Learn These Six Hidden Assumptions to Conquer Social Anxiety

Getting past these six irrational beliefs will help free you from anxiety.

Posted Oct 21, 2014

Social anxiety occurs in three different time frames: Pre-event dread, fear and discomfort during the event, and post event self-criticism. 

For overcoming social anxiety, the key reframe is to change your "mission". Your old/current mission has likely been to MAKE people feel good about you. 

Your new mission is to be true to yourself and, where possible, encourage people to feel good about themselves. 

Work on becoming aware of, and disputing, the six following hidden beliefs and you will be on your way to overcoming your social anxiety. Below are the six problematic assumptions and examples of healthier thoughts to replace them :

  • About Myself: (Beliefs of being weak or inferior to others. "I am boring. People don't like me." 

Healthier Thought - "Even if some people find me boring, I feel better about myself by valuing my unique qualities and those people who also may value them." 

  • About Others: "People are critical and judgmental and they are always looking for flaws and weaknesses."

Healthier Thought - "Everyone has flaws including me. I feel best when I remind myself not to be attached to others seeing my flaws."

  • About Disapproval: "It is horrible if people have bad thoughts about me."

Healthier Thought - "Even the most popular leaders and people are not liked by everyone."

  • About Performance Standards: "I must appear 100% confident."

Healthier Thought - "I admire others who allow themselves to appear human and I can give this grace to myself too." 

  • About Anxiety: "People will judge me negatively if they can see that I am anxious."

Healthier Thought - "Anxiety is the most common mental health problem in our society. I am not alone and it is okay for me to struggle with anxiety at times. Others may not admit they struggle or may cover their anxiety up with unhealthy vices. I can love myself, anxiety and all!" 

  • Wildfire Fantasy: "If people think badly of me, they will tell others."

Healthier Thought - "Living my life with positive values will help me feel good about myself and that is what matters most. It also helps to remind myself of some politicians that still get re-elected after their dirty laundry is aired in public!" 

Credit goes to Dr. Stanley Hibbs whose, Anxiety Treatment Techniques That Work, seminar inspired this post. 

Check out this recent post to learn this: one word to help overcome anxiety.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist, personal, and executive coach, and motivational speaker in the greater Philadelphia area. He has been on the Today Show, National Public Radio, and has written four popular books, including 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child, and Why Can't You Read My Mind? You can follow him on twitter.