Learning to Embrace Blushing and Overcoming Social Anxiety

One day, while holding a lemon and lemon-infused tonic in a supermarket line, the author captured the attention of a man behind her who noticed she was wearing a lemon print dress. Her cheeks turned bright red with embarrassment. This was the moment she realized she had to change something about her tendency to blush uncontrollably.

Rachel Thompson in a lemon print dress standing in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Rachel Thompson in a lemon print dress.
Credit: Rachel Thompson

Blushing is often described as the most peculiar and human expression, brought on by the thought of what others think of us. It is a symptom of social phobia, with studies suggesting that 50 percent of social phobia patients blush frequently. For the author, blushing wasn’t just happening during unexpected encounters with strangers, but also at work, during social situations, and when she least expected it. She described feeling undermined by her own body, as if she wasn’t in control, and this made her self-conscious.

According to anxiety therapist Jodi Aman, “Some people get embarrassed about their own blushing, which – because embarrassment increases discomfort – can perpetuate the situation.” Aman encouraged her patients to change their negative feelings about their blushing.

“The key to settling the redness is not to be embarrassed.”

The author took Aman’s approach to heart. She began to see blushing as a positive attribute, as many people find it charming and humanizing. She learned to embrace her blushing rather than hide or avoid it. This wasn’t always easy, especially since her blushing could make awkward situations even more humiliating. But she decided to be open about it, talking with friends and colleagues about how weird it was that her face would do such a thing for no reason.

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Her resolve to wear her blushing with pride is still being tested, but the author told herself that she wouldn’t cower or hide her face. She doesn’t want to look back and wonder why she was ashamed for so long.

Learning to embrace blushing helped the author overcome her social anxiety. By accepting her body’s natural reaction and seeing it as a positive attribute, she was able to feel more confident in herself. She hopes that others who struggle with blushing can learn to accept it, too, and see it as a charming and humanizing attribute.

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