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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 September 18, 2020

          13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

          13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

          For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

          “We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

          “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

          Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

          You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

          Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

          1. Take a step back and evaluate

          When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

          1. What is the problem?
          2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
          3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
          4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
          5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

          Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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          2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

          If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

          At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

          Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

          3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

          Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

          4. Process your thoughts/emotions

          Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

          1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
          2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
          3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
          4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

          5. Acknowledge your thoughts

          Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

          By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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          Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

          6. Give yourself a break

          If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

          7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

          A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

          Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

          After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

          8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

          As Helen Keller once said,

          “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

          Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

          9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

          In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

          1. What’s the situation?
          2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
          3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
          4. Take action on your next steps!

          After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

          10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

          A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

          Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

          For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

          11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

          No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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          12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

          No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

          13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

          There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

          After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

          Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

          Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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