Embarrassment, confusion, sheepishness – all of these emotions make us cringe. No one wants to feel that way. However, no emotion (with the exception of shame perhaps) captures the mingled horror, guilt, and shock as well as mortification.
Mortification is more than simply feeling bad or a bit awkward. It is a sense of fear of the repercussions about what you said or did, sorrow that you did so, and a wish that you could take it back and redo that moment.
We all have those moments that mortify us. For example, my dress ripped open in the back right as I twirled in Cinderella. Or there was the time that I laughed at what I thought was a funny word but really talked about abuse. There are so many times when I have messed up and still regret it.
However, mortification still can be helpful. It reminds me of what not to do in the future. We can choose to dwell on our past errors or let them teach us how to act in the future. Like any emotion, mortification has a purpose. Knowing how to deal with it in a helpful manner is difficult but possible.