Pleasurable Embarrassment

It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.
— ram dass

Is there such a thing? I’ve been feeling into embarrassment lately. Embarrassment is a really useful emotion. It points us to a part of our insecurities, our fears, and most likely, our ego.


There is the embarrassment that comes from acting out, we get angry, fearful, envious, we might blame or shame others and ourselves.

There is also the embarrassment that comes from being vulnerable, when we let ourselves be seen. Sometimes, the feeling lies somewhere in between.


Perhaps we shared an idea, had a messy conversation, took a chance, or released a project. In this moment of feeling embarrassed we have two options: we can shut down or we can open up to being vulnerable and uncomfortable. I like to call it “pleasurable embarrassment”. It might light your body up in a certain way, you might have a laugh at yourself in private, you can’t believe did or said that thing, but it feels good! Pleasurable embarrassment is a sign that you are sharing a part of your heart that would normally rather hide. I’ve become interested in growing through this practice of pleasurable embarrassment. Maybe this embarrassment is an indicator that we are on the right track. Can we view these moments as a flare up of our ego and not be so hard on ourselves? Can we not take ourselves so seriously? In general, we create a solid sense of self by overtly avoiding feeling embarrassed; we like to know the answers, to pass the test, minimize awkwardness at any cost. Embarrassment shows us where our attachments are. We have a chance to surrender into an unknown that can be extremely delightful and help us grow. If we can make it through the initial uncomfortable stages of embarrassment, we might see ourselves breaking through some deeply entrenched patterns of how we hold ourselves back from a full range of expression. We might start to welcome the teacher and pleasure of embarrassment.

  • Can you think of some situations in the past week of pleasurable embarrassment?

  • What was the underlying ego attachment behind each situation? (i.e. fear of x, unworthiness, insecurity, imperfection, etc.)

  • How did you respond to feeling embarrassed? how would you like to respond in the future?