Our Toolkit (Continued)

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SHame as Master Emotion

Research in social psychology shows that the avoidance of shame is a foundational driver of ordinary behavior. Shame arises when we believe that we’ve been judged as somehow defective by consequential members of our community (e.g. our colleagues, friends, and family). In contrast to common understandings of shame, the research shows that shame-related feelings (e.g. shyness, insecurity, embarrassment, humiliation, etc.) are pervasive, not occasional, guiding how we conduct ourselves in ordinary moments, including—how we engage others, how we define ourselves, what we buy, what we wear, even regulating our expression of other emotions. A particularly provocative aspect of this research holds that our personalities are largely the result of the specific tactics we’ve developed to avoid shame.