Good post Uncle Charlie. What you say is very true, giving in to the anxiety and avoiding doing things only makes the beliefs we cannot do it and the situation really is scary even stronger. This is why practice and exposure is so important, successfully performing in a situation and at a task is evidence to the mind that you can do it and it wasn't that bad, so if doing the opposite would be very beneficial. We can't give in to safety behaviours and taking the easy options as it gets you nowhere.
But the problem is, what if you are too anxious to force yourself into doing something you are so worried about? If you go in full of anxiety and panicking and mess up, your mind will see that as evidence that you really can't do it, its so scary and you will humiliate yourself. This will make it even worse for yourself. But you need to push yourself as much as you can. For instance if you were to push yourself to do something you would usually avoid and not do because you were anxious and self conscious and fearful, etc - if you were to push yourself once every day, the amount of confidence you would build from that would be incredible.
SA is not an illness, its all down to confidence and the way you think. It can be improved and overcome for sure, but you have to work hard at changing how you think and push yourself. 2009 I certainly will be pushing myself into doing the opposite of what feels easy and most comfortable, I want a successful, fulfilling, exciting life!