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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

          Freelance Writer

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          Last Updated on May 21, 2019

          How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

          How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

          For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

          If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

          Example 1

          You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

          You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

          In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

          Example 2

          You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

          People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

          You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

          Example 3

          You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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          The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

          Example 4

          You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

          Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

          If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

          Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

          • Understand your own communication style
          • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
          • Communicate with precision and care
          • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

          1. Understand Your Communication Style

          To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

          In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

          Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

          2. Learn Others Communication Styles

          Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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          If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

          “How do you prefer to receive information?”

          This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

          To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

          3. Exercise Precision and Care

          A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

          On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

          Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

          I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

          I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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          In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

          The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

          Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

          4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

          Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

          In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

          “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

          Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

          Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

          It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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          It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

          It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

          Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

          Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

          The Bottom Line

          When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

          I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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          Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

          Reference

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