It is about social anxiety when a person fears the rejection and judgment of others and is extremely uncomfortable when exposed to social situations. We begin to discover together what it is and what happens in the mind of those who suffer.
In this highly social era, perhaps more than in the past, it is increasingly important to feel accepted by others. To put it all, feeling part of a social group is a fundamental necessity since dawn: if an individual was excluded from the tribe, it could safely be said to be deceived, as the person would have to survive in very difficult conditions without support and collaboration with the others.
Nowadays, in theory, one can survive well without being part of a social group, but qualitatively is not the best. Man is a social animal, it has always been and – probably – it will always be. Each of us needs others, if not for their support function when we are bad or have some sort of problem, at least for the importance of others in sending us an image of who we are. Simply, without the “compass” of the opinion of others, we would not be able to define it (or at least that’s what we’re thinking of).
In social situations, that is when dealing with other people, each of us, more or less consciously, works to ensure that it is visibly seen and accepted by others. Usually it’s not a forced process, but it’s natural to try to be nice, fun, and trustworthy. There is nothing wrong or artificial in trying to “conquer” others or to make them socially accepted, as such attitudes respond to our need to feel integrated with others.
The rejection is around the corner
Despite our “efforts”, sometimes it may happen that they cannot win the favors of the other. It is not that we can be nice to everyone, and it is not said that the person at that time is bound towards others. Happens, if it happens! In fact, it will all have happened that they do not feel fully accepted, even if they are either openly refused or judged severely.
We are not talking about the classic “two of spades” on the part of the person we wanted to “conquer”, but also the simple feeling left out and ignored when interacting with a group of people we just met. In the game of social approval, you win and you lose, it would be great if we all managed to “connect” each other with a spirit of acceptance, curiosity and sincere interest, but unfortunately that is not the case.
Usually, in the face of such a situation, you will stay awhile for a while, maybe until the end of the evening, but most often ends there. Most of these “waste” events do not have great repercussions on our way of evaluating or trying new experiences of socialization. In essence, let’s go. But unfortunately not for everyone is so.
Some people (much more than you imagine!), often following events that have been rejected by others or judged negatively, cannot go beyond what has happened and “tie it to your finger.” The just fear of receiving social rejection becomes a real phobia, with particularly negative consequences on self-image and exposure to social situations.
What is people with social anxiety fear being judged negatively? For some people, the dreaded situations are relatively limited (e.g. talking in public, eating in front of others), for others, fear is more generalized and can be associated with many social events.
Paradoxically, the risk is the total closure of the person with social anxiety against others. Substantially, from the fear of being rejected and excluded by others, self- exclusion comes from the social fabric.
As we have seen and how well we all know, no one likes to feel rejected. And it is perfectly normal to fear being judged negatively by others or feeling excluded, because it is something that can actually happen. Those suffering from social anxiety tend to exaggerate, and very much, the likelihood that these consequences will occur and the possible adverse effects that might arise.
This is because it often tends to underestimate, and very much, its ability to act “normally” in the social sphere (not knowing what to say, not being able to speak “good”, having an unattractive voice, being awkward).
That is why when a strong desire to give a positive impression of itself unites the insecurity and the uncertainty about succeeding; the situations related to sociality become a source of extreme anxiety. Social events become extremely dangerous because they are afraid of acting embarrassingly or inadequately to the point of being explicitly rejected and humiliated.
Look in the wrong direction
When in a dreaded situation, the person suffering from social anxiety is, rightly, very careful to identify signs of disapproval by others. At the first sign of possible negative rejection or judgment, the social phobic gets the confirmation that there is something wrong with them. What do you see really is what happens?
In fact, it is very common to know that the evaluation of others signals is not particularly objective. This is because sufferers of social anxiety, in fact, tend to make inferences about what others may think of him based on how the person thinks they appear to others at that time. In a nutshell: I feel I’m awkward, so the others will see me awkward, so I’ll be awkward.
Surprisingly, attention seems to be addressed to others, but it is really all about looking inside, about what you are trying (and judging by yourself) in that particular fragment. So, if I’m talking to many people and starting to feel warm, I guess I’m blushing and I’m convinced that what I hear and see about myself is what others will surely notice. “Look, it’s all red! It’s embarrassed! What is a child who is scared to talk to others? That ridiculous!” While perhaps, the others are really very unaware of the speaker’s embarrassment!
What would this effect have on the actual “performance”? How is public speaking when you perceive others as hostile? How would it end? Do you also hear a nice vicious circle?
At first glance, social anxiety so outlined may seem a rather trivial problem, but in fact the ones I have described are just some of the components that explain what is behind this fear of social situations.
Many other elements should be considered to fully understand what is happening in the mind (and body) of those who suffer from social anxiety. I do not want to go too far and do not bother you; I preferred to put aside other aspects, which I might possibly put on in a second post. I still hope to be able to provide an overview, albeit brief, of what social anxiety means.
However, I would like to conclude this introductory article with an important message for those who think (or suspect) to suffer for this form of anxiety: do not think they cannot get out. Like any other psychological problem, this can also be solved. If you want, whenever you want, as you please, I’m there. If you want to talk to someone, do not worry: I will not judge you.
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