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What exposures can you do to overcome social anxiety?

jajingna

jajingna

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Thanks for sharing. It is difficult to find what's causing social anxiety and just removing it. It is like all senses are elevated for checking the environment for a threat. But in my mind, exposure, or over-exposure, should still be a way to feel less anxious in social situations becuase the elevated senses will with time be turned down when they never discover any real threat.
I'm not sure. It's like a smoke alarm going off for no reason. We know there is no real threat but the anxiety is there anyway. It's like the two things are happening in different areas of the brain/nervous system. You know in the rational part of your mind that it doesn't make sense to feel this way, but in the more primitive part of your brain, the reaction occurs. So, how do you offset that, like fixing the alarm?
 
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Greg84

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I'm not sure. It's like a smoke alarm going off for no reason. We know there is no real threat but the anxiety is there anyway. It's like the two things are happening in different areas of the brain/nervous system. You know in the rational part of your mind that it doesn't make sense to feel this way, but in the more primitive part of your brain, the reaction occurs. So, how do you offset that, like fixing the alarm?
Maybe, we know that a situation is not a real threat but we are not really certain/convinced about it, be it on an emotional level. For if there really isn't any real threat we would not be triggered at all. So the "threating" situation is similar enough to a real threating situation (that we could have been exposed to earlier in our lives) for our brains to make the alarm go off.

I have two anecdotes to share that helped my understanding a bit...
A text I read explained to me how a student could sweat during the entire lecture even though the teacher never addressed him even once. I learned that it is enough for the student to know that he could be addressed at any time, and that caused the anxiety/sweating. So, in theory, the student could be sitting through even 1000 lectures and still be as anxious as always as long as the threat of being addressed to by the teacher was relevant.

Another anecdote comes from one (of many...) "self-development" books I've read...I actually think this is a real story, but can not guarantee that. There was a doctor that started to sweat and be anxious every time someone sitting at the table suddenly and fast stood up, as this reminded him of his dad that could get angry and stand up and beat him with the belt. The author thought that the doctor's reaction would probably never change, but I guess it could be just his opinion.

Beside exposure therapy, I do not know of any method to offset the alarm. So maybe, our bodies still believe in the smoke alarm regardless of what we intellectually tell ourselves. We have to make our alarm go off and stay in the situation so the alarm's sensitivity to what a threating situation is will be adjusted.
 
T

tiltawhirl3

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My reclusiveness has been normalized due to covid. eating out at a restaurant never makes me feel uncomfortable, so whenever I can I like to do that. I am working at getting out for errands more and going into the store sometimes. I have a friend who has been visiting more frequently but I have found myself having a couple glasses of wine. I don't think that is a good solution. I didn't need to do that until I found out he had a crush on me and I am not sure how I feel.
 
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Blues47

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A lot of social anxiety is an irrational fear. Most folks are perfectly nice and amusing company.
Many people develop it over a lifetime of real-life interactions for one reason or another. Just curious if you don't have social anxiety what brought you to this forum?
 
LORD BURT

LORD BURT

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Many people develop it over a lifetime of real-life interactions for one reason or another. Just curious if you don't have social anxiety what brought you to this forum?
I have had severe social anxiety when I was young. I grew out of it.
 
Wishbone

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Putting yourself in stressful situations is maybe where you're going wrong. That would be like having a fear of spiders and being made to hold a Tarantula right away. It's flooding: it's too much, too soon. You need to edge yourself into it.
First I'd say you need to be around people of a smallish number in a way that means any interactions would be brief. So maybe just walks around the park and saying hello to people passing by. Then if you feel more confident in being around people you can build it up and/or add situations where you're possibly more likely to have short conversations or be around more people. You need to be relaxed enough and confident enough to pull these off so it's no use worrying about what you're going to say.
Things that revolve around your interests would be good. Let's say you like books. Well, you could go to a second hand book shop. Any conversations there will likely be about books and you're in your comfort zone with that one so you're less likely to blurt out something stupid or awkward. But I'd definitely say building it up piece by piece rather than forcing yourself into anxiety inducing 'stressful' situations is the way to go.
 
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