I have heard this topic come up more and more lately. I know a few people that suffer from this. I have seen some discussions in the Dad Facebook groups about it. And then I recently saw a brief clip of Henry Rollins on the Joe Rogan podcast in which after Henry got done saying all of these things about himself, Joe says, well it sounds like you have social anxiety.
On a tangent, if you know of Henry Rollins, it’s a really interesting interview. He has no friends (or very few, no family, no wife, etc and prefers to be alone. He gets on stage and has no problem performing in front of thousands of people but doesn’t want to be “with” people…only performing, it’s much easier.
Social anxiety is a disorder, it’s social phobia. And some say it is the most common mental disorder. In other words, a lot of people have it and have to deal with it. It’s not just being a little uncomfortable, it’s being really uncomfortable.
Here are a few common situations that can trigger it:
- Speaking in public
- Making eye contact
- Public Restrooms
- Eating in front of others
- Talking to People
Some people might have difficulty with one issue or many.
I have been lucky that for my entire life, I have been pretty outgoing. However I can see how this could be extremely difficult. So I started learning about it a little more and wanted to offer some help if there is anyone in our audience that suffers from this.
There seems to be a few common fears with people who suffer from this:
Worried about offending someone
Concerned about being humiliated or embarrassed
Being judged by others
It may show itself similar to a panick attack:
- Stomach issues or running to the bathroom
- Out of breath
- Tightening of muscles
- Rapid heartbeat
They say it can start as early as 13. Often history of being teased, bullied, or even abuse. Shy kids are more likely to have it but also controlling or overbearing parents. The end result can be
- Low self esteen
- Negative thoughts
- Poor social skills
- Very sensitive to criticism
So here are some ways you can begin to deal with social anxiety:
1) Tell others – It might be hard but open up to your family or close friends about it. This will help get rid of or reduce any shame associated with it.
2) Meditation or Breathing Exercises – Both of these can help you relax in situations as your heartrate increases or your muscles get more tense. It becomes a cycle that you will need to break
3) Think of Worse Case Scenarios – My mom taught me this one. When I was nervous about something, she would ask, “What is the worst thing that can happen”. For a speech it might be “I forget my words and look stupid”. She would then say something like “that is why you have it written down in front of you”. There is usually a way to hedge the situation. I’m scared to go to the party. What is the worst thing? I won’t know anyone and will feel stupid. As you can see, a lot of these have the same theme.
4) Change Your Focus – Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on the other person, or the location, or something else that is going on. People in these situations are so focused on how they appear or are acting.
5) Feel the fear and do it anyway – Facing your feels can be incredibly difficult, but it can also build your confidence. Start with baby steps and you may begin to realize that you can overcome it. The anxiety doesn’t have to control you, you can control it.
6) Accept Yourself – This sounds easy and I understand it can be hard….but stop trying to be perfect. Nobody is. Accepting yourself is so crucial in overcoming this.
I hope those of you listening that deal with this have gotten something out of it. We would love to hear from you.