A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post called 6 Things You Should Never Say to Someone with Social Anxiety. I think it’s important for my friends, family and you to understand how to be sensitive to someone who has social anxiety. And also how to not offend them. In order to be sensitive to our feelings and thinking, I think it’s also important to give you an insider’s view to our though process. So today, I am following up with 7 Things that People With Social Anxiety Do.
. Only feel comfortable or safe with certain people.
I am a pretty private person, so I let a choice few really know all my secrets. This is similar with others who suffer from social anxiety. They feel safe or comfortable only with certain people. These are also the same people that they feel “safe” attending events with because they know this person understands them and won’t abandon them at an event.
. Avoid situations or events where we fear we’ll be judged.
This one is major for me. I will RSVP to an event and change my mind last minute because of the fear of being judged. For someone who has social anxiety, their extreme fear of rejection causes them to steer clear of uncertain social situations whenever possible.
. We imagine situations where we embarrass ourselves.
We envision social situations and how they can go horribly wrong by use saying or doing something we shouldn’t. For instance, I have a fear of wearing white. My nightmare is that I will spill something all over my white shirt or dress and then be stared at for the rest of the day for my stain. I know it seems silly, but to someone who has social anxiety, being the center of attention is NOT what we want.
Take time to prepare for social outings.
Because we are so self-conscious, we worry about what we say, how we look, and how we move. We become overly concerned about our hair, dress and look in general. So we will prepare weeks in advance for an event. We’ll plan out what we will wear and even practice what we will say in conversations or how to start conversations.
. Arrive at an event early to get “comfortable” with the surrounding.
I show up early or on time to events and then sit outside until the event starts. I like to be one of the first people at an event so I can get comfortable in the environment before others arrive. It puts me more at ease and I have less anxiety when someone is “walking in” to a situation where I already am.
Worry that people will notice their fear – sweaty palms, flushed face, cold sweats
The anxiety starts in our head, but then it shows all over our body. A person with social anxiety can suffer from sweaty palms, cold sweats, a flushed face and even worse, panic attacks. And then we worry about everyone looking at us and noticing. This makes it extremely hard to just live in the moment and enjoy life around us because we are so self-conscious.
We cancel plans last minute
Because we get such anxiety thinking about and preparing for an event, the anxiety can sometimes be so much that we end up canceling. Someone with social anxiety might even get a reputation of always pulling out of events and it can be so annoying, which makes people stop extending an invitation. However, for the person with social anxiety, canceling gives us a big relief and prevents us from having a panic attack or breaking out into sweats.
It takes patience to be a friend to or love someone with social anxiety. As frustrating as it may be for you, imagine how it is for the person that is suffering from this anxiety. We’d love to quiet our fears and just enjoy life, but anxiety often takes over and prevents that. My hope is that this post gives you a little bit more insight into who we are. If you suffer from social anxiety, know that way fewer people are judging us than we really think and the more you share your story with others, it becomes easier for them to understand your behavior.