Podcast 42: 3 Solutions to Manage Social Anxiety

What is Anxiety costing you? More Than You Think.

Podcast (Audio Only)

A help guide learning new skills and adopting a different outlook if you feel socially awkward

3 Solutions to manage Social Anxiety

In this episode Joanne Williams, LCSW discusses solutions for social anxiety and how it starts, it is not your fault.

What is anxiety costing you?  A relationship, fun and excitement that promotion you were overlooked for? 

We humans are very social creatures; other people are important to us.  As we all know from personal experience, human relationships can deeply affect us, emotionally; they can either enrich or complicate our lives.

Not surprisingly, the roots of our anxiety may lie largely in our childhood: Our early childhood experiences shape our later relationships, romantic and otherwise.

As infants, we develop an "attachment style" that reflects how we relate to our early caregiver(s), reflected in a "secure", "anxious avoidant" or "anxious ambivalent" (either "resistant" or "passive") style.

Those who have a responsive caregiver who meets the infant's needs tend to develop a "secure" attachment style (happy at caregiver's appearance, upset at his/her departure, empowered to explore the world and connect with caregiver).

Those who have a responsive caregiver who fails to meet the infant's needs can develop an "anxious avoidant" style (indifferent to caregiver appearance, unreactive to departure, detached- little exploration or connection with caregiver).

Those who caregiver isn't reliably present can become "anxious ambivalent".  If the infant feels is unable to influence the caregiver, then can become "resistant" (showing anger at caregiver's appearance); if not, they can become "passive" (helpless).

Relationships can be the cause of a great deal of anxiety.

Conversely, healthy and personally-satisfying relationships can work wonders in reducing anxiety caused by many life-challenges.

Adults with Secure attachment tend to be high achievers who enjoy exploring and don’t overly fear failure.  They have good relationship skills (communication, conflict resolution, etc., and don't long tolerate unsatisfying relationships.

Secure adults tend to partner with other secure adults.  (In relationships, one Secure partner is enough to stabilize a relationship.)  They see sex and intimacy as a single thing, and they share initiation and enjoyment of sex.

Anxious-Preoccupied adults seek high levels of intimacy and approval, and can become overly dependent on partners.  They have low trust in self and others, are emotionally expressive and impulsive, and are sensitive to separation.

Anxious-Preoccupied adults can overreact and can read too much into situations, resulting in self-sabotage.  They often partner with Dismissive-Avoidant partners.

Dismissive-Avoidant adults are highly independent, and seem to avoid attachment and commitment.  They see themselves as self-sufficient, often distancing from others, and suppressing their feelings.

Dismissive-Avoidant individuals often feel good about themselves, while distrusting others. They prefer low-intimacy sex, and don't seem to much enjoy physical contact.

Fearful-Avoidant adults desire close relationships, but they are often uncomfortable with intimacy.  They tend to mistrust their partners, seeing themselves as unworthy of love.  They suppress their feelings and avoid intimacy.

Attachment anxiety can produce specific behaviors in the course of developing a romantic relationship: seeking closeness, seeking comfort and support ("safe haven"), seeking security in exploring. It's normal to feel some attachment anxiety in the course of developing a romantic relationship.

How our relationships can affect our level of anxiety:

Close relationships with family, friends and romantic partners affect the onset, course and treatment of anxiety disorders.

Having no close friends is significantly associated with GAD, social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and specific phobia.

Dissatisfaction with familial or marital relationships is associated with GAD and some phobias.

One's relationship status (single, married, divorced) plays into how the quality of one's relationships with family, friends and romantic partners affects potential anxiety disorders:

For single or divorced individuals, poor relationships with family or friends is associated with generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and agoraphobia.

Married people with anxiety disorders tend to have higher divorce rates, and are more likely to be single. Adults with anxiety disorders are less likely to be married, and more likely to divorce.

For married people, poor relationships with family or romantic partners is associated with generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD.

Marital distress may be causally related with anxiety disorders (GAD, social anxiety disorder, PTSD).Wives with anxiety disorders perceive their husbands as having a role in their anxiety, and vice versa.

For young adults, friends can provide more emotional supports than do parents, and parents can produce more conflict than friends.

High anxiety can cause a person to seek safety and support from others, which can strain the relationship with those others.

How we (mentally) "see" the world can affect our anxiety:

Peoples' cognitive style (way of interpreting past occurrences and projected future consequences) can provoke emotional disorders.

