What to do about blushing?

Sufferers of debilitating blushing can use strategies from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help manage distress associated with blushing.

1. Educate yourself. Learn more about the blushing cycle. Remember that blushing is normal. Focusing on the perceived negative consequence of blushing can have the paradoxical effect of worsening the reddening of your face.

2. Write down your thoughts. After a blushing event, write down the thoughts that went through your mind. Some examples are: “I felt so stupid for blushing. They must have thought I had something to hide. It showed that I was weak and lacking in confidence.”

3. Reframe. When thoughts go through our heads, we tend to take them as facts. Look for evidence that supports and that does not support the beliefs. Ask yourself, “how would I cope with the worst thing happening?”

4. Experiment. Discomfort leads to avoidance. Avoidance leads to missed opportunities for learning. Conduct experiments to test out the feared outcome. Simulate blushing by exerting yourself excessively to the point of getting a red face or apply cosmetic make-up to your face. Start with very easy situations where the consequences are minimal. Ask yourself if your feared outcome occurred. Next, try with harder situations.

5. Practice self-compassion. Be gentle and accepting of your shortcomings. Blushing is only one small facet of yourself. Rather than beating yourself up for blushing, hold it as uniqueness and worthy of gentleness. Lighten the grip you hold about yourself and blushing. Breathe in acceptance. Breathe out resistance.

6. Defend yourself. Develop a canned response to give to others who you believe will judge your blushing. “There I go again, my face going red is a sign that I really care about the subject at hand. I do this when I’m passionate about something.” Rehearse the assertive responses over and over until they feel second nature.

Rosie felt horrible about the response to unwanted attention at the front desk. But blushing is a normal and helpful human experience. Using the strategies highlighted, Rosie can work on coping with the effects of blushing. Over time, the blushing may reduce since she’s less focused on it. Nonetheless, the key is developing coping skills in the light of blushing. Well-trained CBT therapists can help you apply the strategies described previously, should you need professional help.

Also Read:

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  2. What Kind of Perfectionist are You?
  3. 3 Tips for Managing Anxiety at Home
  4. How to Prioritize Social Media Wellness
  5. Mindfulness: The Path to Dealing with Difficult Emotions
  6. Have You Considered Telehealth Therapy?


John R. Montopoli

Written by John Montopoli, LMFT, LPCC founder and director or Pacific CBT.

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