It is quite common for people to feel tense or awkward during social interactions. If this happens to you often or if you feel stressed before meeting other people, you might suffer from social anxiety. Do the following situations make you anxious?
- Large crowds of people
- Social settings
- Public speaking
- Getting to know new people
- Working in groups
- People that praise or acknowledge you
- Receiving attention from other people
Varying degrees of social anxiety
If one or more of these things make you nervous it doesn’t necessary mean you suffer from social anxiety. There is a bit of ambiguity here but you need to keep in mind that many people feel a bit nervous in one or more of these situations. There are varying degrees of social anxiety too. A good way to diagnose yourself is by answering the question: ‘Do I actively try to steer clear of social occasions?’ If your answer to this question is ‘yes’, you probably do suffer from social anxiety. If you really want to find out if you have social anxiety, the best way is to see a professional who can diagnose you properly. If you feel avoiding social situations is a daily disruption, it might be time to admit you suffer from a mental problem. The first step to solving a problem is to admit that you have a problem.
When you fear judgement by others, you may suffer from a social phobia. When you suffer from this, you fear you will be embarrassed or lose control in a social setting. The fear of embarrassment can cause people to actively try to avoid social situations. A social phobia will get worse when people find themselves in a social situation they don’t want to be in, which will cause them to act in an irrational way. After this happens they’ll try to avoid a social occasion even more. In certain settings, a lot of people will be nervous. Especially talking in front of groups of people is something not all of us are comfortable with. Many of us will feel self-conscious under these circumstances but still have the strength to push through. People with a mental problem have such a strong reaction to this that they physically will not be able to stand up and talk. They experience stressful days, weeks or even months before the event will take place.
Control your inner voice
Everyone has an inner voice that can give you positive messages or negative messages. You can say to yourself ‘I’m not successful with other people and in social situations.’ The more often you say this to yourself, the more you will begin to believe your own story. You’ve got the opportunity to have a positive life story or a negative one. You can treat social anxiety with visualization techniques and imagery. You can get rid of a negative belief by opposing it yourself. For instance, if you believe you aren’t good at meeting new people, try to think back of a time where you were successful on such an occasion. Meditate on it and write it down: every time you read this you’ll think back of something positive where you handled the situation well. This will challenge the negative belief you have about yourself and make you feel more confident.
Do you really have a mental problem?
You need to be absolutely positive you have social anxiety. It is dangerous to think that something is wrong with you when you’re perfectly normal. Unfortunately, some doctors are quite willing to prescribe drugs to you even when you don’t have a mental problem. You need to keep in mind that there is a difference between being a little stressed when you meet someone new versus having a mental illness. Therefore, if you’re often stressed in social occasions don’t run to the doctor immediately but rather try to control your inner voice through meditation and doing things that make you feel more confident.
Image Credit: Anaïs Nannini