That freeze and avoid state. The perma smile sets in on your face. You’re physically there, sitting off to the side but not present. And you can’t find anything worthwhile to say.
If some or all of those are familiar you’re dealing with social anxiety. An ingrained, habitual response originally meant to keep you out of danger.
How belief patterns feed into social anxiety
This diagram perfectly illustrates how your belief patterns feed into your social anxiety, creating a self-fulfilling cycle:
As you can see, before we enter a social situation we already have a preconceived belief of what’s going to happen and how that person is going to perceive us.
This belief then influences how you act in that situation and how comfortable you are. For example, if you’re thinking “This person isn’t going to like me,” then you’re more likely to be reserved, aloof and put up a wall – maybe even be a bit rude and impolite.
And because you acted this way, this leads the other person to respond back in a similar fashion because they figure “Oh well, this person doesn’t like me. Screw them!”
Thus, you have a bad experience, and that only confirms and reinforces your negative belief patterns. You begin thinking to yourself, “You see? I knew they weren’t going to like me. I was right! I suck!”
This becomes a vicious cycle of Beliefs → Actions → Results → Beliefs. And to break that cycle, you need to at least put some focus on your current beliefs and how they are influencing your behavior.
You don’t want to live your life in this state of mind, or have a loved one struggle with social anxiety. If this is you or someone you know, and you can’t get out of this cycle, maybe it’s time to talk to someone. Give Liz a call at The Spaces Between Counselling.
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