The worry of what others think of you can lead to feelings of insecurity and fear.  Social anxiety is common and can be a minor annoyance or when more severe, lead to panic attacks.  The panic attacks can lead to more anxiety because of the fear of the judgement of having panic attacks.  When people feel like they are weird, abnormal or not enough, the tension gets stronger.  Here are some things to consider:

1. Everyone judges everyone.

The human brain loves to categorize and make connections.  When you first meet someone, you are looking at them, categorizing them, making mental connections to memories which all lead to a judgement.  The judgement is to keep you safe from getting harmed.  For example, you meet someone who looks like your ex that cheated on you.  Your brain might make a connection that says, “stay away from this person.”  Sometimes people might not like you because of your ethnicity, religion, culture, or because you remind them of someone else.  Not everyone is going to like you, that is normal and ok.

2. What are your judgements?

Be curious about your beliefs.  Who are you judging and why?  Are you negatively judging others to boost your self-esteem?  Are you comparing yourself to others?  Are you anxious because someone harmed you in the past?  In what ways are you judging yourself?  Becoming aware of your judgements will help you to become a more tolerant person towards yourself and towards others.

3. How do you feel about yourself?

What is your self-worth?  If you feel like you don’t measure up, or feel like you are a burden, you will expect everyone to feel that way about you.  You will look for words and cues that reinforce the way that you think about yourself.  You might only hear the negative things that people say about you and not acknowledge the compliments that people pay to you.

4. Face your fears.

Not facing your fears will only make the anxiety stronger.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone and place yourself in social situations.  If you have panic attacks, you might want to seek professional help first.

5. Relationship problems.

Some people have a challenging time relating to or making friends with others.  Some people struggle with understanding emotions and social cues.  Understanding emotions and social situations are something that can be learned.  Sometimes social anxiety creates insecurities within a relationship, leaving the relationship strained.

6. Reframe your negative thoughts.

When you notice yourself having negative thoughts that make you feel anxious or depressed, write them down.  Write the thoughts down and then reframe them.  What evidence do you have for the negative thought? What evidence do you have that the negative thinking isn’t real?

7. Coping with criticism.

There are two kinds of criticism, destructive and constructive.  Constructive criticism is meant to help you.  Destructive criticism is more about the other person than about you.  Destructive criticism often feels like an attack.  Destructive criticism is meant to devalue you for control or to help themselves feel secure.  Destructive criticism can be ignored, do not take it personally.

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If you would like to set up an appointment to talk through any anxiety that you might be feeling, please contact me on +852 2521 4668 or email m.borschel@mindnlife.com. You can book a private or Skype session.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash