5 signs that you need help to overcome your social phobia
Social phobia is one of those twisted illnesses that causes suffering in silence. Most people with social phobia take years to seek help. And often they try to cover their faces by convincing themselves that it might not be that bad after all. But sooner or later, the truth comes home to roost. And it hurts. So here are 5 signs of your social phobia
1 – Your leisure time is getting shorter and shorter
You have known for many years that certain situations make you feel uncomfortable. But a few months ago you noticed something.
Even the activities you used to enjoy the most are becoming less and less common. You used to love going to play football on Friday nights with your friends, you used to love going to the gym on Saturday mornings or reading a book on Sunday afternoons in the park next door, whatever. These activities are becoming more and more spaced out each week.
Be aware that this is one of the signs of social phobia. Your social phobia is taking a completely different turn: it is spreading to most of your encounters with the outside world, even to your most cherished pastimes.
And it is precisely when social phobia becomes generalised (this is known as generalised social phobia) that your life becomes an ordeal every day. Daily avoidance, fear, permanent anxiety, you are then caught in a vicious circle.
And it is usually at this point that social phobics (finally) seek outside help. So don’t waste any time if you feel that you are plunging straight into a generalized social phobia!
2 – You are self-sabotaging
Most of the time, social phobia is closely linked to performance anxiety. And this makes for a cocktail that is, to say the least, explosive.
Self-sabotage is probably one of the cruelest characteristics of social phobia. People with the disorder are self-sabotaging. In other words, they voluntarily (but more or less unconsciously) miss out on everything that is important to them.
For example, this could be a competition to get into a school. The social phobic person will be under so much pressure that they come unprepared. Why? Because if they fail, their subconscious will say “it’s normal that you didn’t succeed, you weren’t prepared, it’s not your ability”.
Or she may not even come to the exam, finding various excuses “I completely forgot”, “I was sick”, etc.
Self-sabotage is a real brake on progress. If you recognize yourself in these words, stop hiding behind false excuses and take action! Ask for outside help or take charge of your life if you feel able.
3 – You feel watched as soon as you go out
Again, this is one of the main symptoms of social phobia: the gaze of others. Often referred to as the “shame disease”, people with social anxiety feel constantly watched as soon as they leave the house.
They have the unpleasant feeling that everyone is looking at them, judging them, and therefore feel terribly uncomfortable in public places where there are many people. For example, in a queue, in a classroom sitting in the front row, on a bench in a public square…
Finally, the social phobic only feels comfortable at home, where no one can observe and judge him. Where the gaze of others is non-existent. And it is this feeling of shame that leads to avoidance.
In fact, logically, why go outside to be seen by others when you are so comfortable at home? Why go shopping in the afternoon, when you can go as soon as it opens to avoid the world?
Social phobics put in place very clever strategies to avoid confronting the gaze of others. And very often, they do this completely unconsciously.
4 – Your phone is your best friend outside
This sign joins the previous one. And is completely paradoxical. The telephone, a communication tool par excellence, allows the social phobic NOT to communicate.
As said before, the person suffering from “shame disease” cannot stand the gaze of others. The telephone becomes their best friend.
Indeed, what could be better at a party than to pretend that you are answering a very important message, looking as if you are fully concentrated on your screen? This way, no one will come and talk to us, they will see that we are busy.
Whether it’s in the metro to avoid meeting other people’s eyes, in the evening or in a meeting, the phone is a great tool for avoidance.
5 – No one around you knows about it
Again, this is the cruel side of social phobia. Often, the illness makes the sufferer so ashamed that he or she does not talk about it, even to those closest to him or her.
They may even prefer to lie about it rather than tell the truth. For a social phobic, revealing their feelings and emotions is a very complex task.
And believe me, I know what I am talking about. For years I suffered from social phobia without knowing it. I wasted years of study by skipping months of classes, missing important exams, without my family knowing about it. I made appointments with psychologists on the sly, took personality tests and various other things, but kept it to myself.
But one day the truth has to come out. And it was the day I decided to tell my family that things started to get better. Because we all need support. So if you have to remember only one thing, talk about it! Your family, your spouse, your friend, whatever. Don’t keep it all to yourself.