Why so guilty? Or maybe I should ask ‘Why are you so afraid of being yourself?’
First, why do we blush? The feeling accompanied by blushing is an exquisite sensitivity to the feeling of embarrassment. Embarrassment is often tied to shame. Blushing is an automatic, uncontrollable response to these feelings. It happens in humans because our facial veins react to this adrenaline. So when the limbic system is triggered, the blood rushes to the face causing the redness to appear. There is a lot of basic (scientific) info on this reaction here, here and here if you are interested.
But what you really want to know is how to control blushing. Right?
Thinking in opposites is a strategy I want to offer you. Here’s why.
My moods can drive me a little crazy at times. They can shift a fair amount, even though I’m a pretty even-keeled person. For example, I can feel super UP when a new client contacts me and it feels like a great fit. That’s a big dopamine hit for my little therapy brain.
Then there are other times when the occasional isolation of running a solo private practice gets to me. I’m a people person, especially when it’s one-on-one or when I’m with a small, intimate group of friends. Nothing brings me more pleasure than those connections.
But—as Mick says—you can’t always get what you want, or at least not immediately, or without some effort on your part.
Sometimes when others criticize us, especially those close to us, or those in power over us, it is as if a fire alarm goes off in our brains. It can put you on the defensive very quickly. What if you could change this clanging into something that actually made you more productive? What if you could soften the sound to some gentle chimes that made you say, hmmm, what about this has me paying so much attention?
This is a matter of asking yourself the right questions. It is a way to receive criticism that you can teach yourself, instead of responding like it’s a three alarm fire. Here’s a few questions to get you started. But first a personal story.
Sarcasm is an odd issue to tackle. The reason is that it is highly contextual, often subtle, and totally ubiquitous. My title says “Sarcasm is contempt” but that is 100% dependent on the context in which it is being leveled. Here is an example:
Are you one? A super sensitive ruminator? A person who thinks deeply about things, maybe sometimes too much? Or perhaps you veer into the scarier territory of unwanted intrusive thoughts. These little torturers will keep you stuck for sure. The most ineffective action you can take is trying not to have your thoughts. My mantra to you is “Change your relationship with your thoughts and your beliefs about them.”
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is being hypersensitive to either real or imagined criticism. What underlies this feeling is an exquisite sensitivity to the feeling of embarrassment.
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
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