What is Social Anxiety?
Updated: Mar 28
Social anxiety is believed to be created to protect an individual from the fear of judgement or rejection.
It is the fear of social situations and what people might think of us.
People with social anxiety can be perceived as shy, withdrawn, aloof and reserved. It is not that people with social anxiety do not want to make friends, it is that they fear the interaction.
People with social anxiety might:
* Get a headache
* Have an inability to speak
* Be tongue tied
* Over talk
* Avoid situations
* Have a racing heart
* Experience tightness in the chest
* Limit or have no eye contact
* Get sweaty palms
* Feel they can only see people on their "good days"
Some people know that they have social anxiety and may even tell others “I have social anxiety”.
But others aren’t aware or perhaps only experience it on one level but not in all social situations.
Social anxiety can show up in many different ways such as:
Avoiding seeing friends - You may put it down to tiredness when really it is because you fear being judged as you aren’t your usual self.
Missing out on social invites - Perhaps you say you “can’t be bothered” when really your unconscious is trying to protect you from facing the awkwardness of meeting strangers.
Not talking to the bank clerk - Worrying they will doubt who you are and will question if this is really your own personal account.
Cancelling dates - Telling yourself you “weren’t that into them anyway”.
Saying no to opportunities at work - Out of fear you will need to attend large meetings and everyone will know you are a fraud.
Avoid saying hello - As you find small talk uncomfortable.
Planning what to speak about - Having an exact idea of all the things you can talk about when you meet someone to save yourself from the awkward silences.
Situations that can trigger social anxiety:
Social anxiety is triggered by interacting with others. Particular examples of what can trigger an episode of social anxiety are:
Meeting new people
Anything formal such as a meeting or a presentation
Engaging with people in authority
Being the centre of attention
Social situations without an activity to be distracted by such as coffee
Social anxiety is the fear of social situations i.e. with other people.
The irony is that what social anxiety causes you to do is to keep away from the very thing that will enable you to over come your anxiety, social interactions.
By moving towards social situations you would learn how to navigate and build your own self esteem. It would enable you to experience life in a different way. You might discover that people aren’t all that scary, may like you and a few may even love you.
Click here to learn: What social anxiety is not