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Adapting to Shyness and Social Anxiety

John D. McKellar, PhD Private Practice, SF Bay Area Bay Area Pain and Wellness Center

Today 1.  What is Social Anxiety? 2.  What is Shyness? 3.  Are they different? 4.  Two paths to Change

Social Anxiety (Phobia) 1.  Marked and persistent fear in social situations 2.  Exposure to feared situations invariably causes anxiety 3.  Person recognizes that fear is excessive 4.  Feared social or performance situations are avoided or endured with intense anxiety 5.  Fears are related to unfamiliar people or possible scrutiny from others

Social Anxiety (Phobia) Thinking: Worry about what others are thinking, difficulty concentrating, focused attention on self, thinking what might go wrong, replaying parts that went wrong, rampant self criticism Behavior: Speaking rapidly/quietly/mumbling, avoiding eye contact, hiding, staying in safe places or with safe people, avoiding social occasions Body: blushing, sweating, trembling, feeling tense, heart pounding, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness Emotions: nervousness, anxiety, fear, apprehension, selfconsciousness, sadness, frustration, anger

Shyness 1.  Shyness is not a diagnosis 2.  Some grown out of it in adolescence and early adulthood 3.  Associated with fear responses to social situations- mostly due to bodily reactions to being around new people 4.  Much more prevalent (up to 40% of people say they are shy (15% have social anxiety) 5

Shyness 1.  May gravitate to non-social positions at work 2.  Prefer indirect forms of communication 3.  May also share fear of being criticized or judged 4.  Prevalence may be increasing with more use of communication forms that are not face-toface 6

Shyness v. Social Anxiety • Shyness is a somewhat broader terms that can vary from mild social awkwardness to extreme inhibition •  Shyness may be more likely to pass- for one to “mature out” of the feelings of awkwardness •  Many people who are shy can overcome their feelings once they become more acquainted with a person or group of people •  Introversion is different than both. Introvert simply need less socialization and can be perfectly content. •  This means that shy or socially anxious people can be introverts or extroverts 7

Overlap •  Shame and blame- Shy and socially anxious individuals often feel ashamed of their behavior and are highly selfcritical •  Physical symptoms- Shy and socially anxious individuals are also often triggered by physical symptoms noted previously (e.g., blushing, sweating, trembling) •  Discount the positive- Shy and socially anxious individuals tend to expect others to be critical and may not pay attention to positive feedback


Non-Judgment Meditation 1.  Find a quiet place and begin with gentle breathing 2.  Observe your thoughts but try not to change them, control them, or push them away 3.  Just observe the thoughts without evaluation (e.g., That is an interesting thought..) 4.  If emotions emerge observe them as well, without judgment or need to change 5.  If you see a judgment of your self acknowledge but do not change 6.  Start with 5 minutes and move up with practice 9

Physical Sensations 1.  Identify the physical sensations that are associated with your anxiety or shyness 2.  For example, sweating, trembling, feeling tense, heart pounding, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness 3.  In a safe place, such as your home, try to simulate the physical sensation (next slide) 4.  Wait 4-5 minutes for anxiety to subside 5.  Practice daily


Behaviors 1. Shake head from side to side (does not need to be done vigorously) 2. Hold breath for 30-45 seconds 3. Hyperventilate (rapidly breathe in and out) for 1 minute 4. Maintain complete body tension for 1 minute 5. Spin in chair for I minute 6. Breath through straw for 2 minutes while plugging nose 11

Resources 1.  Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness. Gillian Butler 2.  The Mindful Path Through Shyness. Steve Flowers 3. -  Client Resources -  Mindfulness Zone -  Brief Meditation 12

Shyness and social anxiety  

What is Social Anxiety? What is Shyness? Are they different? Let's explore two pathways for change!

Shyness and social anxiety  

What is Social Anxiety? What is Shyness? Are they different? Let's explore two pathways for change!