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Looking at social anxiety from a modern day mirror: Here's what you can do

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Many people with social and performance anxiety have felt that they are unable to do anything related to their interests. They can have debilitating thoughts on how they will always be a failure while they are unable to practice their skills or be in social situations.

Social anxiety is a significant problem affecting millions of people. It makes it difficult for individuals to function normally, causing problems in relationships, employment, and academic performance. In this article we offer ways on how one can recover from social anxiety, help reduce its effects and live with more happiness and confidence than ever before.


Here are some common problems related to social anxiety:


1. Anxiety during conversation or public speaking

Some people have a problem when they are required to talk with others, especially when they see themselves as a social failure and feel embarrassed by the thought of having to talk. They also tend to avoid such situations because they feel anxious. Some people accomplish this by being overly polite and rarely allowing themselves to be outspoken. However some find it helpful to practice with others and pay attention to those who can help them overcome their fears of speaking out with confidence for all others to see.


2. Fear of peer pressure or public opinion

Some people feel that they are supposed to avoid making any decisions because they are afraid of how others will react to what they may choose. This can cause the person to avoid making choices which could even hurt them, while they struggle with their anxiety. Some people can learn to control their anxiety by discussing and considering the opinions of others while still being able to make the choice that is best for them, however if this is not possible, it is helpful and useful to find a therapy (such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) which helps them work through this problem in order for them for feel more confident during social encounters.


3. Fear of judgment from others

Some people feel that they will always be laughed at, criticized or even rejected by others. This causes them to avoid situations where other people may notice or comment on their appearance. These people can learn to overcome their anxiety by the process of self reflection in order to get the negative thoughts that could cause them harm to go away.


4. Low self-esteem/feelings of inferiority

Many people with social anxiety also have feelings of inferiority or lack of self-confidence causing them to seldom feel good about themselves, which can lead to low self-esteem and lack of confidence in the rest of the world around them. These people may benefit from therapy in which they learn to accept themselves for who they are and how these thoughts might be affecting their lives. This is often a very helpful source to recover from social anxiety.


5. Excessive self-monitoring

Some people have a tendency to pay too much attention to other people's reactions to them or what they are saying, thereby making it difficult for them to focus on the conversation. They may tend to over-analyze every word that comes out of their mouth, which can cause them hostility or criticism because they do not react realistically. These individuals can practice reacting more casually and realistically without paying so much attention to what others think about their actions and conversations with others.


6. Self-defeating behaviors

Some people with social anxiety have a habit of having negative thoughts about themselves and this can affect the way they carry themselves in social situations. This often leads them to engage in self-defeating actions and behaviors which only serve to make their problems worse. These individuals are encouraged to find ways to challenge their negative thinking patterns and be able to change the way they live their lives by practicing thought stopping techniques, changing their self-defeating behaviors, learning social skills, and engaging in relaxation techniques (such as meditation or yoga).



7. Perfectionism

Some people have a tendency to feel that they always need to be perfect in everything that they do or say. This can often lead to an inability to perform tasks that they find challenging. This can also cause them to avoid trying new things and being able to learn new skills, while they struggle with their need for perfectionism. These individuals are encouraged to find hobbies or activities in which they can practice their strengths and skills while feeling comfortable in a social setting at the same time without having to worry about being perfect all the time.


8. Poor body image

Some people have poor body image which affects the way they carry themselves in public and this makes them feel embarrassed about themselves. They are encouraged to seek therapy in which they can work through the thoughts and feelings of their poor body image and learn techniques which help them not to hate themselves or feel insecure about their bodies.


9. Negative self-talk

Some people have a tendency to criticize themselves for not being perfect, even when it is about nothing that has actually happened. These people are encouraged to practice positive self-talk in order for them to stop their negative thoughts from leaking out into their social interactions with others.

10. Negative expectations of others

Many people have expectations of others based on the way they appear or live their lives that may not be realistic at all. These individuals are encouraged to learn more about people and their personal experiences before forming an opinion about them.


However, this does not mean that people suffering from social anxiety are doomed to having a life full of lonely and miserable experiences. Social anxiety can be overcome with professional help and with time, patience and support from others who do not make fun of or tease the person for their silence, shyness or awkwardness.


Dealing with social anxiety

Dealing with social anxiety is about learning how to control the feelings of nervousness and discomfort that individuals feel in everyday situations. Social anxiety can be overcome through the following actions:


1. Let others know about social anxiety

It is beneficial for people suffering from social anxiety to let others who do not suffer from this problem know about it so that they can understand what is happening and what is possible in their daily lives. Sharing their experiences with support groups such as members of an eating disorder support group or an anxiety disorders support group may be beneficial in order to gain support and tips on how they can cope with their symptoms.


2. Develop a plan for dealing with social anxiety and stick to it

Some people do not deal with their social anxiety on their own and need some additional help from professional therapists. This can be very helpful as self-help is difficult for many people as they may need additional tools in order to deal with their symptoms. These individuals may benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps them to change their thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to social anxiety. However, this guidance can be obtained through the use of self-help books or face-to-face therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy) in order to understand how they can overcome their fears and anxieties when they are dealing with other people. They will also learn how they can change how they think and feel about things that are troubling them in order to withstand the social situations that they fear and avoid.


3. Do not give in to the fear of rejection

People suffering from social anxiety may be afraid to speak up in front of others because they might get rejected if people do not like what they have to say. However, these individuals are encouraged by knowing that everyone has fears of rejection and this should not be a reason why they remain silent when it is their turn to ask a question or make a comment on whatever topic is discussed. This fear can also be overcome as most people who have to speak before an audience have done it many times before and are able to do it without being extremely nervous.


4. Practice new ways of interaction

If something does happen that causes the individual with social anxiety to feel awkward and like they could say or do something that would make everyone in the room uncomfortable, they should just practice a new behavior to get through the situation rather than staying silent or talking back in an angry manner. For instance, they should just smile and practice opening up with their friends socially by telling jokes, telling how they got dumped last night, or telling what they did at work. This will help by showing others that the person is trying to interact in a positive way and making it easier for them to learn how to make new friends and get used to having people around them.


Takeaway

Social anxiety is a serious mental illness that causes individuals to have extreme fear of doing something in front of other people. It is not uncommon for someone with social anxiety to experience anxiety before, during and after an interaction with another person. However, it can be managed by learning how to control the feelings of nervousness and discomfort experienced whenever people are faced with a situation that causes them to feel uncomfortable.


This can be done through therapy sessions and self-help books which give additional tips on how these individuals can change their thoughts, feelings and behaviors needed in order for them to overcome their fear of interacting with others and eventually regain a normal life despite the presence of social anxiety.


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