Social anxiety has contributing factors. It’s a disorder that ruins lives, it invades and generates fear and anxiety. In my therapy practice, I have seen this. So I decided to write an article in the hope that it may help you. What I will suggest may not be palatable to some people. It will challenge some people’s beliefs. Let me put it to you that we all have beliefs and at times they serve us well. However, some people maintain a belief way past its point of usefulness, it becomes a ‘cherished belief’. The point to remember is that you may be able to validate your belief, but is it helping you?
We all have beliefs, they give us a frame of reference, a belief can even give us an identity. For example, people way back in history had a belief that the world was flat and they were anxious about travel. Today we fly around the world. There are many, many, belief systems in the world today. But in looking at social anxiety I would like to show you how certain beliefs can affect the level of social anxiety.
A model of understanding
This model of understanding was shown to me many years back by Rob Kelly in one of his books. Social anxiety, self-esteem and your sense of control (Locus of control) are all linked. Each point effects the other two points. Let’s look at this. If your self-esteem increases then social anxiety drops and your sense of control increases. Maybe your self-esteem drops for some reason, then your social anxiety increases and you feel a loss of control through the anxiety. Or when social anxiety increases, self-esteem decreases and a sense of control is lost. Check that against your experiences to see what you find.
In this article, I am going to focus on your sense of control. Your sense of control links into your beliefs. It’s not my intention to judge your beliefs, it’s for you to decided on beliefs which serve you well, and ones that are maybe not so helpful to your social anxiety. I will use my own experience in order to highlight the negative effects of some beliefs.
As a child, I was brought up among superstitious people and it never helped me. People who viewed a single magpie as unlucky, a stone with a hole through it was a lucky stone, your fate is written in the stars or tea leaves, zodiac signs, walking under a ladder would lead to a bad day, crossing your fingers helps and putting new shoes on the table was unlucky. As a child, I mostly believed these things and was anxious. All of these beliefs came from a time when they did have some meaning and maybe even some validity, if only for a fleeting moment.
If we focus on something like luck, then we are subscribing to an outside force or power. Something which decides our fate, something ‘magical’ which we do not have control over. Have you ever heard someone say, ‘Oh I am such an unlucky person’? Well, this kind of talk and belief points to a person that believes, at an implicit level, that they are not in control of their life. If you believe you are not in control of your life then social anxiety and self-esteem are affected. Show me that thing called ‘Luck’. Luck is just one, there are more.
You decide what beliefs are helpful
There are many many belief systems. Each person subscribes to beliefs that are personal to them. Look for types of belief that can be challenged and changed, beliefs that you are holding onto from a time when they helped, but maybe they don’t help now. Dropping those beliefs or changing them helps you take control of your life and increases self-esteem and reduces social anxiety. That’s my personal experience, and that fits in with Rob Kelly’s illustration.
How therapy can help
I often work with beliefs, how you feel about beliefs, and retelling the story differently are all part of good therapy. Beliefs are yours to own, the question is, is it time to change some of the things you believe. Therapy can help people. I can validate that belief when I see people change and say that therapy helped them. Contact me by phone or email through this site or directly. Contact me.