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22 Things Only People With Social Anxiety Would Understand

22 Things Only People With Social Anxiety Would Understand

You “know the drill.” People all around you are smiling, laughing, talking, and enjoying each other’s company, but you can’t force yourself to participate – you have social anxiety. But while you are feeling so alone, you should understand that your condition is shared by one out of every ten people in this country.

So, here’s a little exercise. As you walk down the street today or tomorrow, count off the first ten people you pass by; one of them probably has social anxiety too. The other thing you need to know is this: you are not crazy – some of your thoughts are irrational, yes, but so are the thoughts of impulsive people and billionaires at times. None of us is immune to them.

Nevertheless, you have specific issues that no one else can really understand, and here are the most common things.

1. Your idea of going out for dinner is to get takeout or go through the drive-thru.

You either bring the food home, or, in the case of the drive-thru, you eat in your car in the parking lot. You just don’t want to walk in, take a table, and be around all those people and that noise. You envy the pleasant interactions that others have with each other and even with strangers, but you cannot bring yourself to become the initiator of social conversation.

2. Your idea of a great evening is staying at home with television, a book, or the Internet.

You seem to be able to communicate on Facebook or Pinterest, but in person, you just can’t find the words. It’s so easy to communicate when you don’t have to do it face-to-face, and you do not understand why this is so.

3. You are always forced to attend a party.

You arrive, certain that everyone is judging and evaluating you, and find an excuse to leave early or, unable to do that, you find a corner where you can be by yourself. If you are introduced to someone, you cannot find the words to strike up a conversation with that person and if s/he attempts to, you respond with one-word or short phrase answers. That person soon leaves for more interesting conversation elsewhere, and you feel left out and shunned.

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4. You only have 1-2 friends, don’t really want any more, and do not seek new relationships of any kind.

You are fine if you don’t see those 1-2 friends often, even though you do enjoy them. They invite you to social gatherings, but you invent excuses for not being able to attend. You only want to be with them when it is just the few of you.

5. You take your lunch to work.

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    Not because it’s cheaper, but because you need an excuse not to go out to lunch with your co-workers. When you are invited to happy hour, you find an excuse not to be able to attend, and eventually they stop inviting you. People come to view you as anti-social when, in fact, you are really just fearful, and you cannot explain why.

    6. You are unable to contribute to conversations that are occurring around you.

    Even when you might have something good to add to the discussion, because you are afraid that someone will think your contribution unworthy or might criticize it.

    7. You seem to be tired all of the time.

    This is not because you have engaged in any strenuous activity, but, rather is a result of living in a continued stressful state. Chronic anxiety is exhausting, and soon you’ll see sleep as an escape.

    8. You experience rapid heartbeat, sweating, and heavy breathing when you are in uncomfortable social situations.

    These are physical reactions to your anxiety and you cannot control them. You are certain that everyone around you notices these physical responses, and that makes you want to remove yourself from a situation even more.

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    9. You are overwhelmed when there are more than just a few people in a room.

    Every noise, light, smell, and action is taken in, and you cannot process it all or filter things out. It is as if you are being bombarded by too much at once, and the result is that you go into “flight” mode and find any way to remove yourself from the situation.

    10. You tune out when several people are speaking.

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      You go into your comfort zone in which you are at least temporarily safe. You shut everything out, and people around you are confused by your behavior. Sometimes, they may think of you as aloof or rude, even though you have a strong desire to be a part of the social experience.

      11. You are overly concerned about your hair, your complexion, your dress and your look in general.

      Because you are certain that everyone is judging and evaluating you on these things. In fact, most people really do have their own issues, their own priorities, and their minds are not on you. It’s impossible for you to accept this, even though you actually realize that your thinking is irrational at that moment.

      12. You engage in bruxism.

      Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, and it is almost as if this is a completely unconscious behavior (and in many cases it is). You are unable to stop it, even though you know it is unhealthy, and you are certain that others are noticing and think there is something wrong with you. However, don’ t be depressed! You are not alone! What is more important – there is a way to bring some relief and make your life more comfortable.

      13. You lose sleep or daydream, imagining the worst possible scenarios.

      Even though you understand that those things will probably never happen. This activity only serves to increase your anxiety level and your continued need to isolate yourself. Again, you understand that your thinking is negative, but you don’t have the tools to turn it off and think of the positive things in your life.

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      14. You are prone to panic attacks.

      Events that immobilize you and cause you to seek medical help when the real culprit is just your anxiety. There is nothing physically wrong with you, but you are convinced there is. An astute medical professional will perhaps pick up on the issue and recommend a counselor or therapist who may be able to help you. Take this as a gesture of kindness, not as an affront.

