Why are embarrassing moments SO hard to forget compared to other negative emotions?


I can remember times when I felt afraid, angry, upset, any other negative emotion. And when I remember those, I usually just don’t care and move on.

But when I think of embarrassing moments, it sticks to my head like crazy. I cringe and blush about it for a VERY long time, even if it’s been YEARS since it happened. Am I the only one who feels this way, and why?

In: Other

When they come back to haunt you, they make themselves stronger.

Also human brains pick up on negative things more readily to keep us from getting into danger we have seen before.

Positive pathways and negative pathways are different in your head. Your brain prioritises negative pathways when it comes to laying down memories. That is why your single moment of embarrassment at your fifth birthday party overwhelms the memory of your four hours of fun.

The reason your brain prioritises negative experiences is because your brain is trying to keep you alive. We are very much still wired up to be in a prehistoric setting, and we don’t suit our modern situation very well. Your brain is constantly scanning for danger and burning those memories deep into your mind.

Humans are social creatures. We literally *need* other humans to survive. Embarrassment is a survival mechanism. It’s a way of keeping ourselves in check, stopping us from straying from the group. Our monkey brain tells us: “without the group, we die. Don’t upset the group. Be embarrassed when you do something weird, so that you don’t get so weird that you are ousted from the group.” That’s what embarrassment is for.

You remember embarrassment keenly because your brain is training you to stay within your social group and therefore survive.

positive things simmer on your skin and keep you warm for a while but eventually the heat fades, negative things are sharp and will poke or pierce your skin enough to make it noticeable for quite a long time