Embarrassment, a Double-Edged Sword

What is a sword? It’s a weapon, something that can hurt you. What is a double-edged sword? A deadly weapon that can hurt you from either side. That said, how is embarrassment a double-edged sword? Embarrassment is weapon because it can be used to hurt you. Other people can use it on you, or you can even use it on yourself. It is double-edged because too much of it can hurt you and having too little of it can also hurt you, too. First let’s look at how other people can use embarrassment to hurt you. If someone else knows that you are very self-conscious about some physical characteristic of yours, they can use that against you. For example, if you are very self-conscious about your weight, and a co-worker who is going for promotion you want, he or she might put a chair out for you at a meeting that is different from the other chairs, perhaps larger, or sturdier in some way, and let you know that they got something special for you so you could be comfortable. Your embarrassment would probably be so bad that you would get flustered and lose your chance at the promotion because you just couldn’t concentrate on making a more favorable impression. That is how someone else can use your embarrassment against you in a way that is hurtful. Next, let’s look at how you can let your own embarrassment hurt you. Let’s say that you see someone to whom you are very attracted and you want very much to go speak to that person, but you are just too embarrassed. You are afraid you will make a fool of yourself, so you just don’t. You lose your opportunity – your chance to get to know that person, possibly go out on a date, possibly form a relationship, possibly find a life partner – all because of your own embarrassment. It’s as if you took an axe and chopped off one of your feet. You really limit your opportunities in life by having too much embarrassment. We’ve seen how we and others can use too much embarrassment against us, but how could having too little embarrassment be a problem? Well, having a little embarrassment is a good thing. A little bit keeps us from doing things that are just too crazy, things that will get us into trouble, make others have a very unfavorable opinion of us, offend others. Let’s say that there’s nothing at all that embarrasses you and a fellow student dares you to give a speech in favor of serial murder in your next speech class. Not fearing any possible repercussions, you do, get a fair grade, but so seriously offend your fellow students that none of them vote for you later when you run for student council. Thus, it’s good to have a little bit of embarrassment to keep us from doing things that would really bother the majority of people or might even end up getting us arrested. However, when we have too much embarrassment, it can also really hurt us, at our own hands, or at the hands of unscrupulous others. Work to develop a reasonable amount of embarrassment in your life. Reign yourself in a little if you’re too open and let yourself loosen up a little if you are too closed.

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