Social anxiety self help is a big topic and the type of self help you need depends on a number of things.
There are plenty of articles about social anxiety self help that offer strategies for symptoms. There is plenty of good information.
But what I'm most interested in is understanding the root causes.
The most effective social anxiety self help is going to be based on deep understanding and clarity on root causes before anything else.
A few examples of root causes are:
An anxious mother (proven to cause anxiety in her children)
Hostile or unfriendly, unsupportive, critical relationships in early home environment
Biology - a sensitive or fearful disposition or nervous system. It does happen - even in the nicest families.
I worked with a woman whose relationship with her romantic partner was wonderful. But as a gay woman she felt utterly insecure and rejected by her intensely religious family. Her otherwise loving family told her she would burn in hell. Therefore, she relied on friendships to fill the role of family for her.
However, she couldn’t trust the bonds of friendship without constant reassurance. When her friends needed space to work out their lives, she became needy and demanding, “making it all about me,” as she put it.
She couldn’t trust that she could depend on their relationship, that she didn't need control it.
For this woman, deep, loving, long-term relationships (like those we ideally have with family) -- trigger body memories of being ostracized and abandoned at the primal, core level of who she is.
Research shows that an anxious person typically has the most difficulty in romantic relationships, followed by friendships and work relationships. Oddly, the research doesn’t mention family relationships.
If you are looking into learning how to give yourself some social anxiety self help in a romantic or friend relationship, you will want to check out related subjects like fear of rejection, abandonment issues, insecurity and low self-esteem.
If you think you had reasonably secure childhood relationships, you may want to begin your focus on biology.
In 2004 the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) conducted a survey of GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) sufferers on the effect their anxiety on their romantic partner relationships:
Seventy percent of GAD sufferers believe their relationship anxiety has a negative effect on their relationships.
Compared to non-anxious partners in romantic relationships GAD sufferers were:
The root causes of social anxiety often create mental states of suspicion and worry about relying on the love, care, or faithfulness of others.
At the same time, once we are aware of our anxieties we know we can't always trust our own thoughts and feelings.
Any evidence of love and care on the part of the other gets lost in the fear and confusion. Self-blame and despair take hold.
Social anxiety - regardless of the original cause, are habitual stress responses that are trapped in the body mind energy system and need special help.
“Knowing better...but not getting better.”
Social anxiety self help, to be effective, requires MORE than understanding and strategies. Wouldn't it be great to finally let it go?
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By Laura Frisbie, M.Ed., CRRP
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