Social Anxiety or Introvert? Clearing up the Confusion
Probably nothing can be more misinterpreted than people’s behavior in social situations; carrying on small talk on the one hand or sitting alone in the crowd on the other. Is this a manifestation of social anxiety or just being an introvert?
Just because you occasionally get nervous in social situations doesn’t mean you have social anxiety disorder or social phobia. Many people feel shy or self-conscious on occasion, yet it doesn’t get in the way of their everyday functioning. Social anxiety disorder, on the other hand, does interfere with your normal routine and causes tremendous distress. (Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Jennifer Shubin. Last updated: October 2016.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder-and-social-phobia)
Here is Laura’s story:
A good friend and colleague, a real extrovert, sent me a link to a shirt recently that she knew I’d appreciate. “Sorry I’m late,” the T-shirt reads. “I didn’t want to be here.”
I laughed — of course I laughed. I’m as introverted as she is outgoing, and we frequently play out our roles in tandem. At parties, she takes the lead; at meetings, she does the talking. I get to nod and smile.
But the shirt also made me wince, because it perfectly encapsulated the suspicion I’ve started to develop that my introversion is an excuse for something else. I’m shy, yes. But am I also rude? In a contest between my manners and my preferences, am I allowing my preferences to win?
A minority of introverts suffer from clinical social anxiety. That’s not true of me. I find parties uncomfortable: I have trouble making small talk, and after I’ve been surrounded by people for too long, I need time alone. ((By KJ DELL’ANTONIA, nytimes.com/2016/09/25/opinion/sunday/am-i-introverted-or-just-rude?)
How about Ramzi’s reply?
Yesterday, I lost a friendship. Neither my behavior nor my manners were at fault; the guilt goes to my personality: I am an introvert.
The testimonies given by Ms. Dell’Antonia couldn’t be more accurate; in fact, they are relatable, I like being alone. I grew up being alone, and I got used to it. I am not necessarily socially anxious as well; actually, when I’m surrounded by people, I do my best to become the most welcoming host in the room, yet I do wish that I were just by myself.
Nothing makes me happier than reading a book or playing a video game while listening to music alone in a cozy setting simply because I love being in my own world, and people see that as an offense.
But I do not believe that this kind of behavior is some type of selfishness. We simply take advantage of being by ourselves, away from the action. That’s where we reach our optimal capacities of thinking, and our peak of enjoyment.
So what if it is simply the people and today’s society that are just too demanding? (Replying to KJ DELL’ANTONIA, NY times, 2016/10/04/opinion)
What if it is Social Anxiety?
Of all the professional treatments available, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to work the best for treating social anxiety disorder, or social phobia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the premise that what you think affects how you feel, and your feelings affect your behavior. So if you change the way you think about social situations that give you anxiety, you’ll feel and function better. (Melinda Smith, M.A, et. al)
Your first step in this confusion is to determine for yourself whether you are introverted or truly suffer from social anxiety. To do this, you may wish to talk to a trusted mental health practitioner.
This is where Counseling on Demand comes in. Together we can assess your situation- either to help you to live with introversion (thus easing your mind).
Or, to help you to manage (or even conquer) your social anxiety (even phobia).
Together we can guide and lend support for you in:
Learning how to control the physical symptoms of anxiety through relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.
Challenging negative, unhelpful thoughts that trigger and fuel social anxiety, replacing them with more balanced views.
Facing the social situations you fear in a gradual, systematic way, rather than avoiding them. (As per Melinda Smith, M.A, et. al.)
Find out for yourself online at CounselingonDemand.com
We are only a click away.