Myth 1: The Biggest Myth of All
Whether you’re shy, quiet, introverted, awkward, socially anxious, or label-free but this resource still spoke to you in some way…
Before we get into it, may I suggest making a folder in your inbox? I’ll label all the emails in this series with the prefix [SA Myths] so you can find them easily. Over the next 7 days, you’ll get an email every day with a new myth of social anxiety and how to bust it.
Here we go! To start us off on the same page...
What is social anxiety?
There are three parts to this self-consciousness on steroids we call social anxiety. First, we believe we have a fatal flaw--there’s something wrong with us, whether it’s something about our personality (e.g., I’m annoying), our entire character (e.g., I’m incompetent), our appearance (e.g., I look weird), or the symptoms of anxiety themselves (e.g., I’m sweaty/blushing/trembling).
Second, we fear that others will see this flaw and judge or reject us for it.
And most important, we feel the urge to hide--to conceal--and therefore avoid situations where we might be revealed. We might avoid overtly by staying home or calling in sick, or we might avoid covertly by showing up, but remaining silent or staring at the floor.
This thing called social anxiety is a slippery character. It’s devious, and frankly, it tells a lot of lies. And those lies can affect your whole life, from causing awkward moments to keeping you stuck at work, in love, or in how you view yourself.
So let’s start with the biggest of them all:
Social anxiety says something is wrong with you.
Do you know someone who is absolutely beautiful but has no idea? Whenever they look in the mirror they see someone ugly looking back at them. Maybe they hate their nose, their weight, or their shape. They completely overlook everything that makes them the lovely or handsome person they are and zoom in on a “flaw” that no one else can see.
Social anxiety is just like this, but instead of the outside, it’s for the inside. It’s a distorted view of who we are as a person.
In other words, those of us with social anxiety only think we have a fatal flaw. And our anxiety is a direct result of thinking our perceived fatal flaw will become obvious to everyone, who will then judge and reject us for it.
You might fear that it will be revealed that you are…
- Not confident,
- A loser,
- Have no personality,
- Have no social skills
It could also be something more external that you’re afraid people will see. You may be worried it will become obvious that you’re...
- Going blank,
- Speaking with a trembling voice,
Or maybe something else. Whatever your perceived flaw, you’re afraid it will be noticed and you’ll be criticized for it.
But guess what?
Your fatal flaw isn’t really true.
It’s a distortion. It’s a perception. Or misperception, as it were. It’s like body dysmorphia--like the perfectly normal and lovely men and women you know who look in the mirror and see someone ugly--except it’s for your inner self.
It’s the biggest lie that social anxiety tells you. But the perception is so strong that it makes us act as if it were true:
- If we think we’re stupid, we won’t raise our hand in class.
- If we think we’re an awkward loser, we’ll stand in the corner at the party and scroll through our phone.
- If we think we’re incompetent, we’ll pass on the promotion at work
- If we think people will see us blush and think we’re weak, we’ll avoid going out with friends (well, unless the bar is really dark).
- And on and on...
Your belief in the fatal flaw makes you act in a way that gets in the way of living your life and being yourself.
But guess what? This and all the other myths of social anxiety can be refuted.
In the next 6 days, we’ll cover 6 more myths of social anxiety and, more importantly, what to do about them. Each day I’ll give you an exercise to try out. Those of you who know the Savvy Psychologist podcast know that I aim to make all my tips actionable and to give you concrete steps you can take. We’ll do the same thing in this series.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue on!
Until then, be kind to others and yourself!