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This is performance anxiety in social interactions

by Nouman ul haq 2 months ago in disorder / treatments / how to / anxiety / advice
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An overview of the characteristics of performance anxiety in relationships with other people.

The social contexts in which we communicate with people we do not know well provide us with both learning that we need to face in our day to day as well as new opportunities and the possibility of establishing essential collaborations and alliances for our quality of life. It is in our nature to regularly interact with all kinds of people, since this is necessary to live in society without experiencing problems.

However, some people experience feelings of anxiety or stress at the mere idea of ​​having to interact socially with a person or group of people, whatever the context. And this not only produces discomfort; it also leads these individuals to engage in self-harming, self-sabotaging behavior patterns.

Performance anxiety is one of the most common phenomena in those people who view these social interactions as a significant challenge for which one must prepare mentally in order to achieve a series of goals in each conversation, in each exchange of gestures or presentation before unknown. Here we will see what the problems derived from performance anxiety applied to social situations consist of .

What is performance anxiety in social interactions?

Social performance anxiety, by itself, is the dynamic of anticipatory anxiety at the thought of having to perform a complex task that tests our abilities and probably exceeds them. In other words, it is what we feel when, automatically and unconsciously, we generate and reinforce in ourselves the idea that we will not be able to achieve a goal that we have set for ourselves .

On the other hand, when we speak specifically of performance anxiety in social interactions, we are referring to the set of anxious reactions that a person experiences in anticipation of having to interact with other people in the short or medium term, seeing these communicative exchanges (verbal or nonverbal) as a very difficult or unreasonable job in which you have to achieve several goals that are too ambitious for the social skills you have.

These social interactions can be of any kind and generate a feeling of intense discomfort in the person who has difficulties in relating, since they usually anticipate all kinds of unpleasant and negative scenarios. And for this reason, the phenomenon of the self-fulfilling prophecy appears: the anticipation that we will fail to communicate with someone puts us in a situation of vulnerability that weighs us down and increases the chances that this experience will be less fluid and full of potholes.

Some of the scenarios that can generate cases of performance anxiety are usually job interviews, conversations with a neighbor to ask for an object, meetings with people we have met on the Internet , family gatherings or meeting the parents of our partner.

In any of the cases, the person will always experience feelings of anxiety before the interaction with other people takes place and this psychophysiological reaction is usually linked to a phenomenon known as the self-fulfilling prophecy.

What is the self-fulfilling prophecy?

The self-fulfilling prophecy consists of anticipating negative events or catastrophic events without these having occurred yet and without there being any objective indication to consider that they are going to happen.

People who present performance anxiety before social interactions usually put into practice a thought model based on the self-fulfilling prophecy, that is, the fear of feeling anxiety before any social interaction, ends up generating that same excessive anxiety once the time has come to interact .

For example, when facing a family reunion, a person may begin to feel anxious days before it happens and will feel more anxious the closer the date of the celebration is.

In addition to that, shortly after meeting with his relatives, he will begin to imagine negative scenarios in which he will see himself having a bad time during the meeting and will also imagine all kinds of negative thoughts that his relatives may have about himself.

The self-fulfilling prophecy is that all these fantasies and unpleasant scenarios that the person imagines end up being fulfilled, and their fear of suffering anxiety ends up becoming reality .

Symptoms of performance anxiety in social interactions

There are many characteristics of performance anxiety triggered by social situations, and its symptoms are also varied and depend on each person; however, there are some features common to most people who have this disorder.

1. Cognitive symptoms

The psychological symptoms that most people with this disorder present are states of intense anxiety that can vary depending on the stimulus they face. They are based on catastrophic predictions of what will happen when we communicate with someone, something that makes it difficult to focus on that experience from a constructive mindset oriented towards real goals that lead us to interact socially.

Part of the fears that people with social performance anxiety have is the fear of being judged or ridiculed , the fear that others may think poorly of oneself, or the fear that others will notice one's own anxiety.

In addition to more or less constant anxiety, it is also common to present high levels of fear, agitation or shame at the possibility of participating in any situation in which it is necessary to interact with other people.

2. Behavioral symptoms

Some of the most common behavioral symptoms are the progressive avoidance of all kinds of social interactions, which ends up causing the person to see all kinds of relevant social bonds damaged .

Another of the usual behavioral symptoms can be staying silent in social situations, or drinking alcohol to lose inhibitions or to lose fear and shame, or directly losing more time than usual to postpone or avoid those social interactions (for example, taking detours when returning from work).

3. Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms are usually tremors, excessive sweating, flushing, or a trembling voice .

All of these physical symptoms can also cause a person to feel increasingly anxious, less self-confident, and more aware of whether or not they are transmitting anxiety.

4. Overanalyze after an interaction

Another of the main characteristics that can indicate a case of social anxiety is the fact of overanalyzing oneself after a certain social interaction, with the intention of identifying all kinds of own failures.

This habit ends up becoming systematic after participating in any social setting and the fact of constantly thinking about our own mistakes and what we could have failed in ends up undermining the mental health of the person.

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Nouman ul haq

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