Take control of your anxiety

Social anxiety can be crippling, and you may find yourself struggling in a variety of social situations. You have a fear that people can see through you, see your anxiety and your flaws, and will judge you for them. There is a constant worry what others think. You assume the worst, and struggle when you don’t get an immediate answer to that text or email. You over think and over analyse everything watching for any little signs that let you have a clue to what others really think about you.

Although friends and family may re-assure you, this often feels hollow as though they don’t really mean it. You may feel that they have to say it or they are just humouring you. Slowly it feels safer to withdraw from the world even though you may want to be connected to friends and others; it’s just too risky.

Making changes

Fortunately, with work you can challenge these feelings and start to interact with people and feel better in social situations. Here are some of the key steps...

It’s important to realise that most people want others to like them and to think the best of them. They worry when they will make a mistake in public or say something that they later regret. The difference is that they can forgive themselves, accepting that making mistakes is part of life, and learn from them. They can also accept that others make mistakes. Can you learn to offer yourself a little compassion when you make a mistake?

Challenging your thoughts is important. “Everyone thinks I’m stupid!” is a generalisation and a very black and white thought. It’s unlikely that everyone holds that opinion. What about people who don’t know you, people who love you, people who ask your advice? The word stupid suggests no knowledge and it’s likely that you have a range of knowledge on a range of subjects. It feels important to challenge these knee jerk thoughts that go round in your head – what are the facts – is there a more realistic way to look at the situation?

Think about how you can have control in social situations. Perhaps you could go for a short time. Arrange a taxi home for a fixed time then you know when it will end. Allow yourself to leave to take breaks by going out of the room if your anxiety is peaking. Learn to use relaxation by controlling your breathing to help you through anxious moments. Think about whom you could sit beside. Perhaps someone could support you who understands how you feel.

It may be that counselling helps to address some of the issues that are causing your anxiety and you might want to consider talking it through with a counsellor. Taking feeling out of control in social situations is difficult and through talking therapies, you can regain some control.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Glasgow, G46
Written by Graeme Orr, MBACP(Accred) Counsellor
Glasgow, G46

Graeme is a counsellor and author, living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice, he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.

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