Why do I suffer from social anxiety?
It would be easy to say that it’s because I don’t like other people that I’m like this 😅. I admit I’m an introvert and like to recharge my batteries alone (or with my partner). However, the causes lie elsewhere than in misanthropy. For some people, social anxiety (also known as social phobia) has its origins in childhood, particularly at school. Yes, bullying at school is a big trigger, and that was the case for me. It can get worse as the years go by, especially during adolescence, when you’re confronted with the gaze of others a lot. It’s hard to develop when you feel that others are going to judge you, especially if you don’t fit in with the norms and standards.
Of course, all this is hiding something else: a lack of self-confidence. This can be caused by traumatic experiences, such as bullying, but also by our own thoughts. Just like when we’re told that we’re hypersensitive, social anxiety reflects a poor psychological construction of the self.
How to recognize it
From the outside, I imagine that social anxiety translates as shyness. I can assure you that it goes much deeper than that. It’s a real, gut-wrenching fear that prevents us from living the way we want to. We tell ourselves we’re going to make a blunder, that others will stare at us, or even worse, judge us. In fact, we’re paralyzed by our anxious thoughts of anticipation 🤕.
In more concrete terms, if you want to take a test to find out if you suffer from this type of anxiety, there’s the Liebowitz scale. There’s a good “chance” you’re affected if:
- ✅ You’re afraid of what other people think, of being judged or criticized,
- ✅ You’re afraid of aggression and hostility,
- ✅ You fear that others will want to get closer to you,
- ✅ You have uncontrollable physical reactions (blushing, trembling, sweating, etc.).
Join the club
According to recent studies, between 1.7% and 4.7% of us suffer from social anxiety 😥.
The consequences of anxiety
Let’s not forget the consequences it can have on our lives. The main problem is that it prevents us from living the way we want to. We deprive ourselves of evenings out with friends, sporting events, time with colleagues, etc., because the fear is too overwhelming 😖.
Not to mention that it can also lead to other difficulties, such as the fear of failing (an exam, when speaking in public, etc.). If you don’t do things, you don’t fail, but you don’t progress either. There’s a real problem asserting yourself or even expressing your opinions. In short, social anxiety can have a huge impact on the life of the person affected, so how do you make it go away?
👋 You may be interested in this article: What's the perfect morning routine to ease anxiety?
How can I overcome this social phobia?
I say that I suffer from social anxiety, but in reality it’s improved a lot. In fact, when I saw that it was depriving me of opportunities that I really wanted, I wanted to change. Because that’s the sinews of war, the desire to get away from your reassuring habits. It’s really not easy, and I still sometimes activate a defense mechanism and refuse to attend an event so as not to feel anxious.
Awareness is important, but it doesn’t solve everything. When we’re confronted with negative emotions, I can assure you that we prefer to run away. It’s normal, it’s our brain that sends us this message to protect us. You need to learn to untangle the knots of anxiety little by little, and you can do this with the help of a therapist.
Therapy as the main help
For me, this is what helps the most (yes, it still does!). A psychologist can help us to understand the origins of our anxiety and then apply an appropriate form of therapy. CBT is a good way of dealing with compulsive thoughts, while EMDR therapy is more suitable for people who’ve experienced trauma. However, whatever the form of therapy, the important thing is to identify the reasons for our fears so that we can stop being trapped by them.
Editor’s note: The need to understand
Social anxiety is a real handicap for sufferers. It has a full impact on the lives of sufferers, which is why you need to take action. Of course, as Camille said, a trigger can reinforce the desire to change your perception of things, but you also need to look at yourself with a great deal of kindness. After all, you have social anxiety for a reason. Understand where it comes from so that you can move forward and flourish. Yes, it’s possible!
🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!
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