The Most Damaging Emotion to Deal With
According to a recent study by psychologists, Marte Otten and Kai Jonas of the University of Amsterdam, the emotion that causes us the most damage is humiliation. While there have been numerous studies done on anger, jealousy, fear and anxiety, very few have focused on humiliation. Otten and Jonas used a EEG machine to register the brain's reaction to being humiliated. Participants were lead into emotional scenarios where they experienced, anger, happiness, and humiliation. The goal was to measure the participants responses and how it impacted the brain. The responses registered more negative to humiliation than to anger, and more intense in nature when it came to happiness.
Humiliation is an emotional response we get when some belittles us to the point we feel our status is lowered in the eyes of others. Humiliation is often used by others to harm or hurt us emotionally. And while it isn't always done intentionally it is damaging none the less. Many of us can take mild criticism or criticism when it is given in a sincere form of help or guidance. When it is done publicly and without tact it can cause us to feel humiliated or embarrassed. Humiliation has long been a tactic used by torturers, domestic abusers, emotional abusers, and prison guards. We see it show up in the workplace, schools and other public places where bullies use humiliation to target others, especially when there is an audience around to play to.
Knowing how deeply humiliation can affect us can make us more compassionate towards others. We often aren't aware of how much hurt we are causing others when we are trying to correct or teach them. When we have a criticism or feel a need to point out what others are doing wrong we need to practice kindness and tact, and do it in a way that preserves the other person's self-respect.
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