In this post, I’m responding to a viewer question. One that is quite a common concern among social anxiety sufferers. The question is…
…“How do I stop blushing?”
Check out this video for my solution to this problem.
In this video you will learn:
This journey towards overcoming your blushing problem and other social anxiety symptoms, as well as your social anxiety period is a beautiful one.
Feel good about being you and presenting yourself to the world.
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Sebastiaan: Hello, this is Sebastiaan van der Schrier, social-anxiety-solutions.com. I’m a former social anxiety disorder sufferer and a social confidence coach. I help people feel calm and relaxed and at ease in social situations. I help people get to that place by combining traditional psychology and energy psychology.
Now, I’m going to answer a question that I saw under one of my videos and that question was “How do I stop blushing?”
I have a cookie cutter answer for you. I can tell it to you in one sentence. All right, here it comes, sit tight. Three, two, one… drum roll.
All right, you can stop blushing by completely accepting yourself.
All right, it’s probably not the answer that you’re waiting for. Let me elaborate a little bit and then I’ll refer you to the interview I did with a colleague of mine.
What happens when you’re blushing?
When you’re blushing, you are kind of embarrassed but it’s not really embarrassed. It’s more that you’re ashamed. Now shame, embarrassment and humiliation, they’re like cousins of each other but they’re very similar.
Embarrassed in my book is more like I’m doing something like I’m breaking social norms and like I’m burping in public or something and I know that that’s not what I’m supposed to be doing and because I have rules about how I’m not supposed to be doing that I now feel a sense of embarrassment.
Humiliation it’s someone else that’s kind of creating that sense of I feel humiliated to my core feeling. That’s like I’m so disrespected right now that it triggers my own lack of respect for myself and it triggers my own lack of self-worth. That person is really humiliating me.
It’s very difficult to for someone to humiliate you if you don’t have strong rules about how other people should see you. If you’re okay with however they see you, how are they going to humiliate you? Because then it’s just their words. Anyway, that’s not where I’m going. That’s not where I’m going with this little segue. That’s embarrassment, that’s humiliation but then there’s also shame.
Now, shame means I am flawed. There’s something wrong with me. I’m not okay the way I am. Usually with blushing there might be combination of all three but in my experience at the core is shame. Shame of yourself, shame for who you are. It’s very similar people with eye contact problems. It’s very similar there too if you ashamed of themselves.
Now I can speak about this quite a bit because I had a blushing problem for the longest time. It started when I was 12 prior to that I had never blushed and then there was an experience should give a little bit of prehistory. My dad died when I was five years old and my mom was left with me and my sister was one at the time. I already had a bit of a troublesome relationship with my mom and I was very close to my dad and my dad kind of always made the peace. But when he was gone me and my mom started fighting a lot more to the point where I was going to be placed outside the house when I was nine.
I was gonna go in foster care or like a boarding school but then my uncle intervened and I went to live with my uncle. A bit of a troubled childhood there to start with which eroded my self-esteem which made me have lower self-esteem because if your dad’s not there and you have bad relationship with your mom what does that mean as a little kid?
Well, it means that my mom doesn’t like me and why did my dad leave? When you’re that young you can’t rationalize like you can when you’re 34-year-old as I am now. So, you make these interpretations and it means all sorts of bad things about you. So, you are a little boy and you’re carrying around these deep feelings of shame and guilt and all that kind of crap.
And then when I was living at my uncle’s I had a favorite teacher. She was my favorite teacher to the degree that I went home her home to eat pancakes with her and her family. I was kind of like the teacher’s pet. I wouldn’t go as far as seeing a second mom but I really liked her and she really liked me. So, it was really helpful for me at the time.
Then one day, I was a little bit of a bully, and very loud and obnoxious as I am. And one day I guess she wanted to teach me a lesson, I’m not sure of that, this is my assumption. But one day we were going to watch some documentary and I was sitting at the back of the class and was throwing around pens and pieces of paper and she caught me that I was being obnoxious and I had to go sit in front of the class next to her desk so she could watch me.
