If you suffer from social anxiety you probably have a lot of negative thoughts and beliefs going through your mind on a daily basis and especially in social situations. You may not even be aware of those beliefs most of the time. Anxiety also makes it more difficult to stay mindful and be aware of your thoughts. However those thoughts and beliefs are what your social anxiety ‘survives on’. Once you become aware of those false beliefs and cognitive distortions and replace them with more realistic ones the social anxiety will decrease. However that may take some time and practice because our brains need time to get used to new thought patterns.
Here are a few distorted ways of thinking you probably engage in if you suffer from social anxiety :
1.You Believe You Can Guess What Other People Think of You
People with social anxiety have a tendency to try to ‘read other people’s minds’. They jump to conclusions about what other people think of them without having any evidence. And those conclusions are almost always negative. You cannot possibly know what other people think of you. Most of us don’t know. You can assume but not without any evidence. So as long you don’t have any real evidence someone doesn’t like you, you can relax and stop jumping to negative conclusions.
2.You Feel as If People Are Constantly Paying Close Attention to You
You are aware of every move and facial expression you make and feel like it’s being closely monitored by everyone while in reality most people don’t even notice what you are doing. And even if they do pay attention to you, it isn’t necessary for the purpose of judging you.
3.You Tend to Interpret Every Behavior as a Judgment Towards You
Whenever someone does or says something you are wondering if that is somehow directed to you. That paranoia is a side effect of your social anxiety. You are hyper vigilant to any form of judgment, and you see it where it doesn’t exist. That unfortunately perpetuates your low self-confidence. For example if someone is naturally sarcastic to everyone, you make take their sarcasm personally and think they act that way because they think you are stupid.
4.You View Other People as Super Social and Super Confident
You think that everyone has perfect social skills and you are the only one who can’t get it right. You may find yourself wondering how other people can act so carefree and be so confident. In reality other people also have insecurities about social interactions, just maybe not at a high level. Instead of thinking everyone is constantly evaluating and judging you remember that other people are also worried about being liked and accepted by you.
5. You Set Perfect Standards for Yourself
You want to be able to make a good impression on everyone, and even if just one person doesn’t like you, you feel disappointed with yourself. No one in this world is liked by everyone they meet, and the more people you know, the more likely it is you will find ones that don’t like you. In fact those people that are outgoing and social, and that you think have perfect social lives, they are probably disliked by many people they know. People dislike other people for many reasons. They may be jealous of you, they may not like your friends, they may have different ideological beliefs etc. As long as you are a respectful person and don’t give anyone a good reason to not like you, you shouldn’t worry too much about some people disliking you.
6. You Focus on the Negative Parts of Social Interactions
Even if the whole social interaction was going well, but there was just one moment where things got awkward, you will still ruminate about those awkward moments and feel like the whole interaction was unsuccessful. For example if you held a presentation successfully but forgot your speech once or twice you will mostly likely spend the rest of your day thinking about those moments and feel bad about yourself. So instead of focusing on the negative parts of your social interactions, try to focus on the general picture.
7. You Underestimate Your Social Skills
People with social anxiety underestimate their social skills and believe themselves to be socially incompetent. You may believe that everyone has better social skills than you. Other people probably don’t have any better social skills than you. You just falsely believe it and inhibit yourself from interacting and proving to yourself that you do have good social skills.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Simona Brankovska is lifestyle, creativity and life-hacks blogger and enthusiast. Also author and contributor at IlluminaPresto
Photo credit: Nicholas Green