why do we go red when we are embarrassed

Firstly how we turn red, or blush : when we feel ashamed or receive unwanted social attention we release a hormone called adrenaline, which causes the blood vessels of your face to dilate (become wider), so that more blood fits in the skin of your face, and this is visible through the surface as redness. This only happens in the blood vessels of the face, and is a different effect from turning red from anger, which is caused by increased blood pressure and higher blood flow - shame won t make your veins pulse. We show a few different behaviors in these situations, including: fidgeting, increased smiling, and avoiding eye contact. Darwin, who found the blushing reaction quite interesting and studied it, though not extensively, wrote an ashamed person can hardly endure to meet the gaze of those present so that he almost invariably casts his eyes downwards or looks askant. These other reactions are culturally dependent though. Darwin, being most familiar with British people would have noted this, as over 40% of this population averts their eyes when embarrassed, while only ~10% of Japanese or Italian people do so. Blushing, however, is universal. As to why blushing happens, while it is an unintentional reaction, it is not accidental, it serves some quite useful social purposes. While shame and blushing are almost invariably experienced as negative, signaling shame to others is actually communicating to them that you share their moral values and expectations, and that you are aware that you have transgressed such rules. Expressing that in a hard-to-fake manner is very useful for a social community, where your transgression (whatever has made you feel ashamed) is more likely to be accepted/forgiven if the rest of your group believe you feel bad about it. This will have been particularly useful for early Hominins who were part of social groups, but who s language was not yet sufficiently advanced to communicate abstract concepts like shame.


This Evolutionary/communicative explanation for blushing is probably the most widely accepted scientific view on blushing at this point, but there are others. Darwin believed it was a part of interpersonal appraisal, that it was thinking of what others think of us, which excites a blush, but he could not find a good reason for it: it makes the blusher to suffer and the beholder uncomfortable, without being of the least service to either of them. The Psychoanalytic movement (the followers of Freud s work) were the biggest group who examined blushing, and they came up with a number of explanations. As can be expected from this particular branch of early Psychology however, the explanations were diverse, often incoherent, and generally connected to sex. A typical Psychodynamic explanation would be that blushing is the result of a subconscious exhibitionist fantasy that is held in check by the conscious mind; another would be that it is a physical signal of an emotional problem that is repressed; or that it is simply repressed libidinal excitation (sexual desire). These theories can be safely ignored. Another line of theorizing, based on attention, is that people usually don t think about the fact that others are paying attention to them, and blushing happens when we start to excessively monitor how others are reacting to us. This coincides with when we re particularly sensitive to negative attention feelings when we are ashamed. This doesn t quite work out though, because even though blushing only happens due to public shame, not private shame, we do bush in private when being reminded of this kind of shame, even if we are not being currently observed by others. Blushing can also be looked at as a face-saving mechanism, in line with the earlier communicative theory. This remedial blushing is all about repairing public image after something embarrassing has happened, and is supported by some experiments that have shown that when people don t think others saw them blush, other face-saving activity increases.


Still, it doesn t seem to explain everything, it is really only focused on threats to public identity which are only a fraction of all the cases of blushing. Well, this is starting to get a bit long so I ll leave it at this for now. As you are probably a young person, bear in mind that blushing is only a temporary problem: while teenagers report they blush at least once a week (36% say they blush daily) and the 19-25 group blushes almost every week, those over 35 say they blush only once a month, at maximum.
It is not surprising that in today's "got to look good" society, facial blushing causes people a lot of pain. At its extremes, the embarrassment from blushing can become so acute that the sufferer avoids social contact. Talking to other people, whether in person or even on the phone, is often associated with blushing. P Here are some things you can do about it. (Please note: Here we are talking about the common social blushing that nearly everyone experiences at some time. There is a condition called hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) that is often treated with surgery. Normal blushing does not require such an extreme solution. ) So Why Do We Blush? The first thing to understand is that blushing is a perfectly natural thing. It seems to be nature's way of disclosing our true feelings about a situation. Some have theorised that blushing is naturally attractive as it is safer in evolutionary terms to have a partner that cannot lie without detection. (Of course this is not fail-safe! ) Relax Out of It Blushing tends to get worse at first as people start to get embarrassed about their embarrassment, creating a sort of vicious circle. The more tense you get as you start to blush, the more the blood is forced to the face. One trick is, when you feel it coming on, to deliberately drop your shoulders, relax your body, and push your stomach out.


This takes a bit of doing at first, so you might want to practice. P Announce It, Don't Hide It One thing that allows the circle to continue is the 'hiding' of it by the blusher. I used to blush much more than I do now (most people do from time to time). The way I dealt with it, and a way that has helped clients of mine, was to announce it when it was about to happen. " Here we go, I'm going to go red now " or " Oh, I think I might blush ". Accept It, Don't Fight It You need to shift your relationship to the blushing. At the moment you are trying to hide it because you are embarrassed about it. If you can work on relaxing about it, it will get better. This will be helped by you accepting it as a current part of yourself. You can try saying to yourself " At the moment, I am a blusher ". I t sounds strange, but if you can bring yourself to like that part of you more, it is more likely to go away! Other Peoples' Opinions Part of the embarrassment about blushing is caused by the thought that others will see you as weak or silly. However, everyone has had the experience of being embarrassed, and it's not nice for anyone. Any decent person will be sympathetic about it. Anyone who thinks less of you for it is most probably not worth knowing anyway! Retrain Your Body Self hypnosis can help greatly as you can train your body to relax as you feel the blushing coming on, or have the thought that you might blush. If you do any relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, once you are really relaxed imagine the feeling of the blushing and have yourself relax with it. Practice feeling accepting towards yourself as you feel it coming on. You can imagine how you would feel if you saw someone else suffering the same way, and then feel that way towards yourself. Your Standards Remember, if you were perfect, you would be God! ;-).

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