Social Anxiety: Not A Cure, But A Different Perspective
Social Anxiety: Not A Cure, But A Different Perspective
Another great question from one of my LIG members. let me read it first then I’ll share with you my approach; Hi Deniz, I hope you are well. I completed your LIG program 3 months ago and I have now found a position with Unilever.
Rather than the usual shyness advice I want to make sure you learn from people who have really gone through it. Like struggled with social anxiety for decade and come out on the other side level of gone through it. If this is your first visit to Social Professor make sure you check out the shy to social page and grab the free audiobook ‘how to talk to anyone’ which is going to turn your life around.
This is my first real corporate experience upon graduation without counting my internships. I love my job and I love that I am learning a lot and surrounded by great leaders but I struggle with anxiety at work. I get really anxious at meetings. It’s been almost a month now and I still get very nervous at every single meeting with my managers. My anxiety doesn’t go away.
My heart’s racing out of my chest and my voice trembles. Can you help me? I can try. You know what I am gonna do. I am gonna first share with you the advice from psychologists. It’ll be the best practices. Like If you were to go to a physcologist with these issues, what I am gonna share with you is exactly what they would share with you. But once I am done with the conventional best practices, I’ll share with you one more thing. And that one more thing will just make everything click.
Everything will just register. You’ll be like ahh… So, let’s start with the conventional approach first. Now, as you probably know what is happening to you in those meetings is that your subconscious mind considers that situation, the meeting environment as a threat and it starts pumping adrenaline and cortisol to make you prepare for either the fight or flight response. Essentially, for your subconscious mind, you facing those powerful executives in the organization is same as facing a powerful predator in the jungle. Your brain doesn’t know the difference. In simple terms, you don’t have a social anxiety problem. It’s not a problem to start with.
It’s just a bunch of orders given by your brain to prepare for battle or prepare to run. And It originates from your fear of being judged as well as your need for social acceptance. Get this right, you fear being judged and you want to be socially accepted. So, the conventional wisdom, conventional advice is that you need to convince yourself that there is no threat. Nobody is judging you, nobody is trying to take you down, it’s just an exaggeration of your subconscious mind. The fear you have towards being judged is unfounded. And that you already are socially accepted. And there are a couple of techniques.
like; looking people in the eye to understand that they aren’t really judging you, paying attention to their body language, breathing properly. And of course understanding that again nobody is judging you. Now, these are all fine and if they work for you it’s great. Once again, this was the conventional advice. But remember I told you that there was gonna be one more thing, right? Because, if you are like me, then you’d ask the question, why. Why do I even fear being judged? Why do I want to be socially accepted? Because, having these feelings by default like a factory setting makes no sense unless there was a need for them.
And then the next question, what was the need that required me to have these feelings? And is that still valid in 21st century. Ah… Asking that question and finding the answer will make it click for you. The answer to this question, as with most other questions about work psychology lie in evolution. 65 million years as primates.
And 3.2 million years of evolution as homo sapiens, we’ve always been pack animals. Social animals. Being part of a pack gave us the food, shelter, water, safety, and even opportunity to mate, reproduce. All the things we needed in order to survive and thrive. Being kicked out of a pack meant immediate death; starvation, dehydration, becoming a food to outside predators.
I just want you to take a second now. And think about the kind of death I just shared with you. Imagine, you step out of your village and there is a wolf or a large cat waiting to tear up your flesh, or you dying of starvation, or dehydration. These are incredibly powerful mental images and imagine seeing people you love, your friends and family dying this way, and imagine this continueing for 3.2 million years as you evolve into becoming the modern day homo sapien sapien. So, you evolved with that fear. The fear of being kicked out of a pack. This fear is so powerful that it’s not gonna go away in a few thousand years with safety and security.
It is engraved in your DNA. You cannot change this. It’ll change on its own, but not a few millennia. It’ll be gone probably in 100,000 years not in your lifetime. Now, in modern times, the modern pack is first your family then your employer, the company you work for. That’s your new pack. Your manager is your Alpha, a supervisor is your Beta, and you as the new joiner, you are the Omega. And it’s also such a complex relationship that your Alpha may be a Beta at a departmental level, and even an Omega at a wider company level.
Right? Things are a lot more complex. So, it’s perfectly natural that you get nervous in front of the Alpha or the Beta whom have the absolute power to kick you out of the pack. And as we discussed, being kicked out of a pack for your subconscious mind meant horrible things happening to you. Again, it’s in your DNA. You can’t change it. Now that you understand the root cause of these feelings, the fear of being judged and need for social acceptance, you can address it. In this case, it’s as simple as understanding that you will not starve or dehydrate or become a food to predators if the Alpha decides to kick you out. An Alpha today isn’t as powerful as an Alpha 100,000 years ago.
An Alpha no longer has the power to decide who lives or who dies. Today, the packs are interconnected. You can very easily find yourself a new pack if you wanted to. Times have changed. It’s just that your brain hasn’t changed fast enough to suit the needs of modern society. That’s the reason why it’s pumping those stress hormones even though there is simply no need for it whatsoever. It’s just doing what it did for 3.2 million years to survive.
For your brain, An Alpha or a Beta in a pack is as powerful as a lion in the jungle from a survival perspective. They both had the power to end your life. So, just embrace it. Embrace the fact that this poor little thing, your body, your ancestors have been through horrible times that they ended up developing such fears for being judged, such need for being socially accepted. They desperately needed the support of the pack to live. You still carry most of the same genes your primate ancestors had millions of years ago. Your brain still acts very much the same way to ensure its survival. But then when your subconscious mind does, then you should put a conscious effort to remind yourself that you know what, I understand why I evolved to feel this way have these chemicals being released but it’s just not relevant anymore.
I am not gonna starve if the Alpha kicks me out of the pack. I’ll be just fine. And just understanding this fact that Alpha isn’t powerful anymore or that you will not starve or die if you get kicked out of the pack, will allow your brain to start releasing endorphin and dopamine, and serotonin so you are gonna end up feeling immediately better. This topic is done. Thanks for watching and if you are one of my regular subscribers please remember to hit that bell icon so can notify you of my future videos.
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