Many people describe themselves as being anxious in social situations. This has come to be known as “social anxiety.” Social anxiety is a common presenting concern in individual therapy. The inability to feel comfortable in the presence of others impacts the ability to build new healthy relationships. Challenges in dating, employment and leisure activities are common for people who describe themselves as having social anxiety.
Often people will avoid new social situations after allowing their imagination to create catastrophes before a social activity even begins. The fear that one will become tongue tied, blush, fidget, go blank or stumble over words creates a vicious cycle. The body reacts to the internal experience of discomfort quickly on command.
In these situations it is difficult for the anxious individual to move their focus from internal to external. This creates a challenge in hearing and listening, making it difficult for a two way conversation to occur. The anxious person may appear to be self absorbed, which they are, but not with narcissistic intent. The anxious person is concerned with outside appraisal, worried that they will not perform as expected and therefore be viewed as lacking.
We are born into groups. Our contribution is important. Our lack of social comfort is often learned and with the right tools and strategies we can develop new responses and lead more fulfilling lives.