Social Anxiety or Social Phobia affect an enormous number of us to some extent or another.
It is very likely that some, if not many, of the following list will be familiar to you:
- Don’t like being put ‘on the spot’
- Find it very difficult to talk publicly or to give presentations
- Find large groups of people intimidating
- Find it difficult to make friends
- Lack confidence in social settings, being shy
- Find parties and small talk difficult
- Suffer with pre-exam or pre-test nerves
- Try and stick to the rules
- Sense of being watched
- Find talking on the phone difficult
- Frequently blushing, stuttering or stammering
- Find maintaining eye contact with people difficult
- Hiding, or keep yourself below people’s level of perception
- Fear of being judged, criticized, mocked or rejected
- Shy bladder (not wanting/able to urinate in public urinals)
- Sexual performance issues (e.g. impotence, premature ejaculation)
- Feel as though people may find out that you’re a fraud
For many people social anxiety creates significant problems in their lives, often without them knowing the root cause.
The issues created via social anxiety can seep out into every aspect of your life:
Perhaps you choose to live alone, or begin to avoid social interactions;
you lack confidence in your abilities and your lack of confidence creates difficulties in your work;
you fail to get appointed to jobs you are more than capable of doing due to your lack of faith in yourself and this leads to others questioning your abilities too;
you may dress in dull or dark colours to try and hide yourself, or perhaps you over-eat as a way of avoiding unwanted attention and/or flattery;
you don’t challenge others in order to avoid conflict;
or you may be chronically insecure about your relationships with others which can progressively undermine even the strongest of relationships.
There are few statistics about the extent to which people suffer with social anxiety and those that are published come with hefty health warnings about the likely inaccuracies.
What we do know though is that almost everyone, at some stage in their life will experience feelings related to social anxiety.
However, perhaps because by its very nature sufferers of Social Anxiety are reluctant to talk about their problems or seek help, the condition is still not widely known amongst the general public, and was only recognized as a disorder in its own right as recently as 1980!