Signs Of Social Anxiety And How To Get Over It

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It’s a question I’ve been asking myself since forever. For people who know me well, I’m more introverted than the average person. I’d say I’ve come out of my shell over the years but I still have moments where I just don’t know how to interact with people.

What is social anxiety? How does it affect people? Can you get over it?

Well, social anxiety is an irrational fear of being judged, feeling irrationally embarrassed, not knowing how to communicate with other people, social phobia and worrying obsessively about what other people think of you.

I would say I was like this from middle school to my mid 20s, it wasn’t until my late 20s that I was able to feel more confident in my interactions and had enough experience dealing with people to no longer feel anxious.

Some of the social anxiety symptoms and the issues I had during those years were:

Feeling like everyone was watching me and what I was doing.

I could literally be eating a sandwich in the lunchroom and I would feel like everyone would be seeing my sandwich, judging the sandwich I had, how I was eating it etc. I would be very self-conscious about how I dressed, whether I’m re-wearing something very recently and wondering if people thought I didn’t have enough clothes. I thought a lot about the social implications of how I dressed.

Replaying social interactions in my head and self criticizing how they could’ve been better.

They say practice makes perfect but this was just obsessive compulsive disorder happening because for every word I said to someone I would replay it in my head over and over and over. And try to figure out how I could’ve made it better. I realize now socializing like that doesn’t help you in any way. It just makes you more anxious.

Imagining pretend social interactions and practicing them in case I needed to use them in the future.

This was just a waste of time because none of those pretend social interactions ever happened.

Not being able to convey ideas concisely

Sometimes I would just ramble and then I would see the other persons face getting all confused and lost as to what I was trying to say. I would even get confused as to what I was trying to say. I’d lose track of what I was trying to say halfway through the conversation. This would make me even more anxious and embarrassed.

Trying to control other people’s perspectives of me.

I am who I am and, at the time, I guess I wasn’t ready to accept it. That I’m an introvert. I would get really upset if people told me I was shy or that I needed to get out of my shell because it made me feel like there was something inherently wrong with me; when really I’m more of a listener. If I don’t feel like I have something to add or say, I shouldn’t have to fill the conversation with filler.

Avoiding people if I couldn’t remember their names.

I’m terrible with names. Horrible. And if someone remembered my name and I couldn’t remember their name, I would just avoid that person instead of asking them to repeat their name. I felt ashamed for not being able to remember it.

Avoiding people that I don’t know very well.

I still do this.

Not wanting to put myself in group situations and avoiding events where I would have to socialize on my own.

I liked clinging to my extroverted friends and using them as a crutch to socialize. Then feeling lost when they’re not helping me socialize. It was painful of being at parties or at school and trying to look interesting. At the end of the day, my friends were never responsible for helping me socialize.

How did this affect my life?

I was very unhappy. I thought that I wasn’t doing the right things to put myself out there. I was overthinking everything and I wasn’t putting an effort to get to know people who actually wanted to get to know me. It made my husband frustrated because he felt like I was isolating myself. I couldn’t do things that would benefit my life because they were social. I couldn’t go on interviews. I couldn’t make phone calls to strangers. I wouldn’t ask questions if I didn’t understand something.

My life really couldn’t move forward with how much anxiety I was having.

How did I get over it?

I looked for a job that required me to be personable. I decided to do real estate sales. I had always imagined a real estate person being so outgoing, friendly and easy to talk to. I met a hundred new people that year. Putting myself in situations that terrified me actually helped me. I learned that people don’t care if you say the wrong thing. They don’t even care if you’re an introvert or shy. Most people are just worried about themselves. Most of them won’t even remember your name and that’s normal. I went through a lot of awkward moments with clients and at the end of the day they didn’t matter, I still made money, I still got other clients.

I think it comes more with maturity; accepting rejection, accepting other people not noticing you and just living your own life.

Now when I meet people and there seems to be no chemistry or I think they’re not interested in getting to know me, I realize maybe they’re just not my type of people and that’s OK.

I’m still introverted. I still prefer being in small groups or getting to know you one on one but I’m not shy anymore.  I’m not afraid of how people react to me or what they think of me. I’m not concerned with getting them to like me and I’m pretty happy just being me.

