What is Social Anxiety?

Social Anxiety is a fear of people. In particular, it is a fear of what other people think of “the sufferer.”

That’s the definition I prefer, but there are many others:

“Social anxiety is extreme shyness.”

While this definition is true in most cases, it is not always true. Most SAers (this is the term I use in the book for people with SA) will say they were always shy and their shyness developed into SA. Others will say they were never shy. I wasn’t.

“Social anxiety is a fear of rejection and judgement.”

Yes, that’s really the same is the one at the top.

From the excellent NHS self-help leaflet on social anxiety:

“People who suffer from social anxiety often believe that others will think badly of them or that people will be judging them. They think that they are being watched closely and they want to come across well. At the same time they may fear that they are not as good as other people and are not ‘up to the mark’.”

Yes, all true.

Is that all? No, it’s just the beginning. There are many things involved with social anxiety: symptoms; thoughts before, during and after an event; avoidance and its consequences; wondering why and how it started and whether anything could have been different; hard work, because ingrained behaviours are hard to change.

And all this leads one to wonder: couldn’t it have been avoided? Social anxiety doesn’t begin at birth. It develops, usually around adolescence. Where were the adults who might have seen it coming and could have done something at the time?

I’ll be saying more about these issues in the blog posts. Sometimes I’ll use my experiences as examples. But I’m only one of many and we’re all different. My book, Social Anxiety Revealed, includes a wide range of experiences.

 

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