Do I Have Social Anxiety?

This question may be asked by people who feel insecure or unhappy in the social relationships which they have and who feel that perhaps their situation could be improved.

People suffering from this disorder will often feel evasive when asked to join in with new social situations or where there are to be expected a lot of people that they do not already know. People with social anxiety will tend to take family and friends to new social events, and then spend all their time staying with their group and not talking to or mixing with any other people as would have been intended.

People with this social challenge often think that people are looking at or noticing them and that the opinion of these other people is somehow critical of them. Although the attention of people with social anxiety is firmly upon themselves, they tend to regard themselves in a negative way. A person with social anxiety may often check in the mirror, but it is not in the way of preening themselves, simply to reassure them that everything is still in order.

As with looking frequently in any available mirror, or in staying within their group and not mixing with other people, those with social anxiety may often project an entirely false impression of themselves to other people. Some may be the perfect wallflower and be unresponsive to any attempt to involve them in dancing or conversation, others may try to cover up a sense of inadequacy with bombastic, loud behavior. Others still may seem aloof because they don’t open up in conversation, others can be so free in their general disclosures that no one would want to confide in them. Whatever may be their “ploys” to feel more comfortable in any social circumstance, those with social anxiety can often end up missing out on an opportunity for genuine relationship because of the defenses that they put out to avoid feelings of social anxiety.

Often people with social anxiety cannot see how it is that their own social behavior is sabotaging any possibility of improvement. Many will find themselves a particular “niche” in life that to some extent satisfies their need for social activity which also ensures that exposure to social anxiety is minimized.

For someone suffering from anxiety it can be a big job for them to start to work on the causes of their anxiety and to learn how to improve their overall capacity to function in social situations. For most people it is the general process of living, from childhood through to adulthood which gives us the experience, opportunity and practice that we all need to become good with social skills.

It needs to be also recognized that at many social events there is a set of rules, perhaps unspoken, but which people attending are expected to both know about and to comply with. In such formal situations it is easy for social anxiety to arise, even for someone who is experienced, simply because you are not familiar with is expected of you.

People with social anxiety find themselves refusing invitations when there is no real reason not to go. Often they will feel much more comfortable when they realize that they won’t have to go to a particular social event and can stay at home instead. They may find that their circle of friends and associates is extremely limited, yet feel uncertain or apprehensive about doing anything to change this. They may feel extremely self-conscious in social situations, feel unable to interact and think that everyone is looking at them or talking about them or somehow noticing them. They can also feel isolated as if everyone else but them is having a good time and they are being ignored. When people do try to befriend them they are so difficult to communicate with that people give up the attempt. When they do try to involve themselves with a group they may find themselves blushing or stammering, or find themselves unable to think of anything to say at all.

If any of the above sounds like you, then yes, you may have social anxiety.