Hypnotherapy for blushing can be an effective treatment to help individuals discover the root cause of the problem and suggest alternative, calmer ways to cope with the issue.
Blushing is the reddening of the face, ears, neck and often the upper part of the chest, followed by a feeling of heat and tingling.
Blushing is an unconscious, physical reaction that is caused by certain situations, and is a perfectly normal bodily reaction. Some people believe blushing is naturally attractive as individuals are likely to show their true emotions! However, for many people blushing can cause discomfort and distress as they worry about when and where they may blush.
The embarrassment of blushing can become so severe for those who are extremely anxious in social situations that the sufferer avoids social contact (known as social anxiety).
Can hypnotherapy help me stop blushing?
Most people who blush try to hide it and worry in advance about how they are going to deal with a certain situation. However, this often makes it worse.
Some people suffering from blushing have been able to break this vicious cycle by simply not trying to hide it and announcing when they are about to blush to others. The more they accept that part of them, the more likely it won’t happen. Distraction exercises and deep breathing can also be ways to help manage blushing.
Hypnotherapy can help control blushing by accessing an individual’s unconscious mind to discover the root cause of the problem and help the individual to learn how to deal with it in a calmer, more relaxed way. By reframing the negative thought processes, an individual can often feel more comfortable in situations that would usually cause them to blush.
What causes blushing?
Blushing is caused by the widening of the tiny muscles in our blood vessels under the skin. Normally, these muscles are partly contracted, giving us our natural complexion. If these muscles are fully contracted, the blood vessels close meaning that less blood can pass through them, causing the skin to become pale. If these muscles are relaxed and widened, more blood than normal can pass through, causing the skin to become redder.
These tiny muscles are controlled by our autonomic nervous system which can be affected by a number of factors, including heat, illness or our emotions. If we're emotionally sensitive or our autonomic nervous system is working too hard, blushing may be more common. Therefore emotions such as embarrassment, guilt, nervousness or shame can often cause blushing.
Why do I blush?
For many people, blushing can be traced back to a particular event (e.g. being put on the spot in front of a class full of people) and this can lead to a vicious circle of being embarrassed about the blushing and anticipating it happening again. Becoming tense in similar situations and worrying about blushing often makes it more likely that it will happen again. This is because our brain automates patterns of thinking, and for individuals who blush excessively, their brain has often automated worrying about blushing.
Trying not to worry about blushing also doesn’t help the situation, as our brains can’t not think about something we’re trying not to think about. For example, if you tell yourself not to think of a white rabbit, you immediately picture a white rabbit in your mind. So if we tell ourselves not to worry about blushing, we immediately think about blushing. Again, our brain automates this pattern of thinking.
As mentioned, those who struggle with social anxiety may experience episodes of blushing. But it isn't the blushing that causes the anxiety, it is the attention blushing may draw to someone that causes a sufferer to focus on not blushing, which starts the vicious cycle again. In this instance, hypnotherapy can be a great tool to have in your toolkit to provide in the moment relief, alongside deeper work.
How to stop blushing
Catherine Swatridge (Dip. Hyp, HPD, GQHP) shares two techniques to help manage blushing.
The "cool breeze" technique
- Get yourself into a nice relaxed state.
- With every breath you take, allow yourself to relax more and more deeply.
- Now imagine a situation that used to make you blush, e.g. public speaking.
- Feel yourself getting hot and your face going red.
- Now, imagine a cooling breeze blowing across your face.
- This breeze cools your face down and the blood moves away from your face and back into your body.
- As this happens you say the words “calm and relax” to yourself in your mind and see the words in front of your eyes.
- As your face cools, so does your whole body, making you feel calm, at ease and relaxed.
- With every breath you take, imagine yourself becoming cooler and more relaxed.
The ruler technique
As you know, blushing is all caused by your mind. This technique proves to your subconscious mind that you can increase your blush response. If you can increase it using just the power of your mind, then you must also be able to decrease it.
You do this as follows:
- Get yourself into a nice relaxed state.
- Imagine a ruler in front of you. Numbers from 0-100 are marked. This measures your level of relaxation. When you are embarrassed, the ruler measures 80, 90 or even 100. When you are completely unconscious the ruler measures 0.
- While in this relaxed state, notice what number the ruler is at.
- Think of a recent incident that made you blush. Imagine it vividly.
- Once you are visualising that event, notice what number you currently are on the ruler.
- Then let go of the event you were just remembering. It's in the past.
- Clear your mind by thinking of a pleasant, relaxing place.
- Imagine the ruler again and using the power of your mind, lower the number of the ruler down several levels.
- Now picture yourself in a difficult situation, such as giving a talk to lots of people. As you imagine this, bring the numbers on the ruler down. Allow yourself to relax.
This technique demonstrates to your subconscious mind that you can increase your blushing, just by using your thoughts. If you can increase your blush levels, then logically, you must also be able to decrease your blushing, using your thoughts.