What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety can be described as being extreme self-consciousness in social situations due to a fear of being judged or embarrassed by others. It is also known as social phobia or excessive shyness. If you are socially anxious then you might be tempted to avoid social situations. Everyone experiences shyness from time to time. especially in new situations. However, if you have social anxiety you will notice that it is impacting you so much that it is holding you back from doing the things in life that matter to you.
Self consciousness or excessive self focus is at the core of social anxiety and our greatest fear is how we think we look to other people. Some of the thoughts that people experience when they fear being in social situations include ‘they will laugh at me’, ‘they know I’m embarrassed’ or ‘I look like an idiot’, ‘what if I stammer’ or ‘look ‘awkward’? Social anxiety can often accompany difficulties with self-criticism and low self-esteem.
How can CBT help?
CBT treatment for social anxiety helps you to understand what causes your social anxiety and how it has become a vicious cycle in your life. It addresses the triggering thoughts and beliefs that maintain your social anxiety. You will learn skills to help you to shift from an inward self-focus on the strong sensations of anxiety in your body, and instead to be able to focus outwardly on what is happening in the world around you. This will helps to challenge your beliefs about how you think you look to other people in social settings. It will also help you to see social situations as less threatening so that you can slowly begin engage in the world and with others in ways that will help you to build your self-confidence.