But then a little bit later the TV rolled in. This a long time ago back in the day and we were going to watch a documentary or like the news or something and she went to the back of the class so she could observe the whole class and then she yelled from the back of the class, “Hey, Sebastiaan, move away your big Dumbo ears from the television because nobody can see anything”.
Kind of like a joke. But now the person that I really trusted and like, make fun of me. Well, I normally make fun of everyone. Now I was being made fun of by the teacher and everyone could hear it and so I became bright red and I blushed like crazy and everyone was laughing at me. From that moment forward that blushing haunted me. It came back over and over and over again. When there was talk about ears… Funny enough, they’re actually fine. I’ll show you a picture one day so you can see that there was a reason to tease me about my ears.
Anyway, from that moment whenever I was the center of attention my brain sensed, “Uh-oh, it might happen again”. Therefore, I started feeling anxious in those situations and often when I was addressed in a particular way or a particular tone of voice or around certain topics like ears or girls or attractiveness or me doing something wrong or someone trying to pull my leg or something like that I would instantly start to blush. It was very difficult because I couldn’t stop it. It’s not something that you can control.
What happened in those moments is simply the shame that got stuck in that traumatic experience… I mean what are we talking about? I wasn’t beat up or this wasn’t a horrible trauma but yet these kinds of experiences don’t have to be horrible trauma like rape or torture or being beat up or anything like that.
It can be something as seemingly subtle as this but it made a big impact on me. What constitutes a trauma according to Dr. Robert Scare one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of trauma, check out his book “The body bears the burden”. According to him what constitutes a trauma is when you have an experience that violates your expectations that is a threat to your survival and you feel overwhelmed with emotion and helpless do something about it. You feel out of control. There’s like a surprise but not a pleasant one. There’s like a shock.
That’s when a traumatic experience happens and that trauma doesn’t have to be something really bad like torture or anything. It can be as subtle as what I just described with you with the experience at school with my teacher. What happens in a moment like that, your brain kind of freezes and takes a snapshot of that moment then it stores all the sights, sounds, smells, sensations and the feelings, the emotions as well as the meaning.
What does this mean and it stores it in what he calls a little trauma capsule which is then stored in procedural memory which is active memory, still going not fully processed memory and then what happens as you go forward in your life certain circumstances, people, thoughts, events, tones of voices, whatever, they become triggers to trigger what is inside that trauma capsule and then you relive the experience that you lived back then.
That traumatic experience that I had by the way I said a threat to survival. Threat to survival or a threat to survival of your identity. Well, my identity it was at threat in that moment because I was the guy making fun of everyone and now was the teacher making fun of me and I became embarrassed. It was very like an influential big moment for me. In subsequent events afterwards, the feelings from that memory got triggered as well as the deep sense of shame that was there about myself already from earlier on with my relationship with my mom and my dad and childhood troubles and that kind of stuff.
After that I had many more experiences where I blushed. If I go over them his video will be like an hour long so we’re not going to do that but what I had to do in order to overcome that shame was a whole bunch of things because it wasn’t so easy.
Because now I had been feeling that shame for such a long time. Now I’ve gotten used to feeling that shame and now I was worried that I could never stop feeling that way and I had gotten used to it and I became identified with him and the cells of my body got addicted to the emotion of shame and now there was resistance to being a person that doesn’t blush.
All sorts of complicated things can happen when you’re having troubles with blushing. Sometimes in rare cases all you have to do is going back to the originating experience where you blushed. Clear that out with tapping and then boom, you’re blushing problem is gone. However, that’s a very uncommon.
More commonly the case is that this is a real thing for you and it’s a real problem for you that has linked itself to your identity, there’s the resistance to letting go of it, there’s likely before that experience that first experience where you blush there was already stuff that caused you to have beliefs like “There’s something wrong with me” or “I’m not okay the way I am” or variations of the kind that also need to be addressed.
