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Blushing can feel like a social disease that has no cure. A blush creeps up on you, and before you know it, you can feel your face turning bright red, which of course makes you more embarrassed. You're sure everyone notices and thinks less of you for it. Try these ways of reducing the traumatic effects of blushing on your life.

Have you noticed that you seem to blush habitually when you are around certain people? Your boss, your doctor, even your librarian may make you feel uncomfortable, and bring the blood rushing to your face. Take a look at your blushing pattern: who are you around most often when you blush, and what is it about that person that brings on an attack of the blushes? Is it because they're in a position of authority, or perhaps they're particularly good-looking?

If you examine your relationship with such people, you may notice that you're not really intimidated by them - you've just formed a pattern of perceiving yourself as inferior to them. You may get on very well with your boss or your doctor, but maybe you're all too aware of their authority or power. Or maybe you're trying too hard to impress such people. Once you have pinpointed who makes you blush most often, and why, you can start to change your behavior.

If you are about to encounter a person or situation that usually makes you blush, take a minute to have a stern word with yourself. Find somewhere quiet and indulge in some positive self-talk. Tell yourself (out loud if possible) that you are calm and self-possessed and ready to talk to this person. Remind yourself of five of your best qualities, and proceed to demonstrate them to the person who usually intimidates you. If you have something specific to say during the coming exchange, practise your main points (again, out loud, so that you are prepared for what your ideas sound like when they are spoken) and move confidently into your meeting, well-prepared and ready to stand your ground.

There are three key ways of using your body to give you a physical advantage in the blushing wars. Firstly, deep breathing is invaluable. Many people blush as a kind of instinctive, panicky response to a demanding social or professional situation. In your private place, prior to your meeting, take a deep breath, inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling fully through your mouth. Repeat this action five times, and you will feel an overwhelming sense of calm. It is difficult to panic and blush when you're this relaxed.

Blushing is also brought on by negative expectations. If your boss calls you into her office, you may blush furiously in anticipation of being reprimanded or even fired. Try the second simple and effective physical approach to preventing the blush: smiling. On the way to her office, take a quick detour into the bathroom and smile broadly at yourself in the mirror. Smile warmly at every person you see on the way to her office, and enter the room smiling. You will be amazed at the effect this simple technique has on your state of mind: you will feel upbeat, confident and positive: it is almost impossible to blush when you're in this uplifted state of mind.

Maybe you blush for a very basic reason: you're embarrassed about a specific aspect of the way you look. Whether we like it or not, people constantly make snap judgments about who we are and how valuable we are, based simply on the way we look. If you are long overdue for a makeover, what's stopping you? There are many inexpensive and non-threatening ways to sharpen up your look. One or two new items of clothing, or simply a new haircut and color can completely transform the way you feel about yourself. If you're approaching a stressful social or professional situation, in which you'd be mortified if you blushed in public, invest some time in improving the way you look: buy yourself a new outfit which makes you feel like a million dollars, or start an exercise program which makes you feel better about your body.

Remember: you don't have to be helpless in the struggle against blushing. These are effective ways of changing your habits and outlook, so that you are no longer characterized as a shrinking violet, but as a proactive, assertive and confident person who gets what you want out of life.