Scared and socially anxious

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    I have always suffered from social anxiety but have found ways to cope. Over the weekend I did something really stupid and decided to go to my work xmas party and drank way too much. I know how dumb this was and will never do it again. I feel incredibly ashamed about how I may have acted and feel everyone will be judging me. This is causing me severe anxiety. My brain is thinking all these awful things I may have done and offended people yet I have no evidence of this. I know my SA causes me to go into overdrive and the alcohol certainly didnt help like I’d hoped it would. How will I face everyone?! Arghh I feel so sick!


    Hello Lealea,

    Let me ask you this: Did you do something truly embarrassing like for example, dancing topless on the top of a table? Did you throw up on your boss shirt? Something along those lines?

    If the answer is no, then I have another question for you: Have you ever heard of something called the spotlight effect? Its the name for the perception that we’re being noticed more than we really are. We’re the centers of our universe but not the center of other people’s universes.

    Think about how much time you spent thinking about some random well dressed person you saw at the subway or the weirdo at the gym etc. You probably spent less than a minute noticing and thinking about these people and that’s pretty much what other people do when they see you.

    Considering that you were at a party, other people could be drunk as well so their perceptions could be slower, their memories less efficient and all of these things.

    I would say that meditation, lots of self reflection and therapy helped me to detach from the fear of judgment from others. In fact, I was the one judging myself too harshly, I was the one pointing all the fingers to myself. Work in improving your self love, in being more compassionate with yourself. It’ll be a tough journey but it’s worth it!

    Wish you the best!


    Dear Lealea:

    In the work Christmas party you attended, alcohol was served. You drank and so did many other people, maybe all the people who attended. You don’t remember the other people acting unacceptably, do you? Likely they don’t remember you acting unacceptably. When drinking people feel pretty good, not in the mood to look for faults in others. Drinkers tend to feel affection for others (hence the “I love you” to strangers), not anger and condemnation. It is not likely that the other party goers were attentive to what-is-Lealea doing-wrong.

    When we are anxious about how others see us and what they think about us, we are cautious, careful, trying to be in as much self control as possible, so to not let that inside person misbehave. When we drink, or otherwise feeling temporarily happy and spontaneous, we forget to keep tight control over ourselves. Later on, when we sort of, wake up from that temporary happiness, we worry:  oh,  oh, what did I do wrong???

    We have this delusion that there is an out-of-control, untrustworthy person inside us that will do wrong if let loose. Is this your experience?




    Thank you so much for responding both of you, it’s so greatly appreciated! I went to work today and it seemed people were pretty nice and said I was funny and did this and that but they weren’t major things. Seems quite a few people there were also a bit over the top! I will continue to obsess about this for a few more days but it will die down.

    It is truly kind of sad that I do think people think about me that much…almost narracistic or something…I always assume they think the worst of me. I am really battling with my self esteem, seeing a therapist, exercising, meditating and forcing myself to be more social but I just can’t seem to be a normal healthy adult.

    Anita that is how I feel 100 per cent of the time. I control everything so tightly inside myself that I can’t be myself around others. I just agree with people and don’t say much. God I wish I could just let loose and be me. I am 35 years old and still feel like a child compared to my peers. I keep wondering when I’m ever going to grow up into this strong woman that doesn’t care what others think. I’m hoping it comes with age but something tells me it takes a lot of work! Do you guys have any suggestions on things I could do to get more confident and say to hell with them? I feel so tightly wound all of the time and all eyes are on me waiting for me to show weakness.


    Dear Lealea:

    “I  keep wondering when I’m ever going to grow up into this strong woman that doesn’t care what others think. I’m hoping it comes with age”- no, it doesn’t happen with age. I was as “tightly wound” as you and it didn’t change when I got older. All that getting older does is add to the list of worries of what others think of me: they must be thinking I look so old… And they must be thinking I should have done better in my life being as old as I am.. and so forth.

    “any suggestions on things I could do to get more confident and say to hell with them?”-

    -a bit at a time, “let loose and be me” a little at a time in a social context. Over time build on it, extend the time you let loose and be you.

    In therapy, did you talk to your therapist about how and why you had to be wound up as a child, how it was dangerous somewhat to let loose and be you?



    Hello Lealea,

    What you’re feeling it’s not narcissistic…narcisism is more related to vanity and a sense of entitlement. From my own experience, we are the worst judges of ourselves and that usually steams from a lack of approval from our parentes/caregivers, sometimes when we needed to comply with very high expectations at young age etc.

    What helped me (and still helps) is to think about self love as a way to be more compassionate and forgiving. Self love is unconditional. It’s not possible to only have self love if you’re beautiful, successful or any other transient aspects of life. All of this come and go and no one is perfect. So you’ll need to learn how to love yourself despite of your flaws and your lack of perfection.

    I’d suggest you to try and notice when you’re having negative thoughts about yourself and try to change the speach like you were talking to your best friend instead. I bet you wouldn’t sound so harsh or so critic anymore. And this is an exercise, it doesn’t necessarily comes with age, some people go through life without realizing a lot of things about themselves. Once you accept who you are, other people’s opinions about you mean less and less.

    The fact that you’re working on ways to improve, searching to cope and deal with your fears and anxiety it’s a positive indication that you can overcome this.

    Wish you the best 😉



    Dear Lealea

    I hope this is helpful to you. So much of overcoming social anxiety is just about staying focused over the long term. It’s just like how a small stream of water can carve a huge canyon, if given enough time.

    Quote I’m Thinking About:

    “Anything that is worth doing is worth doing poorly.” – G.K. Chesterton

    Okay, this applies to me sending out this newsletter a day late 😀 … but also to social anxiety!

    Imagine someone named Bill who is a big loner now. And he doesn’t reach out to others or make new connections… because he’s afraid those people will judge him! So he stays lonely.

    It’s a vicious circle.

    Or imagine Christine… who doesn’t start conversations with people (classmates/coworkers/etc) because she’s afraid to make an awkward silence. Because of this, she continues being socially awkward because of her lack of social experience.

    percaya diri

    Another vicious circle!

    So the way out of these vicious circles is… by doing things poorly. This means talking to people even when you must suffer through dreaded awkwardness and heart-pounding anxiety. “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” It’s a powerful idea. Take it and use it.


    Stop the inner talk!

    Next time you’re in a social situation and don’t know what to say… I want you to notice that you’re actually talking a lot! The problem is that you’re only talking to yourself in your head! And when you talk to yourself, it pushed you out of the “real world” and deep into a separate world inside your mind.

    So I highly recommend you STOP this inner talk, at least when you’re around people.

    By cutting off the inner chatter, it will redirect your focus back in the real world. Whenever I am feeling left out of a group conversation, I will do this. I notice that I’m talking to myself and cut it out. Instead I put my focus outward, observing what other people are saying and the environment with all my attention.

    And when I do this, after a minute or two, a good thing to say will always suddenly come to me. It may be an observation about what’s going on, it may be a question sparked by my curiosity, it may be my opinion about what someone just said.

    It’s something magic that happens when you cut off the inner dialogue and put your focus into the real world. Try it and see for yourself.

    stop phobia

    Wish you the best!

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