Social anxiety is thinking you might do something humiliating or embarrassing. It makes you think people are judging you constantly. Social anxiety limits your speech, for fear of what others could think, and robs you of your self confidence.

According to the official definition of social anxiety, there are four main criteria;

  1. Afear of situations where you are exposed to possibly scrutiny/unfamiliar people; fear of acting in a way which is embarrassing
  2. Exposure to these situations provokes anxiety 
  3. Recognising the fear is excessive and unreasonable 
  4. Either enduring these situations with intense anxiety and distress, or avoiding the situation.

Most of my symptoms revolve around my thought patterns; I worry about what people think, and consider what might go wrong ahead of time. I focus attention on myself and am very aware of what I say, which can lead to a difficulty concentrating and remembering what people say.

The problem with social anxiety is not just the social situation itself; it’s the over thinking we do before and after the event that can be just as bad. I will replay over and over things that I said, people’s reactions, what they must have thought about me, and this is nearly always negative. 

For me, social anxiety rarely invaded my working life; I felt safer in the surroundings of my store where I was in control. However, take me out of that situation and ask me to make small talk and I’m in hell. I find small talk very difficult to deal with; what am i supposed to say? What questions do I ask? Do they think I’m weird because I’m asking so many questions? Am I making too much eye contact?

The key thing I’ve learnt to remember is that we can’t control what other people think of us, so we should try and put less thought into people’s opinions. However this is easier said than done, any tips are welcome!