E050 - Six Keys to Managing Blushing

Jun 08, 2023

Hello and welcome to a post about blushing—turning red, ears going beetroot, cheeks flushing, hot redness flashing up the throat… or however else blushing appears for you. This is a somewhat specialized mail to help what I'd call hardcore blushers, or people who have a serious problem with blushing.

I've worked with many blushers in my communication coaching practice, so I know from experience that you can clear it and essentially manage it out of your life.

We're going to look at six keys to reducing and managing blushing. You can watch the video or continue reading below.

So what is blushing? It is the phenomenon in which the face or parts of the face turn red, usually in response to an emotional or nervous system reaction. In general, it's linked to an adrenaline response in the sympathetic nervous system in which blood vessels dilate, causing us to turn red.

This can be embarrassing or mortifying for some people. So how or why do we want to deal with this? Well, for a hardcore blusher, blushing is deeply embarrassing.

Many people don't really mind blushing—“So I blush, no problem.” But for others, it's been a source of embarrassment since they were kids. And this snowballs into "Oh no, it's happening, I'm blushing—nooo!” And a lot of mortification, shame or embarrassment arises with it. Even the feeling of "Oh no, I'm blushing," increases social anxiety or embarrassment and reinforces this pattern that just won't let go.

But this pattern can be undone, so welcome all you blushers and friends of blushers. Reducing this conditioning and blushing can be an incredible gift for people for whom blushing causes discomfort, anxiety, or embarrassment, and that causes them to feel unsafe in social or other situations.

The object of the work I share is to help you feel safe and comfortable in your own skin wherever you go. Just kind of, "I'm in me, I feel kind of good. I'm okay to be me. I don't have to be perfect, but I feel good." And if blushing is reducing that, let's get to work. 

When most of us have a reaction, it comes from what we might call a core pattern. Imagine a core pattern of blushing that's sitting inside your neurophysiology and brain wiring. When we have some kind of core wound like this, or a pattern we don't like, we often also have a reaction of "Oh no, no, no, this shouldn't be happening, I hate it when this happens."

So there is a sort of resistance pattern on top of it, and it's very difficult to dislodge the blushing pattern when the resistance pattern is stuck on top of it.

So first you have to come to terms with the fact that you blush, and accept that inside the blusher is a deep mortification, even though people who see them are not actually judging them and ringing the bell and chanting, "Shame, shame, shame. There's a blusher. We can't be friends with the blusher anymore."

No one cares about your blushing other than you. The self-judgmental mortification and shame inside you bears no relation to reality; no one else cares that you blush. No one else thinks less of you. Some people can be nasty teasers and might say "Oh, beetroot!" or something along those lines—but that's on them. That's their own stuff to work on.

So if you can reach a place of, "I'm blushing, so what? I don't care, I'm going to be my confident, crazy, beautiful self even if my cheeks are red," then you are just your crazy, beautiful, radiant, authoritative, clear-speaking self, and red cheeks really won't make any difference.

First we have to decondition your shame response. I use a number of techniques when I work with people one-on-one. Work on this with your support therapist or with any particular deconditioning practices you like to work with to decondition your shame, self-judgment, and dislike of your blushing pattern.

The second key is to work with your body. Most blushers know they're going to blush beforehand, and they can feel it happening in their body. Begin by reframing blushing and seeing this feeling of blushing as your body telling you, "Hey, all hands on deck! I'm anxious, regulate me, regulate this nervous system. Bring safety into this nervous system."

Start breathing. I usually alternate leg tapping left and right (watch this video to learn more). Start bringing deep breathing in and regulate your nervous system back into a state of calm.

Your blush is a gift from your body telling you very clearly, "I've got a disregulated nervous system, I don't feel safe. Please help me feel safe. Work on this nervous system and regulate it." So work with your body and your breathing to regulate your nervous system back to a state of calm. From that state of calm, your blushing will actually, ironically, disappear.

The third key is to do the work before the event. Before we blush we can feel it rising. It doesn't just spring on us; we can feel anxiety ramping up before we blush. So start working on the ramping anxiety before the event.

Be it at a public-speaking event, a family occasion, a meeting, or just when you feel an urge to speak, you will be able to feel anxiety as it rises in your body. Start dismantling that anxiety beforehand. Decondition and work on that ramp to reduce the curve so you don't arrive there on code red. Instead you reduce the anxiety curve.

The fourth key is to always be regulating your nervous system when communicating—in public, but also just during interpersonal communication. Regulate your nervous system, breathe, bring presence and calm into your body.

When I work with students and groups of people around social anxiety, for example, I'll say to them, "Always be regulating. Always be bringing calm into your system." So while you're communicating, or when you arrive at an event, regulate your nervous system and bring calm all the way through, grounding yourself. You'll be much less likely to blush, and much more likely to communicate exactly what you mean from a space of calm, authority, heart, and clarity.

The fifth key is to clean up afterwards. This is highly underestimated, but after an event where you have blushed, you may spend hours or days afterwards in self-talk that's deeply negative and self-judgmental. "See, I did it again. Oh, that was so embarrassing. Oh, I was flushed," or somebody else may have said something that triggers the sense of mortification.

I recommend EFT tapping for this to clear remorse, shame, and self-judgment until you feel completely neutral after the event. Cleaning up afterwards reduces the ramp the next time you speak.

So you work before, during, and after every event to clear this up. I call this my Radiant Voices timeline process. It's super potent.

The sixth key is to clear up your history—you can journal about this, but work with your trusted therapist or use EFT or EMDR or whatever else you use to clear old, nasty, pernickety, stuck memories. If you don’t have a therapist or healer, I offer some pointers on what to look for in such a person here.  

Go back into your memory banks and recall childhood, adolescent, and other memories where you've blushed, where you still feel a sense of embarrassment, or that you know to be key moments in your developmental history and that programmed inside you: "See, I'm a blusher. I should be ashamed, and it's awful."

Go back and clear them until you feel completely neutral about them, until your response to them is, "Sue me, I blushed. I blushed, my cheeks turned red. I love me. I am good with me." Clear them until they're neutral, and ideally replace them with positive belief systems like, "My cheeks are gorgeous, and I really don't care if I blush, and I'm just going to talk anyway. And I am just willing to show and share myself as this authentic, vulnerable, beautiful human being in this world."

Those are the six keys. If blushing is a big thing for you, I really recommend doing this work. It doesn't take many sessions to clear this when I work with people. So just do the work and be free of it. We're all human, so there will still be times when you blush, but by and large you can reduce this pattern or conditioning to pretty much nothing.

With all the love and good wishes for you to put yourself out there to speak with authority, clarity, warmth, and a big open heart.