Being the Centre of Attention

Hate being the centre of attention?

Whether it’s the knot in the stomach, sweating or the fear of blushing many people hate being the centre of attention.

Occasions such as office nights out, weddings (especially if you are the centre of attention as part of the bridal party), presenting in work, birthday parties, family gatherings or partner’s family gatherings can evoke severe anxiety.

Phrases I hear a lot of people say are –

I will stumble with my words, I won’t know what to say, I will appear weak and go red. Everyone will think I’m boring, I will have nothing interesting to contribute, I’m different to everyone else.

In this post I’m going to look at what is happening and how to make it better.

Let’s take an example –

I need to return a jumper to the shop as it’s the wrong size it was on the wrong hanger but I didn’t check the label and its far too small but I don’t have the receipt.

My mind is full of unhelpful thoughts – I’m going to cause a long queue and everyone is going to be staring at me. I will be the centre of attention in the shop. The customer service desk is always busy and the person will tell me that it was my fault I should have checked the label. She or He may even roll their eyes in exasperation at my stupidity.

I may decide to just leave it, it wasn’t an expensive jumper and maybe someone I know might like it. This gives me temporary release, I feel better knowing I won’t be going to the shop today.

But then, I start to think why am I so weak, anyone else would just go and do it. Then I feel worse.

What’s happening is that my mind is working hard to protect me from threat, this fight or flight response which in prehistoric times kept me safe from danger is now protecting me from the fear of feeling vulnerable.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy looks at our thinking and behaviour and sees if there may be a more helpful way to think or to do.

In this example if I went to the shop and thought – what’s the worst that can happen, the assistant in customer service sees this most days and will most likely be helpful. Perhaps the people in the queue are there for the same reason. What would I advise a friend to do?

If I went ahead and tested this out therefore challenging my unhelpful thinking and behaviour this will benefit me longer term as if something similar happened in the future I would know how to have a better outcome and build my confidence.

Think well, do well, be well.

I would really like to help you further please do contact me.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, involves intense fear of certain social situations – especially situations that are unfamiliar or, in which you feel you’ll be watched or evaluated by others.

These social situations may be so frightening that you get anxious just thinking about them or go to great lengths to avoid them.

Underlying social anxiety disorder or social phobia is the fear of being scrutinized, judged, or embarrassed in public. You may be afraid that people will think badly of you or that you won’t measure up in comparison to others.   And even though you probably realize that your fears of being judged are at least somewhat irrational and overblown, you still can’t help feeling anxious.

Common social phobia/social anxiety disorder triggers

Although it may feel like you’re the only one with this problem, social anxiety/phobia is actually quite common. Many people struggle with these fears but the situations that trigger the symptoms of social anxiety can be different.

Some people experience anxiety in most social and performance situations, a condition known as generalized social anxiety disorder. For other people, anxiety is connected with specific social situations, such as speaking to strangers, eating at restaurants, or going to parties.

The most common specific social phobia is fear of public speaking or performing in front of an audience.

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder/social phobia Just because you occasionally get nervous in social situations doesn’t mean that you have social anxiety disorder or social phobia. Many people are shy or self-conscious – at least from time to time – yet it doesn’t get in the way of their everyday functioning. Social anxiety on the other hand, does interfere with your normal routine and causes tremendous distress.

For example, it’s perfectly normal to get the jitters before giving a speech but if you have social anxiety you might worry for weeks ahead of time, call in sick to get out of it or start shaking so bad during the speech that you can hardly speak.

Emotional symptoms of social anxiety disorder/social phobia

  • Excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in everyday social situations
  • Intense worry for days, weeks or even months before an upcoming social situation
  • Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others, especially people you don’t know
  • Fear that you will act in ways that will embarrass or humiliate you
  • Fear that others will know that you are nervous

For more information on social phobia and how to work with me please get in touch.