Why the Fear of Embarrassment Can Literally Kill You

A woman standing on stage with a microphone looking nervous

Verywell / Julie Bang

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Every Friday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, shares the “Friday Fix”—a short episode featuring a quick, actionable tip or exercise to help you manage a specific mental health issue or concern.

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Friday Fix: Episode 160

Whether you carried on a whole conversation with spinach in your teeth or you slipped and fell in front of a whole room full of people, embarrassing moments are inevitable.

Embarrassment is a complex emotion that involves feeling as if you are losing your place in the social hierarchy. It can cause you to cringe and lead to physical symptoms, like blushing and sweating.

Although embarrassment feels uncomfortable, it won’t kill you. But, the fear of embarrassment might actually be deadly. 

Some people fear embarrassment more than others—and it’s likely that they feel embarrassment at a deeper level. 

The fear of being embarrassed can lead to social anxiety. And in some cases, the fear of embarrassment can lead to some unhealthy choices.

Fortunately, there’s help for people who fear being judged or who fear that they’ll experience embarrassment. It’s an issue we frequently address in the therapy office

Rather than avoid embarrassing moments, there’s something really powerful about learning to cope with embarrassing feelings. You might even get to a place where you can empower yourself by sharing your embarrassing stories with others.

On today’s episode, I share real-life ways the fear of embarrassment sometimes kills people. And I talk about the steps you can take to conquer your fear.

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