The topic of social anxiety comes up frequently when discussing self improvement and becoming a more socialized individual. This is natural of course as social anxiety is a real problem among many men. I used to have it myself. First, what is social anxiety? The definition on Wikipedia is excellent and I highlighted the parts I want to really focus on.
Social anxiety is anxiety (emotional discomfort, fear, apprehension, or worry) about social situations, interactions with others, and being evaluated or scrutinized by other people that is typically characterized by an intense, ego-driven fear of what others are thinking about them (specifically fear of embarrassment, criticism, rejection, etc.). This results in the individual feeling insecure, and that they are not good enough for other people. This generates an in intense fear and anxiety in social situations, and the assumption that peers will automatically reject them in social situations.
For many of us, social anxiety developed within us during childhood and has since lingered in one form or another through adolescence and into adulthood. One of the many negatives of bullying is that the victim of bullying may develop social anxiety. But why? When a person is being bullied repeatedly, the victim needs to cope with it by having some type of defense mechanism. What that defense mechanism is can have profound affects on the social growth of the child. One way kids deal with being bullied is to simply do anything in their power to avoid the bullying in the first place by making sure that every action they do goes unnoticed by the bully himself. Or if that is unavoidable, then they make sure that whatever it is they are doing would appease the bully.
A few things are happening here. One, the child is receiving negative reinforcement for simply existing. In there current reality, the person who they are is not good enough for those around them because some kid is repeatedly bullying them. The victim’s self-worth drops significantly, because in the reality in which they live, they are simply lower on the food chain. On the other hand, the behavior that is being reinforced is that of social avoidance and approval seeking behavior. The child learns these behaviors in order to cope with bullying, but these two behaviors have detrimental effects in the future when the man is trying to attract women or become more socially intuitive.
That is just one theory for how social anxiety develops, but it can be abstracted out for a number of different situations. If you suffer from social anxiety, take a look at your own life and see where you can pinpoint the origin of your social avoidance and approval seeking behavior.
Let me return to the two bold statements from the Wikipedia article: “ego-driven fear of what others are thinking about them”, “not good enough for other people”, and “automatically assume others reject them”. These points are incredibly important as this was the core of my social anxiety problems I faced. I cared way too much about what other people thought of me. Everything I did, I wanted to make sure that people thought well of me. I was constantly seeking the approval of others. Combine this with “not good enough for other people” and “automatically assume others reject them” and you have your typical Forever Alone Nice Guy. When I saw a girl I was attracted to, I literally couldn’t move. Like, physically couldn’t move to approach her because A) I was terrified about what she may think of me. B) I believed that no matter what, I couldn’t live up to this girls expectations and there would be no good reason for her to even consider me as a viable mate. And C) My self-esteem was so low, I just assumed I would get rejected straight away regardless. So what’s the point.
Because of these Forever Alone thoughts, my social life with women were a real struggle. Hopefully, by this point, you can somehow relate to many of the issues I’ve spoken about. Now what to do about it.
The key to getting over social anxiety is this realization:
If you have social anxiety, it means that you have many fucks to give about what other people think of you.
I’ve spoken about “not giving a fuck” numerous times before, but I feel like it must be repeated because it truly solves many of life’s problems. I literally give 0 fucks about what others think of me. Example: Last Saturday when I went to a club in downtown DC for Halloween, I was standing with ThoughtTrain and my friend. My friend hadn’t seen me since the trip down to Florida and remarked how he barely recognized me. We were kind of standing off the dance floor a bit and I told him that the secret to it all is to live in your own reality and care 0 about what others think of you. And then I wanted to demonstrate it for them. I said, “It’s all about giving 0 fucks. Watch this.” And I walked away from them, ran into the center of the dance floor and started jumping as high as I can and started screaming like a mad man. The people around me stopped and entered total what-the-fuck mode. Mattered 0 though. Then I just went up to random people and started dancing at them. People started to laugh because they realized I was having an amazing fucking time (all sober by the way) and they started to dance with me too. It’s a kind of confidence that people are drawn to because you aren’t seeking anyone’s approval. You are so awesome that people seek your approval. How can you have social anxiety if you don’t give a single fuck about what other people think of you?
Here are more posts about not giving a fuck that go into more detail: