Understanding Social Anxiety and Shyness

I hate people – a cringe-worthy phrase uttered by a lot of people these days. But shying away from social situations or avoiding other people doesn’t necessarily mean that you have social anxiety. It doesn’t mean that you’re shy either. Shyness and social anxiety are a little more complex.


What is Social Anxiety?

Simply put, social anxiety is the fear or apprehension most people feel at some point in social situations. Social anxiety may kick in if you think you might do something that will humiliate or embarrass you. Truthfully, this type of anxiety is normal to some degree, and there really is no cure for it.

However, when this anxiety becomes so severe that you are unable to interact with other people, then the issue needs to be addressed. People that have social anxiety typically assume that others will notice their awkwardness or their weaknesses, and that they’ll be rejected or criticized for not behaving in a “socially acceptable” way. In turn, this leads to loneliness and isolation.

In severe cases, social anxiety may be diagnosed as social phobia. Those with social phobia have a consistent fear of situations where they are exposed to the potential scrutiny of other people. The fear become so severe that the individual avoid social situations altogether.

It’s important to note that there really is no clear distinction between social anxiety and social phobia. With that said, studies suggest that up to 13% of the world’s population will, at some point, suffer from social anxiety that’s so severe, it could be classified as social phobia.

The Difference between Shyness and Social Anxiety

Okay, so if there’s a fine line between social anxiety and social phobia, is there also a fine line between shyness and social anxiety? Yes and no. About 80% of people say that they’ve experienced shyness either during adolescence or childhood. But it’s important to remember that shyness is very normal, and not the exception. As we grow up, this shyness generally fades away.

Shyness often feels like you’re shrieking back from a social situation, so many of the symptoms are very similar to social anxiety. Naturally, there are different degrees of shyness. Some people just have mild social awkwardness, while others withdraw completely.

What Causes Social Anxiety?

Shyness and social anxiety can be caused by a variety of different factors, including:

  • Negative or traumatic experiences
  • Your temperament or personality
  • Your home environment
  • The stress and demands of everyday life

Those who suffer with social anxiety often wind up going to a vicious cycle through which social situations provoke fear of doing something wrong, and you react to that anxiety by worrying about what others might notice.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Breaking the Cycle

The only true way to overcome social anxiety is to break this vicious cycle. There are four key methods used to break these cycles:

  • Changing your behavior
  • Changing your thought patterns
  • Improving your confidence
  • Reducing your self-consciousness

The combination of these four factors prevents you from being yourself in social situations. These are the things that need to change in order for you to overcome your social anxiety or shyness.

While there are several self-help methods out there to help you overcome shyness and social phobia or anxiety, a therapist may be your best option as he or she has the experience and knowledge to help guide you through this difficult process.