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Tags: Dealing with Social anxiety, social anxiety support, anxiety cure, feeling anxious, understanding anxiety

On Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade: The Face Of The Suicide Epidemic

When I heard about Anthony Bourdain, the famous chef and entrepreneur’s death, I felt my heart sink. My husband and I would “No Reservations” and now “Parts Unknown”. He really found a part of himself in Anthony Bourdain. He loved how he would go to these remote places, get to know the locals and focus on the meaning that the food had on the community. I think that’s what made Anthony so special and why he was so loved by the public, his way of connecting people from around the world.

Kate Spade was a surprise too. I didn’t really follow her celebrity but I’m very aware of her brand. It’s hard to go anywhere in the city without seeing one of her bags or her jewelry. She has a very clean cut and innocent vibe to her brand, so when I heard about her suicide I was just as much of a surprised.

The news of the two suicides came less than 24 hours of eachother and it felt Iike a pop culture loss.

It had me thinking a lot about happiness and what that means for us as humans.  It begs the question, how do you find true happiness?   I mean Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were the epitome of success. I think there are very few people who can top their success in their industry. They had strangers that looked up to them and they inspired so much in others. Yet…in a moment they could not find the will to live nor happiness to be found. Which brings the question, what hope is there for the rest of us?

One thing we can be sure of is that happiness is not found at the bottom of a well funded bank account. Money is not the formula for happiness and yet so many of us chase it as way to get us to the next place. “If only I got a better job..” “if only we could get ahead of these bills” “if only we could get our debt down,” but what happens after you meet those kind of goals? What happens after we reach for the next step and the next step, only to realize there no prize for reaching the top?

I read an article about people’s different responses, a lot of people were surprised and disappointed. Neither family could suspect this as a possibility for their loved ones. Val Kilmer, gave his perspective that he thought it was selfish decision to leave family behind. I can respect that point of view from him given he had battled throat cancer and literally had to fight off death. My parents always told me that suicide was a selfish, cowardly choice to make, that only caused pain and stigma onto loved ones.

But still it’s hard for me to say that people who commit suicide are terrible people who are throwing their lives away. We can never truly know someone’s pain and suffering.

The CDC says it’s an epidemic now for mental health since overall suicide deaths are up 30% in the country. And that depression and anxiety are not necessarily an underlying cause for the increase. Many people who attempted or committed suicide have not been diagnosed for any mental illnesses nor were they suspected of any issues from their family. This statistic might be caused by the stigma surrounding mental illness and the fact that many people still don’t get the help they need from therapists and psychologists, but it something to consider. Rather, CDC says that majority suicide attempts are correlated to a sudden negative change in life, like a family death, end of a relationship, or financial hardship. They also say that guns are the most frequent and most successful means to commit suicide and suggest that some gun control would make it harder for people to make life ending decisions in a moment of desperation or sadness.

I wish I knew all the answers to what is a complicated and complex issue. My only advice do those battling suicidal thoughts is to focus on being happy with the life you have now and tell somebody about your struggles and get help.  Talk to a therapist about your symptoms for anxiety and depression before it gets out of control. Seek help.

My husband had a cousin that came out of the closet, he told his friend and then his friend told everyone else at school and said to this cousin that he wouldn’t have been his friend if he knew he was gay. This kid battled depression and suicidal thought but then he told someone. And then that someone got him help.

One thing we do need to end mental illness stigma and discrimination.  This will make communication about problems and illness easier.

[If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.]

Overcome Your Anxiety. 5 Ways I Worked To Overcome Mine

Overcome Your Anxiety. 5 Ways I Worked To Overcome Mine

My job has gotten incredibly stressful between my Director firing everyone under the sun and us getting into the busiest season for my industry as an understaffed and under-trained team.  It’s just been too much pressure.

I’m sure everyone feels like this at work sometimes and we all have our triggers. So I spent last Thursday and Friday off trying to unwind and not let my work take over my life. Then on Thursday, I felt so negative and restless. I was thinking about all these work problems. Like OMG I’m going to have to train all these new people, I’m not getting recognition, and this sucks. I started kinda feeling sweaty, upset with a pit in my stomach that just wouldn’t go away. It was physically uncomfortable and I didn’t know why I was feeling like this. I wanted to feel like my normal calm self. I thought, I shouldn’t feel this way on my day off. But the discomfort and negative feeling wasn’t going away.

