Counsellor Sarah Barr shares an understandable guide to what social anxiety really feels like.

Social anxiety is more than just being shy.

• Social anxiety is all-consuming, slowly stealing your confidence and identity.

It is making you feel lost, unsure of who you really are.

• Social anxiety is constantly analysing and over-thinking your every word, every action and every move. Creating a negative belief system.

It is believing that you are ‘not good enough’.

• Social anxiety is fearing that you are unlovable. That your friends actually don’t like you no matter how much they tell you and try to convince you otherwise.

It is believing all those negative thoughts.

• Social anxiety is worrying about looking standoffish or snobby in public, when really you just don’t have the confidence to say ‘hi’. It is turning your head the other way, hoping and praying that ‘they’ didn’t see you.

It is using up every bit of strength you have to go to the shop, never mind talk to anyone.

• Social anxiety is standing frozen in front of your phone, as your heart is racing and your mind is fighting with itself.

It is wishing that you could make that call without fearing what the person on the other end thinks.

• Social anxiety is refusing to eat in front of anyone. Worrying they will watch and judge you and what you’re eating.

It is being starving as you have restrained yourself from eating all day.

• Social anxiety is listening rather than speaking in large groups because you believe you are not good enough or important enough to be heard.

It is not noticing the worry in your family or friends face as you stand quietly.

• Social anxiety is feeling anxious for hours after someone unfollows you on social media. It is attempting to convince yourself that maybe their decision has nothing to do with you.
BUT anxiety holds on tight to the irrational, negative thought instead. Even though you have no evidence to say the negative thought is a fact.

It is believing that you’re annoying and unworthy.

• Social anxiety is guarding your heart, refusing to let others in. You build a wall to ‘protect’ yourself because you fear if you show your true self they will leave. 

It is always being prepared for goodbyes.

• Social anxiety is slowly distancing yourself from friends and family because you’re afraid you’ve revealed too much to them, so to protect yourself from the pain, you detach.

It is fearing they won’t miss you. When the truth is, they already do.


So you see, social anxiety is much more than just being ‘shy’.

If you or someone you know feels they may be anxious, reach out. Reach out to a loved one, a friend or a doctor. Someone you trust.

Although you may be feeling this way now, you don’t have to. CBT and talking can help you understand your anxiety disorder and teach you how to manage it.

For any further information, I can be reached via my Facebook page.

Take care ~ Sarah.