Social anxiety interrupts us.
Some people may find social interaction challenging or even frightening. As a result, they may prefer to stay in the background of a group conversation. Worse, that person may not interact in any social gathering just to keep himself/herself “safe”.
Social anxiety may have directed some people’s lives. Being uncomfortable going with the crowd, daily activities may be affected.
What is social anxiety and what makes it detrimental to social interactions?
Social anxiety is a type of irrational fear that holds people from interacting with others. People with social anxiety may be more conscious of what others might say about them. This faulty perception often leads to social avoidance.
Therefore, in most cases, social anxiety is defined as the fear of being negatively judged by others. Because one focuses on his inadequacy, embarrassment, and inferiority, he tends to protect himself from humiliation.
If a person is anxious in social situations without apparent reason but feels better when alone, he may be suffering from social anxiety.
Social anxiety disorder was formerly called the “social phobia”. Millions of people suffer from this disorder every day. And one of your friends may be one of them.
People with social anxiety want to have friends and befriend. But others may perceive them as withdrawn, backward, inhibited, unfriendly, aloof, nervous, and disinterested.
This negative perception may be due to the behaviors manifested by the “socially anxious” people.
In most cases, people with social anxiety may avoid the following situations:
- Being introduced to strangers
- Be criticized or ridiculed
- Being in the spotlight
- Being exposed themselves to observers
- Meeting with people in authority
- Having eye contact with strangers
- Having conversations with others
These are just some of the symptoms but many are not included here. If one of your friends has these characteristics, you must be more patient with him/her.
A person with social anxiety accepts your invitations. But then, at the last minute, he/she will send you a message stating the excuses. The often reasons are the kids, parents, work or family matters.
But, that friend does not want to deliberately ruin your special occasion. He wants to go to the party, meet friends, and have a conversation with others. In fact, he accepted your invitation, right? The only thing that holds him back from doing so is his/her fear.
When accepted your invitation, he means it. He wants to go along with you and your friends. But as the occasion gets closer, his/her negative assumptions got bigger and bigger. Then his motivation and enthusiasm for going to the occasion deceased.
A person with social anxiety is afraid of social situations because of his/her prior negative expectations. He is more concerned about the awkward moments, humiliations, and his possible mistakes than on the positive side of the occasion.
He knows that his assumptions are incorrect. But his anxiety is bigger than his rational mind. Anxiety seems to be indifferent to logical thinking.
Don’t get it wrong. Your friend who has social anxiety loves you. He just can’t control his fear and self-doubt.
He is more comfortable in his own small world. But he is not antisocial. He will continue to accept your invitations but he will not go to your party.
But as a friend, please don’t feel mad at him/her. You need to develop patience and compassion for a person with social anxiety. People might have interpreted him/her wrong. But you know better. Understanding what your friend is going through may be the most important thing you can do to a socially anxious person.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.