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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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          Last Updated on July 3, 2020

          30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

          30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

          In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

          1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

          Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

          2. Focus on your breath

          Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

          3. Get organized and purge old items

          A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

          4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

          Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

          5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

          Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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          6. Smile more

          Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

          7. Don’t worry about the future

          As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

          8. Eat real food

          The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

          9. Choose being happy over being right

          Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

          10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

          Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

          11. Make use of filtering features on social media

          You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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          12. Get comfortable with silence

          When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

          13. Listen to understand, not to respond

          So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

          14. Put your troubles in a bubble

          Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

          15. Speak more slowly

          Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

          16. Don’t procrastinate

          Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

          17. Buy a coloring book

          Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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          18. Prioritize yourself

          You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

          19. Forgive others

          Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

          20. Check your expectations

          Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

          21. Engage in active play

          Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

          22. Stop criticizing yourself

          The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

          23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

          Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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          24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

          Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

          25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

          Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

          26. Manage your money

          Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

          27. Stop trying to control everything

          Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

          28. Practice affirmations

          Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

          29. Get up before sunrise

          Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

          30. Be yourself

          Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

          Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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