Sometimes we describe our emotions with the phrase “Spanish shame.” But where did this expression come from? Are the Spaniards the most bashful nation in the world? Hearing such a phrase quite often, do we understand its real meaning?
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What is spanish shame?
In modern dictionaries, “Spanish shame” refers to a feeling of great awkwardness for actions performed by other people. We are ashamed when strangers disgrace us or behave frankly indecently. But what have the Spaniards got to do with it?
Such a feeling of shame does not, of course, have a geographical connection. They are experiencing it not only in Spain, but also here, in America and Asia … And the connection of this kind of shame with Spain is actually quite understandable. Moreover, there are even two theories for the appearance of this phrase.
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Where did the expression “Spanish shame” come from?
The simplest and most popular theory suggests that it was the Spaniards who first designated words of this kind of feeling. They began to call psychological discomfort for the actions of others “verguenza ajena” or “shame for others”. The literal translation of the phrase into English has become noticeably longer, and when translating into Russian, they decided to simply say “Spanish shame.” Other synonyms have come down to us – “embarrassment of second-hand” and “empathic shame”. There is a term for this feeling in Germany – Fremdschämen (shame for a stranger).
According to another version, this origin has a biblical subtext. We all remember the tradition of the tormenting Judas of conscience, which caused him to be hung on an aspen. It is believed that even the tree was ashamed of the death of a traitor-suicide on it. In Hebrew, the name of the aspen sounds like “aspa” or “ispa”. Perhaps this token has become the basis of the expression “Spanish shame.”
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Why do we feel Spanish shame?
Psychologists say that we can experience unpleasant emotions not only because of our relatives and friends, but even because we are similar in gender, skin color, or religion. There are not many studies on indirect embarrassment. Nevertheless, psychologists have come up with several obvious reasons that make us embarrassed by the behavior of others.
When another person gets into an awkward situation, our developed sensitivity makes us worry about an outsider. We subconsciously project this situation onto ourselves, realizing its unpleasantness. Empathy activates areas of the brain associated with pain. As a result, someone else’s shame makes us physically suffer and causes us to literally close our eyes and not see what is happening.
Some people, the same children, may well not understand that they violate some social norms. They do not feel any shame from this, unlike us. The thing is that we consider our views on the world more important than other people. Egocentrism is generally a natural thing for a person, but sometimes it makes it difficult to look at life from a different angle.
Increased sense of responsibility
The feeling of “Spanish shame” arises in people who are used to taking responsibility for the behavior of others. This can happen in parents who consider their child’s bad behavior to be their own blunder. “Spanish shame” can appear even when we cannot objectively influence the actions of other people.
Fear of being rejected
Modern society teaches people to be part of a team. Evolution has always condemned a rogue to extinction. That is why we are keenly reacting to the situation when a person risks behaving in a rejected society. The subconscious whispers to us that we can be the next.
You can see the manifestation of Spanish shame among schoolchildren when the teacher reports to their classmates or to employees, in front of whose eyes the boss scolds their colleague. In such situations, I want to look away and go somewhere. In fact, we are scared that a similar situation with rejection may affect us.
Subconsciously, we understand that society always needs bright personalities and professionals in demand in one capacity or another. But unnecessary individuals can be sacrificed. We, being insecure, try on the role of those same losers, feeling shame for them.
The power of self-prohibitions
We have a whole series of barriers – what we ourselves forbid. It seems unacceptable to us to look ridiculous and stupid. As a result, observing someone who is in such a situation, we simply refuse to perceive it. According to psychologists, this is exactly how the rejection of the real self with all our shortcomings manifests itself.
Belonging to the same social group
Most of all, Spanish shame manifests itself in the case of an involuntary association of us with an awkward situation. In fact, this behavior can serve as a kind of psychological test. We consider ourselves part of the same social group as a person who violates the norms. His behavior is partly our behavior, which makes us feel ashamed. And such an association can tell a lot about us.