Social Anxiety

People often experience anxiety in social situations. The anxiety can come from a fear of being judged. It can be the result of the fear of hurting someone’s feelings. Anxiety can come as a fear of being embarrassed. Anxiety can simply occur because of feeling awkward with conversations. If anxiety toward social situations develop, the person may start to avoid social contexts.

The body is built to keep you alive. The fear/fight (sympathetic nervous system) state keeps you alive. When a person, who gets nervous around social situations, approximates a social context, their body will recognize the context as a problem. When the body senses a problem is nearby, it will turn on the sympathetic nervous system state. This will increase a feeling of fear, panic, and anxiety. When the person subsequently moves away from the situation, it confirms to the body that the social context was indeed something to be feared. This sets the body up to turn on the sympathetic nervous system state faster the next time it is near a social situation.

To retrain the body, a person would need to learn to relax in social situations. They would need think about, approximate, or enter into a social situation and then actively calm their body. They would need to do this repeatedly, until the body learned that social situations are not a danger. When the body understands that it is not a danger, it will not turn on the survival (sympathetic) state.