The bad news is that you most likely won’t resolve it with the flick of your finger or an hour tapping. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can resolve that sense of self shame. Even better news is that as you start doing that work you really start to discover a lot about yourself. You start to develop a real deep sense of self-acceptance and if you continue, you’ll end up having more self-acceptance and more inner peace than most people that never had a problem like this in the first place.
But it takes time, it takes effort, it takes dedication, it takes getting outside assistance, it takes developing a lot of self-awareness. But there’s a beautiful journey that you can go on.
In order to get to this place where shame is not a problem for you anymore, blushing doesn’t exist in your life anymore. You feel good about you. You feel good about presenting yourself to the world. I think I’ll leave it there.
I’ll give you a little resource to check out. It isn’t necessarily about blushing but it is about self-acceptance because that’s where you want to go to. That’s where you want to move towards. Being okay with who it is that you are. Being okay with the emotion of shame. Because that was a problem for me. I was so afraid of blushing happening again and blushing happening meant all sorts of things about me. It means that I’m weak, it means that I’m pathetic, it means that I’m broken, it means that I’m flawed. All these kinds of things they all needed to be addressed and acceptance had to be brought in.
Tapping is a beautiful, beautiful way to help you process the emotions, get rid of your judgments and start the journey of self-acceptance and coming ultimately to a place where you feel safe being you with anyone. That’s when social anxiety is gone and that’s where you actually enjoy connecting with others. When you can look people in the eyes, when you enjoy other people, when you enjoy the presence of other people, where you can joke around, where you can say whatever comes to mind. That’s the kind of freedom that is possible when you start on this journey.
Now many people are trained by society to be these instant gratification junkies – “If I don’t get an instant result by tapping a couple of times then this is not worth my effort and I’m just going to distract myself by downloading the latest app or watching some kind of a series or bury my head into TV and ignore the reality of my feeling”.
But if you’re smart about things then you realize that going on this path is going to lead to improvement quickly. Resolution might take some time but improvement can happen quickly when you start tapping in the right way and on the right targets then improvement happens really quickly. That improvement will keep you going and it’ll move you forward. The really cool thing that happens when you go on this path is that the benefits that you get are going to last you how long?
For the rest of your life! Forever! This affects how you feel about yourself affects everything – How you interact with people, your career, the jobs that you go for, whether you go for a promotion or not, the kind of life partner that you feel worthy of, everything.
This is very worthwhile effort. If you’re dealing with a problem of blushing or of shame start the journey now. You’re in a tough place but as you start doing this work, things will get better. The resource that I’m going to share with the podcast is when you go to www.social-anxiety-solutions.com/steve.
That’s my mate Steve Wells, he’s a psychologist and I learned a lot from him about self-acceptance. He’s the best mate of my mentor Dr. David Lake, psychotherapist. I think you’ll find that interview quite enlightening. It’s interview number five of my podcast where I interview psychologists, coaches, healers, best-selling authors, PhD, researchers, psychotherapists, you name it. It’s an awesome podcast and when you go to the beginning, I was only interviewing people. I highly suggest you go check that out. That’s episode number five.
All right, I hope this has been helpful. If you want to continue your journey and start doing your inner work, I have a program called “Create incredible emotional control” which you can get by going to http://bit.ly/getemotionalcontrol
That’s very much focused on this kind of acceptance work and there’s a lot more about it and it’s awesome. People are loving it; They are getting great results. It is a way to use tapping to overcome your social anxiety.
What else do I want to say about it? In that program you find a lot of the techniques that I’ve used with my clients that I see being effective over and over and over and over and over. They’re simple techniques, simple tapping techniques that you can instantly apply to start reducing your problem and start feeling more comfortable and start feeling more relaxed and start being more at ease. That’s really cool. You can check that out by going to the link below this video
I release videos like this every Thursday and you can subscribe here somewhere as well. One day I’ll figure out where I actually have to point.
I hope this has helped you and get on that journey, start doing it. Imagine if you start doing it now where you will be in six months from now? How much improvement will you have? Okay, I’ll leave you on that note. All right, bye for now, have a good one. Bye-bye.