Shyness and Social Anxiety A4 2013 Listening Ear

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Introduction 4,Do I suffer from social anxiety 4 5. What is shyness or social anxiety 5 6,What causes social anxiety 6. What keeps social anxiety going 6 7, How can I help myself to overcome social anxiety 7. Understanding social anxiety 7 8, How can I reduce my negative thoughts beliefs and images 8 10. How can I stop thinking that everyone is looking at me 10. How can I change my own behaviour 11 13,How can I reduce my physical symptoms 13 15.
Where can I get further help 16,Useful organisations 16 17. Useful books 17 18,References 18,Rate this guide 18. I dread going to places where I may have to talk to people Before I set off I just. think I m going to do or say something stupid and that people will think I m an idiot. No one else seems to be like this and I really feel there is something wrong with me. The only way I can face people is if my girlfriend is with me It s not fair she is full of. confidence, If I have to talk in a meeting I just can t cope My legs go wobbly I flush up and I. feel quite sick I feel everyone is watching me closely I know it is silly and other. people don t seem to have the same difficulty I keep thinking afterwards that they. must feel I m not really up to the job, These are the thoughts of two people who have a problem with shyness and social. anxiety This is a very common problem though people may not often talk about it. This booklet aims to help you to, recognise whether you may have a problem with shyness or social anxiety.
understand what it is what can cause it and what can help keep it going. look at ways you can help yourself to overcome shyness or social anxiety. Shyness and social anxiety are common problems that affect both men and women Most. of us feel shy or anxious in social situations at a certain point in our lives This can be a. much more serious problem for some people however who find that their lives are made. very difficult by their problem,Do I suffer from social anxiety. In order to check whether you may be suffering from social anxiety place a tick next to. those symptoms you experience regularly, You feel a strong feeling of fear in social situations that won t go away. You think you may act in a way that will be embarrassing in front of others. What happens to your body, When you go into a situation with others you feel anxious and may have some of the. following feelings in your body,Heart racing and pounding. Chest feels tight or painful,Tingling or numbness in toes and fingers.
Stomach churning or butterflies,Having to go to the toilet. Feeling jumpy or restless,Tense muscles,Breathing changes. Dizziness and feeling light headed,What you think, You know that the fear is too much or unreasonable. You feel that others are thinking badly of you,You think others are judging you. Before you go into social situations you think that things will go badly. You think I will make a fool of myself or I will look stupid. You may think I m boring or I m strange, You may believe If I get it wrong people won t like me or If I show I m nervous.
people will think I m stupid or I must not look anxious. You have a negative picture of yourself in your mind which is how you fear other. people see you this may be flustered foolish uninteresting weak timid etc. After you ve been in a social situation you think that was awful I looked so stupid. What you do, Sometimes you go into social situations that you find difficult but find this very. distressing and become very anxious, You avoid going into social situations that you find difficult even if this is. inconvenient to yourself For example going out to buy sandwiches rather than. having to go into the busy staff canteen,Avoid talking on the telephone. Do things to help yourself in difficult social situations such as rehearsing what you. are going to say offering to help in social situations so that you can keep busy. talking for a short time but then moving on to another location. Cannot relax in social situations drink more smoke more talk quickly keep on the. If you have ticked many of the boxes then you may be experiencing social anxiety or. What is shyness or social anxiety, People who suffer from shyness or social anxiety often believe that other people will think. badly of them or that people will be judging them They think that they are being closely. observed by other people and they would like to give a good impression At the same time. they may fear that they are not as good as other people and can t come up to the mark. They suffer symptoms of anxiety such as tension rapid heartbeat and light headedness. when they are in social situations They may blush or stammer or be unable to speak. Certain situations may seem to be more difficult than others People may feel quite at. ease speaking to people they know but feel very anxious with strangers Eating or. speaking in front of others can be very difficult as can crowded places such as canteens. pubs shops or queues, Some people will begin to avoid difficult situations often leading to great inconvenience.
loss of social life or even career prospects Other people will find ways of avoiding making. a fool of themselves by carrying out safety behaviours This can include not looking. people in the eye so as not to draw attention to themselves sitting down holding on to. something staying close to someone they know talking slowly and deliberately keeping. busy moving quickly from conversation to conversation. In summary People who experience social anxiety fear that other people will think badly. of them and often believe that they are not as good as others This makes social. situations very difficult or impossible for them,What causes social anxiety. Social anxiety is something that very many people experience in a mild form but some. people find themselves more seriously affected by it It is not a sign of any more serious. physical or mental illness but can be extremely distressing. It is often related to low self esteem or a poor opinion of yourself which may have begun. in childhood Some people seem to be naturally more anxious and have learned to worry. Others may have had stressful life events that have led them to feel like this. What keeps social anxiety going, Some people feel socially anxious when they are young but become more confident as. they get older For other people it can just go on and on and become a life long problem. There can be a number of reasons for this, 1 If someone has an anxious personality they will be in the habit of feeling anxious. and will have long term beliefs that they are no good in social situations. 2 Avoidance of social situations keeps the person from becoming more used to social. occasions This stops them from learning that they can cope and feel fine If a. situation is avoided it feels even more difficult the next time they try and go into it. Some people have safety behaviours that don t let them learn that they can cope. For example always sticking with a friend, 3 The person with social anxiety often holds an unpleasant image of how they look to. others in their mind When mixing with others the anxiety tends to make them. focus on themselves more They think of this image feel anxious and believe that. they look terrible to others They rarely look to see how the other person is really. responding to them They make negative guesses about what the other person is. thinking and therefore never challenge their negative unpleasant image of. themselves, 4 Fear of fear will sometimes take over so that the person will predict that they will.
