Self-Consciousness in Social Anxiety
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety can be described as having an intense experience of ‘self-consciousness’ or ‘shyness’ in social situations alongside a fear of being judged by others. It is rooted a fear of embarrassment and a felt sense that ‘all eyes are on me’.
This experience of self-consciousness can also be described as an ‘internal self-focus’ on overwhelming sensations of anxiety inside your body. In addition, if you experience social anxiety, you may have a strong urge to escape or avoid social situations to get relief from this experience of self-consciousness. This can really impact your quality of life and affect your self-confidence and self-esteem.
What is Self-Consciousness in Social Anxiety?
When you are feeling anxious in social situations, it is natural to focus on yourself. You may be worried about how you look, what you are saying, or whether people are judging you. Experiencing self-consciousness or shyness while you are in social situations can be very distressing and overwhelming for you. This internal self-focus can keep your anxiety going keeps you from enjoying social interactions.
One of the main reasons why self-focus can be so detrimental to people with social anxiety is that it prevents you from being fully present in the moment. When you are focused inwardly on yourself, you might find that your head is lowered, or you are avoiding eye contact with others. We call these safety behaviours, and you may find yourself doing this to try to feel safer in social situations.
The downside is that it makes it difficult to pay attention to what others are saying or doing, and you might miss out on important social information. It can make it difficult to connect with others and can make social interactions feel more difficult and uncomfortable.
Additionally, self-focus can lead you to dwell on negative thoughts and emotions. If you are focused on how anxious you are feeling, you may not notice when people are responding positively to you. This can create a vicious cycle in which your anxiety leads to more self-focus, which then leads to more anxiety.
Overcoming Shyness in Social Anxiety
So how can you overcome self-focus in social anxiety? One of the most effective treatments for social anxiety is Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT). In CBT, you will learn how to challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to your anxiety. You will also learn skills for managing anxiety and improving your social interactions.
Some other tips for overcoming self-focus in social anxiety include:
- Identifying your triggers: What situations or activities make you more likely to focus on yourself? If you can identify your triggers, you can be prepared to manage your anxiety in those situations.
- Flipping your self-focus outwards to what is happening around you: Notice what is happening in the room. Give yourself the chance to take in new social information.
- Facing your fears: Finding ways to manage your social anxiety by gradually going into feared social situations with support from your CBT therapist.
- Building self-confidence: Developing skills to improve your self-confidence can help you to feel more comfortable in social situations.
- Self-Compassion: Giving yourself a break, many people experience social anxiety, and you are not alone. It’s okay to sometimes feel awkward in social situations, to get embarrassed or blush.
At Suaimhneas Cork CBT Therapy and Mindfulness Training we can help you to better deal with stress, anxiety and depression, to regain your health, energy and vibrancy, so you can focus on the things that matter to you in your life.
If you wish to learn more about how CBT Therapy can help feel free to click on the links below: