Social Anxiety: the common myths and the actual truths
Social anxiety is one of THE most common form of anxiety and certainly something I experienced myself. Here, I’m busting some common myths about social anxiety – consider sharing this with a friend or loved one who you’d like to understand social anxiety a bit more.
It doesn’t affect many people
The truth according to the Social Anxiety Association is that around 7% of the population at any one time, are affected by social anxiety which is why you will see more information online about that than other forms of anxiety.
It is not just being ‘a bit shy’
People with social anxiety become overwhelmed at the thought of doing simple tasks such as going out of the house, or making a phone call. This can affect a person’s ability to go to work, or form meaningful relationships. Some people label this behaviour as being shy. The truth is that social anxiety can negatively affect any situation where people are involved, even what others would consider every day events. (By the way, being shy does not indicate that you are socially anxious).
They can just buck their ideas up
People do not want to have social anxiety, and would be very willing to ‘buck their ideas up’ and ‘just get on with it’ if they could, as some suggest. But it’s not like that. It is quite difficult for someone who has not experienced anxious feelings about interacting with people to understand those who have.
So telling someone to ‘stop worrying and just go out’ is really not helpful.
You’re stuck with it forever
It doesn’t have to be. The good news is that with the right support, social anxiety can be eased, and even overcome for most people. If this is you, ask for help from your doctor or a therapist or look into online programme like the one on this site.
It’s in your genes
While some elements of ourselves can be passed down the genes, behaviours are learned from our parents and our environment when we were growing up. Constant criticism, being told you’re getting things wrong, or listening to over-cautious parents’ advice such as ‘the world’s a dangerous place, you must take care’ form part of our beliefs about the world. The good news is that these are simply beliefs, however strong, and can be replaced with more positive ones such as ‘I am cared for in this world, and all I need is provided for me, and ‘I am safe’. An adult with social anxiety can unlearn thought patterns and replace them.
People with social anxiety are just rude
People who suffer from social anxiety can come across as rude, aloof or uninterested. In fact that’s far from the truth. Inside they really want to join in, but aren’t able to, due to their current thought patterns. They think they might say something stupid, so stay quiet. You’ll know if this is the case if they stay within your circle, but just on the edges.
So next time you meet someone who isn’t joining in, don’t rush to a conclusion, be kind and patient, as they might just have social anxiety and are trying really hard to deal with it by being out socially with people they don’t know.
It’s not about wanting to speak in public
Social anxiety and a fear of public speaking are two different things. Public speaking is about the spotlight being on the person. Social anxiety could cover public speaking as well as difficulty with every day tasks where there is a need to interact with others.
Isn’t there a pill that can help?
It is really important that anyone who believes they have social anxiety seek medical advice. A good doctor will be able to correctly diagnose if it is just social anxiety or if there is another underlying condition going on. He/she will then prescribe medication if that is appropriate. However pills won’t get to the root of the problem so it’s important to therapy or a structure online programme such as the one at Calmer You.
Social anxiety means you’re weak
This condition does not discriminate – it affects every type of person you can imagine. Just because people experience social anxiety does not mean that they are not very capable in other areas of their life, nor that they have less opportunities.
People should avoid going out if their socially anxious
Avoiding going out is the last thing people with social anxiety should do. There are many coping mechanisms to employ to ease the feelings of social anxiety and they must be practiced with people. So getting out and about should be a real focus so that meeting people is not a big deal. Having a therapist as a guide through these learning situations is key to their success.
Now you understand social anxiety a bit more. If this resonated with you, please don’t suffer alone with your social anxiety, and seek out help from a professional whether that’s a doctor or a qualified therapist or support from this site.
Now check out the online programme for anxiety and see if it could help you.