Written by Charlotte Wood (last updated October 1, 2021)
Everyone has those embarrassing moments when all they want to do is crawl up in a ball and disappear. You vocalize a thought you shouldn't have, mispronounce a word, forget an important fact, make an involuntary body noise, whatever—embarrassment happens, and you blush, clearly revealing your embarrassment. It's a vicious cycle. And then sometimes you blush not just because you're embarrassed, but you're also upset. Sometimes you blush because you're excited.
Regardless of why you blush, whenever you do, you give out a clear indication of how you're feeling, and just face it, you nor I rarely want people to be able to clearly see emotions written out like that. I like to keep my feelings close to me, because I can be good at faking if I have to; blushing gives me away. If you have a problem with blushing, or just want to have greater control over your blushing, read on.
The first thing to remember about blushing is that it's an involuntary process. As part of the sympathetic nervous system, blushing is part of the reactions that we don't have any conscious control over. As opposed to other types of blushing (like when you're drinking or sexually aroused), blushing because of embarrassment—the kind of blushing I want to address today—is unique in that it deals directly with adrenaline, another substance in your body that you don't have much control over. With that encouraging caveat, how should you go about handling your blushing, when it's supposedly uncontrollable?
The key is to adjust your mentality, which is harder to do than some may think. One of the key things to internalize is that blushing is completely socially and physiologically normal. You're not weird because you blush; everyone blushes, so you're not alone. Usually when I blush, it's because I'm in a situation where I don't feel entirely comfortable; sometimes the discomfort is of my own doing, and sometimes it's because of outside circumstances. Regardless, however, when you feel embarrassment coming on, take a second and just relax. The adrenaline that is responsible for your blushing responds to your body (think about when you're feeling scared or threatened—your body tenses), and you're more likely to blush if you stay tense and uncomfortable. So firstly, just relax. You can even step out of the room for a minute to collect your senses and stay in control.
If you say something embarrassing that's completely unexpected for you, the best thing you can do is accept it. Don't spend time needlessly explaining yourself, because more often than not, you'll just embarrass yourself more as you dig a deeper hole of embarrassment. Accept what you did and move on. Most people won't even remember what you said or did most of the time; embarrassment is fleeting. Take comfort in the fact that most everyone else will move on, and you should. If some in the group hold on to whatever you said or did, show them that you're comfortable and they won't care so much. And if you're teased later on because of whatever you said or did, go with it. Show that you can be comfortable as part of the joke.
Blushing in and of itself is something that you can't control. You can't control those reactions or involuntary processes. However, you can control how you react, and if you learn to take more control of your attitude and your mental responses, then you can minimize your blushing and when you do blush, it won't bother you so much.
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