cause mental health issues if it prolongs. Exercising your mind to be an active observer of the situation, not actively participating, and feeling the case can help to cope with the situation. Online counselling or psychotherapy sessions with conjunction of mindfulness and meditation can help if the problem is severe.
“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.”
Unlike embarrassment, shame is related to our morals and values and when they are threatened, and we are not able to do anything, we feel confusion, dishonour, regret, inadequacy, and unworthiness. We view our inner selves in a negative light. Shame interrupts our positive feelings when we fail to meet our ideal standards.
Most of the people, when not correctly cope with the feelings of shame, start addiction, or substance abuse to get some relief from their souls. All of us experience feelings of shame at one time or another in our lifetime. We can feel shame when facing bullies, when our love rejected, when we disappointed from our expectations. Also, children feeling shameful when they are related to someone who acts shamefully. We experienced shameful when our basic expectations and hopes are frustrated, disappointments, or perceived failure at the workplace, any event that weakened the bond in our relationship.
Some people have a natural tendency for feeling shame, a trait termed shame proneness. They often have low self-esteem and have more risk to suffer from psychological problems. They have more chances to suffer from depression and stress.
The intense feelings of shame can also lead to persistent anxiety, which can manifest as social anxiety and generalized anxiety, eating and sexual problems, which often considered disorder of shame. If the feelings of shame not treated, it may lead to suicidal ideation. Proper therapy should help to overcome it.
Shame is the feeling of something wrong about values and norms, guilt feelings are when we regret and blame ourselves for something. When we harm someone, we often feel bad that we do something wrong due to guilt. It is the possibility of feeling remorse for actions which most of our peers approve.
Guilt has a connection with the needs and goals of our ego, and it is consistent with our self-image. Unlike shame, people with high self-esteem have more chances to suffer from guilt and take appropriate action to avoid it. However, guilt is sometimes very productive. If you feel bad after making a mistake and try to apologize or make better decisions in the future, it can be a ‘guilty pleasure.’ It sometimes leads a person to struggle and fulfil the relationships continuously.
“It makes an enormous difference whether I confess my guilt only to myself or to another person”
Guilt can be learned and conditioned emotion. If parents continuously compared their child with those of others and scolded them, they suffer from extreme guilt. Guilt sometimes makes us reluctant to enjoy life; even mild guilt makes us hesitant to embrace the joys of life – most of the people who feel guilty self-punish themselves to avoid guiltiness. Guilty feelings make people feel heavy, and they take more time to do a task as compared to a person who is not feeling guilty.
When guilt remains unresolved, it becomes irritable and shows physical symptoms like trouble sleeping, upset stomach, muscle tension, headache, and tearfulness. It is necessary to address the guilt to resolve these symptoms.
People who suffer from chronic guilt have more chances to vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. In turn, people who have mental health issues higher risk to suffer from guilty feelings about their psychological behaviour. For example, a person who has depression episodes self-isolate herself during the depression but suffer from the guilt of doing so.
But whether it is a feeling of guilt, shame, or embarrassment, there is always a way to improve and recover. As Carl Jung said “I am not what was happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
Shame, guilt, or embarrassment if it exceeds threatens the emotional well-being of the individual. It causes many psychological problems and affects normal functioning. Psychotherapy can also help to address these issues and help the individual to cope with it. It can be helpful in restructuring thought patterns and overcome these feelings.