How to react to humiliation?

That they trample our dignity does not sit well with anyone. Humiliation is a very unpleasant sensation, usually the product of social situations in which others consciously or unconsciously undervalue us, and that are experienced with deep pain.

Reactions to humiliation can be diverse, and not all of them are convenient. There are those who get angry and make the situation worse, others cry and others try to retaliate. It is surprising how malicious words or words interpreted as offensive can affect us so much.

Being clear about how to react to humiliation appropriately is difficult, not easy . It requires a certain calm and a cool mind, as well as having the strength to prevent other people’s words from affecting us.

How to react to humiliation and teasing?
The feeling of humiliation is an experience whose impact is so intense, so strong, that it can destroy us. Feeling humiliated is synonymous with feeling erased, confused, defenseless, full of anger . It can even manifest itself with physical sensations, such as stomach pain, and visible emotional reactions, such as crying or outbursts of anger. A common response to being humiliated is wanting to hide, to be swallowed up by the earth, and to disappear. Often when we are humiliated, we lose all ability to take action.

It has happened to all of us that on occasion we have felt humiliated and it is quite likely that we think about what we could have done at that precise moment, or later, to protect ourselves. It is difficult to go back to that precise moment and do the right thing, but it is not a bad idea to think about what we could do to protect ourselves if it happens again , since the moment we are humiliated, we probably cannot think much, except how to escape.

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It is inevitable that we react in one way or another to a humiliation, but we can avoid the way in which the words that have been said affect us. We should not give more power to the opinion of others than to our own. Self-esteem is key to managing a humiliating experience. Here are a few suggestions for how to react to humiliation.

1. Take some time to think
It is difficult to think clearly when we are humiliated, as our minds freeze with horror and frustration. However, if we happen to get our brains to start working again instantly, we can discover a way to respond.

But if not, it is best that you take some time to think about an answer while remaining calm and serenity as much as you can .

We don’t have to apologize, accept blame, or fight back, as all of this can backfire on the spot. In this situation, the victim can easily be victimized in the most unpleasant way, even when they are absolutely right about their complaints.

2. Don’t take it for granted.
It is normal that at first we interpret humiliation as a personal attack but . What if it is not? It may happen that our “aggressor” is really having a bad day and just that day he has found us and made the humiliating comment, or it may be that he or she is already that normal and we have simply crossed paths.

A good tip is that, in the face of a humiliating comment, instead of saying nothing and counterattacking angrily, we stand in silence and show ourselves to him or her with our mouths ajar and expressing that emotion of surprise. He may not even know that he has made an acid comment and, by showing us with that gesture of surprise and displeasure at his words, grasp perhaps he has made an inappropriate comment and feel what he has said to us. What’s more, it may be that by understanding what has happened now, he or she is the person who feels ashamed.

If you think that whoever made the humiliating comment didn’t really mean to embarrass you in front of others, a good way to react to it is by responding with the appropriate tone, simply but directly, in private.

If the case is that he wants to embarrass us yes or yes, we must be clear: it does not matter what we have done wrong, we do not deserve a humiliation for it . It is true that we must take responsibility for our actions and make amends for the mistake we have made, now, we must not think that making a mistake means that we are people who should be denigrated.

If a person wants us to feel bad about ourselves, the problem is most likely in them, they are frustrated with their lives and they feel the need to try to find fault or humiliate others to try to assert themselves. Of course, that is pathological behavior.

Not taking it personally is knowing that you are the victim, not the cause of the problem.

3. Understand the motivation of the other
If the humiliating situation just happened, now that we are out of harm’s way, we can spend some time thinking about what might be happening. Understanding the motivation of the other person can give us a more global vision of why this has happened and, related to what we have already commented before, perhaps it allows us to understand that there has really been no intention to hurt us.

Understanding does not mean forgiving or feeling sorry for the other person, at least not necessarily . It is simply a tool to help us get out of the potentially harmful consequences of their behavior. It is also a way to help us not to take their actions personally, and to see more clearly that it is a problem that is in that person more than in ourselves.

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4. Seek support from others
No one can escape humiliation. It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t ever felt humiliated in their life. Therefore, it is very easy to find other people who can tell us about their experiences with this emotion, making us feel heard and, at the same time, provide mutual emotional support in situations in which one felt that their dignity was trampled on.

For example, if we have felt humiliated by our boss, it may be that we are not the only ones, and that the rest of the colleagues in the office have also had such an experience on occasion. Talking with them can allow us to know what tools or strategies they used to know how to get out of the way, and also to understand why our boss told us that.

5. Better not retaliate
Humiliation is a mixture of anger and shame , so feeling like revenge or retaliation is a consequence of it. We believe that by taking revenge we will be able to restore our damaged self-esteem after the humiliation that someone has done us.

The problem with doing this is that we run the risk that we act without thinking, screw up even more and give more material to our humiliator to humiliate ourselves more. We can turn a situation in which we were already the victim into an even worse one, making it seem that the bad guys in the movie are us. Not retaliating does not have to mean that we are being weak.

6. Keep going
The best reaction to humiliation is to not allow the person to influence us, whether it was done innocently or on purpose . We have strengths and the ability to live a full life despite the unpleasant comments of certain individuals.

If the person who humiliates us does it on purpose and on top of it does it continuously, the only adaptive option possible is to cut off the relationship with him or her, be it a partner, a co-worker or a boss. It is true that we should not let him include us, but if he does it constantly and it does not seem that he is going to learn from what we say that it hurts us, it is best to avoid that person as much as possible.