I was having an anxiety attack.

What causes anxiety?

Anxiety is basically when you worry, feel negative or feel stress to the point where you are inducing your fight or flight instincts. This causes a negative physical reactions like increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, restlessness, sense of impending doom, stomach or chest pains etc.  These anxiety symptoms are no joke.

I tend to also get moody during these intense attacks. I was texting my husband just trying to get over it. And thankfully I did, years of anxiety have helped me manage it much better so at least so I’m not taking it out on someone else.

Here’s what’s helped me:

1. Recognize Your Anxiety

It seems so obvious but a lot times I didn’t realize I was going through an anxiety attack until it was over. My negative thoughts seemed so real to me. They aren’t even logical or rational half the time, but in the moment they are very real. So recognizing what is happening during an attack can be hard and confusing. What helps me to realize I am having anxiety is just to say what I am feeling out loud. “I feel upset” or “I feel anxious.” Just saying that helps me feel in control of what is happening. Ill usually follow with “Why?”

2. Figuring out your triggers:

Not understanding what causes anxiety is like being on a boat without a paddle. You’ll never understand why it’s happening and you’ll just feel helpless and anxious for the next attack. If you get anxiety attacks frequently, keep a diary of what you were doing and what you were thinking prior to the attack. Keep a log of the thoughts you had during the attack and how long the attack lasted. (Do this after the attack is over). I used to watch a lot of reality TV in college and was glued to my social media. I started having attacks and lashing out towards my (now) husband. Over time I realized that I was lashing out because the reality TV shows were making me feel bad about myself and I was always comparing my life to this and that on TV and thinking how boring and uneventful my life was; these thought were causing my anxiety. Right now I’m having anxiety from work so I can’t change my situation…

3. Confront VS Avoid

Is it better to confront or avoid you triggers? It depends. In the situation where I was getting anxiety from social media and reality TV, it made sense to avoid. I don’t NEED to have that in my life. On the other I NEED to work so I can’t just avoid going to work. In the situation with work I’m going to have to learn how to deal and confront that anxiety head on. My advice for confronting your anxiety you can’t avoid is just to immerse yourself in it.

I used to also get a lot of social anxiety where I would feel nervous if I had to socialize in a large group. I would nitpick conversations in my head and beat myself up if a conversation didn’t go my way. To overcome this, I became a real estate agent so I can meet many different people without feeling to much pressure to be perfect. And it worked! I’ve met hundreds of new people and now striking up conversation is not unusual or difficult.  Over time I became a smooth socializer, and am no longer anxious about what other people are thinking about me or if I said something wrong. In certain situations, confronting what is making you feel anxious, especially like an every day occurrence like socializing, can absolutely help you cope and overcome that worry.

4. Take A Different Perspective:

I was still feeling really anxious that day and just wasn’t feeling good in my own skin. Dealing with my anxiety isn’t always easy.  I knew I was being anxious and irrational so I just sat down and began writing my own thoughts out. I made a list of what I was thankful for, what I wanted to change in my life and brainstormed how I could make those changes. As soon as I was done I felt better. Like I had control over my life. Switching your frame of thought can absolutely help you overcome anxiety attacks. It takes practice because your problems in the moment feel so real and insurmountable. But all problems come with solutions, even if it takes a long time to see results. Thinking about all the great things in my life helped me minimize my worries and realize my problems weren’t as large as I thought.

5. See A Therapist:

if you have persistent negative thoughts, worries and anxiety I would recommend seeing a therapist. I haven’t been to a therapist but I think we should all evaluate where our self depreciating thoughts and anxious worries are coming from and a therapist can do just that. They can help with a lot of difficult mental issues like major depression, bipolar disorder, and severe anxiety. There no shame in it and you can always test out different therapists if you feel like one isn’t the right fit for you.

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Check out my other posts The Power Of Positivity and On Gratitude… and When Good Enough Is Okay