      15. You cannot think of anything to say on a date.

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        And you do not get asked out again because that person assumes you are just not interested. You really would like to have a relationship, but you cannot bring yourself to talk about your social anxiety and begin to think that you will simply not have a romantic relationship. This thinking creates more anxiety, and perhaps depression. Fortunately, if you find the right doctor, there are medications available that may help. You have to find the courage to seek help, however, even that is difficult because you are so certain that you will be judged for your “weakness.”

        16. You panic when your phone rings at odd hours.

        The same goes when there is a knock on your door and you are not yet dressed for the day. While others would just laugh such a thing off, you go into a tailspin because you are certain you are being judged for the way you look or for being so lazy that you are not “prepared” for your day yet.

        17. You do want others to understand your anxiety, but you have a difficult time explaining it to them.

        You don’t want to show that kind of weakness for fear you will be judged or quietly criticized. In fact, most people are empathetic and understanding if you would give them the chance, but your fear always seems to get in the way.

        18. You can’t explain why you want to be alone, even though others keep asking you or pressuring to engage in social activities with them.

        Eventually, they stop asking you to join in, and this reinforces your belief that you are not liked. When you go to a restaurant by yourself, you take a book, or “work,” or your laptop in with you, so that people will “think” you are busy and will thus not “disturb” you by striking up a conversation. Even the waitress/waiter will quickly take your order and retreat. This isolation is preferable to you, because your social anxiety will not show – everyone will simply think you are a very busy person who must have a “working” lunch or dinner.

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        19. You build your “social” life around family members, because they are “safe.”

        They know you, and because you have grown up among them, you can actually converse. If a sister brings a boyfriend, however, you will avoid him and spend more time in the kitchen with your mom or other siblings.

        20. You tend to have a pet, usually a dog or a cat.

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          You can safely care for that animal, talk to it, cuddle it, and have an emotional attachment that you are unable to have with people.

          21. You rarely travel for pleasure, unless it is with a family or 1-2 of those really close friends.

          And, though you enjoy the experience with these people, if strangers insert themselves in hotels, on the beach or at the pool, or any other time, you “clam up,” unable to enjoy their company. You will avoid vacations that involve cruises, tours, and other things that will “throw you in” with others.

          22. You may see an acquaintance from a distance, and, because you do not know what to say, you go out of your way to not be seen.

          If you are seen, and that person comes up to you, you have a very short conversation and indicate that you have an appointment and must go.

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          Elena Prokopets

          Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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          Published on May 4, 2021

          How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

          How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

          They say we are the average of the five persons we spend the most time with. For a minute, consider the people around you. Are they truly who your “tribe” should be or who you aspire to become in the future? Are they really genuine people who want to see you succeed? Or are they fake people who don’t really want to see you happy?

          In this article, I’ll review why it is important to surround yourself with genuine individuals—the ones who care, bring something to our table, and first and foremost, who leave all fakeness behind.

          How to Spot Fake People?

          When you’ve been working in the helping professions for a while, spotting fake people gets a bit easier. There are some very clear signs that the person you are looking at is hiding something, acting somehow, or simply wanting to get somewhere. Most often, there is a secondary gain—perhaps attention, sympathy, or even a promotion.

          Whatever it is, you’re better off working their true agenda and staying the hell away. Here are some things you should look out for to help spot fake people.

          1. Full of Themselves

          Fake people like to show off. They love looking at themselves in the mirror. They collect photos and videos of every single achievement they had and every part of their body and claim to be the “best at what they do.”

          Most of these people are actually not that good in real life. But they act like they are and ensure that they appear better than the next person. The issue for you is that you may find yourself always feeling “beneath” them and irritated at their constant need to be in the spotlight.

          2. Murky in Expressing Their Emotions

          Have you ever tried having a deep and meaningful conversation with a fake person? It’s almost impossible. It’s because they have limited emotional intelligence and don’t know how they truly feel deep down—and partly because they don’t want to have their true emotions exposed, no matter how normal these might be.

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          It’s much harder to say “I’m the best at what I do” while simultaneously sharing “average” emotions with “equal” people.

          3. Zero Self-Reflection

          To grow, we must accept feedback from others. We must be open to our strengths and to our weaknesses. We must accept that we all come in different shapes and can always improve.

          Self-reflection requires us to think, forgive, admit fault, and learn from our mistakes. But to do that, we have to be able to adopt a level of genuineness and depth that fake people don’t routinely have. A fake person generally never apologizes, but when they do, it is often followed with a “but” in the next breath.

          4. Unrealistic Perceptions

          Fake people most often have an unrealistic perception of the world—things that they want to portray to others (pseudo achievements, materialistic gains, or a made-up sense of happiness) or simply how they genuinely regard life outside themselves.