be anxious in certain situations and expect certain symptoms I know I will go. bright red when I speak I won t be able to get my words out or what if people. notice my hands shaking These thoughts increase anxiety even before they go. into the feared situation, 5 Research has shown that a person with social anxiety has equal social skills to. others but does not believe this People with social anxiety tend to wrongly believe. that they are not socially skilled, 6 A vicious circle of social anxiety can begin which will look like this. In summary social anxiety is linked to low self esteem and continues because people. hold long term beliefs that they are no good in social situations These beliefs are never. challenged because of avoidance safety behaviours and self focusing when faced with. social situations,How can I help myself to overcome social anxiety. There are a number of ways that you can begin to help yourself to overcome anxiety The. approaches we will be using will be under the following headings. Understanding social anxiety,Negative beliefs and images in social anxiety. Self processing reducing your focus on yourself,Tackling avoidance and safety behaviours.
Tackling the physical symptoms of social anxiety,Understanding social anxiety. 1 You may already by now have some ideas about what is causing your social anxiety. In order to understand it even better it may help you to try the following exercises. Think back to number of actual occasions that you found difficult over the last month then. try and understand in more detail what was happening. It may help to try and draw out your own vicious cycle of social anxiety think of a recent. social situation you found difficult, 2 If you can t get a clear picture of your difficulties by thinking back then it may help to. keep a social anxiety diary For one or two weeks keep a diary of when you feel anxious. and what was going on at the time Keep a note each time of thoughts physical. symptoms avoidance or safety behaviours what you did and what your thoughts were. afterwards, Once you have a much clearer view of your own problems then you can begin to tackle the. various parts of it and break the vicious circle of anxiety. How can I reduce my negative thoughts beliefs and images. We have seen the role that thoughts have in keeping going the vicious circle of social. anxiety Thoughts can be words or they can be pictures in your mind The following. examples may help you to identify your own thoughts and pictures. Negative automatic thoughts Picture, I don t know what to say people will Image of self as small mousy creature. think that I m stupid,Image of self looking wobbly and others.
Everyone will look at me when I walk in smirking,and I will shake. Image of self flushed and sweating look, I will stammer and not find my words of pity on faces of others. I sounded really pathetic when I asked a Image of self with high squeaky voice. question others looking strong and calm, It may help to write down your own negative thoughts and images. Thoughts Images, Once you know what they are you can begin to fight back and break the vicious circle. In particular ask yourself if you have any of the following unhelpful thinking styles. 1 Am I mind reading e g he she thinks I m boring, In this case you don t tend to find out or look to see what the other person really.
thinks You believe your own negative views and blame it on the other person e g. he doesn t like me This is a very common problem for socially anxious people who. assume their own negative view of themselves is also held by others. 2 Am I fortune telling or catastrophising e g it s going to be a disaster everyone. will be laughing at me, 3 Am I personalising this e g they are all laughing they must be talking about me. or he looks tense it s probably because he thinks he s got to sit with me. 4 Am I focusing only on the bad things e g I really clammed up when I tried to. speak to Jane ignoring that you had been able to speak easily to other people that. These unhelpful thinking styles mean that you don t view yourself in social situations in a. fair way It may help to begin to try and answer back to find a fairer picture of what is. happening A good way of doing this is to write two columns one for your thoughts that. make you anxious and the other for a fairer more balanced thought e g. Anxious thought Balanced thought, If I hadn t kept quiet I would have said People would not have thought I was odd. something stupid and people would have friends have said I always sound so. thought I was odd sensible I just expect people to be. negative about me,Anxious thought Balanced thought. I just gabbled away all the time I must No one seemed bothered by this People. look like an idiot come over to talk I can t be that bad. Write down some of your thoughts now and write as many answers or balanced thoughts. as you can Look out for unhelpful thinking This question might also help what would. you say to a friend who was thinking that way, The aim is to get faster at catching these anxious thoughts and answering back almost. instantly It takes a lot of practice but really does work. Anxious thoughts Balanced thoughts, How can I stop thinking that everyone is looking at me.
Research has shown that people with social anxiety tend to show an increase in self. processing in situations where they feel anxious This means that. They concentrate a lot on their own body especially looking for the symptoms of. anxiety e g shaking sweating red face difficulties in speaking. They focus on their own thoughts with the negative images and views of themselves. mentioned in the previous section, They have a strong negative image of how they look to others. Shyness and Social Anxiety A self help guide Shining a light on the future 2 3 Page Introduction 4 Do I suffer from social anxiety 4 5 What is shyness or social anxiety 5 6 What causes social anxiety 6 What keeps social anxiety going 6 7 How can I help myself to overcome social anxiety 7 Understanding social anxiety 7 8 How can I reduce my negative thoughts beliefs and images 8 10 How

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