You have it within yourself to be free of crippling social phobias
Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder (SAnD) is a persistent, long term, intense fear of being judged and criticised by others. It also commonly involves a paralysing concern that a person’s own actions will humiliate or embarrass them in the eyes of the world.
SYMPTOMS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER
People experience this recognised mental condition in a wide spectrum of severity. On one side of the scale, a severe and generalised social phobia can manifest itself in blushing, sweating, stammering, palpitations, nausea and panic attacks. Not everyone experiences these symptoms, of course, but even mild cases of social anxiety can lead to increased stress levels and a marked inability to interact effectively in certain social situations.
Social Anxiety Disorder is usually accompanied by low self-esteem and frequently by depression. It is a debilitating condition which effects millions of people around the world each year. Sufferers of the condition, even in its mildest and most common manifestations, find it more difficult to forge lasting relationships, to make friends or to be successful at work.
OVERCOMING SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER
The good news is that, with a little bit of effort, Social Anxiety Disorder can be overcome. As a mental condition hinged on negative ways of thinking, the key to overcoming Social Phobia is to erect a framework of positive attitudes towards yourself and other people. To begin this process, the two mental obstacles you will need to overcome are a poor self-image and self-consciousness.
The first object to overcome is the poor self-image you have constructed of yourself. You may find social interaction difficult because you believe yourself to be unworthy of people’s friendship or respect. This may often manifest itself in you being too shy to initiate a proper conversation, or to build effective rapport.
The easiest way to come out of your shell is to associate with like-minded people. Have a look on the internet or a local newspaper for groups you are interested in—whether drama, yoga or needle work. Attend the group and take time engaging people in conversation about your common passion. You will soon realise that your thoughts, opinions and personality are valued for who you are. Gradually, your anxiety in talking to strangers will begin to ebb away.
By this time you will have realised that much of your social phobia is rooted in an acute sense of self-consciousness. The fear of making a fool of yourself with some things that you say can be a strong disincentive to making conversation outside your comfort zone.
This can only be overcome with time, but the more you speak with people, the more you will realise that everyone does or says stupid things from time to time. It isn’t a quality which is restricted to you! Furthermore, you will realise that people will not automatically look down on you for the occasional ill-judged comment. Friendship is a nurturing and supportive environment and should give you cause for self confidence.
The feeling that you are being judged by the person you are talking to will take some time to overcome. While it is healthy to take a keen interest in the opinion of the person you are talking to, being overly introspective can lead to withdrawal and undue anxiety.
When you feel this situation emerging, make a point of focusing on the other person and not being distracted by your negative thoughts. Remember that your fear of being judged reflects your own anxiety, not reality. This shift of attention from your subjective world to the outside reality of your conversation can give you the crucial relaxation needed to continue your dialogue and broaden your confidence.