Dealing with Social Phobia

We all know a person who just can't seem to find the joy in life.  You know, the one who always sees the glass as half empty.  Psychotherapist and Life Coach Didi Zahariades joined us talk about why negative thought patterns can be holding you back from enjoying life and what can be done to break the cycle.

Didi says people suffering with negative thoughts or moods are often unaware of how it impacts those around them and those who do often don't know how to break the cycle.  Understanding it may be something more severe, such as Social Anxiety, is also important.

  1. Acknowledge it is a problem.   "I’d never do public speaking." "I haven’t gone on a date because I’m boring and have nothing to say." "I’d rather text than make a phone call."  "I hate trying new things." "Things never work out for me."
    If the above sounds like you, or someone you know, you may be suffering from a Social Phobia or be trapped in Negative Thought Patterns.  Knowledge is power.  Understanding that you are avoiding situations rather than just pretending you don’t care is an important piece in changing your behavior. This may stem from being raised in a negative environment or surrounded by negative people.  It is difficult to be positive when you spend your day in negativity; a parenting choice for families.

     

  2. Recognize the Negative Thinking Styles:
  • Mind reading:  Assuming you know what other people are thinking and then deciding they are thinking negatively about you.
  • Fortune telling:  Predicting the future usually while assuming the worst.  Because of this choosing not to participate even though you have no real basis.
  • Catastrophizing:  Blowing things out of proportion.  Describing everything as “awful”  “terrible” “the worst”
  • Personalizing:  Assuming that people are focused on you in a negative way.  Or thinking that what is going on with other people has something to do with you.  Ex.  Driving in your car and deciding the person in front of you has left on their signal just to bug you!
  1. Take Action to Change Your Thoughts  

     It is actually an underlying social anxiety disorder which means you may be afraid that people will think badly of you or you won’t measure up to others.  Even though you may realize that your fears of being judged are somewhat irrational or overblown, you still feel anxious. 
     

Who does this effect?  As many as 40% of our population suffers with a social phobia at some time.  It can be general, as social interaction causes an increase in anxiety or it can be specific such as:  fear of public speaking, talking to strangers, going to parties, etc.  It is hidden by negativity which spares you from feeling like you are missing out. 

  • Symptoms:  Intense worrying for days; fear of looking dumb; excessive self-consciousness in everyday situations (talking to the grocery store clerk); fear that you will embarrass yourself; deciding not to do things; avoidance of activities which limits your own life enjoyment.
  • Take Action:  Challenge yourself to do something new.  Use a supportive friend, or counselor, as a confidant.  

For more information or help with other issues, visit Didi's website.
 

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