Social anxiety is a common and troubling challenge among most people, especially single members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is often a misunderstood, frustrating issue. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to give a brief introduction to the disorder, as well as offer some ideas and suggestions to help you lessen and control this problem. Social Anxiety can be defined as follows:
The defining feature of social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. People with social anxiety disorder may worry about acting or appearing visibly anxious (e.g., blushing, stumbling over words), or being viewed as stupid, awkward, or boring. As a result, they often avoid social or performance situations, and when a situation cannot be avoided, they experience significant anxiety and distress. Many people with social anxiety disorder also experience strong physical symptoms, such as a rapid heart rate, nausea, and sweating, and may experience full-blown attacks when confronting a feared situation. Although they recognize that their fear is excessive and unreasonable, people with social anxiety disorder often feel powerless against their anxiety.
The origins of social anxiety can come from several possible sources. Some people have grown up with a parent or other family members who have role modeled social anxiety. Others may have inherited a more nervous physiology, a lack of social experience and/or negative past social experiences. However social anxiety originated for a particular person, this challenge interrupts and limits social opportunities and success. Therefore, social anxiety needs to be managed and lessened for dating and relationship success.
Suggestions to Manage and Lessen Social Anxiety:
1) Realize anxiety is natural.
Everyone has anxiety. It is a natural response to a perceived threat of danger. A certain amount of anxiety helps us prepare or protect against problems. Some anxiety also helps keep us alert, sharp, and taking things seriously enough to handle them well. With one’s social life especially, a certain level of concern helps us present the best side of ourselves to others. Anxiety only becomes a problem needing lessening and better management when it is excessive and extreme enough to interfere with your life functioning, especially with dating and relationships in particular. Social anxiety can also interfere with relationships at work, church, school, or anywhere you need to deal with and interact with others.
2) Remember that anxiety isn't “reality”.
Much of our anxiety is really the result of our inner dialog. Therefore, learning how to improve your self-talk in a more positive way will help you lessen your anxiety. Pay attention to the conversations you have with yourself and practice reinterpreting things in a more positive, less threatening way. Practice giving yourself social pep talks and work to make your social self-talk more positive and encouraging.
For more ideas on developing positive self-talk, I recommend listening to the classic audio, How to Love Yourself by Louise Hay.
3) Try relabeling.
Pay attention to the names and labels you give to yourself and others before, during, and after social situations. Learn how to identify, challenge, and change negative social labels and improve what you decide moments mean.
For more ideas on relabeling, I recommend getting and regularly working on The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne. This workbook will not only help you relabel social situations in a more positive way, but it will help you with your anxiety in general with many cognitive and behavioral exercises.
4) Practice deep breathing.
Learn how to physically calm yourself down through doing relaxation exercises such as deep abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and others. The more you can calm yourself physically, the calmer your mind can become.
For more instruction and information on how to conduct deep breathing and other relaxation exercises, I recommend reading: The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis.
5) Regularly study, practice, and incorporate social skills/people skills. The more confident you can feel about your social skills and your ability to deal with people, the lower your anxiety will become with social situations. There are many quality videos, audios, and books on the subject. Have your social skills development become a regular part of your routine. Think of your social skills like muscles that need regular exercise to get and stay strong.
For more ideas to work on your social skills, I recommend the classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I also recommend the newly revised How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age, a revamped version of the original book by the same author. Finally, feel free to also refer to my earlier article to help lessen social awkwardness at https://www.ldsdimension.com/articles/being-less-socially-awkward-245/.
Social anxiety probably won’t go away on its own. It will need to be regularly worked on. Utilize the suggestions and resources of this article to work on lessening social anxiety. As your social anxiety lessens, your dating and relationship opportunities will increase. This is an important area to work on, because “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11.
P.S. If you can questions, comments, or a future article request for me, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|2021-02-14||Randy Gilchrist||Dating, Psychological health|
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to email@example.com. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to firstname.lastname@example.org).