It’s a weekend during the summer. Gorgeous weather! Two of your friends invited you to a movie. You declined and apologized yet again that you had “some things to finish.” You know that this was really just an excuse. This is the third time in a row that you really wanted to spend time with your friends. You really have not gone out in several months except to work. You are anxious about what to say. They are introverts and always upbeat. You are an introvert so you decide to stay home. You might have social anxiety.
Sometimes you finally agree to leave the house. Then you start sweating and thinking about all the things that you could say wrong at the next gathering. You think to yourself, what if no one wants to talk to me? You decide it’s too risky to take a chance. You are fearful of rejection and/or humiliation. Social anxiety is the likely culprit.
You made it to the outing but you do everything possible to not be seen or heard. You speak softly or not at all. You hold tightly to a drink and take sips whenever it seems someone would like to speak with you. You have this sick feeling in your stomach. You avoid eye contact as much as possible. Hmm. What if I freeze or become tongue-tied. Social anxiety seems to have the upper hand.
Or you are so fearful of embarrassing yourself that you do not speak. What if my voice starts shaking? What if I say something weird or embarrassing? What if I start blushing? Oh no! This is social anxiety!
So What is Social Anxiety really?
The National Institute of Mental Health states it is a common mental health condition currently affecting almost 7% of the population in some form or other. It’s not shyness and should be taken seriously. Social anxiety affects people differently. Some people struggle with most social situations, others with specific situations such as eating in public. Yet others have performance anxiety (speaking in a group, making presentations, playing sports or games with others).
SOCIAL ANXIETY CAN BE TREATED!
It’s time to expand your social situation. You are not expected to be the energizer bunny! You can manage all that worry thoughts and join the conversations around you. You could even start conversations? Bring out that funny side nobody knows about? Make eye contact? Speak out those great ideas without fear of rejection or embarrassment? Wouldn’t that be awesome?
It’s really possible!!