Perceiving a threat can cause exaggerated focus on possible signs of a threat, causing anxiety. Negative life-events can exacerbate this anxiety.

Many early-life negative interpersonal experiences (e.g. parental separation, discord, unavailability, or trauma) can predispose one to anxiety.

Negative perceptions of romantic relationships can cause anxiety.

How our social connections can affect our anxiety:

Exclusion from social groups can have many adverse effects.

People seek out inclusion in important or valued social groups, motivating much of social behavior.

Exclusion from social groups can induce social anxiety, jealousy, loneliness, shyness and depression, often in concert.

Social anxiety is more common in those with low self-esteem or insecurities.

For adolescents, high social status, solid friendships and dating relationships can protect them against social anxiety.

Conversely, exclusion or aggression or troubled best-friend relationships promote social anxiety.

Adolescents may offer useful lessons for adults:

Belonging to high-status groups can boost self-esteem and reduce loneliness.

Victimization by peers (exclusion, aggression) can increase anxiety.

High-quality friendships can reduce the impact of low peer acceptance.

Positive close friendships can reduce social anxiety, while negative friendship interactions can increase anxiety.

Positive romantic relationships can reduce social anxiety, while negative romantic relationships can increase anxiety

 The #1 challenge I found from a survey I did to anxiety, was in social situations. If this is you, You are not alone,  The CDC is reporting that depression, anxiety is increasing to nearly 50%. of the population right now.

Without tools or skills to bounce back better with resilience, this is going to be another very long year and we have been socially isolated too long and my have lost our social edge.  

The definition of Social Anxiety is if you feel uncomfortable or anxious being in one or more social situations, where you feel exposed to people looking at you or expecting something from you and you fear you will say the wrong thing and be embarrassed or feel unwanted by others and this provokes anxiety. So you avoid situations or feel the need to just endure it.

If this is you….

The good news is, these are skills you were meant to learn in your family and you can learn them at anytime in your life.   I am going to give you some tools to learn some skills that you missed out on.  But, will you dare to use them?? Or will your excuses keep speaking louder than your will to learn some skills and enjoy more of life.

You could look at social anxiety like you are supporting your own anxiety habit? An anxiety thought habit. Because you spend so much time thinking about ways to avoid feeling insecure, it has become a habit to avoid the feeling of insecurity.

Like changing any habit, the best way is to replace it with a new one.  And the replacement is learning the skills needed to feel confident.  

How does anyone learn how to be socially confident?   They just do it and practice it until they feel comfortable doing it and find success and satisfaction from doing it.

For extroverts who are 75% of the population, it is easier because they get energy from being around people.  Where an introvert has energy sucked out of them being around people.  But, there are way to manage this.

You could save so much more energy, if you can flip this habit around to reassuring thoughts instead of negative catastrophic ones.  Like…I hate that, or I will die to face them. Change it into, I will check it out and promise to stay for 15 minutes, and leave, if I don’t find the people interesting. But, I can have a good time, if I choose to.

I did a survey with my clients and there were 3 anxiety situation that were the most challenging that I want to offer solutions for.

They were #1 anxiety was in Social Situations, …sleep issues with ruminating thoughts that interfere with getting to sleep and anxiety interfering with achieving goals were the others, I will go into those at a later time.  Today we will focus on Social situations.

Generally, one of the reasons that you have anxiety is because You are looking at situation, through a lens of I can’t or I will be embarrassed if or What if this happens or don’t know what to say. Does that sound about right, then here are some things to look at.

Do you care to much about how you look to other, or if you will be accepted or liked and are overthinking this situation.  Learning confidence skills can lower that need, because you do feel confident.  Start to like the person you are and care less what others are thinking since you can only control one of these situations.

Learn emotional skills Or Emotional Intelligence, to keep up with the many changes happening in the world will help you be ready for changes, in many different situations, at work, in relationships or socially.  Emotions are your friends once you know how to use them, they are actually telling you what is needed.

 But, I think everyone can get up to speed with the emotional intelligence needed with a few skills that you need to master with practice.

So, I want to ask you again, what is anxiety costing you?  Have you thought of it as a real cost?   It might be larger than you think, because of your insecurities, lasting friendships or more? 

The worst thing I hear from clients is they have just give up and giving in to the anxiety and just say no thanks to friends asking them to do things and avoid doing things that would make their lives better?

