Humiliation sets armies marching, empires falling, breaks hearts, minds and souls.
– quotes Janet Morris, an American author.
Humiliation is a highly intense emotional state wherein the individuals affected are left to feel low about themselves in the presence of others, and go through a strong feeling of worthlessness and powerlessness. It is a cognitively demanding negative emotional experience with consequences sometimes spanning for a long time. Fear of humiliation has a strong influence on human behaviour and can provoke avoidance in certain social situations. Unlike other emotions this is called a social emotion because it is not confined to just an individual’s experience but viewed as a group phenomenon. A person who has the inability to see oneself independent from others, and is incapable of accepting and respecting himself or herself, mostly becomes a victim of humiliation. The person who humiliates usually takes advantage of this and uses ways to make the person lose his self respect and face rejection in the presence of others.
Humiliation surfaces in several forms and mainly when someone is intentionally made fun of in the open, harshly criticised, excluded on purpose, insulted and discriminated on the basis of the race, gender or religion they belong to. The most common form of humiliation found in an educational institution is termed bullying, and referred to as mobbing at the workplace.
Humiliation leaves the affected person with a deep sense of unease, and is usually linked to the presence of low self esteem, depreciated sense of self worth, academic failure or under achievement, depression, suicidal tendencies, marital conflict, etc. A person in power could use humiliation as a form of social control and a tool to oppress others. A parent who uses humiliation as a form of punishment may leave the child with chronic low self esteem, eventually leading to several mental ailments.
The way a person evaluates a situation has a profound effect on how they respond emotionally. A resilient person with a traditional virtue of humility might be less vulnerable to humiliation than a person who is in constant need of validation and approval. Often the victims of humiliation, most likely, do not factor in their thoughts and are in constant doubt of their worth in relationships.
Like all other emotions, the affected person can control the effects of humiliation by the way the situation is interpreted. How they feel about the event has a direct connection to the way they think. The person could start by relooking into the situation, redefining and de-emphasizing on it. Working towards becoming more resilient, and insulating oneself from any future episodes with constant reminders that they are not alone in this battle, could help them overcome the effects to a great extent. Journey towards this goal could be made easy by reaching out to someone they trust.
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AUTHOR: Smitha, Lead Counsellor