Social anxiety is a fear of “foreseeable disasters” imagined by anxious individuals during social interaction, fear to be the centre of attention, being rejected, ridiculed, judged, etc. Please don’t get me wrong that people with social anxiety long for friendships and intimate relationships, the fear stops them.
Cognitively, people with social anxiety intend to have low self esteem, constant negative self talk and distorted images about themselves; When they are invited to social occasions, like weekend get together, parties, birthdays or weddings, they would try everything they could to either turn down the invitation, or find excuses of not attending, as they suffer from terrible physiological discomforts in social occasions, such as blushing, pounding hearts, cold or hot sweats and shaking. If they could not get out of it for some reason they reluctantly attend social activities. Before and during the activities, they worry and concern a lot about what people think of them and talk about them, they feel awkward, weird and stupid, they usually would not stay long to tolerate their discomforts, try to flee as quickly as they could.
Over the years, I have received quite a few young people who suffer from moderate to terrible social anxiety. I adopt an integrated approach for my clients suffering from social anxiety, including cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness, desensitising, exposure therapy, and strength-based therapy to help clients to reverse their distorted thinking, be aware and mindful of their emotional and physiological discomforts, and learn to accept and tolerate the anxiety through gradual exposure to social activities, so that they are able to face it rather than avoid it. Avoidance fuels the fear and help the fear grow. Acceptance and tolerance of social anxiety help taming the fear. When my clients with social anxiety have more insight knowledge about their social anxiety, learning how it impacts them in life, it’s a transition to make changes.
If social anxiety currently impairs your work – fear of interaction with your colleagues, customers or suppliers, fear to say no to your boss when too many unreasonable requests are asked, job interviews, presentation; or study – fear to ask questions, participating in group discussion and have your voices in group projects heard, or presentation; or intimate relationships – to ask for a date, start a relationship, maintain a relationship, or end an unhealthy relationship, then please seek for help.