Social anxiety disorder treatment and causes

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

They will make Fun of me

September 2007, Wednesday 6 PM
A guy was on his way home after a long tiring day; he parked his car and headed towards his house.

Before he reached the door to his garden he noticed those three weird looking guys staring at him. He suddenly felt anxious, afraid and uncomfortable.

He was sure that they were going to make fun of him after he leaves and he was sure that they will think that he is a geek because of his glasses.

Upon passing by them one of them looked at him then turned away, At this moment he knew that the judgment was made and so he went home feeling sad.

Social anxiety and perception

When that person approached those people he didn’t actually see them but he saw a reflection of his past. 15 years ago that person was an unlucky student, his friends used to bully him, to make fun of him and to ignore him.

His subconscious mind stored this information and kept it aside for years. After he left high school he joined college, graduated and become a very successful Engineer. He made lots of friends, people loved him and his life was great But.......

At the back of his subconscious mind these images of rejection and bullying were still lingering. Although he now remembers nothing of them he still sees the faces of his classmates reflected on the faces of the strangers he meets.

When he approached the people who were standing at his door his subconscious mind recalled all of these past experiences and then sent him an alarm. This alarm was the social anxiety he experienced.

What is Social Anxiety?

Do you always think that people are going to judge you negatively especially strangers?
Are you obsessed by the idea that strangers may make fun of you?
Do you feel anxious whenever you are in a public place?

Social anxiety is the fear of being evaluated by others. People with social anxiety usually experience the same thoughts and feelings that our friend in the story above experienced.

Social anxiety completely damages the person's self confidence because each time he feels that people judged him he feels worthless. His negative thinking is triggered after each social event and phrases like the following ones fly in his mind:

  • I am sure those two people were laughing at me
  • If I stopped being clumsy maybe people wont stare at me like that
  • There must be something wrong with my looks else they wouldn’t have stared at me that way

I don’t need to mention the effect of such phrases on someone’s self confidence but all I can say is that few of these phrases each day can make you the least confident person on this planet.

The Anatomy Of Social Anxiety

In all my articles I stick to the same principle which is knowing your enemy or the root cause of your problems. You can’t fight an enemy unless you know everything about it so let’s take a deeper look into social anxiety.

When our friend was young he formed some limiting beliefs about himself. These beliefs made him uncomfortable around people and made him think that people are always going to evaluate him negatively.

Those beliefs are:

  • People are Evil: Why? Because they made fun of him at the class, because they bullied him, because they rejected him and ignored him. So the first conclusion he made when he was six years old is that people are evil and that they always evaluate each others negatively
  • People’s Opinion is very important: When he was five years old, his mum used to tell him phrases like “If you don’t eat all of your food you will become weak, people will say that you weak” , “if you didn’t take a shower your smell will be bad and everyone will laugh at you”……etc . These phrases worked together on installing in his mind the belief that people’s opinion is very important
  • I am Clumsy: Since he was rejected as a child his mind was trying to find out a reason for for this rejection. Unfortunately the only reason that came to his mind at that age is that the problem was with his clumsy attitude.

If like that guy you experience social anxiety in the presence of others and if you want to get rid of it then you must examine the beliefs you formed about yourself in the past.

You should be aware that you are seeing the reflection of your past instead of seeing reality. This means that the reality that is making you anxious is in fact a distorted reality!

The detailed steps for dealing with social anxiety are in the next section.

Overcoming Social anxiety

Step One, Neutralizing the Beliefs

Each time you approach strangers remind yourself of the following facts:

1) People are not evil, most of them wont care about evaluating you and most of them have many things in their minds other than you
2) People’s Opinion is not important because they know nothing about you!! You are the only person who knows everything about you
3) You are not clumsy, you don't look like a geek and your glasses doesn't make you look nerdy. Those are false beliefs you acquired long ago.

Of course those are not magical phrases that will help you overcome your social anxiety instantly but as you keep thinking that way and as you use them in your self talk you will weaken these limiting beliefs.

Step Two, Its Not reality, it’s your Past
In the Solid Self confidence program i said that Whenever you approach people you will see reflections of your past.

The people who appear to be evil are not evil but they just look like some of your class mates who bullied you in the past (maybe they share some common face features)

The reason you think that those people will harm you or make fun of you is because your subconscious mind is seeing a distorted reality based on the past events that happened to you.

Keep reminding yourself of these phrases each time you find yourself anxious around people. Keep saying “I am not seeing reality but am seeing my past, this face is not the face of the person standing in front of me but it’s the face of that classmate who made fun of me before.”

Steps one and two are nothing more than modifications to your self talk. Don’t underestimate your self talk because after all it’s the main reason your anxiety is triggered in certain situations.

By constantly changing this self talk and replacing the old beliefs with the new ones you will end up breaking the pattern of anxiety and the self reinforcing cycle of fears.

2knowmysef is not a complicated medical website nor it’s a boring online encyclopedia but it’s a place where you will find simple, to the point and effective information that is presented in a simple and obvious way. If you think that this is some kind of marketing hype then see what other visitors say about 2knowmyself.The book How to make someone fall in love with you was released by 2knowmyself.com; the book will dramatically increase your chance of letting someone fall in love with you.

Want to know more?

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