Have you ever seen someone else do something embarrassing and cringed, as if it was happening to you? There’s a name for it: Vicarious embarrassment. And it’s a sign you’re an empathetic person. Relationship therapist Dr. Sherry Amatenstein says, the more compassionate you are the more intensely you’ll feel other people’s embarrassment. And it has its root in the brain.
What happens is, two regions of the brain light up, one linked to empathy, one linked to pain. You may also start to sweat and blush. And it makes you feel as if what’s happening to the woman, who fell into the fountain while taking a selfie, could easily happen to you, too. It means you’re humble; you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You have vicarious embarrassment.