Social anxiety is a mental illness, and mental illnesses feed us lies that we start to believe after hearing them in our brain repeatedly. I like to think of these lies as a kind of poison, keeping us sick and making us feel stuck in our pain. Thankfully, when we see the poison we’re being fed for what it really is, we can fight back with truth. Here are some lies social anxiety tells us:
1. You’re embarrassing.
Often, people with social anxiety will think highly of everyone else but themselves. I’m gonna let you in on a secret: There is nothing about you that makes you weirder than, inferior to, or any less valuable than any other person. The only difference between you and the people you think so highly of, is that you have a disordered brain that tries to convince you that you’re less. It’s not true.
2. You’re going to make a fool of yourself.
Here’s another secret: You are just as capable as anyone else. You were born with talents and positive qualities, just like everyone you know. Whether it’s a sport, a performance or presentation, or just giving your order at a restaurant, if you’re worried about what others are thinking about you, I guarantee everyone else is preoccupied worrying about themselves. And any mistake or perceived mistake you do make? Yeah, that wasn’t nearly as noticeable as you think it was. Promise.
3. That person is thinking badly about you for that little mistake you made.
Stop and ask yourself for a minute, how often do you actually think badly about someone because of a small mistake, a stutter, a nervous appearance, or an action done imperfectly? …
Got nothing? That’s because, like most people, you recognize that small mistakes have nothing to do with who someone is as a person. Most likely, when someone else does one of those things, you just empathize. Others are doing this, too. You’re doing fine.
4. You’re going to feel this anxious forever.
Feelings, even strong, intense feelings, come and go. The truth is, you’re never going to feel one certain way for too long. That’s because we’re humans with ever-changing lives in an ever-changing world. Reflect on the recent times you felt calm or happy, and know that those times will come again, soon. You just have to ride this part out.
5. You’re alone in your anxiety.
Chances are, you aren’t exactly trying to advertise to others around you that you struggle with social anxiety. You’re probably trying to fit in and disguise your anxiety, right? You may actually know a few people dealing with the same thing, or similar things, who are simply hiding their struggles. Social anxiety is not as uncommon as you may think. Something I’ve realized that’s been a big comfort is that no matter what you are feeling, there is someone, somewhere out there that feels that way, too. And the even better news is that even if you don’t know someone who can perfectly relate to your social anxiety, there are people who want to listen and be there for you anyway. You are never alone.