Social Anxiety – questions you can ask yourself if you are feeling anxious about an upcoming social interaction.

By Alice Boyes, PhD. | Uncategorized

Here are some questions you can ask yourself if you are feeling anxious about an upcoming social interaction.

Let’s for example imagine you want to ask someone out on a date.

Question 1: What do you fear might happen?

Your answer might be – “I fear that the person will say no”

Question 2: What do you think the probability is of the feared thing happening? Your answer should be between 0 and 100%

Your might answer might be – “85%”

People who are anxious tend to overestimate the probability of their fears coming true. For example, people who are scared of driving tend to overestimate the chances being killed in a fatal crash. People who are scared of spiders tend to overestimate the chances of being killed by a spider bite. The same applies to social anxiety.

Question 3: Is your estimate too high?

Your answer might be – “Well, maybe it might be more like 50%”

Question 4: What would it mean if the feared thing happened?

Your answer might be – “It would be proof that people see me as undesirable, and that I’m never going to achieve a long term relationship with a desirable partner.”

Question 5: Would it really mean that?

Your answer might be – “Well, no, maybe that particular person isn’t interested in me but other people might be.”

Question 6: What are some alternative explanations?

Try to come up with about 3.

Aim for alternative explanations that are balanced thoughts that accurately reflect reality. Your alternative explanations do not need to be more positive than is warranted by reality, but should not be more negative than is warranted by reality.

Your answers might include –

– “The person might say yes”

– “If the person I ask says no, their reasons could be related to their preferences and situation rather than my inherent worth/worthlessness. For example, they might be involved, or looking to be involved, in another relationship. Or, they might be looking for something particular in a potential partner that is not me (e.g. they want a partner who is 6 ft tall and I am 5’8.). Or, they might have a rule against dating someone they have a business relationship with. These are all preferences that they own and are not really to do with me.”

– “Most people who end up having long term relationships with desirable partners first have experiences with other partners that don’t work out (including experiences of desiring a relationship with someone who doesn’t desire a relationship with them).”

– “I have to ask to be in with a chance. Its disappointing to get rejected. But, its not the end of the world. I can be proud of having asked.”

– “In the past, other people who I have asked out have said yes, so I know I am not completely undesirable”.

What if even writing answers to these questions makes me feel anxious?

It might. Your anxiety hump might’ve gotten really big (click here for more info). Facing your fears in this type of objective way is likely to help shrink down your anxiety hump. You can try it and see. You can always go back to your current way of doing things.

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