How to understand that you are a natural social phobe

Sociophobes today call themselves all and sundry. It is a kind of image of the hero of our time — a closed, detached introvert who does not want to join the crowd and follow mass trends.

But it’s not like that at all. Social phobia (or social anxiety disorder) is by no means a proud pose. It is a complete mental disorder that seriously spoils life. Subscribe to our Telegram channel. We often publish such valuable articles!

Being low-contact and self-absorbed has become socially acceptable and fashionable in recent years. However, there is a line between introversion and social anxiety.

Clinical psychologist Ellen Hendricksen lists five differences between social phobes and introverts.

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1. Introverts are born. Social phones are made.

Introversion is innate (read Who is an introvert). Since childhood, an introvert has preferred loneliness to noisy companies and is energized alone. He is used to it. The desire for solitude is part of his character.

Social anxiety is a different story. It is an acquired quality. As a rule, a person remembers well that he was once different. His character has changed due to some psychological trauma — resentment, betrayal, and depreciation from others. Read Why you shouldn't hide your introversion.

2. An introvert is comfortable being alone. A sociophobe is only less restless.

Being alone with themselves or in the limited company of their closest friends, introverts relax and recharge their batteries. The only reason they, for example, refuse noisy parties: is they feel good alone (read I’m an introvert and won’t come to your party).

The sociophobe, on the other hand, avoids going out for another reason. He would like to join the company, chat, and have fun, but it’s scary. A person with social anxiety is afraid of being ridiculed, rejected, and unnoticed. This fear is so great that the sociophobe stays at home. Let it be boring for him, but it’s so calm.

3. An introvert knows how to communicate. A sociophobe is afraid of this.

Despite the love of solitude, the average introvert has developed social skills: initiates conversations, communicates with people, enters into negotiations, and insists on his own (read Five techniques to help introverts communicate successfully with the outside world)

For a sociophobe, communication is torture. Therefore, he avoids it in every possible way. If contact is not avoided, he behaves like a victim: he speaks quietly or too quickly, hides his eyes, smiles all the time, and speaks in an ingratiating tone.

4. Both an introvert and a sociophobe worry about what others think of them. But at different levels.

Introverts (as, indeed, extroverts) care what close or significant people think about them. They easily disregard the opinions of those around them. For a sociophobe, the attitude of everyone is critically important — from the grandmother on the bench at the entrance to the stranger who made the wrong number. A person who suffers from social anxiety, all the time, it seems that others think negatively about him. They try to make fun of him. That he does not correspond to the society in which he found himself it’s a vast nerve load.

5. An introvert accepts himself for who he is. Social phobia suffers from perfectionism.

Perfectionism is the root of a social anxiety disorder (read The disease of more: why striving for the ideal is harmful). A person sincerely believes that he must be perfect, and only in this case will he be accepted and not sharply criticized. Therefore, sociophobes, standing, for example, in line for a hamburger, mentally rehearse how they will voice the order. Or before calling the support service, they write down the upcoming dialogue on a sheet — so as not to stray and say “not right.”

What are the symptoms of social phobia?

Social phobia is a fairly common phenomenon.

The nervous social disorder affects about 15 million people in the US alone.

If the comparison with introverts still left you in doubt, here is a list of specific symptoms that give out a social phobia. The more you recognize yourself in them, the closer you are to social anxiety disorder.

Emotional and behavioral signs

  • Fear of situations in which you may be criticized. That is why you try to be silent.
  • Fear that someone can humiliate you at any moment.
  • Fear of speaking or calling first.
  • Fear of picking up the phone if they call from an unknown number or on the other end of the wire — a new person.
  • Avoid situations that make you the center of attention.
  • Great anxiety before talking or meeting strangers. Even going to the store where you need to communicate with the cashier can be stressful.
  • The desire to contact people not in person or by phone but through text messages. I love online shopping instead of going to the supermarket. Fear that others will notice how nervous you are.
  • He expects the worst from any upcoming contacts. If a conversation with the boss is coming, the social phobe expects to be yelled at. When meeting friends, he worries that he will seem like a loser or be laughed at.
  • Protracted reflection after communicating with people. A social phobe may replay the conversation in his head for a long time, choosing more accurate words and worrying that he looked less convincing than he could.

Physical signs

Here is what often accompanies the contact of sociophobes with the outside world:

  • sweating;
  • trembling in the limbs;
  • accelerated heartbeat;
  • nausea or indigestion;
  • breathing problems (“throat intercepted”);
  • dizziness, confusion;
  • cognitive stupor — lethargy, inability to quickly find words;
  • muscle tension.

What to do with social phobia

Social anxiety disorder is treated like other mental disorders. That’s what psychotherapists are for. Contrary to popular belief, these specialists do not talk to patients about a difficult childhood (except sometimes) but help to understand the causes of the violation. They also find techniques to help improve their psychological state and overcome the fear of communication.

How quickly it will be possible to defeat social phobia depends on the case. A couple of psychotherapist meetings will help someone, and another will need medication. Only a doctor can choose the proper treatment. Until you get to it, you can try to reduce stress with home methods.

  • Learn ways to deal with stress.
  • Be physically active and exercise regularly. These activities help reduce anxiety.
  • Get enough sleep. Try to sleep at least 7-8 hours a day.
  • Watch your nutrition. Follow a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Limit your coffee.
  • Hang out with people you feel comfortable with more often. It will help you get used to social contacts being safe.

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