The Psychology of Cringe (and How to Work Through Feeling)

Cringe! We all know the feeling. Your shoulders tense, your stomach tightens, your face twitches, and you cover your eyes to make it go away.

Few emotions manifest in such a physical way. But what is teeth grinding? Other people make us cringe, sure, but why is cringing at ourselves worse? And could this uncomfortable feeling be good for us?

Ask Taylor Swift. In May, while receiving an honorary doctorate from New York University, the singer gave a speech to the class of 2022 and took the opportunity to address this issue.

“Learn to live with the grimace,” the 32-year-old singer advised the hordes of hats. “No matter how hard you try to avoid being cringe, you will look back on your life and cringe in retrospect. Teeth grinding is inevitable in life.

Turns out it’s not just TayTay’s songs that tell the truth. Psychologist Dr. Tara Quinn-Cirillo talks to us about the psychology of teeth grinding — and how to work on the feeling so it doesn’t limit you, but actually helps you get to know yourself better.

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