Humans are social animals. They can’t live without socializing with other humans. History says, humans are dependent on other humans since past for food, clothing, shelter and many more things. Even today also, we need to socialize with others for many different reasons, some of them related to financial issues, some of them related to mental health.
If a person isn’t comfortable to socialize with others, that person might be experiencing Social anxiety. People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) may encounter chronic fear of social or performance-related situations. As a result they might become embarrassed, rejected, or scrutinized in front of general people.
Social anxiety might have a huge impact on introverts more than you others. In these situations, people with SAD almost always experience physical symptoms of anxiety. They might think that it is a predetermined characteristic that they have to carry lifelong. But that isn’t entirely true. With proper therapy social anxiety disorder can be cured with time.
But first, you must identify the symptoms of social anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of social anxiety disorder typically fall within three different areas.
● Chest tightness
● Muscle tension
● Blurred vision
● Chest pain
● Shortness of breath
● Lump in the throat
● Trembling voice
● Ringing in the ears
● Dry mouth
● Paresthesias (tingling)
● Heart racing (tachycardia)
● Heart pounding (palpitations)
● Feelings of unreality (derealization)
or Feelings of detachment from oneself (depersonalization)
|● Negative bias
● Negative thoughts
● Negative beliefs
● Safety behaviors
How does a person feel when his/her Introversion gets combined with anxiety?
Introvert people normally don’t want to join the party life. They are not social butterflies or the late night partiers. They always like a job that involves sitting quietly all day long, rather than communicating with clients, hosting a presentation, or supervising others. They like getting separated from life’s deep problems and wanted to live with loneliness.
At the same time, their natural desire to spend time alone makes it very difficult to expose themselves to the situations that cause anxiety.
Now the question is, how does an introvert with high functioning anxiety disorder overcome this situation?
Here are a few steps that can be taken out to start the journey.
1. Educate yourself about the causes of social anxiety
Being an introvert person If you feel that you are having symptoms of social anxiety, you must learn about it as much as possible and get benefited. You should know why you can’t seem to open up in front of everyone and be as you are to others.
As a reference, you may check out the Social Anxiety episode of comedian Paul Gilmartin’s podcast, The Mental Illness Happy Hour with psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendrickson. There, Dr. Hendrickson discusses the physiological causes of social anxiety in easy language.
One best thing that she pointed out there is, “it’s all about being mindful of your ability to control your thoughts and reactions.” That means with regular practice, and a stone-cold determination to control it, you may positively manage your social anxiety.
2. Have a fresh start with your new life
You don’t need to buy a new house in a different state or city and start a new life. In order to get a fresh beginning, you may join a new club or boost your career with a new job. Remember, by heart you are an introvert person, so you must reach out to new people and interact with them regularly.
Keep telling yourself that everything is going to be ok, and you’re going to be the person who you want to be.
These new people do not treat you as someone awkward, because they don’t know you well. So, do not let them make any dull impression about you, present yourself as a social butterfly or as a cheerful person that you always want to be.
This process might not work for every person you meet. But to become successful with this method you need to overcome your shyness and fear. The more a person knows himself and has that much knowledge about his social anxiety, it will get much easier for him to overcome his weakness. Hendriksen says – “You become less anxious by living your life.”
I felt the same way when I was entering college. Moving away from home kept me scared. I was shy throughout grade school. But when I moved to college and made new friends, communicated with them openly without judging them like I used to do at my school, I felt it was so cool.
It actually kind of worked! Gradually, I socialize with all my friends, and their friends, and their friends, and…said goodbye to my loneliness.
3. Avoid social anxiety lies
Hendriksen says “Social anxiety makes us think the worst-case scenario is definitely going to happen,” But that’s definitely a wrong perception. Practically, worst-case scenarios don’t often happen.
Being an Introvert with social anxiety, you can avoid this situation easily. First, you have to imagine the worst-case scenario about any situation, and then think deeper till you figure out exactly what you’re afraid of. That means you should seek the outcome that you fear, and then argue with that fear. Hendriksen added, “It’s harder to argue with the foggy mirage of fear.”
By seeking and facing the exact threat, you may figure out how likely it really is.
4. Define your life goals
Basically, the best way to win over your shyness and social anxiety is to take a gradual approach. Have you ever thought about talking to the first hot girl or guy you meet in your college? Have you ever asked for a dance to a junior girl or boy whom you like, in your college prom party?
See, doing such small things can help you a lot to fight against your social anxiety. Ending up a conversation isn’t exactly a cool option to overcome your fear. Instead, you may set small achievable goals that may help you to become more sociable.
- Say good morning to 10 people whom you see first in the morning
- Ask 10 people how they are doing
- Ask five people for the time
- Share candies with your schoolmates, colleagues
- Make eye contact with someone you feel attractive
- Read the newspaper loudly to your friends or neighbors
- Say hi to your neighbors while passing by
- Say goodnight to each of them whom you meet while going back home
These small gestures may trigger self-confidence in you, which may help you to reduce social anxiety and shyness.
5. Consult a therapist or psychiatrist
Unfortunately, for some introvert with high functioning anxiety, the situation gets too serious to deal with alone. If some person has an anxiety disorder or depression that can’t be cured with self-motivation, then the patient might require clinical help with proper professional care.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is quite helpful to guide a patient through such a situation. Psychiatrists Dr. Joseph Burwell, can prescribe anxiety medication to help the patient in serious conditions. There’s no shame in getting the help you need from a therapist or a Psychiatrist. They are here to help these people who suffer from severe social anxiety disorder.
Few important words…
A person who suffers from social anxiety, can’t maintain his/her personal and professional life properly. But it’s important to keep fighting with this issue as long as possible. Be patient and remember that you are not alone. There are many people who still love you. Work hard, do your exercises, it’ll help you to lower your stress and improve your mood so that you become the best version of you!
Ralph Macey is associated with the SavantCare which is a mental health clinic, where his job is to look after those people who are suffering from chronic mental disorders. His motto is to focus on the integrated interventions to improve mental health conditions and the other alternative approaches to healing.