Category Archives for "Social Anxiety Simplified"

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 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


Podcast 41: 4 Strategies to Use to Help your Teen Struggling with Depression to Develop Skills

Teen with Increasing Severe Depression that need our help

Podcast (Audio Only)

4 Strategies you Can Use to Help your Teen struggling with Depression or Your Teens Friends to develop skills to deal with these imposing emotions.

In this episode Joanne Williams, LCSW discusses a new study showing that a scary number of our teens that are struggling and need our Help even when many of them don’t realize it.

Summary of Todays show: Our teens are getting more overwhelmed than we may be aware of. I will share 4 strategies for what you can do and to understand why this may be happening and how to help them.

  1. The Signs that our teens are struggle to cope
  2. The stressors with certain groups that are worse
  3. 3 factors that come together to create a sense of hopelessness and despair.
  4. How we can help- 4 key strategies you can use today that will help.
  5. How we can help by understanding yours and your child’s attachment style.

Please hear from a 30 year MH professional. We are having a MH crisis with our Children. 

I heard a statistic that scared me so much and it should scare you too. 

From the organization Mental health America that did an online study 1.5 million 11-17 students. The teens took a depression screening test starting in Sept. 2020, so this is recent data and 37 % of the 11-17 yo reported were having suicidal thoughts in the last 7 of 14 days when they took the survey. 37 %-50% of these teens, when you add for other groups with higher rates, were considering or had thoughts taking their life. Or examining or weighing options.  This doesn’t mean they will but, it is considered having ideations about it and the next question would be, do they have a plan to figure out how seriously they are thinking about his. 

But, we all need to take it as serious as a heart attack, this is part of a shadow pandemic that is affecting our kids directly.

This test is one of the 9 criteria I used to diagnosis depression with my clients.  We use a test called PHQ-9.  This is one of the 9 questions, on the depression screen test.  So this is a reliable and credible test. Done on line, with no adults watching or listening, may actually give us a better understanding of what our kids are thinking and feeling at this age.

Many times teens are not very communicative anyway,  with us as parents or if asked they may not even understand themselves.   or know that they are depressed or that they THAT unhappy.  If feels normal to them.  This is why they can do impulsive things and do harm to themselves. Number one cause of death in teens is accidents.  

Signs to look for in your kids are changes in their behaviors, not interested in doing things that they previously had interest in, physical signs in their bodes, the way they carry themselves, slumped shoulders, no energy, or more negative talk. Hopelessness is one of the biggest keys to suicide, nothing to live for. 

Some kid verbalize that they have thoughts to harm themselves, but some don’t, so don’t wait for that.

A parent told me yesterday, those were the exact signs she was seeing in her son.  They figured out,  that he was feeling he had no purpose because he didn’t have his team sport that he loved and lived for.  She immediately figured out where a similar team was playing and weighed the risks of Covid and decided his mental health was more important.  These are trying times for all of us.

There are so many compounding factors that I am sure you are aware of as a parent that you are dealing with that, we may not be able to help our children cope better, if you don’t how to cope yourself.   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.

We humans are very social creatures; other people are important to us.

You can learn skills of what to do. This is not something to worry about this is something to take action to get involved, ON.   You can ask for help at school, at church or from a counselor.

BUT, we have to get involved somehow, in what the teens like, get into THEIR world, what they want to do.  Because they are in the phase of development, everything is able them.  And everything is pronounced or exaggerated in their minds, I think because of hormone and this stage that stage is about finding their own identity and in high school finding their social identity and how they belong. You do remember how hard this was a teenager?  DON’T you?

Adolescents may offer useful lessons for adults:

So, kids are watching you and learning from the adults behaviors, so healthy relationship in the family can make a huge difference.

Even if they don’t want our help or think we are totally stupid and we don’t know anything, they still need us and are Listening to you and your advise, but, they may not show it.  Keep talking to them, they are listening and taking in everything.  But, you will never know it for years.

Even having some hope on the horizon with vaccines, there still have been over 550,000 death that are affecting our families. 

I see that 1 of these deaths from covid affects at least 10 other people, like being a coworkers, or as a friend or a friend of the family, or a spouse, or a spouse, grandparent or someone associated with the family, that they know and may need our help to assist the family out with this grief,  or to help the  family member, to get through the day, or through the day at work to keep everything together for the rest of the family’s sake financially.  If my calculations are true that is 5 million people affected, with losses, just this year from covid, more or less the other issues compounding this.

