Shyness and Social Anxiety

Social phobia is the fear and anxiety that you will be judged negatively when among others in social, business, or academic situations. It is the anxiety that leaves you silent and withdrawn in social gatherings or unable to participate in classroom discussions. It is the terror that many feel when called upon to speak publically. Although these anxieties are experienced by everyone to some degree, it becomes social phobia or social anxiety when the reactions are severe and prevent you from being who you want to be in those situations. Shyness is commonly thought of as less extreme than social phobia and is most prevalent in social situations. A great deal of the population suffers with some aspects of social phobia and shyness.

As noted, the primary fear in social anxiety is that you will be judged to be inadequate or unacceptable in some way. You might worry that your personality is not on par with others or that you are not interesting enough. You might feel that your presentation will be inadequate because you’re not a gifted speaker or that you will appear nervous. You might fear rejection or that others will be favored over you. If the condition is mild, it might not interfere significantly in the quality of your life. But, if the condition is severe it might hold you back in important ways. It is often the case that people with social anxiety want to have a network of friends and be included in group activities, but because of the inhibitions caused by their anxieties, they may seem disinterested and withdrawn and not make the connections that they really desire. Social phobia can hold people back in their careers as they are unable to express themselves effectively in meetings or establish the connections with their superiors that often lead to advancement in the workplace. They might say that they don’t “kiss up” to their boss, but what is actually at play is their inability to establish appropriate business relationships.

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