At one end of the spectrum it can be just mildly socially uncomfortable
If your social anxiety is mild, it might not actually stop you from going to a particular function if you realise that it is important and the benefits of going outweigh the disadvantages. Yes, you may feel rather socially awkward and uncertain what to say but somehow you manage to deal with the uncomfortable feelings in one way or another. Occasionally, once there there you might even begin to enjoy yourself in a quiet way if you manage to ‘warm up’ and find somebody sympathetic to talk to!
At the other end social anxiety can be completely incapacitating!
Mild social anxiety is a far cry from severe social anxiety where even the thought of possible interaction with others can be so appalling and terrifying that it is, in some cases, unthinkable and impossible, for people to leave the house! The house becomes a refuge, or a prison, according to how badly it restricts their life. Some people can easily work from home while others can no longer work, travel or socialise at almost any level. It can turn them into a hermit!
Life in the middle of the spectrum can be inhibiting, restricting and often pretty miserable
Many clients I see are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum each with their individual fears of particular situations that they find challenging. Many manage to cope with work situations by keeping themselves to themselves, not joining in conversations very much or at all, avoiding groups and meetings wherever they can. Some of the challenging situations listed below are of course unavoidable and when they come out of the blue can cause acute distress.
Common everyday experiences that can cause acute distress
- Being introduced to new people
- Being the centre of attention
- Being teased or criticized
- Being watched or observed while doing something
- Having to say something in a group or formal, public situation
- Talking to ‘important’ people or someone in authority
- Feeling insecure, out of place in social situations and not knowing what to say
- Becoming easily embarrassed (e.g., blushing, shaking)
- Making eye contact
- Talking, eating, writing, signing a form, making phone calls in the presence of anybody else
When faced with these sorts of situations some people will experience inner feelings of distress but manage to hide most of it a lot of the time. Nevertheless, the very hiding of it creates a great deal of tension within.
But some distress responses are clearly impossible to hide such as blushing for example. The more they try to stop it, the redder they become and the horror increases! The fear of other people noticing their awkwardness and their blushing provokes even more anxiety because being observed, judged and found wanting is another major cause of distress.
If you relate to this and feel you have mild to moderate social anxiety you will almost certainly be helped by listening regularly to my MP3 / hypnosis download (or CD if you prefer) Relieve Social Anxiety available here https://www.firstwayforward.com/product/relieve-social-anxiety-2
Why not take a look and listen to a short sample?
Next week I’m going to talk about where these anxieties might stem from and how exactly Hypnotherapy and Self- Hypnosis downloads can help.