Everyone feels anxiety. Everyone experiences mental and emotional strain. Sometimes one anticipates a future event in apprehension. Perhaps they find themselves confronted with a situation which is embarrassingly uncomfortable: one can believe that they have performed or will perform an action which is assessed by others to be ‘wrong’ (Rathus, 505). When one is socially anxious their physical symptoms may include trembling, speaking with difficulty, feeling nauseous or having an upset stomach; sweating, twitching; having a dry mouth or throat, stiff posture, and a reddish glow to their face (“Social Anxiety” 2017; “Social Anxiety” 2016; Richards, “Social Anxiety Fact”). Internally, one may feel the oppressive tension of fear as they strain to avoid being judged (“Social Anxiety” 2016). Social anxiety “…is the third largest mental health care problem in the world today”; it “…affects approximately 15 million American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder…” (“Social Anxiety” 2016). Those with the psychological disorder which makes them socially anxious are provoked by people to feel an intense fear; this fear can be understood, accepted, and controlled.
Social Anxiety is a devastatingly powerful, elusive, and obscure disorder which can be understood (Richards, “Social Anxiety Fact”). One can feel influenced by anxiety when around people; one can feel afraid of the negative effects of the judgements of others. Defined in the Collins English Dictionary, ‘fear’ is “a feeling of distress, apprehension, or alarm caused by impending danger, pain etc…”; when one feels fear, they are caused “…to feel anxiety about something.” ‘Anxiety’ is defined as “a state of intense apprehension or worry often accompanied by physical symptoms such as shaking, intense feelings in the gut, etc…” Anxiety is “common in mental illness or after a very distressing experience.” Though “anxiety refers to a generalized state of dread or uneasiness that occurs in response to a vague or imagined danger” (Rathus, 505), the anxiety itself is very real (Richards, “Still Hiding”). “I believe that if people could understand what social anxiety truly is, we would make much faster progress against this silent, yet deadly, destroyer of lives,” writes Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Psychologist, in the article “Still Hiding in the Shadows: Is Social Anxiety Real?” One who is socially anxious thinks, feels, and believes with fear (Richards, “Still Hiding”). Inwardly focused people are very aware of their overwhelming anxiety (Chung, 72). At once, one might feel that the nature of the anxiety is elusive, causing them to feel powerless against it (“Social Anxiety Disorder). The psychological knowledge of social anxiety is still growing. “Scientists are exploring the idea that heightened sensitivity to disapproval may be physiologically or hormonally based. Other researchers are investigating the environment’s influence on the development of social phobia.” Being mistreated, or experiencing an unfortunate event as a child could influence one’s disposition toward being socially anxious (“Social Anxiety” 2017). A socially anxious person may analyse their thoughts and feelings to a great extent, examining each one with care. They may feel distressed that they are attending to their feeling of anxiety. Social anxiety is understood when one recognises its existence, that it is a state of dread or uneasiness, and that its nature is inconspicuous.
One may be so humble to the extent that they do not believe that they are worthy of telling others of their accomplishments or of receiving approval. In social situations, a person may wish to avoid the fear of being judged, and so they severely restrict their personality. Sometimes they will not even let themselves laugh (Niemiec). “Shyness is not who you are…it is what you think other people think you are, and therefore it is responsive to behavior change” (Introvert, 43). It is implied that a shy person is concealing their personality.
People of Western Society may sometimes have the attitude that social anxiety is unreal and unimportant. In 2000, many doubted this disorder’s existence. It is not difficult to be unaware of the suffering of a person with this disorder. Social anxiety is inconspicuous: those who have it wish to not draw attention to themselves; they often do not tell another person about their anxiety. People of Western Society need to remember that there are millions of people suffering with social anxiety at this moment (Richards, “Still Hiding”). Social anxiety is a difficult disorder to understand and manage. When one thinks of the term ‘Social Anxiety,’ they may think of negative connotations, such as ‘weak,’ ‘fear,’ and ‘self-focused.’ Social anxiety needs to be regarded as a disorder which inclines a person towards being excessively humble, and insufficiently zestful (Niemiec). One needs to be aware that anyone could be suffering with this disorder.
