Social anxiety is complex, there are multiple things that contribute to the inability to want to socialise – plus just because someone can be outgoing and social does not mean that they feel comfortable doing so, at least, that is the truth of my case. This weekend was different for me, it was busy with social engagements, something that my life has not had in a long time as my social anxiety had crept to a level where I rarely left the house.
Depression and Anxiety can rob you of all your self confidence – that is exactly what happened to me. I had become so sure that I was unwanted and a burden, it was impossible for me to talk to people. Add in the feeling of needing to put on a warm and cheerful front, even when I felt like I was falling apart under the surface, and “peopling” became impossible. I believed that just because a few people had hurt me, that all people would, and I began to judge them accordingly.
I am learning an important lesson – I should not judge what other people think of me based on my own misconceptions and distorted views of my self worth. I need to step back from myself and accept that others do not necessarily see me how I see myself.
Logic tells me that based on what I like and what I do, I am a warm and outgoing person, kind and gentle, thoughtful, and sometimes even insightful. I love to help, it brings me great pleasure to assist others and to listen to them. These things I know are true, they are the things that keep me going despite the negative self belief I hold about my failings and inabilities.
People need someone who takes an interest in them, and loves them, there are a lot of lonely souls in this world. I can do that! I can help them! Yet, I can only do that if I put my negative personal self belief aside and socialise. I have realised that by staying away from people, instead of unburdening them, I was giving in to a selfish desire to protect myself by depriving them – if there is one thing I would hate to become, it is selfish.
Social anxiety is something I will probably always struggle with, at least for as long as I have negative feelings about myself and lack confidence in my own abilities and worth. However I can push through it for the sake of others, it is the kind and fair thing to do. Self doubt has killed more dreams than failure ever could!
There is a saying “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is doing things despite the fear” – for those of us with anxiety around socialising, have courage. Please, consider stepping outside the safety of your home and let your gifts help those who need you, let your gifts help you! The warmth of engaging with others who feel lonely, isolated, and socially anxious too is worth the discomfort you face at doing this thing that frightens you.
Remember, how you see yourself is not likely to be how others perceive you – it is not fair to put that judgement on them. Give them a chance to show you that they see you as worthy and that they care, then love them deeply for it.
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