The report that I am sharing, is in a link for you to see, it is staggering, and we need to be shouting this from the roof tops.  But, unfortunately it is really hard to hear and for some it is just too much.

I will share these new statistics from Mental Health America that 10 % of youth in America have severe depression, where these thoughts of self-harm are found in 1 out of 10 of our children. Look around you. This may be your child’s friend. The highest rates are among youth who Identify as more than one race at 12 % and 60% DO NOT RECEIVE ANY MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT.

We as an American society have managed to classify a set of symptoms of feeling overwhelmed, tired, poor concentration, feeling like a failure into classification to feel ashamed of, instead of looking at it as we need to teach life skills on how to manage or cope with these feelings. 

Without ever being taught these coping or life skills and expected to know what to do with them??.  

And if we as the parent are avoiding seeing the signs of overwhelm in our kids, because we don’t know how to manage them ourselves. What are we to do?  There are things that you can do.  

We have 50-90,000 thoughts per day that can go towards our health and happiness or away from it into depression, or thinking we are a failure or worthless and things are hopeless.

To compound this issue is that children don’t’ even start to have the cognitive abilities… the thinking skills, to understand how to figure out how to deal with their emotions until they are age 12-25.  That part of their brain is still developing.  The thinking/ cognitive or higher brain skills of how to figure out how deal with feelings of failure, or self-worth are continuing to develop until they are 25 years old. 

Notice a male can’t rent a car until they are 25.  Why? They haven’t developed the emotional and cognitive skills to be trusted to rent a car and be responsible for it.  They need our help.

Suicide in teens is the second leading cause of death only to accidents, in the US.

Guns in the home increase the possibility of both violence and suicide. According to the

There are 3 factors that come together to create a sense of hopelessness and despair.

The 3 risk factors are:

1.Current life stressors, prolonged stress, (financial, emotionally stress like bullying, harassment) their attitude towards it and the support they receive are part of what will save them or not.  

2 Historical risks, previous suicide attempts, family history of depression or suicides, childhood abuse, neglect or traumas of any kind, family losses, physical head trauma)

3.Lethal means of harm at their disposal including firearms.

They are learning how to cope from you the parent or their peers. Which do you want them to learn from ?  If you as a parent and don’t understand how to manage your emotions, then, buy a book, listen to free podcasts, like mine at Anxiety Simplified on all major platforms, pay a professional counselor and learn the skills.  They can be learned like any other skill.

I truly believe that this is a bigger issue with teens, I think it is finding meaning of life and its purpose and connecting to it.  I think that we don’t often give it the time it deserves as a philosophic way to look at life until college years.  But, I see the real message is a deeper need to connect with something bigger than them, something with more depth than social media, social comparisons. 

Here are 4 things you can do:

1.  Connect with Nature with your kid, have them join a team, connect with a church or social group that is active

2.  Teens are in a development time of separation from their parents and trying to find themselves and their purpose and meaning. The more experience they have in different areas, the quicker they know what they don’t like, to know what they do like.  Let them safely experiment and if you can be the chaperone and just witness them from afar, you will begin to see you kids strengths to encourage them to move in that direction.

3. Get a dog, or an animal in the home and can bring purpose and meaning and responsibility to something other than themselves. Or go to for an emotional support animal or a Psychiatric Service Dog to go with you everywhere to give you the support you need.

4.  Volunteer

Make this and your children a priority.  They will be gone before you know what happened.  These are very important times. Figure out how to be their support system, even if they say they don’t want you too.  Do something with them they like to do, even if you don’t.  Just like in any relationship there is give and take and right now it is give give give with a teens.

We are left to figure it out ourselves and pay for it ourselves.  I do feel like it is one of the best investments in yourself and your family that you can ever make.  Get the life skills to understand how to manage your emotions and your kids will follow your example.

You can download this report here: Download The Report

The article referenced: The State of Mental Health in America

 This is podcast is by no means a replacement for therapy of any medical attention if you need it.  Always reach out and take care of yourself or if you are feeling like you want to hurt yourself, there is always someone standing by at 1800-273-8255 or call 911.

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

You can contact us at 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. Bye for now. Remember to Share the Love.

Our next podcast: Social Anxiety

See other podcasts at