When you have social anxiety, it is common to feel like everyone is noticing you and your mistakes. Yet the reality is often quite different:
Everyone is too busy paying attention to themselves to pay attention to you.
Still, when you have social anxiety, it is much easier to believe that people can read your thoughts, or at least that your anxiety is apparent to everyone in the room with you.
Social anxiety is an intense fear of being judged by others when you are in a social situation. Part of this stress comes from the concern that people will also notice your anxiety, and judge you for that as well. But the adage holds true here that your social anxiety is not generally apparent to others.
How to Convince Your Social Anxiety that No One is Watching for Signs
This is not to say that overt symptoms of social anxiety – shaking, sweating, panic attacks, or fainting – are invisible. But most of the symptoms you experience in social situations like clammy palms, fast heart rate, or some nausea, as well as any thoughts you may have, are something only you will notice.
The challenge for many people with social anxiety is that the concern that people will notice your symptoms of stress and terror cause those symptoms to become worse. If you do not remove yourself from the situation, they may culminate in those noticeable physical symptoms.
The other option is to convince yourself that people are not really paying attention to your anxiety. These tricks are similar to those you would use to reduce self-consciousness, such as:
- Change Your Perspective – Social anxiety traps you in a place of self-awareness, and learning to focus on other people can take practice. The next time you are around people, this exercise can help. First, focus entirely on yourself, including your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Then shift your focus to another person. Notice how they act, look, and any emotions they are outwardly displaying. This gives you practice in actively switching your perspective from inward to outward.
- Be Curious About Others – At social events, assign yourself a task to learn something about people there. For instance, do they have pets or where did they grow up? This requires you to pay attention to them, and maybe initiate conversations of your own, leaving you less time to worry about your anxiety.
- Smile at Others – Conversations can often feel impossible to those with social anxiety, so take a smaller approach to interact. Smile at the people around you. This shifts your focus outward and the physical act of smiling is a direct opposite to the physical sensations of worry, forcing your negative thoughts to shift to match your physical display of happiness.
- Be Purposely Memorable – This may seem counterintuitive when you want to draw as little attention to yourself as possible. But when you wear striking clothes, tell an interesting story or joke, or dance enthusiastically at a party, you take control over what people notice about you, and they won’t have time to notice any thoughts of anxiety.
While these actions may not solve your social anxiety or get rid of your symptoms altogether, they can effectively distract you from your thoughts. This pulls you out of that cycle of worry and anxiety and more worry, potentially letting you stay more relaxed through the social situation. Learn more about our social anxiety services in NY.