CHALLENGING YOUR SOCIAL ANXIETY IN THREE STEPS
TAKE THE FIRST STEP
Overcoming social anxiety starts with a first step. Although the beginning is always the hardest part, don’t forget that it also means that change has already taken place, and that cannot be stopped.
BOOST YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE
Modifying your negative thoughts about how others perceive you is fundamental for self-confidence to grow. To that end, the objective at this stage is to raise your awareness about those self-sabotaging thoughts and actively re-evaluate them.
DEVELOP ADEQUATE COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Communication is a dynamic phenomenon that requires constant adjustments. Learn how to be flexible and effective when communicating with others.
PRACTICE EXERCISE TO BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE
THE MISUNDERSTOOD TOOL OF BODY LANGAUGE
Eye contact serves a social function, which includes creating intimacy and showing social competence. In social anxiety, however, it is a source of anxiety leading the individual to avert direct gaze. READ MORE
the mental shortcuts that color our social interactions
Heuristics are mental shortcuts that are hardwired in us to facilitate problem solving and help us make quick decisions. In order to function well in the world, we need to have the ability to think quickly and make immediate judgments, which requires reliance on “rules-of-thumb” or generalizations. These generalizations are sets of rules that we have learnt to abide by in order to make instant decisions without having to give it too much thought. In essence, they reduce cognitive load since they do not require any mental effort. Unfortunately, the flip side of heuristics is that they often result in irrational or inaccurate conclusions.
In other words, we often make social errors when relying on heuristics. Recognizing them during a social interaction could potentially be helpful in social anxiety. Indeed, heuristics often color our social interactions, and knowing whether you are on the receiving end or the giving end of heuristics can help you interpret a social interaction in a different way, perhaps a more neutral way. Find out what they are here.
THE MEANING OF “SOCIAL THREAT” IN SOCIAL ANXIETY
In social psychology, a social threat is a cue or a stimulus that is viewed or perceived as a threat to one’s social image. For example, a frown could be perceived as a sign of disapproval or potential rejection.
These signs are interpreted as having a socially catastrophic meaning, and as a a result someone with social anxiety tends to be hypervigilant to them.
Social threats are typically the result of biased perception and attention.
Perception myopia is probably the best way to describe how social anxiety affects perception. It expresses the difficulty individuals with social anxiety have with separating their own perception of themselves from that of the others. In other words, they project their own thoughts about themselves onto the others.
Vigilance to cues that signal social exclusion is seen as having the benefits of allowing the person to change how they behave to increase their chances of gaining social acceptance. Alternatively, they could be vigilant toward social threat cues in an effort to rapidly detect signs of negative evaluation. In either case, there is a heightening of attention towards cues signaling social threats, which increases anxiety.
Interestingly, studies find that socially anxious people may vigilantly scan the environment for cues that signal possible social exclusion, but once they experience “social exclusion” they move on to cues signaling social approval, such as a smiley face.