Erytrophobia, the fear of blushing, is a debilitating anxiety that few people besides the afflicted have ever heard of or can relate to. Why would anybody worry their days away, living in fear of going red in the face? For most people, it’s just a physical reaction to embarrassment, to being caught bending or stretching the truth, or maybe to exercising. Unpleasant, yes, but nothing to be afraid of. Easy to dismiss as soon as it’s over.
Except it isn’t easy to dismiss for an ery – a person who suffers from erythrophobia. The fear is constant, and the self-loathing after an ‘incident’ a given. But how exactly does erythrophobia affect an ery? Why can it be such a debilitating anxiety, and what are indicators that somebody is caught in the destructive and self-fulfilling circle of every blush feeding the fear of the next one? Let me count the ways…
1. Social Awkwardness
If they lived by themselves on an island, most eries would never blush. In most cases, social situations induce the anxiety. Many eries try to hide their blushes, which in turn leads to awkward behavior.
The Circle of Blushing for social situations goes like this: blushing leads to embarrassment, which leads to avoidant behavior, which leads to focus of attention, which leads to blushing. Bing!
In most cases, an ery will stay in the background of any group or conversation. Eries rarely voice opinions. Many don’t participate in discussions beyond the act of listening. Even if they do speak, they might look at their feet. Or hide their face behind their hair. Or speak in a very quiet voice. These are avoidance tactics that may baffle other people. Because they don’t know what’s going on, they’ll dismiss this person as eccentric, weird, or unopinionated, and not try to include them in further conversation. Which is, of course, exactly what eries want: to be ignored. But being perpetually ignored only intensifies an ery’s already overdeveloped tendency to the next effect: self-imposed isolation.
When every social encounter induces anxiety or makes you feel inferior, avoiding them seems like the logical thing to do. When having to chose between meeting strangers at a crowded a party or staying home, staying home often wins out. Some eries quit their hobbies because they involve lots of other people; like playing sports. For some, just going to the grocery store feels like running the gauntlet. To avoid potential trigger situations, eries would choose to stay at home for a year if they could, rather than going to the store for ten minutes to go buy their favorite chocolate.
An ery feels most comfortable at home, performing solitary activities. Which is fine – many people who don’t suffer from erythrophobia are like that. But when your lone-wolf tendencies are dictated by your anxiety rather than your own notions, you’re isolating yourself for the wrong reasons. And when they keep you from taking even a single step out of your front door, they become a prison rather than a sanctuary.
3. Limitations On The Job
Holding a presentation in front of a crowded room is one of the worst scenarios for any ery. All attention is on us. Everybody will see that we’re blushing. Not even when, but that. Because that blush is going to creep up on us at the first stumble, be it a forgotten passage, somebody in the audience looking bored, a mistake in the Power Point presentation. So jobs that require presentations on a regular or even infrequent basis are right out.
But it’s not just presentations. Jobs that require frequent dialogue with many different colleagues, especially unknown ones, also make it difficult for an ery to get up in the morning. The same goes for positions in which one has to be assertive. Eries will confess their opinions on things only when asked directly about them – seldom when somebody has to take a stance or take the lead. Leading positions? Bye bye.
4. Putting Dreams On Hold
All or any one of the above-mentioned effects can limit an ery’s will to follow their dreams and passions. There are very few activities of any kind that don’t involve other people at some point or other. And the bigger the dream, the harder you often have to put yourself out there and push to make it happen. Many eries don’t push – ever. Not themselves and definitely not others. And they don’t put themselves out anywhere if they can help it.
This means that some eries may never pursue their deepest desires. Their visions for their lives. They don’t even just put their dreams on hold, they forget about them. Or try to. And then, when they’re old and grey, they may be reminded of the dreams they had, and the reasons why they remained just that: dreams. And they might be bitter and jaded by then, sitting alone in their lonely home, waiting for it all to be over, the only constant in their life a single thought: if only…
The effects and possible outcomes presented here seem rather bleak and hopeless. Some are even quite extreme, but no less realistic. These are the battles, conflicts and consequences eries face every day unless they manage to break free.
I’m here to tell you that it is possible to break free. It absolutely is. I will share how I managed to do so in coming blog posts.
And now I want to know about you. Have you had similar experiences as an ery? Do you have an effect that being an ery has on your life to add to my list? I’d love to hear about them.
Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future. ~Robert H. Schuller