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Sep042015

« Social anxiety: an impressions fear? by Rachel Green »

Written by Rachel Green. The smart emotions coach: Helping smart people gain positive outcomes from uneasy emotions and difficult decisions. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. 

Is social anxiety a fear of making a negative impression?

Social anxiety - what is it? It's a good question. I have just been reading a research article on some of the research into it. I found the opening paragraph explaining a key feature of social anxiety to be very helpful, and thought you might like to read it.

The article is called: "Self-presentational features in childhood social anxiety". It is published in The Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Volume 24, Issue 1, January 2010, Pages 34-41.

It is written by: Robin Banerjee and and Dawn Watling, from the Department of Psychology, University of Sussex, UK and Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

You can find the article under Science Direct: http://www.sciencedirect.com

This is how the article starts:

"Social anxiety has long been associated with self-presentational concerns about how one is being perceived and evaluated by others.

Schlenker and Leary (1982) formulated the following key proposition:

Social anxiety arises in real or imagined social situations when people are motivated to make a particular impression on others but doubt that they will do so, because they have expectations of unsatisfactory impression-relevant reactions from others (p. 645).

Similarly, clinical analyses of social anxiety disorder point to anticipated and imagined negative social evaluation as a hallmark feature (e.g., Clark, 2001), and the DSM-IV (APA, 2000) explicitly focuses on the individual's fears of humiliation and embarrassment in social situations." 

If you want to reduce your own social anxiety, one step that may help you is to try meditation. I recommend our "Happy not hassled" MP3 recordings to you. The meditations on there are the ones I used to help me overcome my panic attacks.

MP3s $29(US) Add to Cart

Comments on this feature of social anxiety

It does help to understand what the fear behind social anxiety is, doesn't it?

In my lay-woman's words it suggests to me three things:

1. That the person with social anxiety presumes that other people are evaluating them.

2. They have a strong need to have a positive self-image in public, i.e. they want others to look upon them favourably.

3. They assume that this is unlikely to happen and instead, that the reactions of the other people will be negative towards them.

This is an enormous psychological load to carry. Thus they are anxious in social situations. I am not surprised!

Personal experience of social anxiety

In a conversation I had with a close family member who has had severe social anxiety, he reinforced that this did in fact occur.

He was anxious well before meeting people that he would be judged negatively. And this mattered to him deeply. He was desperate at times to leave a positive impression.

I explained that most people are more worried about themselves than they are about him and this helped put a new slant on things. 

If you want to reduce your own social anxiety, one step that may help you is to try meditation. I recommend our "Happy not hassled" MP3 recordings to you. The meditations on there are the ones I used to help me overcome my panic attacks.

MP3s $29(US) Add to Cart

 

NB: Rachel is not a psychologist nor a psychiatrist. This article is for your information only based on her personal experiences and does not constitute individual advice. Everyone is different. It is not provided as an alternative to obtaining professional advice from an appropriately qualified practitioner. Please seek the help you need.