Do you suffer with Social Anxiety?
There are a number of common traits I often hear in private practice which range from stomach upsets, shaking, blushing and muscle tension which can impair individuals in social settings from speaking and being present in the moment. There is a distorted view that they are being negatively evaluated, excluded and judged by others.
So why does feeling excluded hurt? It hurts as humans are relational beings and ultimately want to belong even if on our own terms and conditions. To feel left out or excluded it can appear as if others are not wanting to be in relationship with you. Individuals may tell themselves that they don’t belong which maybe reminiscent of painful childhood memories.
What does being left out do to your mental health? For some it can be emotionally punishing and some may suffer the destructive effects that “I am not worthy” or “I am not good enough”. Sadly, the image of one-self is distorted and inaccurate and one may find themselves behaving in ways they think they are supposed to.
By exploring the challenges which they experience with a therapist and understanding their sense of self-value and self-worth, the fear of being abandoned at social situations can be better understood.
How does social media and FOMO play into this?
We can often get caught up in what other people appear like on social media and for some it can send them into a cloud of doubt about who they are and what they are passionate about. There is a risk of second guessing all things about ourselves we once knew to be true. Social media is the platform for comparing oneself if you don’t have a strong sense of self. Like those suffering with social anxiety, social media can trigger individuals to undermine their trust in themselves and who they represent. The fear of missing out can evoke feelings of restlessness and anxiety that others are gaining more success, access, pleasure and fulfilment than they are. Some people thrive on accumulating experiences by saying yes to all with the hope they receive the gratification in the form of attending every event.
What are some ways to cope with exclusion?
Be kind to yourself. As individuals it’s good to be around people who sustain you rather than undermine you because ultimately you matter. If you have the option of facing your social fears and you can bring a friend you are breaking the avoidance cycle. It’s a very common phobia and it’s worth working with a therapist to explore the faulty thinking patterns along with the feelings associated with social settings and to establish if there are links to childhood experiences. It’s important to reassure one-self that the feelings that they are experiencing will pass.