Blushing can be endearing. It can express unexpected delight or that we are not so blasé as to not appreciate compliments. However, for people suffering from social anxiety, fear of blushing and blushing itself will plague their lives, often leaving them feeling powerless.
What can trigger blushing?
Blushing is a physiological response to a situation which we find potentially embarrassing and while the triggers are different for each person, they are all various facets of social anxiety. Being put on the spot or being the center of attention suddenly can be all that is needed. In a perverse dynamic, the anticipation of blushing will feed your social anxiety and make you more likely to blush in the future.
Is there a solution?
Once blushing has set in, it can feel as though it will never stop, but overcoming social anxiety and blushing is possible. While you cannot control your body’s response, you can address the negative thoughts that provoke your blushing, such as the fear that people will think less of you for blushing, or feeling self-conscious when you are the center of attention.
Social Anxiety Blushing Tips:
In many cases, the fear of blushing has become such an obsession that we feel that EVERYBODY must have noticed it, and with it, the worry that we will be judged for it. Will people think that you are diffident, socially awkward, not worth talking to?
However, the fact is that it is our own irrational perception. People who don’t blush don’t see it as awful, most of them will probably not even have noticed, unless we have drawn their attention to it! What they may notice more is our own reaction to it, such as our embarrassment. So the first thing to keep in mind is that there is a good chance that you may be misjudging people’s perception of your blushing and exaggerated the effect it has on them.
There is an array of cognitive tools and strategies that can help you change the way you think about your blushing. Paradoxally, the best thing you can do is to stop fighting and relax. If you blush, just ignore it. Don’t try to hide it or look away, just carry on with your conversation as normally as possible. The more you do, the more you will realize that it is not turning you into a pariah, and the less likely you will be to dread the next social interaction and blush. Obviously, it is easier said than done, so if you don’t succeed at first, don’t give yourself a hard time. Re-programming yourself will take time and patience.
With small changes implemented in steps, you will start regaining control of your blushing, and it may be beneficial to also join a structured social anxiety therapy group to support your work.
But most of all, remember that it’s ok to be embarrassed at times, or not always feel self-confident, and it’s ok to blush. We are human beings with emotions, not robots!