Monthly Archives: September 2007

Understanding Social Phobia and How to Overcome it

Lucky are those who have a lot of friends and family surrounding them who accept and love them unconditionally. For this group of people, it may be difficult to imagine how a woman can be scared to stand in front of the line in a store for the simple fear that everyone behind is watching her. A young man, who fears rejection from the new people that he will potentially meet may not have the ability to go out and socialize. These two situations are symptoms of social phobia which is one of the most common fears that Americans face today.

Social phobia is also referred to as social anxiety where a person experiences fear when facing other people in a social situation or expresses unnecessary worry about what other people may think. Social phobia may come in the form of fear of public speaking, fear of joining a public or group gathering, extreme self-consciousness and worrying about what other people may think by expecting criticism and disapproval.

To learn more about social phobia, its effects and some of the ways to overcome social phobia, take a look at the following:

1. A person with social phobia will exhibit the following physical symptoms: stuttering or stammering, sweating, nervousness, heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, trembling and sometimes, even panic attacks. Sometimes, if a person exhibits extreme shyness in casual social situations, this may already be an early sign of social phobia.

If the quality of life is affected and a person does not have the ability to widen his or her social circle, these are the signs that a person has social phobia. Timidity, negative thinking, fear of humiliation, embarrassment and ridicule are additional characteristics that you need to look for in a person with social phobia.

2. Understand that there are several root causes for social phobia. A previous humiliating or embarrassing
experience that was personally tragic for the person may lead to social phobia.

Genetic factors, a deep-seated shame or hatred of a family member or family background, psychological factors, low self-esteem and depression are some of the other causes which may lead to social phobia or social anxiety. By getting deep into the root of this psychological condition, you will be able to understand more the reason behind social phobia and take steps towards treating it.

3. Although there are neuro, medicinal and psychiatric treatments for social anxiety, prevention is still better than cure. If you are extremely shy and there is a tendency for you to develop social phobia, you could adapt a new way of thinking and do your best to overcome shyness and social phobia. Below are some tips:

-Get to the root of the problem for your shyness: low self-esteem. If you feel that your appearance is inadequate and you are extremely self-conscious when you go out, ask the help of a close friend to implement ways of enhancing your natural attributes. Even a new set of good clothes will give your self-confidence a boost so that you will feel more comfortable in social situations.

-If your social phobia stems from a bad experience in the past, or shame about your family background or a bad experience, get the help of a professional if you need to. Some people with bad experiences take comfort in anonymity which can lead to social phobia. You cannot move on to a brighter future if you are trapped in or haunted by the past.

-Always think positive. Developing a sense of pride about who you are and accepting the fact that every one of us is unique in his and her own way, then you will be able to adapt a more positive attitude and sort of ‘brighten’ up the way that you look at things. A positive overall perspective in life will attract more friends so that your social circle will widen and you will not have the tendency of melding into the background or even developing social phobia.

Social phobia is something that you need to get over if this fear does not give you a chance to develop healthy personal and professional relationships. No man is an island, and there is no better time to start than now if you want to cultivate a deeper relationship with other people, get rid of your social phobia and live a fuller and more meaningful life.

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Solving Shyness

Everyone knows shyness is a problem that needs to be. solved. But how does one go about it?

The first thing that a shy person has to acknowledge is that he tends to avoid social situations because of his shyness. Taking that first step is a major factor that helps in solving shyness. The irony is that many shy people actually want to be involved in group interaction but do not know how.

Second, a shy person should try to immerse himself in specific social situations to give himself, and others, a chance to interact. A shy person who attends a party will probably hover at the periphery for a few minutes then leave. To counter this, a shy person must give himself more time to meet people.

At a party, he could post himself at the buffet and strike up a conversation with someone about the food and drinks being served. Nothing heavy like politics, just simple chitchat to tide things over until he can find someone who has something in common with him. He might run into someone he knows and turn to that person for a new topic to talk about. He can ask simple questions like: how is your family? Little things like this will help the shy person become more used to interacting with other people by degrees.

It does no good for a shy person to try to arrive late at the occasion, hoping that the less time he spends in the social event, the better it will be for him. That is counter-productive. A better solution is to arrive much earlier than expected, so he can get a chance to meet more people. Of course, this may be daunting to a shy person, so perhaps he can try arriving 30 minutes after the party starts first. Then he can move up to arriving right on time, and eventually to arriving maybe 10 minutes before the expected time.

Shy people are known for maintaining a smaller comfort zone than people who are more confident. This means they have fewer friends and acquaintances with whom they feel comfortable. Usually, a shy person will engage in routine activities with this small network of people over and over again because they do not like to try new things out with new people.

Though a shy person should not pressure himself about overcoming his shyness, he could opt to expand his circle to include new contacts and acquaintances. He could try new things, like hobbies or sports that people in his new circle are fond of pursuing. This is good, because not only does it give the shy person something new to do, it gives him something new to talk about with his old circle of friends aside from the same old routine.

Although it would be nice if there were a magic pill for solving shyness, the fact is, there is none. Still, by following the tips above you can make steady progress and enjoy a happy social life.
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Understanding the True Nature of Shyness

Do you consider yourself a shy adult? Join the club – according to Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph.D., 40% to 45% of all adults think they are shy. The problem of shyness, thus, may be more prevalent than many people think.

Cause of shyness:

Why are some people shy while others seem more confident? People are shy because they are quite preoccupied with what they are feeling and thinking, and how their body reacts when they are exposed to certain social situations. Many times, the shy person may perceive that he is being unfairly treated even when other people are not making fun of him – this is because of his shyness. The shy person may then avoid the people or the situation that caused him to feel bad.

For example, if he associates colleagues who gather at the water cooler and who start laughing with a negative thought (such as: they are laughing at me), he will probably avoid going to the water cooler or even stop talking to his co-workers altogether. It does not matter if the thought is based on reality or not: the point is, the person thinks this and obsesses about it, thus making his mild shyness much worse.

Effects of shyness:

A shy adult will have a hard time progressing in the adult world where he is expected to work independently. Such a person may find it difficult to talk to clients about projects assigned to him. Or he may dither about approaching a superior for a well-deserved raise. So, we can see that shyness may bar a person from progressing in his occupation. He may brood about this and become depressed. So he winds up with two problems: shyness and depression.

Shyness can also affect the interpersonal relationships a shy person has (or does not have) with others. Colleagues may think he is weird because he does not join in normal everyday conversations. He may find even a simple greeting with a woman he likes to be a hardship, so he becomes lonely.

Even simple chores like going to the Laundromat or the grocery store could be avoided because he does not want to talk to other people. His relationship with his own relatives might suffer because he does not feel confident even with them. So family and friends may not understand why he avoids them – such is the impact of shyness on relationships.

When does shyness crop up?

Carducci believes that shyness generally manifests itself when the shy person is going through a period of change. A person may become shy when his marriage ends, or he gets laid off from his job, or he relocates to a new neighborhood. More severe causes of shyness could be the death of a loved one, or a tragedy such as when his childhood home burns down. The point is, the change is pretty drastic so the person resorts to withdrawal to protect himself. Shyness is often a coping mechanism that adults resort to, to prevent being hurt again.

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