One way or another, we encounter difficulties in communication quite often. We happen to be misunderstood, to show our incompetence, to get rejected, to experience an awkward pause, or not to start a dialogue at all.
This topic will probably never be exhausted. Especially when setbacks or difficulties are not temporary, but real difficulties. The fear of communication, which psychologists call social anxiety, can literally paralyze a person when they are around strangers. In this article, we’ll look at what keeps the fire of social anxiety going and how to deal with it.
Before you start to understand the problem itself, you need to focus on some important things, without which it is impossible to achieve success. To get rid of social anxiety, the following principles must be followed:
- A responsibility. The main role in this path is assigned to you. You can read an endless number of articles, learn a lot of opinions, but nothing has changed. Not a single psychologist can help you without your participation. Even if you are a very busy person, plan your way to deal with social anxiety and move at your usual pace. Only personal experience will help you.
- Courage. You need to challenge yourself. Overcoming social anxiety is a series of experiments, tests, attempts. You will need to question your beliefs and fundamentally change behavior to test hypotheses. It takes masculinity. But it’s worth it.
- Patience. Patience and patience again. Sometimes things won’t work. You will blush again, you will not be able to express the thought, you will leave without starting a conversation. The main thing you can do is to accept this as inevitable and not let such occurrences undermine your confidence and desire to overcome communication difficulties. Patience and perseverance will lead you to your goal.
So, if we take social anxiety apart, we find the processes that support it. By realizing what each of them fills in your case, and breaking the vicious circle, you will get rid of social anxiety.
Thinking ways that support social anxiety
The vicious circle of thinking in the case of fear of communication is as follows: some situations are assessed as carrying risks, and the sense of impending danger increases the level of anxiety. For example, you are afraid to meet someone. Just one thought that you will need to approach a stranger and strike up a conversation involves an internal dialogue: “What do I say? I will definitely stutter. He’ll think I’m crazy. ” And you will immediately feel anxiety start to rise in your throat. How we think affects how we feel, and vice versa. If you feel yourself trembling, you might think others have noticed it too. And there it is not far to the idea that everyone dubbed you inadequate or inferior. This cycle of thoughts and feelings can be depicted as follows:
To weaken the influence of thoughts on mood and the development of anxiety, it is necessary to give in to them in doubt, and not to perceive them as facts.
- Find out what you are thinking about before anxiety takes over in communication situations. For example, you thought, “They think I’m weird.”
- Is it possible that this is actually not the case? What would you think if you were in their place? Can we say that you really read their thoughts? Is there an alternative view of what is happening? “I cannot know 100% what others think. Perhaps I feel worse than I look. ” Choose a thought that is helpful to you.
Behaviors that support social anxiety
The way we think affects our behavior. And the behavior is based on the result we get. There are behaviors that support social anxiety.
Protective behavior : communication only with “safe” people and only on “safe” topics, attempts to cover your face with hair so that no one sees the blush, etc. The desire to be constantly safe supports the idea that the situation is risky. And it is difficult to get rid of this thought.
Avoiding potentially dangerous situations and people. Here the mechanism is the same as in the case of defensive behavior. Fear of anxiety leads to election; avoidance gives more fear and, accordingly, more avoidance.
Both defensiveness and avoidance can relieve anxiety, but this relief is temporary because the anxiety does not really go away. You probably already guessed what needs to be done. You need to give up defensive behavior and stop avoiding in order to test whether communication situations are so dangerous.
Will you really faint with excitement? Is it true that you will stutter to such an extent that the person will prefer to run away from such an interlocutor? Could it be that in fact no one even pays attention to how you blushed?
Identify what you are doing or avoiding. Maybe you have stopped attending parties altogether, and corporate events are sheer torture for you? New Year is coming soon, experiment! Challenge yourself, set a goal. Describe what happened. Try again. Perhaps this stage of dealing with the fear of communication is the most difficult, but also the most effective. The main task is to get a different experience.
Shyness and focus on the inner state
We focus too much on unpleasant symptoms of anxiety, do not devote enough time to the people around us, and then we become even more worried about this.
Therefore, it is necessary to learn how to transfer the focus from internal experience (symptoms of anxiety) to external – the communication process itself.
Overcoming the fear of communication is real. You need to pay attention to thoughts, beliefs, emotions and habit patterns, and at each stage something will change. Like any project, it takes a lot of energy and time, but it can really change your life. You will stop feeling anxious when communicating with strangers, you will easily make new contacts, you will feel comfortable at any meeting, and you will discover the joy of live communication. Go to a new place today, meet a person you like right on the street, or invite a casual acquaintance to cocoa.