The 8 Mistakes Every Person With Social Anxiety Makes

A woman holding her head in pain
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Trying to Control Anxiety

"If only I can hold this pen tightly enough they won't see my hand shaking."

Sound familiar? Or may be it was your spoon. Or maybe your hands that you held behind your back so nobody could see them shaking. Right now, stop trying to control your anxiety. Stop seeing it as a monster always lurking behind the next corner. The more you fight against it, the more you feed it.

Your physical symptoms of anxiety are made worse by trying to control them. This is the basic principle of mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy.

Believing You Have to Be Perfect

There is some contention that the basic premise of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is flawed. During CBT, you examine your thoughts and try to point out the ones that are not rational. "Nobody will notice the mistakes you make." "Everyone surely likes you more than you think."

While it is true that those with SAD blow the negatives out of proportion, at the same time you have to eventually stop and think, "But so what?" "So what if people notice my mistakes?" "So what if nobody likes me." "So what if I am not perfect?" That may be the deeper issue that some individuals need to resolve in therapy. What is so bad about not being perfect?

Not Taking Chances

When you get to the end of your life, will you look back and be proud of the risks you took? Or will you wish that you had taken more chances despite your social anxiety. While the disorder can function like a prison, social anxiety tends to decrease with age. Hopefully as you get older, you will be able to let your hair down and be not be so afraid of the road less taken.

Believing It Is Only You

Since individuals with social anxiety tend to isolate themselves, they don't have the experience of talking about their fears with others and learning how they are not alone. If you find yourself in this situation, try joining an online forum devoted to those with social anxiety, so that you can see many others share your concerns.

Not Seeking Help

While it is understandable that many with social anxiety do not seek help given the nature of the disorder, failing to obtain treatment can mean a lifetime of lost chances. Give yourself the gift of trying all you can before admitting defeat. Find a service provider and make contact in whatever way you can.

Believing Social Anxiety is a Personality Trait

Introversion and shyness are common temperamental dispositions, whereas social anxiety is a dysregulation of your emotions. You do not have to live with your social anxiety anymore than you have to accept orange hair after a bad dye job.

Not Being Mindful of Self-Talk

You might think it does not matter what you say to yourself (either in your head or out loud when others are not around) because nobody is listening but you. Think again! The words you use to talk to yourself are powerful. You can train yourself to be less anxious or more anxious simply through your self-talk. Don't be a contributor to your anxiety disorder.

Not Developing Social Skills

If you've hidden yourself away for years out of fear of social contact, chances are you may have missed out on the development of some critical social skills. This can be especially true for teenagers who develop social anxiety disorder. It is never too late to learn. Make a point of giving yourself the advantage of well-rounded social skills. But still remember not to care whether people like you or not.

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Article Sources
  • Lenze EJ, Wetherell JL. A lifespan view of anxiety disorders. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 2011;13(4):381-399.