Working With Social Anxiety | INFJ Forum

Working With Social Anxiety


I am who I am.
Apr 17, 2009
This is sort of an advice thread. I was hoping perhaps someone might be able to give some personal experiences or advice about working with EXTREME social anxiety.

Does anyone have any experience with SA or know someone who does? If so do they work, and/or how do they make a living? Is there anything that they or you have done to overcome this?

Is there any advice you recommend to someone who does have this issue? Thanks in advance to any one who replies.
Approach each social interaction with a goal. Even if I lose myself in a crowd and I get all sensed out and I cant focus, if I have a set goal in mind I will ultimately meet it because I am so anal about meeting goals heh.
  • Goals. I agree with Billy. Setting a goal is critical. As an example, in college I would make my mind up that I was going to talk to a professor or something and I would "Camp Out" at their office until I could catch them. When I was done 'meeting my challenge' I would then feel more accomplished and reward myself. Expecting things to 'just happen' will never happen because of anxiety.
  • Habituation. Get in the habit of setting these goals with greater and greater frequency, until you find the threshold of how much you can take in the long term, then stick to that frequency. Make stuff up if you have to keep that level of activity going.
  • Small groups. Focus on small groups and one-to-one relationships. Practice being comfortable in one-on-one settings. This is a very important skill for a true introvert.
  • Culture. Find low key calm people to be around. There are plenty of people out there who are quiet and reserved and yet social. Find them. If you live in a community or culture that does not have this so much, try to leave your cultural comfort zone. You don't have to live in a culture of antagonism and frenzy. For example, I discovered a 'quiet group' when I was living in Pittsburgh. We had tea parties. Yes, tea parties. They were fun.
  • Service and Group Activities for Introverts. Join a club with a common goal that is either focused on individuals in parallel, or serving others. I used to repair computers that were then turned around and given to kids in need. I also did some mentoring with a younger person who was also shy. I took meditation and yoga classes where you could 'be with other people' without focusing on them or them focusing on you. Take that time to be in a space with other people and learn to enjoy it and see it as safe.
That's all I have. I'd also benefit from any other insights anyone else has.

Does the person you know have ambitions, or are they more low key?
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Loads of them here:

I have a lot of advice on this but cannot remember. The main thing is you need to put yourself in good situations where you may interact with people. Generally, the more you interact with people in person and have positive interactions, the more comfortable you will become and the less self-conscious you will be.
I had really bad social anxiety, and still do in some respects.

The only advice I can offer is to make an effort to step outside your comfort zone a little bit each day. Find a group that has a similar interest, join it, and try to interact with at least one person for a little bit each time the group meets. Eventually, your comfort zone will expand and you can interact with more people and for longer. It's a gradual process and it takes time, but it is worth it.

Also, it is a good idea to practice relaxation techniques. Meditation was helpful for me.
I knew just one girl with it, and I didn't know her all that well. What she found most helpful was her dad, who strikes me as INTJ-y, and would basically walk around with her and very calmly & respectfully try to address her concerns however he could. She would have a panic attack every once in a while, and felt pretty embarrassed about it (for whatever reason), but said that there were always friends there who would stop to make sure she was ok. After a while it started to fade away. She stll had a lot of irrational worrying about other people judging her and whatnot (last we talked, at least), but she was definitely also a "functional" person.

So, similar to what other people said. Respect your fears, because they're legitimate, but recognize (to the best of your ability) that other people are very unlikely to see you the way you think they do. Then just go out and force yourself to have some good experiences until your fears relax a little bit.

I've also heard from several people that the internet (forums/cat) can help a ton. While hiding behind the annonymity of the text isn't a perfect solution, if you remind yourself that you're talking to real people every once in a while, you might find a few people who can encourage you to go out and try to get to know other real people around you as well. I know one person who's doing this currently, and there's almost no chance she ever would have done it without using the internet as a stepping stone first.

These people are all around high school and college age, though, so I don't know how these types of things would go if you were trying to work. I wish you the best of luck, though.
Stay-at-home. I either stay at home or do things alone when I am relaxing or have spare time.

Purpose. I seldom experience any kind of social anxiety among others, because I usually have a distinct/clear purpose when I am around them. If I am at work I am there to do a job and my interactions are professional, not personal. If I go shopping I have a list and I don't stop to wander around - I get what I need, pay and leave.

Socialising. I only socialise regularly in small groups of people of my choice. There's a group of us that will play cards and occasionally go the movies together. Liking the people around you has nothing to provoke anxiety.

Social Anxiety. The only times I experience social anxiety is when I am recreating/socialising with a group of people I don't want to be around - the rare party/wedding one is obliged to attend. I don't know if what I experience is anxiety or stress - but I am usually exahausted and in a foul mood afterwards. I avoid purposeless/uninviting/informal gatherings like the plague.
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