Does this sound familiar? You and a friend are waiting for the 2nd basket of Cheddar Bay biscuits at Red Lobster when several people you don’t know approach your table. You friend does know them, however, and extends an invitation to join your table. Holy Cheesy Yeast Puff! Your heart beats faster, your hands start sweating, and you feel a little dizzy. This is your nightmare (and the last day of that friendship); all you can think about it how you can get out of there ASAP without anyone seeing or hearing you leave.
What just happened- Shyness? Seeing how many calories are in a cheese biscuit? Excitement about the next Game of Thrones episode? (To be fair, that one is a legitimate answer). The more likely explanation though is social anxiety. Simply put, social anxiety occurs specifically in social situations where there is a possibility of being embarrassed or judged by others and causes significant distress.
When facing an anxiety-provoking situation, such as making small talk at a party, most people with social anxiety will do whatever they can in the moment to bypass anxious symptoms. Two common, yet unhelpful, coping strategies are escape behavior and avoidance. An example of escape behavior is going to Red Lobster then fleeing when you become too anxious. Avoidance is finding an excuse to decline the invitation to Red Lobster altogether.
Avoidance may work in the short term but it worsens anxiety in the long term by reinforcing inaccurate beliefs about perceived danger. The problem is anxious minds tend to see threats where there are none. Eventually your life becomes smaller and smaller.
Don’t let social anxiety limit your life. Contact Yurk Counseling Services to learn healthy coping skills and behaviors to live your life more fully.
In the meantime, I’m going to go find my basket of cheddar biscuits. BRB.
Love yourself, you deserve it!