The reality of social anxiety should not be dismissed or rejected, like those who have this disorder feel dismissed or rejected (Richards, “Still Hiding”). Social anxiety is caused by a feeling of inadequacy and excess. A person can feel that they are not intelligent, friendly, or interesting enough, or too worried, facetious, or weird to be socially acceptable (Niemiec; “Social Anxiety” 2016). “Shyness is a nearly universal experience” (Hidden, 10). Social anxiety is an immense and lasting shyness, and the source of it is shame or guilt. After revealing something special and personal about oneself to another and receiving a negative response, one feels shame; guilt is the feeling that one might have done something wrong. A socially anxious person has learned to think with negativity and experiences mental pain when in proximity with other people. Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Psychologist, describes his personal struggles with social anxiety in the article “Still Hiding in the Shadows: Is Social Anxiety Real?”: “I wasn’t able to tell even one person about these fears and worries. The times I tried to tell people did not go well. They could not accept what I was telling them.” A socially anxious person believes that they are helplessly flawed; they have little faith in themselves and other people; and, they have little hope of being able to do what they wish to do (Introvert, 43, 54-55). The anxious behaviour of one’s thoughts can be changed. “Feelings need to be named and validated” (Hidden, 87). “…Our brain needs outside sources to offer insight” (Chung, 80). With the help of others, the behaviour of one’s thoughts can have a metamorphosis from being tumultuous and unruly to calm and composed (Richards, “Social Anxiety Fact”). People of Western Society need to have consent of the reality that there are those who are socially anxious, so that no one feels helpless and alone.
There is a way in which this obstreperous anxiety can be mastered: mindfulness. To have power over one’s thoughts, one must learn to believe that thoughts are not the master. Although one cannot control the temperament of their emotions (Chung, 72-73), one is always in control of the temperament of their thoughts. One always has the choice of whether to let negative or positive thoughts dominate their internal monologue in social situations. People need to be aware of the negative effects of negative thoughts: one becomes depressed, guilty, or ashamed, vandalizing their own mind (Chung, 45-47, 86). Everyone needs to be aware that words are like living things. “Harsh words tear through us, leaving our self-esteem in tatters,” says introvert writer Michaela Chung. One should ask themself, “What would happen if you put down the spray can and never said an unkind word to yourself again?” (87). Because one knows that it is hurtful to be unkind to others, Michaela Chung emphasises that those who are lacking self-love should “speak to themselves in the second or third person.” A person should calm themself with encouraging thoughts, such as ‘Don’t worry,’ and ‘You are being the best you that you could possibly be.’ No one lives without flaws. “Our shadow self is comprised of all the aspects of our personality that we’ve been hiding,” writes Michaela Chung. “We hide these parts because someone has told us they were shameful, inappropriate, or “not nice”” (89). These supposed flaws are deeply associated with one’s greatest qualities. A socially anxious person needs to learn to explore and accept their flaws to understand the qualities of their shadow self and add depth to their personality. One needs to feel balanced and whole (Chung, 88-90). One can control their anxiety when they learn to be kind to themself—to live with flaws while feeling significant and whole.
Kind words rebuild one’s self-esteem. Personalities are intricate and beautiful; each quality needs to be accepted and appreciated. When one begins to accept the beauty of their character, and go beyond the limitations of negativity, they begin to love who they are. A person can love and accept themself without any conditions. When considering one’s flaws one needs to be prepared to entertain new ideas, without the restrictions of negative bias. One needs to ask themself, “What if?” while being aware that there is no final answer. A person might ask themself, “’What if my sensitivity was my most loveable quality? How would that feel?’” One needs to try to remember the kind words of others and speak to themself as if they were a child (Chung, 86, 89-90, 92). Having a peaceful mind when around other people can become a reality. By discussing feelings of uncertainty and doubt in social situations, one can learn how to anticipate and manage anxiety, and remember the encouraging voices of others (Hidden, 128-129). When interacting with other people, “…the true objective is simply to see: see another for who they really are, flaws and all…” (Chung, 196). Social anxiety is mastered when one loves themself for who they are.
A great and violent fear can be incited in oneself by being in proximity with other people; everyone can realise, accept, and become skilled at controlling this fear. Social anxiety is a state of dread or uneasiness inside of oneself; its nature is not easily noticed by other people. One with social anxiety has learnt to hide their entire character: their good and flawed qualities. They believe that they are not worthy of attention; at once, they feel afraid of their individuality. When in proximity with others, one needs to remember that anyone could be suffering with this disorder. By being aware of this disorder, no one will have cause to feel helpless and alone. With kindness, social anxiety can be controlled. A person who has this disorder must learn to live with flaws while feeling significant and whole. A person becomes an expert of controlling social anxiety when they love themself for who they are. Those with social anxiety need to try to always remember, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” (“Bernard”).
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