Myötähäpeä is Finnish for personal embarrassment one feels on account of and for another who is making a fool of him or herself. Myötähäpeä is the combination of myötä (co-) and häpeä (shame).
Myötähäpeä is that feeling of embarrassment or shame that one can feel for another person or character when they do something cringey, stupid, or embarrassing. In that sense, myötähäpeä is a very universal feeling for many, many individuals and I do so wish there was a better English equivalent than secondhand embarrassment.
Myötähäpeä – that feeling you get when you just know that the main character is going to be soooo embarrassed…
Okay, raise your hand if you had (or have) a difficult time watching any show where feeling myötähäpeä is almost like second nature. *raises hand* I am so that person who has never, ever been able to sit comfortably through any show or movie where someone was embarrassed – especially the during the first viewing. It’s almost like I have spent my whole life feeling secondhand embarrassment too strongly and now that I have a word for it in myötähäpeä, I feel seen in a good way. Of course, I am having one hell of a time pronouncing myötähäpeä so I doubt I’ll be using it in an casual fashion, but it’s still rather awesome to know! How about you, do you ever feel myötähäpeä?
Namaste ~ Ella
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