If this is you, You are not alone,  The CDC is reporting that depression, anxiety is increasing to nearly 50%. of the population right now.

Without tools or skills to bounce back better with resilience, this is going to be another very long year.

So, I will offer 3 skills for solutions to Social anxiety to put this under your control.

What I want to offer first is just a simple mind set shift that you can practice.  Know that eight out of 10 participants in a study felt some level of insecurities, going into a meeting or a new social situation. They’re checking their teeth for spinach. They are seeing if their hair is okay.  So, know that almost everyone is feeling some level of insecurity, so you are not alone. It is normal.  Start to look at this differently. You are fine the way you are.

First-Start to notice what you are thinking about before going into the social situation. Check in with yourself and see how you are feeling about yourself do you feel like you look good, prepared and looking forward to it?   .

Check your attitude about the situations.   Are you feeling confident or insecure before going into it?  If not, then get prepared and make sure you look good and are feeling strong.  Are your shoulders back, is your head up high, or are you kind of slouching into the situation? 

Know that 50% of your communications is body language. All of these things are broadcasting to everyone how you are feeling, without being aware of it.   As you come into this meeting, are you open and interested and saying hello, or are you just being quiet and staying back.  

All of these can be the difference between insecure and secure. 

Have you noticed as some people enter, they light up the room with their energy and people are drawn to them right away or the opposite, have you noticed that some people come in like a black cloud is following them and people are moving away from them.

This is your attitude conveyed with your personal energy entering a room.  This is something that you can control and project Confidence with practice.

Start today by preparing your energy, by holding your head high, shoulders back, Put a smile on our face that shows genuine interest in going to the meeting, it shows I'm interested in you and what you have to say.  This can be fun to play with to see the different reactions.

You can build a plan before you go to a social situation.  Start to Notice the kinds of thoughts that are ruminating around in your head, they are usually worry thoughts.  You can put them behind imaginary doors and say later to them.

Then can start to look at some new habits of letting go of the What if’s, what if I would have said that or the ruminations of the thoughts that are going around and around, by learning to stand up for your self with a good come back that can will show respect for yourself

or tells the other person to stand down, to feel more confidence. 

I wish parents would teach these to the shy kids so they don’t freeze up and instead stand up for themselves.

Like, Clearly you’ve got problems…

I thought you were better than this..

Do you have many friends if you are treating me this way.

You really need to get some help, you are Out of control.

Clearly this is not about me…

  1. Start a daily practice of meditation. Proven to lower blood pressure and create better letting go and calming skills. letting go the worry, instead of holding on to the stress will help in the long run. Because you are either building up or accumulating tension or releasing it. these are skills that pay a huge benefit to shift these rumination to a more peaceful place when you learn letting go skills..
  2. Is it worth it to make these changes? Sometimes when you really want something, you will make the changes. One study showed that you could be losing $105K, per year, with lost promotions, or not being to speak up for a rent reduction, or getting a better price buying a car. or What is fear costing you if it is getting in the way of a relationships that you really want. So they may need more exploration and practice to address them.

This is something I see consistently with my clients, they are more focused on what they don’t want, instead of what they do want. What I hear is….I don't like the way he does this,  I would never be with that type of person. I don’t like… And then more complaining about not getting what they want to have?

Think clearly about the kind of person you do want to meet, what are the qualities you are looking for, not what you don’t want? What would that new job look like?  Your focus on your goal is critical to getting to it.

It is Like driving a car looking backwards, but expecting it to take you where you want to go, and then being mad at yourself, for not getting there.  Maybe you haven’t taken the time to truly think that through.

So there is much more that I would love to be able to offer you around this and Cut your losses of what anxiety is costing you with my professional abilities. I feel with my 30 years’ experience, to help you to get to your goals, to have better sleep, feel more confident in social situations in my private sessions.

Find more Way to Challenge negative, unhelpful thoughts that trigger and fuel social anxiety, replacing them with more focused re assuring thoughts.

Learn how to safely Face social situations with increased confidence over self-doubt.

Remember to practice the skills we shared today to feel more joys in your life.

You can contact us at anxietysimplified.net or find out more how to get an Emotional Support animal for housing or a Certified Psychiatric Service dog to go anywhere with to feel the calm. By for now.

Our next podcast: Vagus Nerve- the secret calming chemical

See other podcasts at AnxietySimplified.net