Being perfect with my imperfections.
Why do they keep on looking at me? They know that there is something seriously wrong with me! They can see that I am nervous! – These are just some of the thoughts expressed by individuals suffering from social phobia. Social phobias, or an intense fear of social situations, is manifested in symptoms such as blushing, stammering, sweating, hyperventilation, and incoherent speech. When engaging others, the social phobic becomes acutely aware of how he or she is being perceived, especially in relation to their supposed flaws or deficits. Thus, many revert to safety behaviors to help them cope. This may take on differing forms such as avoiding eye-contact, remaining silent, or trying to escape from the situation (e.g. leaving).
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In dealing with social phobia we firstly start by investigating the accuracy of our interpretations. For example, how do we know that others are evaluating us negatively? What evidence do we have that we are the center of everyone’s attention? Is there any other plausible explanation for how we feel? And, who says that we have to be perfect to be accepted by others? By asking these questions we obtain a more realistic view of how we think and act across social contexts. Secondly, we look to strengthen our social skills through practical exercises that will help us manage conversations whilst also paying close attention to our non-verbal language (i.e. body language). And lastly, we address avoidance by gradually exposing ourselves to various social situations.