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Social Phobia: Ways of Overcoming Social Fear Social Phobia: Ways of Overcoming Social Fear
Every person experiences some anxiety while going through a job interview or making an important phone call. However, there are people who fear that they have to face such situations. Often people suffering from social phobia are afraid of any contact with others: a conversation with the cashier in a supermarket or communication with the online store manager about an order. Fear of people makes the quality of life worse. So, how can one get rid of social phobia?
How to recognize that I have social phobia
It does not mean that an unsociable and detached person suffers from social phobia – an introvert can easily live without people, but if necessary, he is able to communicate with people. Social phobia has the following signs:
- the fear of public speaking;
- the fear of facing new situations and people;
- unwillingness to be at the center of attention;
- the feeling of discomfort in public places;
- the inability to accept even constructive and friendly criticism;
- the feeling of worthlessness;
- the fear of stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
A characteristic feature of social phobia is constant desire to compare oneself with others. All people seem smart, beautiful, happy, and bold. Self-esteem of a person with social phobia depends on the judgment of others. Even a friendly attitude is perceived as flattery, mockery or hypocrisy. A day that is usual for healthy people is full of horror for people with social phobia.
In a stressful situation, the body of people with social phobia reacts very quickly. Physical symptoms include:
- redness of the face;
- rapid breathing and increased heartbeat;
- increased sweating;
- limb tremor;
- chills or fever.
Sometimes the human psyche can not withstand tension which leads to panic attacks. It is a painful state of anxiety and intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms mentioned above.
How to get rid of social phobia on your own
Develop positive thinking
All problems are in a person’s head. The person with social phobia has fear because destructive thoughts exist in his mind:
- I don’t deserve love;
- Everyone communicates with me because of pity;
- I look foolishly no matter how beautiful I try to get dressed;
- There is no place for me among these interesting people;
- Every single person understands that I’m boring and stupid.
Substitution of negative thoughts may take some time, but this is the easiest way to get rid of social phobia. It is necessary to think about your ideal picture and express it in words:
- I am an interesting and good speaker;
- I am who I am;
- I deserve love and understanding;
- I forgive my mistakes;
- I achieve my goals, and so on.
Thoughts can be different: the important thing is that they should be friendly. You should repeat them again and again. You will obtain confidence and communication with the outside world will be much easier and more enjoyable.
Take fear under control
Teach the body to control fear. For example, the person before the exam answer begins to feel that his hands and knees are shaking. Physical symptoms make the situation worse. Therefore, at the first sign of panic, you should breathe deeply. The body will calm down, the mind will become clear and the fear will diminish.
Unconfident and timid people are recognized by their voices. Quiet statements or requests rarely produce the desired effect on others. Therefore, it is necessary to speak as much as possible:
- read poems aloud;
- ape in front of a mirror;
- greet and say goodbye to the cashiers, doctors, etc;
- read books aloud;
- tell the cat about your day, etc.
A person who does not talk too much – silence becomes a habit. And when it is necessary to say something, the person with social phobia forgets how to do that. As a result, he stumbles that only reinforces the lack of confidence.
Take a chance
The easiest way is to refuse the offer of a new job, a trip abroad or a romantic date. Home is safe but uninteresting. It should be understood that the devil is not so black as he is painted and you should start expanding your comfort zone. To do this, make a list of unpleasant situations: from the least scary to the most terrifying. For example:
- A call to the hospital.
- Shopping alone.
- Lunch in the cafe.
- Ask a passerby how to get to the library.
- Go to the gym.
- Smile a handsome stranger.
- A call to a colleague to find out something.
- Speech at the meeting.
- Visit a crowded party.
- Meeting with a friend via the Internet.
- A trip to another town, etc.
It is necessary to spend some time on each point in order to perform it. Do not force yourself if something seems too terrible: gradualness is a key to success.
The most important thing is that you have to find some strength to perform it. If something goes wrong, you should perceive it as experience and do not blame yourself.
Life is a game
Life is not so serious as it may be commonly considered. It is comparable to the theater or a computer game. Your “character” may play a different role.
Imagine any known person and behave as he does. The main thing is to get used to the image and feel as a self-confident celebrity. Then you won’t be afraid of any public speaking or new acquaintances.
No one is ideal, so sometimes it is needed to accept your right:
- to do something wrong;
- to turn yellow;
- everyone should not like you;
- to fail.
If you did something wrong and someone said so and was angry – it is okay. You should remember that no one is ideal – everyone makes mistakes.
Everyone should not like you and there is no need. After all, the person with social phobia does not like everyone. Realizing this fact, we can only communicate with pleasant people and ignore the hysterical neighbors and nervous colleagues. It is sufficient to show norms of politeness.
Change your lifestyle
A healthy mind in a healthy body. People do not even know how their emotional state depends on physical health. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid:
Coffee, tea, energy drinks, cigarettes have a stimulating effect on the psyche – increasing anxiety.
It is also important to work and rest for a certain period of time. A person who wants to sleep is not able to pull himself together and he is anxious all the time.
Treatment of social phobia
In some cases, social phobia is severe and to deal with it on your own is very difficult. Then, it makes sense to seek professional help: psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist. What is the difference?
- a psychologist is not a doctor. He advises, helps to change behavior and attitude but can not prescribe any medications and make a diagnose;
- a psychiatrist works with mentally ill people. He has the right to make a diagnosis and prescribe medication;
- a psychotherapist is both a psychologist and psychiatrist. He has the right to help patients with any illness and prescribe any medication.
A person suffering from social phobia should go to the psychotherapist. Correction of behavior and medication may be used in treatment.
Methods of treatment
Social phobia treatment involves two methods:
- antidepressants (fluoxetine, sertraline, citalopram);
- Beta-blockers (propranolol);
- benzodiazepines (diazepam, lorazepam, clonazepam).
- dealing with anxious thoughts;
- improvement of communication skills;
- overcoming alienation.
Treatment may include either one of the methods, or both at once. But medications do not beat social phobia: they relieve fear and all other emotions.
Social phobia is not a sentence. It is necessary to pull yourself together and go out towards your own life. The world is not so bad as it seems from the window of your home.
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By Maria Shevtsova
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist. Taking action in support groups organization and social adaptation of the people with mental disorders. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the undepress.net project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who want to get their life back or help someone dear, who got into mental trap.
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