Tag Archives: #embarrass

Two Dangerous Words: We’re Done (Psychology)

Linda: When someone says the words “we’re done” in the midst of a painful argument, they are suffering so much that they attempt to draw a boundary to leave the painful discussion. But their attempt to deescalate the argument this way makes it worse. Their partner gets the message that they are impossible to deal with and a hopeless case. Such a hard boundary leaves their partner hurt and fearful, feeling threatened by the insinuation that their partner is planning to leave them because they are failing in so many ways that there is no point in going on.


Abandonment fears are among the greatest fears that people have. And for many people, hearing those terrible words blurted out in anger evokes a torrent of fear of being left alone. When the speaker of these words calms down, they realize that they didn’t even mean what they said. They know that they were dishonest and are not truly done with the relationship permanently. Frantically flooded with feelings, they reach for the most dramatic language they could find. It was an attempt to assure themselves that they weren’t trapped by reminding their partner that they are free to leave at any time.  

The pain and fright that the words cause is frequently a conversation stopper, which the partner who utters them really does want. But there are so many other ways to draw a boundary that does not come with such a huge price tag.  

The prices that are paid when these two dangerous words are spoken:  

  • Yet another incompletion: Not only is the issue dropped temporarily, but there is so much pain associated with it that the topic isn’t brought up again. It remains to lie in wait of attention on the incompletion pile, draining the life force from the partnership.  
  • Disconnection: The feelings of hurt run so deep to be threatened with abandonment, that there is a disconnection causing distance between partners. Speaking only of superficial subjects for fear of sparking another painful conversation when they are still recovering from the last one, keeps the relationship at a low level of well-being. 
  • Embarrassment: Both partners feel embarrassed due to having lost their composure resulting in speaking and acting in unskillful ways.  
  • Loss of emotional and sexual intimacy
  • Diminished trust. The trust may fall so low that one day, the partner who has been threatened will say, “Fine, let’s let it be over” and it won’t be an empty threat, they will mean it, and the relationship really will be done.             These are all huge prices to pay for indulging in saying two mean spirited words. When the person who uses this threat realizes the prices they pay, they often find the motivation to change the patterns by discovering other options.  
  • Make a fierce commitment: Set an intention to stop indulging in the use of these dangerous words. 
  • Slow down to tune into our experience: When we slow down and pay closer attention to the sensations in our body, we notice when we are beginning to get overheated. Our heart rate is going up; we may be clenching our fists or jaw. These signs are our cue to settle down, rather than move into the danger zone. 
  • Take a break: When we become self-observant, we can take a break before we are so flooded with feelings that we can’t think straight and lapse back onto using dangerous words. 
  • Plan ahead: If we plan ahead for the moments when our fear and pain is activated to the point where we resort to the old threat, we are prepared to say something skillful like “I need a break right now, but I’ll be back.” 
  • Dive down to the real truth: Once we calm down, we can speak in a vulnerable manner about the underlying issues that frighten us and activates our suffering. This vulnerability allows our partner to stay open, rather than moving away to protect themselves or fighting back with their own arsenal of dangerous words.  
  • Search for the learning: There is so much to be learned about what provokes our feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, despair, frustration, doubt, rage, and terror, sometimes to the point where we feel our very survival is at stake.  

It is the calm, open, and respectful exchange of the full range of our feelings that allows both partners to learn how to successfully be in a relationship. If you look at your own experience, you will find that’s the only thing that has ever brought closeness and trust. The dangerous words will never accomplish that goal, they will only take us away from what we most desire, to be wanted, valued, respected, and loved.  

This article is originally written by Linda and Charlie Bloom, who are the authors of Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truths from Real Couples About Lasting Love and is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses. To read original click here.

Why It’s OK to Laugh During Sex? (Psychology)

You queefed. They must be disgusted. You lack an immediate erection or orgasm too quickly. They must think I’m less of a man. The attempt at a new position ends in epic failure or you hit the wrong opening. They must think I don’t know what I’m doing. You are either too dry or too wet. They must think there’s something physically wrong with me. Maybe your partner wants to have sex, you want to have sex, but you worry what they will think of your body. Will they still want to have sex with me when they see me naked?


These are the thoughts that derail sexual intimacy, reinforce negative body perceptions, close communication, and create a gap in interpersonal relationships. The easiest solution to preventing prolonged embarrassment and getting on track with open sexual communication? Humor.

Making a quick joke, even if it’s self-effacing, is the perfect way to right the ship. Laughter is already attributed to several mental and physical benefits, including relaxation of the body, boosting of the immune system, relief of stress, release of endorphins, an increase of oxygen to the brain, and improvement in mood. In addition to mental and physical benefits, laughter provides social benefits, such as those found within sexual encounters, especially in cases when things become awkward.

Erving Goffman noted the potential for embarrassment during any interactional process wherein “the individual is expected to possess certain attributes, capacities, and information which, taken together, fit together into a self that is at once coherently unified and appropriate for the occasion” (1967:105). One face-saving technique is the use of humor. Goffman views it as one of several exercises to break the ice, thereby “explicitly referring to his failing in a way that shows he is detached, able to take his condition in stride” (1963:116).

Spencer Cahill (1985) took this idea to the bathroom, literally, when he studied interactional processes in public restrooms. In the category of odor, Cahill pointed out how the use of humor diffused potentially embarrassing situations in which an individual caused a noxious odor to permeate a crowded bathroom. In making a joke of the situation, the individual not only shed himself of embarrassment or public scorn, but also reminded others that they were also capable of such human frailty and shaming was not necessary. When a comedian is self-effacing on stage, the reaction of laughter they receive is not aimed as much at the comedian, but the recognition of the commonality shared for all who have felt or acted in the given situation.

