Originally Posted by Ospi
You described my problem to a tee. My SA is a direct result of teasing and negativity towards my appearance and it eventually mutated itself into a fear of any situation where my appearance may be judged and commented on in some way shape or form (which is why I struggle with club and outings and can not ever approach a girl because I will take any form of rejection as a direct attack on my appearance (as irrational as that may be)).
Even now I cannot handle compliments about my appearance, I automatically assume they are just being nice but deep down I really do want to believe they are genuine and they still do make me feel good, but I struggle with it so much.
So you are certainly not alone with this in the slightest.
Wow, you sound like you suffer exactly like me. I hate any situation where eyes are on me, I feel so self conscious and so anxious. I just fear that when people are looking at me that they are basically looking directly at what my flaw is. I mean for some people here I have seen they are self conscious of people seeing their personality/social skills believing they'll be judged negatively so they remain quiet, that way they won't be judged negatively for things they say. But when the thing you are self conscious of (because you believe you will be judged negatively for) is how you look, you cannot hide it and so when people are looking at me it is like they are seeing my flaw directly - which makes me so self conscious and fearful.
And like you say you do then start fearing any situation where eyes are on you. Things like presentations/public speaking are the absolute worst - all eyes on me just cripples me with anxiety, I just cannot get my words out I am so anxious. I too am a nervous wreck around women I like or even being seen by women I like, it makes me so self conscious and anxious. There is this girl (woman) at work who I really, really like but I am so self conscious when she looks at me, I just fear she will think I am ugly and see me as inadequate, inferior, not good enough. I don't want her to think of me like that, I want her to like me or at least think I am adequate and equal. I am the exact same, I wouldn't dare ask any woman out because if she says no which I believe they would, I would take that as meaning they think I am ugly.
I am so desperate to overcome this problem. I have a lot of confidence in my intelligence and personality, but this problem totally restricts my life in terms of career and meeting people.
I do nowadays look my very best and that has been a very important first step for me, I do feel a lot better and positive about myself and would recommend that to anyone who can relate to my problem. However looking the best I can has done nothing to change my beliefs about how I believe people see me or fearing being judged negatively.
I believe the answer is about how sensitive and hurt we are by these negative judgements such as ugly or ridicule/put downs/negative judgements about our appearance or certain parts of our appearance. We are so self conscious to protect ourselves from such judgements. The fact is that anyone who judges us in these negative ways are just like the horrible, shallow, insensitive, cruel people of the past - they don't like us, they couldn't be interested in us, but we don't like them either - so why place importance on what they think? Why let these sort of people make us feel like this and hold us back so much? Well quite clearly it is because we cannot handle people seeing us in those negative ways, we won't accept it or allow it - we want to be seen as good enough.
I think we need to allow and accept people to judge us negatively if that is how they think but to not be hurt by it but to understand it. It only hurts us because we see it as hurtful and interpret it as hurtful. If we could see it in a different way whereby we can accept and understand that a % of people may well judge us negatively and to be able to brush that off and see it as being a part of life for everyone - that we all place different levels of importance on different things - personality, looks, intelligence - for someone who is very looks orientated we need to understand that they are critical of looks and accept and allow them to think that way just like how I am allowed to think the way about people I am attracted to. Of course not everyone will like how I look and I know there are a lot of people who are shallow and critical, I have experienced a lot of them. But I am not interested in such people.
We have got to stop protecting ourselves from such judgements but to allow such judgements and not be hurt by them. Obviously it needs a lot more work and understanding than what I have written here but I feel this is the right approach?