What can you do about Negative Thoughts so they do not fire up Social Anxiety
Many people experience a nervous condition from something called social anxiety. This is the feeling of being out of control and nervous and even afraid of being in social situations. Anxiety dysfunctions are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting forty million women and men in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the US population. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health).
There are different degrees of anxiety. Some individuals are so anxious that they cannot push themselves to get into a social situation out in public without being medicated, and even then, they find it awkward and painful. Some people even have panic attacks.
Several social situations can trigger negative thoughts that can swirl around and around your head, making you more and more anxious about the social circumstances that may be coming up. You might even totally talk yourself out of attending a meeting; you can’t even leave the house.
Negative Thought Triggers
Situations that can trigger negative thoughts and cause anxiety include:
- Meeting new people
- Potential criticism
- Being the center of attention
- Other people observing you
- Speaking in public
- Group interactions
- Meeting authority figures
- Not knowing what to say
- Feeling unsure about what to wear
- Looking into other people’s eyes
- Talking on the phone
The above might seem over the top if you do not suffer from social anxiety yourself, but the list of symptoms can go on and on if you do have anxiety. People with social anxiety start going over potential scenarios in their head the moment they realize they are going to have a social situation. They start turning each situation into a negative event. Negative thinking actually causes the event to stress you out. Remember the Law of Attraction (it’s a law of nature): Where ever you place your thoughts with feeling — there you are! I hope you like where you are!
How Thoughts turn into Social Anxiety
When they meet a new person, they imagine messing up the person’s name, forgetting their own name, or having bad breath. They imagine saying something “wrong” and being the butt of a joke or subject to criticism due to being “wrong.” They feel nervous even getting an award because people are looking at them and making them the center of attention. They start thinking that they did not deserve the award and that they are a fraud and shouldn’t go collect or accept the award after all.
Bad thoughts build on each other…
Then it just goes downhill from there. A person in that situation can’t stop spinning every possible scenario into a bad thing until their heart is beating out of their chest, they can’t breathe right, and finally, they have a full-fledged panic attack.
As you can see, thoughts have a lot of power even though they’re just thoughts and not even reality. When you start to realize how pervasive negative thoughts can cause social anxiety and make it worse, then you can also realize how turning your thoughts around to positive thoughts can make your social anxiety less.
Find ways to be more peaceful
Turning the Negatives into Positives
The minute you notice that you are obsessing about any future event, it’s time to get out of your own head and do something different. Practice deep breathing, and read some positive quotes. If your stress is because you’re not sure what to wear, find a good friend to help you pick something out. If you’re worried about bad breath, take some mints with you. If you are scared, you will say someone’s name wrong, practice the names if you know who will be going to a meeting or lunch. You can even write what you fear you’ll forget on the palm of your hand.
There are always techniques in which you can turn all negatives into positives, but the most important thing is to realize that no one is perfect, and therefore no one expects you to be perfect. Most people have some of the same worries that you do; they just don’t take it to the higher level. Try to be more peaceful.