While experiencing panic attacks, avoiding social activities and over analyzing social interactions are all symptoms of social anxiety, those of us who are living with this issue want to learn the reasons why these things happen. For many, experiencing social anxiety boils down to our beliefs and expectations about our interactions with others. These beliefs, which are created by our own minds, can trigger the emotional unrest we feel whenever we are in social situations.
Take a look at these four reasons people with social anxiety avoid social situations to see if any of them apply to you.
You believe your personality is too intense.
One of the reasons people with social anxiety avoid social situations is to prevent others from reacting negatively to their personalities. When you believe that your personality is overwhelming for others because your natural personality is boisterous, hyper or even weird you may tend to think that more ‘normal’ people will find you to be unappealing and judge you for not being more like them.
You automatically assume that others won’t enjoy your personality based on critical comments from your past. Part of you doesn’t want to make them feel uncomfortable and the other part of you doesn’t know how to turn off or tone down who you are so you hide yourself to avoid being a disruption. In this case you care more about ensuring that others have a pleasant social experience than you care about enjoying your own social experience.
You believe no one will share your values or beliefs.
Another reason people with social anxiety avoid social situations is the fact that many people with social anxiety have beliefs, values or lifestyles that do not align with what is acceptable to mainstream society. Rejecting a religion that was introduced to you by your family, aligning yourself with a gender identity that is not reflected by your body or simply having a contrasting political belief than most people that you know can cause you to stifle your opinions around others or avoid them altogether.
You believe that once you introduce your beliefs or lifestyle to others they will be shocked, make critical comments or judge you harshly and you don’t need the added drama. In fact, the mere thought of participating in a conversation with people, who you expect to be close minded and traditional, makes you break out in a sweat. You don’t want to spend an entire evening defending yourself or trying to explain why your beliefs, values or lifestyle choices are perfectly acceptable.
You believe you have unconventional physical features that people will ridicule.
There’s nothing more disconcerting than looking in the mirror and realizing that what you see looks nothing like what is featured as beautiful on television and in magazines. You may wonder why you were not born looking differently or if you were being punished for something you did in a past life. While you can not figure out why the world praises certain physical features and degrades others, short of having plastic surgery, you realize that you can not change much about your looks.
Not being able to drastically change the way you look so that you can fit into the ideal image of beauty can cause you to reject yourself and in turn believe that others will reject you too. You will avoid socializing as much as possible to avoid being rejected or ridiculed for not fitting in with what society says is the acceptable way to look.
You believe your social skills and social etiquette may be lacking.
Other factors such as being raised in a small town and moving to a big city, shifting from being exposed to one culture to living around a different culture or recognizing that you may have aspergers syndrome may lead to the belief that you do not know how to behave properly in social situations.
While everyone else seems to understand the proper vocal tone to use, how to engage with each other formally and which questions or statements are appropriate to ask, you believe you have no clue how to catch up with everyone and behave properly.
You know that your intentions are never to offend others but it seems that somehow you always do just that. The mere thought of interacting socially with others knowing you may make a big time social blunder or say the wrong thing will lead you to avoid interacting with others altogether.
Do these reasons people with social anxiety avoid social situations resonate with you? What are some other reasons you avoid social situations?