Question:

Hi Andy,

I’m going through a particularly stressful period in which I’m blushing in social situations. I find it very uncomfortable and it causes me a lot of anxiety, and thinking about it only makes it worse. I have tried to apply the principles of your program to it, especially the non resistance and noting from the Anxiety program I’m currently working through, but it’s a kink.

Do you have any recommendations on how to deal with this successfully?

Andy’s answer:

Sorry to hear you’re experiencing this at the moment, I’m sure it must be very uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally. It’s not entirely clear from your note if you are going through a very stressful period and the blushing episodes have arisen as a result of this stress, or whether you are experiencing stress as a result of blushing more frequently. It’s also difficult to comment without knowing a little more information. But I’m very happy to share a few general thoughts about this kind of thing.

The starting point is to acknowledge that blushing is both normal and healthy. It is a function of both body and mind and we have the ability to experience it because it is part of the human condition. This may sound obvious, but when we experience phenomena we dislike, it’s very easy to forget that these thoughts, emotions and physical sensations are part of living a human life.

Where it gets difficult of course is when we start to experience imbalance with that phenomena. So, whether it’s feeling embarrassed, anxious, sad, angry, or whatever else, when these emotions begin to arise so frequently that they start to impact the way we live life, then it can become very distressing. Because there is a physical component to blushing, you might like to check with your doctor to ensure nothing else is going on, but assuming it’s not, here’s how the traditional teachings suggest we look at this kind of thing:

The blushing is what it is. It is no doubt both stressful and uncomfortable. Maybe there is a particular reason for it starting like this all of a sudden, or maybe it has built up over time. Either way, if it could be stopped through force or will power we would have done it a long time ago. So we need to find a different way to work with it when it arises. And this means embracing it, allowing it to arise and fall away in its own time. The more we get involved with it, the more we interfere, the more we resist, the longer it remains. But if we can get used to simply noting it, then it will quickly pass. Of course, at first this is easy to say and much more difficult to put into practice. But it is a practice, a new skill and it requires repetition to become familiar and effective.

I appreciate that it is counter-intuitive to embrace something we don’t like, but in doing so, it ceases to become a “problem” and therefore the mind quickly loses interest in it and lets go of the tendency. There are many others ways to approach the situation, but I would begin with this one and see how you get on. Let me know.

Warm wishes,

Andy