Thriving In Social Situations When You Suffer From Social Anxiety
If you’ve ever been that person at the party standing over in a corner watching everyone else have a good time, then you probably know something about social anxiety.
Finding ways to deal with this is important to your Avon business success.
Social anxiety is defined by the Social Anxiety Institute as “the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, self-consciousness, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.”
Are we really so conscious of what other people think of us?
When you’re the person standing in the corner at that party, it’s easy to believe that you’re the only one who has ever felt socially awkward.
But in truth, up to 13% of the population (that’s more than 13 million Americans!) is so strongly affected by this discomfort that they have what’s known as a Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
And that number doesn’t even count those who suffer from shyness or mild social fears!
Knowing that you experience social anxiety and knowing what to do with it are two separate things.
So today I’m going to first explore a little about why we have social fears in the first place. Over the next couple of articles, we’re going to look at ways to prepare for social situations, and then some tips on dealing with social anxiety in the moment.
Important: Before we go too much further, though, please keep in mind that Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is actually a medical condition. I’m here to help you with your Avon business and have no medical experience. If your social anxiety feels out of control, or if you’re experiencing severe social anxiety regularly, please discuss the matter with your doctor. There is help!
Why are some people the life of the party and seem to be able talk to just about anybody, while other people have a hard time calling a stranger on the phone?
Why do some people have no fear of telling everybody about the Avon business and others are terrified to even bring Avon up?
The debate between ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ has been around for about as long as people have been studying psychology.
Are we who we are because we were born that way? Or are we created into unique individuals by the things that were going on around us as we grew up?
The answer? Probably a little of each.
It’s in Your DNA
Social Anxiety Disorder is inheritable, meaning that people who have close relatives who have been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) are more likely to develop SAD than people who don’t. You’re about 30-40% more likely to suffer from SAD if a close family member does.
It’s How You Were Raised
Social anxiety is one of those things that is quickly learned – and reinforced – by those around us.
There are three different ways where you might have learned this kind of social fear when you were still a child.
1 – Directly, through personal experience –
Imagine you trip and fall as you’re walking in a cafeteria holding a loaded tray of food. Everything goes splat, and the laughter begins. By this experience, you have now learned that making a mistake in public will earn you punishment–in this case, the laughter of your peers.
2 – Indirectly, by observing what happens to others –
In the same example from above, put yourself in the place of the child sitting next to the lunchtime mishap. Now you’ve seen both the mistake and the ridicule that followed. By observing this, you have just learned a valuable lesson: your peers will punish mistakes.
3 – Transference of other people’s fears who now make them your own –
In this case, the child learns from those around them.
Say that your mother once had an experience where she tripped in the cafeteria and was laughed at. Before you go to school for the first time, she spends time warning you to be careful when carrying food, to make sure your shoes are tied, and always to watch where you’re going.
Now the worry, which was not yours, becomes your own. When lunchtime comes around, the fear then becomes walking across that lunchroom. You ask yourself, what if you trip and fall?
You already have the expectation of your peers punishing you, and nothing has even happened yet!
In all of these cases, you see the same result. Regardless of how you got there, the worry of what people think has now created social anxiety related to the act of walking across the cafeteria.
Over time this can become a fear of having to walk across a classroom, or anywhere that feels like you’re on display, and people can observe you walking.
At that point, it is now a social fear that you have learned from your environment.
It’s What Society Dictates to You
Sometimes it’s society as a whole that makes you conscious of your actions and creates social fears.
In some cultures, the concept of not offending someone is fundamental. With this kind of pressure, it’s no wonder that people over-analyze their actions and worry too much about the impact of their behavior.
Even in the United States, certain standards make people self-conscious about everything from Public Displays of Affection to sharing your opinions on politically charged subjects.
And if you’re a woman, there are even more pressures!
It’s All in Your Head
Believe it or not, the blood flow in your brain is actually very different when you’re experiencing a social fear as opposed to when you’re feeling calm and confident.
By using PET scans, researchers have studied where the blood flows during public speaking.
Researchers were able to see that people who don’t experience social anxiety have increased blood flow to the parts of the brain that focus on getting things done, including areas where creativity or critical thinking are centered.
On the other hand, the person who has social anxiety, had increased blood flow to the fear centers of the brain instead. It’s no wonder it’s hard to think when we’re scared!
But it’s not just the blood flow that causes problems. Even your brain chemistry is affected when you are experiencing social anxiety.
Studies have shown that there is a distinct imbalance in neurotransmitters when you are socially anxious. This means that the messages in your brain aren’t always getting to where you need them to go.
The good news? This kind of social anxiety can be relatively easily treated with medication to put your brain chemicals back into balance.
This is why it’s so important to talk to your doctor about your social anxiety issues, in case there’s an underlying medical cause for them.
To Sum it all Up
Whether you were born with social fears, or you came by them through your own life experiences, it’s important to remember that there is help in managing them.
In our next article, we’ll talk about how to prepare for new social situations to minimize the effects of social anxiety, so you can get out there and build your Avon business. 🙂
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By Lynn Huber
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