If your face turns red in emotional situations, YOU are not alone. In fact, it is a very common phenomenon. So here is how to stop yourself from blushing.
Image: Maciej Kraus
People often are unwilling to talk about blushing and keep it a secret. So, you might think that it is uncommon. But in reality, most of us BLUSH.
Why Do We Blush?
There are several reasons for why we blush:
- When we are interacting with others. For example, when presenting in front of an audience or attending a job interview etc.
- When we are feeling vulnerable. For instance, when we are being bullied and we need to stand up for ourselves.
- When we are in a conversation with someone we are attracted.
- We might also blush for no apparent reason – even when we are not feeling nervous, shy or vulnerable.
Can We Control Our Blushing?
We have no control over our blushing and that worsens our situation. Our face turns red because of our emotions. Our instincts control our blushing and our logical reasoning has no part in it. That is why our logical tricks cannot stop us from blushing.
When we know a particular situation can cause us to blush, we blush more. Moreover, when others see us blushing and they start making fun of us – it becomes embarrassing.
In short, our worry and anxiety about blushing makes us turn red. This in turn makes us worry more, turning it into a vicious circle.
Can I Solve This Problem?
Of course, YOU CAN!
You can try using superficial tricks like a ‘cold arm on your face’ or ‘breathing slowly’. But, it is not really going to change anything.
Since the cause of your blushes is purely instinctive, you need to focus on this.
What Can I Do?
The FIRST STEP to solving this is to understand why YOU blush.
An emotional reaction makes you blush. As human beings, our emotions are crucial for us to adapt to our surroundings.
Our emotions act faster than our logical reactions. Thus, allowing us to adapt to our environment effectively.
For example, if you see a cockroach, you feel disgusted immediately. However, if you were asked to explain logically why you feel disgusted, it would take you much longer to come up with a logical reasoning.
Another example is, if you see someone cleaning the toilet with your national flag. You’d probably feel angry straight away.
However, if you were asked to explain why it is a harmful thing to do, you probably might take a long time to reason it out.
What Does My Emotion Do For Me?
Your emotions have important function:
“Emotions tune YOUR body into the right condition.”
Your emotions act as a Conductor in an orchestra. You might have seen the conductor directing different musical instruments to play beautiful classical music.
Your emotions do this same job by tuning the work of different organs and processes of your body. Hence, acting like a conductor.
When you express emotions, a lot of changes occur within the body. For example, when you are afraid or angry, your breathing and heart rate will increase. Your pupils will start to dilate and your muscles contract.
Your emotions can make your body release various hormones, which in turn results in other changes in your body.
Blushing & My RED Face
When you blush, an important change occurs in the body. Your blood gets transported more effectively to different parts of the body.
Your brain is the most critical part of your body. So, the organs often start pumping more blood directly to your head, since your brain needs its fuel – the blood. This causes a “reddish” appearance on your face.
Caesar & His Red-Faced Army
There is an interesting story about Caesar – the Emperor of Roman Empire. He used to select soldiers for his army using this concept of emotions.
During his selection process, Caesar made the candidates perform a number of dangerous tests. He used to observe the faces of these candidates for two main facial reactions – Red or White. He always picked RED.
The reason why a face turns white is that the blood vessels get narrowed and lower quantities of blood goes to the head. This white face was induced when someone feels fear and suffering.
A red face indicated that more blood was being supplied to the head and the brain was active. This helps the person to make decisive decisions at critical times. A red face also showed emotions of anger and bravery.
Caesar’s strategy of picking more “red” faces for his army really paid off. The Roman army was the greatest army of that time, conquering many countries. This made Rome the greatest empire of that time.
- The same set of emotions that turns your face turn red also causes a lot of changes in your body. These changes mobilize your inner resources and can turn you into a “superman” state.
In this state, you can act decisively and effectively. It happens so quickly and emotionally that the brain doesn’t get time to comprehend what is happening.
- Blushing is similarly quick and instinctive that we are unable to have control over it.
There have been actual true stories that highlight this.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger – a champion bodybuilder said that he could lift heavier weights while performing on stage than during his training in a gym.
- Another example is that of an ordinary woman who lifted a car that was on top of her child, which shocked her too.
- There is also another story of Solomon Mikhoels – an actor. He got a trauma while he was on stage. But he continued his performance as his emotional state numbed his pain. He felt the pain only after he completed his performance, and behind the curtain he felt down immediately.
The above stories show that the same emotions that causes blushing can bring hormonal changes. Your body can perform at a higher level due to these changes.
So, you can look at blushing from two angles. You can either consider it as a negative thing that exposes your vulnerability or you can look at it as part of the process that can change you into a “superman”.
A Final Story
Here is a final story that personally helped me to overcome my insecurities of blushing.
As a kid, I used to play chess intensively. Often, I would find my face going red while playing, especially when I was nervous.
My mom could feel some heat coming off of my face, even at a distance of 10 cm. She used to say that since I was thinking really hard, my face was turning RED.
Ever since that moment, I started to believe that the reason for my face turning red proved that my brain was working intensively. This made me so proud that I told this to all my friends.
When I later started studying Psychology, I realized that my childhood belief about blushing actually had scientific backing!
A Russian scientist, Pavlov had said that emotions are “blind power” that mobilizes the energy of the human beings. How we use this energy is up to us. We can take advantage of this energy for our benefit.
- Researchers have found that the more we think about blushing, WE BLUSH. So, any efforts we take to counteract blushing will not be effective. It might probably make it worse!
- But don’t worry – there is a solution. What do you do to fight darkness? Just turn on the light.
So, your main task is not to stop blushing but to stop caring about it. When you care less about blushing, your face’s redness reduces significantly.
More importantly, even when you blush, you will stay confident. This is because you know these emotions that cause blushing have other beneficial effects on your body.
- Blushing simply means that your body is mobilizing more inner resources to give you extra energy. Use this energy for your benefit. Accept the help your body is giving you to perform better. And be proud of it!
- Remember the story about Caesar’s RED-FACED army. So, if you turn red, it means that you can act effectively in critical situations. Those who do not turn red should be worried.
P.S. What do you plan to do next time YOUR face turns red?