The 8 Mistakes Every Person With Social Anxiety Makes

Social anxiety can cause you to make mistakes in your life.

 Getty / Martin Dimitrov

Do you feel like your anxiety causes you to make social mistakes? It could actually be that your social anxiety continues partially because of some mistakes that you keep making. These types of mistakes are patterns of behavior that keep your anxiety going rather than helping you to overcome it. The top 8 mistakes you might be making are listed below.

Trying to Control Your Anxiety

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

Sound familiar? Or maybe 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. It's the same as trying to win tug-of-war by pulling harder. You don't have to keep pulling; why not just drop the rope and walk away?

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 if you live with SAD you probably magnify the negative in every situation, 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?" Because there will be some people who don't like you, particularly if you are being true to yourself, your values, and your beliefs.

Your job isn't so much to make sure that everyone isn't thinking badly of you, but that you've aligned your behavior with what you think is important in life, and the opinions of others don't determine your value or worth. After all, what is so bad about not being perfect? Focus on progress, not perfection.

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 relax a bit and be not be so afraid of challenging yourself.

Believing It Is Only You

People with social anxiety tend to isolate themselves. You probably don't have the experience of talking about your fears with others and learning how you 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. You could even join a Facebook support group (this one has over 30,000 members).

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 any more than a person with diabetes must live with poor blood sugar regulation without using insulin. Effective treatments exist for SAD that can help your situation to bring out your true personality that has been hidden.

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 that it's not your job to make people like you—rather, it's your job to be yourself.

A Word From Verywell

Are you feeling a bit like you've been stuck for a while? If so, you might be making one or more of the above eight mistakes. Realizing your behavior patterns is the first step toward overcoming social anxiety. However, if you are living with severe social anxiety, its best to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns.

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