Social Phobia: There’s No Freaking Lion, Only Your Harmless Aunt Mary

Anxiety in any form is soul-wrecking. No, it’s not cute to have anxiety. If people with anxiety could trade it, they would do it in heartbeat. It’s NO JOKE. If you’re a person, who is scared of even the most trivial of social situations and a normal human interaction feels like confronting a lion, then you my friend, know what I’m on about.

As an official member of the ‘bathroom hiding squad’ I wanna address: What is Social Anxiety?

It’s not just shyness, let’s be very clear on that. And it’s no hate for mankind either. Let us take the example of the Lion I was talking about previously. Now imagine the Lion is in front of you, without a cage or any sort of protection. You are slowly developing the ‘fight or flight’ response, your heart beat is rising like crazy, you’re getting cold sweats, you feel nauseous, you feel like you’re gonna die and ‘escape’ is the only thing on your mind.

Now imagine all of the above things, except that there IS NO FREAKING LION, only your harmless aunt Mary.

That’s what anxiety is, our mind is an extremely complicated organ.

It’s tricks your body into believing you are in danger, when there is none.

You are only in a social situation, but the mind of a social anxiety person perceives it as something life threatening, and tells the body to release hormones that will leave you in sweats.

So don’t tell a person it’s entirely their fault, because it’s not. It’s literally the body reacting to brain signals formed by a complex network of billion of synapse connections already formed in the neural framework of the brain, that believe a social situation to be dangerous. Just like a pupil constricts when you increase the light threshold, it’s literally the same thing. Yes, belief can also form neural connections, not just physical stimuli, because at the end of the day it’s all about perception.

But why perceive a social situation as life-threatening? Well, there is no one clear answer to that. Sometimes it’s situational, if the root lies in a trauma to a similar situation the person might have been in the past that caused immense discomfort.

Sometimes it’s how one developed during childhood, potentially with a slightly damaged self-esteem, that could lead the person to believe that people around were always thinking bad about him or her.

If you know a person who suffers from this heart wrenching phenomena, then be patient with them, because you don’t know about the tiny battles they fight every single day, I know you do too. But it’s a different kind of battle that doesn’t have clear explanations and can easily be labelled  as an ‘excuse’ or ‘attention seeking’ behavior. A thing which may come so naturally to you may be crippling the other person to their souls. Just because you don’t experience a certain thing, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

How I Beat Social Anxiety

As for the person suffering, know that you’re not alone and there are people out there who exactly understand your peril. And this doesn’t make you any different or disabled, it’s just a disease that you could easily seek help for and develop better coping techniques or cognitive restructuring, which will gradually make the brain believe that social situations are safe and break some of the previous  synapse connections to form new ones.

Needless to say, it sure does help, if people around you are non‐judgmental in general and have more awareness. So don’t devoid us of at least that remedy.

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