Living with the Silent Epidemic of Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is not just shyness, it’s a phobia. People who suffer from this type of anxiety often suffer in silence. They fear any type of social interaction with others because it stirs up fears of being judged negatively or misunderstood, so they avoid social events.
You don’t have to silently suffer from this phobia. Once you realize where the fear originates, you can take steps to control — and eventually overcome — your fear.
How Can People Fear People?
Social anxiety stems from a fear of being judged; it is common among those who have low self-esteem. People who are worried about not being good enough already have feelings of inferiority and easily feel humiliation and embarrassment when mingling with other people.
The phobia often occurs due to an embarrassing or humiliating incident in the past. Being bullied or not accepted by peers can demolish one’s self-esteem and self-worth. The phobia may also stem from witnessing others being laughed at or ridiculed, making one fear the same treatment and embarrassment.
With this type of anxiety, the sufferers over-analyzes every thought and action they take. They may obsess over something they said because they fear it made them look inadequate or weird. So, it’s not exactly the fear of people, but the fear of what others will think of you.
Changing Your Thoughts Can Change You
You can get past this phobia and go out and enjoy social activities by changing the way you think and how you see yourself. How you see yourself plays a role in how well you deal with life and its ups and downs.
Counseling to help you deal with self-esteem issues and social skills can help you overcome your phobia. Since change doesn’t happen overnight, you’ll also need to learn breathing and relaxation techniques to help you while working on your negative thinking.
Changing your thought patterns and directing them from negativity to a more positive place can make a big difference. You have to learn that when you are telling yourself that you are not good enough, pretty enough, or just a loser, this causes emotional suffering.
Misinterpreting Your Unsuccessful Experiences
Social anxiety often occurs because a person is misinterpreting his or her unsuccessful experiences. People see their unsuccessful attempts as failures instead of setbacks.
Instead of seeing yourself as a failure you must accept that you can, and will, make mistakes; no one wins all the time. Successful people get where they are because they don’t see mistakes or rejections along the way as failures. The same is true of those who are comfortable socially.
Working on your self-esteem and changing negative experiences into positive ones builds your self-esteem. When you can change to positive thinking, you have a better sense of liking yourself and feel more secure socially. You don’t feel you have to prove yourself to others and you won’t obsess over how other people see you.
It Takes Practice
While you can overcome this form of anxiety, it takes practice to change negative thought patterns that have been a part of your life for years. This includes doing your relaxation breathing and any other relaxation techniques.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one method used to help you direct your thoughts in a more rational direction. It teaches you to stop avoiding social situations and how to react differently so that being around others doesn’t trigger anxiety and panic.
Going out socially is important, so that you can practice what you’ve learned. The more you successfully socialize, the more the anxiety and panic will diminish and eventually you’ll overcome it.
You have to like yourself, know your worth and understand that you are good enough just as you are — no matter what another person thinks of you. You’re not expected to be perfect. We all make mistakes, face rejections, and go through tough times
You don’t have to live quietly with social anxiety and make up excuses to avoid social situations; you have the power to overcome it.