          A lot of fake people hide pain, shame, and other underlying reasons in their behavior. This could explain why they can’t be authentic and/or have difficulties seeing their environment for the way it objectively is (both good and bad).

          5. Love Attention

          As I mentioned earlier, the biggest sign that something isn’t quite right with someone’s behavior can be established by how much they love attention. Are you being interrupted every time you speak by someone who wants to make sure that the spotlight gets reverted back to them? Is the focus always on them, no matter the topic? If yes, you’re probably dealing with a fake person.

          6. People Pleaser

          Appreciation feels nice but having everyone like you is even better. While it is completely unrealistic for most people to please everyone all the time, fake people seem to always say yes in pursuit of constant approval.

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          Now, this is a problem for two reasons. Firstly, these people are simply saying yes to things for their own satisfaction. Secondly, they often end up changing their minds or retracting their offer for one reason or another (“I would have loved to, but my grandmother suddenly fell ill.”), leaving you in the lurch for the 100th time this year.

          7. Sarcasm and Cynicism

          Behind the chronic pasted smile, fake people are well known for brewing resentment, jealousy, or anger. This is because, behind the postcard life, they are often unhappy. Sarcasm and cynicism are well known to act as a defense mechanism, sometimes even a diversion—anything so they can remain feeling on top of the world, whether it is through boosting themselves or bringing people down.

          8. Crappy friend

          Fake people are bad friends. They don’t listen to you, your feelings, and whatever news you might have to share. In fact, you might find yourself migrating away from them when you have exciting or bad news to share, knowing that it will always end up one way—their way. In addition, you might find that they’re not available when you truly need them or worse, cancel plans at the last minute.

          It’s not unusual to hear that a fake person talks constantly behind people’s backs. Let’s be honest, if they do it to others, they’re doing it to you too. If your “friend” makes you feel bad constantly, trust me, they’re not achieving their purpose, and they’re simply not a good person to have around.

          The sooner you learn to spot these fake people, the sooner you can meet meaningful individuals again.

          How to Cope With Fake People Moving Forward?

          It is important to remind yourself that you deserve more than what you’re getting. You are worthy, valuable, precious, and just as important as the next person.

          There are many ways to manage fake people. Here are some tips on how to deal with them.

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          1. Boundaries

          Keep your boundaries very clear. As explained in the book Unlock Your Resilience, boundaries are what keep you sane when the world tries to suffocate you. When fake people become emotional vampires, make sure to keep your distances, limit contact, and simply replace them with more valuable interactions.

          2. Don’t Take Their Behavior Personally

          Sadly, they most likely have behaved this way before they knew you and will continue much longer after you have moved on. It isn’t about you. It is about their inner need to meet a void that you are not responsible for. And in all honesty, unless you are a trained professional, you are unlikely to improve it anyway.

          3. Be Upfront and Honest About How You Feel

          If your “friend” has been hurtful or engaged in behaviors you struggle with, let them know—nicely, firmly, however you want, but let them know that they are affecting you. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you’ll feel better and when you’re ready to move on, you’ll know you tried to reach out. Your conscience is clear.

          4. Ask for Advice

          If you’re unsure about what you’re seeing or feeling, ask for advice. Perhaps a relative, a good friend, or a colleague might have some input as to whether you are overreacting or seeing some genuine concerns.

          Now, don’t confuse asking for advice with gossiping behind the fake person’s back because, in the end, you don’t want to stoop down to their level. However, a little reminder as to how to stay on your own wellness track can never hurt.

          5. Dig Deeper

          Now, this one, I offer with caution. If you are emotionally strong, up to it, guaranteed you won’t get sucked into it, and have the skills to manage, perhaps you could dig into the reasons a fake person is acting the way they do.

          Have they suffered recent trauma? Have they been rejected all their lives? Is their self-esteem so low that they must resort to making themselves feel good in any way they can? Sometimes, having an understanding of a person’s behavior can help in processing it.

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          6. Practice Self-Care!

          Clearly, putting some distance between the fake person and yourself is probably the way to go. However, sometimes, it takes time to get there. In the meantime, make sure to practice self-care, be gentle with yourself, and compensate with lots of positives!

          Self-care can be as simple as taking a hot shower after talking to them or declining an invitation when you’re not feeling up to the challenge.

          Spotting fake people isn’t too hard. They generally glow with wanna-be vibes. However, most often, there are reasons as to why they are like this. Calling their behavior might be the first step. Providing them with support might be the second. But if these don’t work, it’s time to stay away and surround yourself with the positivity that you deserve.

          Final Thoughts

          Remember that life is a rollercoaster. It has good moments, tough moments, and moments you wouldn’t change for the world. So, look around and make sure that you take the time to choose the right people to share it all with.

          We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, so take a good look around and choose wisely!

          More Tips on Dealing With Fake People

          Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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