Social Anxiety is becoming an increasingly common issue. More and more people are finding it difficult to attend gatherings to meet and relate to people face to face. This has been exacerbated by the advent of Social Media because now people can create the impression of social interaction from the safety and isolation of their own room, they get into the habit of doing so and the longer they avoid actual real life interaction the harder it becomes. Social Media also compounds the anxiety by creating the illusion that the lives of people that we’re connected (however tenuously) to are far more interesting and exciting than ours. This impression can make us begin to believe that we have nothing sufficiently interesting to offer in any personal interaction, so we hang back instead of participating.
Social Anxiety doesn’t discriminate by age, it can impact the teenager being inundated with images of impossibly perfect peers and heroes as well as the empty nester who may through their commitments as a parent and possibly primary carer for their own parents have lost touch with their old network of friends and now find themselves faced with the daunting prospect of having to create a new circle to socialise with.
The idea of facing a world full of relative strangers and trying to connect can be terrifying to someone with anxiety. They may recognise the need to connect and do make an effort to arrange to do so at first, only to back-out at the last minute when overcome with an uneasy feeling it. The feeling can range from mildly uncomfortable to overwhelming and can even be accompanied by physical symptoms triggered by the fight and flight response such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sweating and muscle spasms. When physical symptoms are present this heightens the person’s self-consciousness and increases their anxiety further. People can become so nervous that even if they manage to attempt to speak the words don’t come out in the right order and they feel further humiliated.
What can be done?
Well if you know someone that is in the habit of backing out of arrangements, it’s often easy to judge them as being unreliable and thoughtless. Consider instead that they may be struggling with some inner demons. It’s possible that they have been living with the anxiety to varying degrees all their lives and don’t even understand their own behaviour. It’s likely that if they do suffer from social anxiety that they spend an awful lot of time beating themselves up about not being able to meet a lot of their social commitments simply because they feel somehow paralysed inside. So try to adopt a compassionate approach, as hard and frustrating as that may be at times.
If you yourself find that you can’t face going to see friends, and feel uncomfortable or like an outsider when with people, it’s possible that you have a form of Anxiety and it may be Social Anxiety. There is some debate as to the cause; most popularly it’s thought to be a combination of genetics and particular life events that you have subconsciously associated with interactions with others. There is something you can do, Therapy will help. As a Hypnotherapist I have seen people make fantastic progress and increase their sense of self-worth and confidence through Hypnotherapy and counselling. Hypnotherapy harnesses the power of the clients’ imagination in order to allow them to experience things differently and make the changes that they want and need in their perspective. For people who have been stuck in a cycle of anxiety, the negative cycle can be interrupted for long enough to create a new and more positive default. There are techniques that can be taught to interrupt the pattern of anxious thinking and settle the fight and flight response. The empowerment of learning these techniques alone can increase a client’s confidence substantially.
Holidays can be challenging
Christmas can be a particularly difficult time as there is so much pressure to attend events and participate. It can also be a time when people feel increasingly isolated because they haven’t been able to maintain social networks and the invitations have stopped coming. *If you find yourself in these situations, don’t despair, things can be changed for the better. If you are ready and willing to make a change, we can help.
If you’d like more information on Hypnotherapy please give me a call on 0435 923 817 or use this contact form to send me your enquiry. Hypfocus Therapies is located in Mentone in South East Melbourne. I look forward to hearing from you.
* Results may vary
Georgina Mitchell was born in Ireland, moving to Australia in 1989. Georgina spent many years working in senior management in the Corporate world, before leaving to pursue her passion to become a Therapist.
Please note as with all therapies, Results for Therapies delivered by Hypfocus may vary from person to person