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I think I am much much more socially anxious when in a group of people than when talking to one person, even if that other person is a stranger. In fact I am surprisingly confident one on one.

More specifically, groups of people in a social situation is much worse. I'm not anxious in a crowd of people at all, not really anxious in a waiting room (maybe a little self conscious because it is so quiet), but in a group of people down the pub I get very anxious and end up quite withdrawn and self conscious. Then I start thinking about how withdrawn and self conscious I feel, and how I must come across to them etc etc. And I can't seem to snap out of it and focus on what people are saying.

It's also during this state that I am more paranoid about rejection, and am more likely to take it badly if someone makes fun out of me (in a friendly way).

To address this I think exposure would work well. I have thought of the following but would really appreciate more suggestions if anyone has some.

  • I am thinking of joining a public speaking group at first and just introducing myself.
  • Then I will do a speech a few times until I feel less anxious doing this.
  • Then when I get used to that I am thinking of joining an acting class (which isn't just about talking but also about pretending to do/feel things so harder).
  • Then when I get comfortable with that, perhaps an improv acting class (since socialising is essentially improv just like this).

If anyone has any other ideas I would be grateful. thanks

PS.
I have already started another exposure schedule which involves going into the city every day and talking to 10 people. I've printed out a schedule where each day has a harder task than the day before. I am also going on nights out and have got a similar schedule for talking to girls in clubs, where each night I have to do harder things than last time.

Anyway, I think through these exposure sessions I can make the tasks more difficult by talking to bigger and bigger groups as well as by having more difficult things to say, so this could be used for my group anxiety too. But still, I would still like to hear if anyone has any other ideas.
 
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