PART 1 - I Thought It Was Just Me! Introducing Social Anxiety
1- The Root of It All: How Social Anxiety Takes Hold
avoiding does make you feel better, at least in the short term. Avoidance makes the anxiety go away temporarily; in Jim’s case, it subsided until the next time he spotted Deena down the block.
But long term, avoidance is disastrous. It is enemy number one of emotional well-being and perpetuates all anxieties.
if she truly got to know him she would, as Jim feared, realize she had made a terrible mistake and grind his heart into the Dorchester sidewalk.
This fear is the core of social anxiety. It’s the sense that something embarrassing, deficient, or flawed about us will become obvious to everyone.
But what exactly are we afraid of?
- Our anxiety. we might be afraid people will see the physical signs of anxiety itself—we’ll sweat through our shirt, blush.
- Our appearance. we might think there is something shameful about how we look—we’re not attractive enough; we’re dressed inappropriately; our hair is weird. We’re too fat.
- Our character. We might be worried about our whole personality: we’re not cool, not funny, stupid, a loser, an idiot, crazy, unqualified, inadequate, incompetent, or defective. We may mutter to ourselves in moments of angst, “What the hell is wrong with me?”
- Our social skills. We might think that we have no personality or are embarrassingly awkward. We worry we won’t have anything to say, we won’t make sense, our mind will go blank, we’re too quiet, too boring, we’ll get emotional, we’ll be confusing.
So rather than risk The Reveal, we hide.
For Jim, hiding from Deena taught him two things: one, that interacting with Deena was risky—dangerous, even. There was danger of humiliation, the possibility that they would start something and she would lose interest, leaving Jim in the swirling agony of teenage heartbreak.
The second thing avoidance taught Jim is that he couldn’t handle Deena’s interest. Avoidance is your brain’s equivalent of a fussy mother hen—it means well, but in protecting you from a situation it inadvertently sends the message that you can’t deal. In shielding you from threat, avoidance keeps you from learning.
it blocks the resulting confidence that comes with succeeding.
“The point is that you’re comfortable with yourself and you make people around you feel comfortable. They feel they can talk to you. That’s your superpower.”