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Social anxiety disorder is more than just a fear of being in social situations. If you are living with social anxiety disorder, you will feel an intense fear of being watched or judged by others. It will affect your desire and ability to function in social situations that require a certain degree of social interaction.
Social anxiety can even make it difficult to maintain meaningful relationships with other people. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 12.1% of adults in the U.S. will experience social anxiety at some point in their lives.
There are several social situations that are extremely difficult if you are dealing with social anxiety. Some are obvious, like public speaking or being introduced to new people; however, some may be less obvious. Dealing with conflict in any part of your life can seem insurmountable if you are struggling with social anxiety. Angry words or raised voices don’t necessarily define conflict. Conflict occurs any time there is a difference in opinion that needs to be discussed and resolved.
Social Anxiety Before an Anticipated Conflict
One trap that often snares people dealing with social anxiety is trying to prepare for every eventuality. This is simply not possible, and when you start thinking about all the possibilities, it is easy to start overthinking. This can lead to worrying excessively about how the interaction will go. Then you are already making the situation into something stressful and negative. Remind yourself that whatever the outcome is, it will be okay.
If you are anticipating a disagreement or a difference in opinion, it is imperative to try to stay calm. Try deconstructing the problem in order to figure out what is most important for you to address. Are there a few key points that you would like to express when trying to find a resolution? If you can identify points to focus on, it may help you feel less overwhelmed and serve as a guide to the conversation.
Remember that the other person involved will have their own opinions that you will need to listen to and take into consideration. Prepare yourself to stay calm while they are speaking. You might find a breathing exercise you can adhere to while the other person is talking or meditating before or after a difficult conversation. Make sure that it doesn’t take too much of your concentration, though. Plan to be respectful of the other person. Chances are pretty high that they are uncomfortable with conflict, too!
Social Anxiety During a Conflict Resolution Conversation
Active listening is a key factor in any conflict resolution. Give the other person a chance to speak uninterrupted. Make sure you are prepared to advocate for yourself so that you have the same opportunity. Again, remaining calm and respectful is the most important thing you can do toward the resolution of the conflict. If you find yourself getting flustered or upset while the other person is talking, you can try a few things to get back on track.
Always remember to keep taking calming breaths. If you are heading into a space where you will not be emotionally or mentally able to continue the conversation in a productive way, there is nothing wrong with asking for some time. You can ask the other person for a slight break so that you can really consider their point of view. This will help contain the energy of a conflict while also helping the other person feel heard and respected.
There are some situations where it may be appropriate to ask for help. For example, if you are experiencing a difference of opinion on handling a problem at work, you could suggest that a supervisor weigh in on how to proceed. If you need to have a difficult conversation with a friend or family member, it may be beneficial to have another impartial person present for moral support.
When possible, it can be extremely beneficial to communicate and educate the people you have regular contact with about social anxiety and how it affects you. Being more aware of your feelings can help others be more empathetic and understanding in conflict situations.
Social Anxiety After a Difficult Conversation
Once the conversation is over, as long as a resolution was reached, let it be over. Don’t spend a lot of time picking it apart and criticizing yourself. Remind yourself that you did the best you could at the moment, and that means you did great.
If a resolution was not reached, you should still avoid being critical of the process. You will be able to try again next time. Repeat positive affirmations to yourself, such as, “I am confident in my abilities” or “I grow with every challenge.” Most importantly, be kind to yourself.
Sometimes you may need an outside opinion to help you understand your thoughts and behaviors. It can be a wonderful plan of action to have a mental health team in place to help you examine your social interactions and keep you grounded. Alter Wellness Care offers a variety of treatments that can help you manage conflict situations or any other social obligation you may have.
There is not one single strategy that will automatically work for everyone trying to overcome the challenges of social anxiety. You will need to figure out what works best for you as a unique individual with unique needs. At Alter Wellness Care, we can support you through this process! Our team of professionals uses the best evidence-based approaches to help our clients manage their anxiety symptoms. We are here to help you develop the tools you need to thrive in any situation. You can accomplish anything with the right support behind you. For more information on social anxiety disorder, call Alter Wellness Care at (866) 311-3510 and find out how we can support you!