In my last post I considered the role of self-consciousness in maintaining social phobia. And previously I mentioned that self-consciousness was one of three essential ingredients that fuel social phobia (the other two being ways of thinking and ways of behaving that make us feel safe). That’s not the whole story and so in this post I want to touch on three other mechanisms known to prolong the problem.
The first issue is one we’ve all experienced and it relates to picking over the bones of previous social encounters. It’s those times when we reflect on the things we said and might have said better. It’s when we wished we’d behaved this way rather than that, dressed in those clothes rather than these, kept our mouth shout, and so forth. We place ourselves in a no-win situation where we amplify our memory of events and feel embarrassed. Now scale that experience up a few-fold and imagine it on a daily basis and you begin to get an idea of what is happening inside the head of someone with a social phobia.
It’s the effects of these thought processes that are so damaging. For a start they feed into the belief the person holds that they are social incompetent and an embarrassment to themselves and others. Their memory of events is also affected by their anxiety to the extent they recall what they think happened and this serves to reinforce they negative view they hold about themselves.
People with social phobia are often long-suffering. They are the kind of person who won’t, or have never considered reaching out for help. They shy away from new experiences, live a constrained, controlled and predictable life and as a result are low in confidence. It’s lack of confidence that I want to mention as the second issue that prolongs the problem. Unfortunately confidence only builds as we try new things out and accept that mistakes may be made. In reality far more positive outcomes tend to arise from trying out new experiences and this quickly builds confidence.
Finally I want to mention low moods and depression. Many people with social phobia suffer with low moods or depression. It’s reasonable to assume that if low moods come about after social phobia symptoms set in that the phobia is the likely cause of the depression. Not surprisingly when people with social phobia work to overcome their low confidence and treat their condition low moods tend to subside.
Published On: July 08, 2014