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Samantha Dhu, qualified Counsellor and Psychotherapist, shares knowledge and tips to help you live a happier life in her blog. If you’re looking for compassionate, knowledgeable therapy in Perth or online, come and meet Sam. 

Social Anxiety: Three ways your mindset is Keeping you Stuck

Samantha Dhu is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist who has a special interest in working with clients with social anxiety.

Social Anxiety: Three ways your mindset is Keeping you Stuck

Almost everyone gets a little anxious or embarrassed in front of other people now and then.

Sometimes, though, the anxiety can be so intense that it stops us from doing the things we enjoy, or starts interfering in our daily lives. Social anxiety is used to describe feelings of anxiety and fear that occur in response to social situations. Even the most confident of people can get a little anxious before a presentation, or when they’re meeting new people, but in social anxiety this distress can be so overwhelming that it feels as though it‘s difficult to cope.

That overwhelming anxiety is often experienced even when just thinking about the situation or remembering a previous event. 

But with social anxiety, the fear tends to be much more severe and it’s often a fear of being judged or being criticised and how we come across to others that is really worrying other people. So when social anxiety tends to happen, people sometimes blush, they sometimes get very sweaty because they’re feeling anxious. They often will avoid social situations.

There are three kinds of thinking processes that maintain social anxiety.

Firstly the thoughts you have before the social situation.

Our thoughts impact how we feel. So often those with social anxiety will have unhelpful thoughts and negative predictions about how the social situation will go prior to a social situation. The more we predict that the event will go badly the more anxious we feel.

‘What if I look awkward’ ‘I will look awkward’ ‘I won’t know what to talk about’ ‘I will seem anxious’ these are all common worries for those struggling with social anxiety.

The second process is actually thinking during the social situation.

This is one of the key processes that keeps you stuck and that is focusing inwards. What we know with social anxiety is, that people are often focusing more inwards than they are outwards. So you might be talking to someone at the pub, but instead of really listening to them and being able to connect with them you are focusing internally on your ‘‘ performance’’ the more you focus inwards and monitor your performance the more anxious and self-conscious you feel.

‘Do I look okay?’ ‘Do I sound okay? Am I talking enough?’

Unfortunately the more you focus on yourself, the more anxious you get and also the more difficult it is for you to connect socially with someone.

The third process occurs after the social event, people who struggle with social anxiety often tend to perform a ‘‘postmortem analysis ‘‘ of how they went and are usually critical of themselves afterwards.

‘oh gosh, that was terrible. I'm never going to a party again. I really made a fool of myself.’  

And then when you have those negative thoughts after the social event, that's going to make you feel more anxious the next time you go out and socialize. So it's really the thoughts before, during and after that play a really important role in social anxiety.

The good news is that a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and with some mindfulness strategies you can become aware of and then change these processes that are keeping you stuck.

There is a lot that can be done to help if you're struggling with social anxiety. Reach out and get in touch if you would like to learn how you can overcome your struggles with social anxiety.

If you worry about not talking enough or being seen as ‘‘shy”’ you may also like to check out this other blog.

Here is the video where I talk about social anxiety.

https://www.facebook.com/samanthadhucounselling/videos/vl.1517957568283423/877316342446438/?type=1

Sam x

Sam is a cognitive behavioural therapist (CBT) in Perth

BIO:

Samantha Dhu is a Clinical Social Worker, Counsellor and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist working in private practice in Fremantle and Cottesloe. Her work focuses on  helping adults and teens live happier, more meaningful lives. She is passionate about self-care, confidence and overcoming anxiety and depression. When she’s not working on her counselling business, and doing the work she loves she’s busy running around after her fiercely headstrong and fun-loving toddler (teaching her to be assertive has clearly backfired.) You can read more about her work on her website www.samanthadhu.com.au 

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