While there are several techniques to curb embarrassment, and Goffman suggests several, one must be cognizant of potential consequences. Ignoring an occurrence, such as when your partner does something awkward during sex, can act to conceal the issue. No conversation begins and your partner may be in a holding pattern wondering whether or not you noticed and, if you did, what your silence meant, thereby not resolving the issue and setting your partner up to internalize it. Even mere passing recognition of the event can seal the embarrassment. In mentioning it and moving on, your partner may perceive your reaction as a judgment.

Humor, by contrast, acts to alleviate the tension, dispel embarrassment, and add to the playfulness of the sexual encounter. Humor, however, does not include teasing or laughing at your partner in a bullying manner. Humor of this sort will certainly embed embarrassment and shame. Being able to laugh together enhances intimacy and opens up an opportunity to talk about your insecurities within an already established welcoming environment, all of which acts to intensify pleasure.

Sex should be fun and playful, but such intimacy does risk exposure to embarrassment and awkward moments. What humor succeeds in doing is to maintain the playful environment while opening up the conversation. Yes, women queef, here’s what it means. Yes, sometimes men orgasm too quickly, let’s talk about it without shame. Nothing is more important for a healthy sex life than communication. If you have to share in a laugh to get there—laugh. And it’s perfectly acceptable to laugh together about it all.

This article is originally written by David W. Wahl, Ph.D., who is a social psychologist and sex researcher. His work focuses on issues related to sexual desire and behavior, shaming and stigmatization, sex and gender, sexual violence, sex work, and human trafficking.

References: (1) Cahill, Spencer E. 1985. “Meanwhile Backstage: Public Bathrooms and the Interaction Order” in Urban Life, 14(1): 33-58. (2) Goffman, Erving. 1963. Stigma. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. (3) Goffman, Erving. 1967. Interaction Ritual. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses.

Is Your Brain Stuck? (Neuroscience)

Do you ever wonder what your brain is doing?  Perhaps you unexpectedly lost your temper and responded in a way that left you feeling embarrassed and ashamed?  Or maybe, despite your good intentions to eat a healthy lunch, you found yourself munching on a sweet treat instead.  The truth is, we all experience moments when what we want our brains to do and what they actually do feels completely out of alignment.

Source: iStock:HbrH.

So, how can our brains help us to show up more often in the ways that are good for us and others?

“Studies have found that the best predictor of our happiness and health, both mental and physical, is how integrated our brains are,” explained Dr. Dan Siegel, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and author of the new book Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence, when Michelle McQuaid interviewed him recently. “Integration links different parts of our body, such as the right and left sides of the brain, or the higher and lower parts of the nervous system to promote a flexible and adaptive way of being that is characterized by harmony, vitality, and creativity.”

Dan explained her that when our brain lacks integration, the result is either rigidity or chaos; stuck and dull on the one hand, or explosive and unpredictable on the other, as we try to navigate the world around us.  Without integration, we can become imprisoned in behavioral ruts – anxiety, depression, greed, obsession, and addiction.

On the other hand, neurological integration enables us to be flexible and free.  It makes it easier for us to consistently show up in ways that are good for us and others when we have optimal integration because our brains have five qualities: flexibility, adaptivity, coherence, energy, and stability (FACES).  With the connecting freedom of integration comes a sense of vitality and the ease of well-being.

“We can think of the FACES as a river that in the middle is an ever-changing flow of integration and harmony,” explained Dan.  “On one riverbank, there is chaos, and on the other is rigidity.  Sometimes we might move towards the bank of rigidity and can feel stuck, and other times we might lean towards the bank of chaos where life feels erratic and uncontrollable.  But there are practical steps we can take to create more internal and relational integration in our lives.”

Dan suggests the following:

  • Understand your brain – Try this simple hand model.  Start by putting your thumb in the middle of your palm and put your fingers over the top.  The fingers represent the most evolved cortex part of your brain, which helps focus attention and gives you insight and empathy.  Then lift open your fingers to see the thumb folded in the middle of your palm.  That represents the sub-cortical areas below the cortex and includes the limbic and brainstem areas.  These areas create our basic drives and emotions.  The lower brainstem areas at our wrist affect the regulation of our body.  Integration of your brain involves linking the cortex, limbic and brainstem areas, and your body together.  If they are not, you’re likely to experience chaos and rigidity.  The linking fibers grow with the three pillar practices.  Not only can this lead to a reduction in stress, but it can also improve your immune function, reduce inflammation, slow the aging process, and connect your heart with your brain in a more balanced way.
  • Develop a three-pillar practice – A combination of mindfulness and compassionate training involves three pillars: focusing attention, increasing awareness to be open, and building kind intentions.  You can develop all three of these in a single practice called The Wheel of Awareness.  Studies have found that practicing these three pillars helps the different structures and functions of the brain to become more integrated.  And this integration in the brain helps our regulation and executive functioning, so we can live a life with positive emotions and not be taken over, in a non-regulated way, by painful, chaotic, or rigid states of mind.
  • Cultivate interconnectedness – As well as an internal integrative healing process that helps us resolve trauma, we also need a relational integrative process that allows us to be differentiated.  This enables us to feel that our own internal experience is heard, respected, and empathized with.  And then we need to be linked to other others, so we can become connected as a part of a larger whole.  Many social injustices and environmental injustices lack acknowledgment of the reality of interconnection; that we each have a responsibility to support others – either individuals or collectives – experiencing these traumas.  For example, awareness of the importance of Black Lives Matter, of respecting women, and of respecting the environment is about interconnection.  And if we can use the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic to ask, “How can we live a more interconnected life?” then we may be able to turn this painful time into a moment of discovering more integrative ways of living.

What can you do to cultivate more focus, awareness, and kind intentions to help integrate your brain?

This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses