Acknowledge Your Social Anxiety

Some thoughts from Clare Gabriel Headland, a very happy woman.

You know how sometimes there’s a blindingly bright light that suddenly and shockingly shows
up something that has been there all the time?

And you say to yourself “Holy cow! How did I stay blind about that for so long? It was staring me
in the face, if it had been any closer it could have bitten my nose off!” (that was one of those
things my mother said all the time when I couldn’t see for looking)

Well I had one of those moments a couple of days ago. I was at a workshop about something or
other, and at halftime we all hung around the coffee and bikkies table and talked to each other
in loud voices. For lots of reasons (including the fact that I’m a bit deaf in one ear and can’t hear
out of the other) I don’t enjoy shouting at someone and being shouted back at.

So I mumbled something about needing to go to the toilet and ran away.

But when I arrived home, I realised I was being a bit silly, having to tell fibs and make excuses
to escape situations where I feel uncomfortable.

Recently I’ve been listening to Brené Brown. She writes and speaks about vulnerability and the
gift of imperfection. And especially about shame. I realised that I have lived in shame for all my
life. Shame of being inadequate, of not being good enough, smart enough, rich enough,
handsome, pretty, brave, all that. And not a good enough husband and father.

But I suddenly understood that it’s ok to be imperfect...nobody’s perfect! We’re all afraid of not
measuring up to the ideal man, woman, mother or father. They live in glossy magazines, not in
the world.

So I’m working on forgiving myself for not being who I thought I was expected to be, and it’s
such a relief! I’m practising saying “Forgive me, but my social anxiety is making me
uncomfortable in this situation, so I’m going to find a quiet place. Would you care to come with
me?”

So nice to be allowed to be honest, to express my vulnerability, to open my feeling part and ask
for understanding. And the funny thing is, I believe the response will be “Yeah, me too! I can’t
stand this noise either. I’d love to find a quiet corner and continue our chat.”
So many people seem to hate cocktail parties and similar social events, but can’t say no for fear
of appearing to be un-or antisocial.

Do you know something? Other people will like and respect you and me more for being open
and honest about your imperfections than for being perfect. There’s nothing more attractive,
likeable or intimate than admitting our shame, our fears, our imperfections.

People love it when we say “I don’t know how to do that. Will you please show me?”

Or “Do you have a moment to help me figure this out?”

Or “You’re amazing! How did you learn to do that?”

Or even “I’d love to be as clever as you. Can you teach me?”

I guess it’s all about being in control of our ego. Saying “I’m not perfect, but I’m willing to learn.”
And not allowing our ego to stand in the way of our connection with another person. If you want
to be loved and respected and admired, love and respect and admire someone. You’ll get it
back multiplied by a thousand.