If you have significant social anxiety, fear of judgment and fear of rejection is keeping you from deeply connecting with others. This stress can cause problems with forming and maintaining relationships and even impair job performance and growth.
For many people, their social anxiety shows up when they are around new people with whom they haven’t established a sense of safety. They stay with their small circle of “safe” people and try to avoid meeting new people at all or unless a “safe” person is there for support. For other people, it is actually closer relationships that cause them anxiety and make them want to run. They hide from true emotional intimacy by leaving relationships frequently or cutting off a large part of their internal experience from their partner. In this way, it is possible to be just as lonely in a relationship as out of one.
The protective avoidance part of social anxiety keeps you isolated, which actually makes the problem worse. By avoiding interacting with other people, you don’t give yourself the chance to see that you are really safe. However, it isn’t just other people that need to be safe to stop the fear, you also need to change how you are judging yourself. Otherwise, you will continue to believe that you said or did something wrong even if no one else points it out. Therapy can help you shift both your internal and external perspective to help you feel safer in the world and with other people. Then, you can open up to true acceptance, support, and connection.
Starting therapy can be very difficult for socially anxious people as it means building a close, trusting relationship with a stranger. Requesting a consultation session can allow you to test for safety and make sure that you feel the therapist or counselor is a good fit for you before you jump into disclosing your whole history. Dr. Jody Kircher offers a free initial consultation session either in person or by secure video to make the starting process as easy as possible.