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Anyone else here who can't go to church because of your social anxiety?

I feel so sad that I can't go. I know God still loves me but I would love to be a part of the christian community. :(
 

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kept in His hands
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ohhh I do understand where you are coming from. Church can be very anxiety provoking. I am slowly, very slowly, getting over my fear of going and now am able to attend church regularly with minimal anxiety.

If you are up to it, here's some things you might try...

  • Pray before you go. This tends to calm me down some.

    Come in late and sit in the back. You can sometimes avoid even being greeted at the door and the awkwardness before the service starts if you do this. After you go a few times, you will usually notice a routine of how the service is run and you can figure out when would be the best time to arrive to avoid the most anxiety.

    Knowing the routine of the service was the key for me. I hated having to shake hands with people at the beginning of the service so I would go into the bathroom right before then and stay there until I knew it was safe to come out.

    I had a problem with worship and standing up and singing out loud. I was always afraid people were looking at me. One time I took a look around when everyone was singing. No one was looking at me, they were too wrapped up in hearing their own voice. If you go, look around and you will see what I mean. This works when they are taking the offering too.

    Leave early. This avoids the awkward social time at the end of the service and having to say goodbye and shake hands with someone who might be by the door.

    And the last one, and I know this is a big one, get a feel for the pastors and leaders there and if you think they might be even a little understanding, approach one of them and ask them if you can talk and explain to them that you have social anxiety or you can just say you are really shy. Let them know how hard it is for you to attend but that you know God doesn't want you to remain that way. If they didn't know about social anxiety or extreme shyness, then consider yourself blessed because God just used you, yes you, to inform and enlighten this person. If they do know about it, then usually they will be understanding and give you some space. It was very hard to do but telling the leaders was the best thing I did for getting over this. Not only did they understand but I was given resources to help overcome my problems.

I really hope this helps. Try not to beat yourself up about not attending though. God does understand and He loves you the same whether you attend or not. :hug
 

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I do this, I really want to attend, simply because for me it keeps things in check. Yet.......I can't stand that time, where you have to shake each others hand, introduce yourselves, or worse yet "I see several new comers would you like to introduce yourselves" uhm, no, not really;-)
 

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I have this same problem. Usually I will arrive late and leave early to avoid this problem. It also helps me to go to a mass at the big impersonal cathedral where no one even notices me (smaller congregations and gabbier services tend to provoke more anxiety out of me). But that's IF I go, and I usually just stay home. :?

I am bound and determined that I will go to church this upcoming Sunday, and even stay for coffee hour... even if only to sneak off with a danish. That's my goal. Well, not the danish part, the going part.

Karen, I like the idea of just saying upfront to the minister/whoever that I'm shy and it's hard for me to do this kind of thing. Why didn't I think of that??! :)

It's also hard for me sometimes because not a lot of young people go to church, except in the more conservative churches, but that style really does not fit me. So I tend to go and sit with a bunch of middle-aged adults. Not that there's anything wrong with them, it's just... it would be nice to see somebody in their early twenties at my local Anglican pitstop.
 

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I would settle for going if there were people 25-30ish, an even smaller demographic - what is with our generation?
 

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Actually, this is not an area for debate so I can't answer that question;-)

I'm fa, fa, forty.......I have never "Met" such a mature "Younger" group in my life. Either that, or I'm immature........

I do have to get my daughter into church, I'm not one to "send her" while I loaf, have to practice what I preach...........So.....I'm going to try the approach of going in, close to starting time, leaving right before it ends......
 

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I can't go to church without my mom forcing me to go because of my sa. I really do believe in God and he makes me feel protected and loved but I cannot express that outwardly. I find it very awkward to share my thoughts and feelings to others even in a small church.
 

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I feel the same way you do, Credo. I want to go to church soooo badly. Except for once about 2 years ago when I went alone, and twice when a friend invited me to a different church shortly before that, I haven't been to church in about 6 years I think. I moved, and although someone else has said he'll take me... he rarely goes either, so I have stopped hoping.

But the things TruSeeker777 suggested are almost exactly the same things my counselor told me to try... with the exception of her last suggestion. And although I think it's also a good suggestion, my last pastor and the people at my church didn't understand this SA at all... and there was a lot of telling me that it was a problem with my faith and giving me one bible study after another... so it drove me further from the church because there really wasn't any understanding. Only talk to those that you honestly do think will understand. It hurts too much to be judged by those that shouldn't be doing that to you.
 

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Well, I won't lie. I wimped out and didn't go to any church at all. :?

PeekABoo - woah! I'm sorry they did that to you! I hope if I ever tell a pastor about my problems s/he'll be understanding.
 

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Thanks, Caedmon. It really did hurt. It caused the problems I was having with my faith and my prayer life to get worse. My trust in the Lord (just for me, not for others) dwindled down to nothing... but a big part of that was the abusive marriage I was in, so it wasn't all them... it's just that it added to everything.

I'm sorry you weren't able to go to church. Keep trying... you can do it!

I just happened to remember something I was told some time back (and I'd forgotten). I remember now that it helped me a lot. Our going to church is not for the benefit of others. It's obeying God's Word, and also our personal way of worshipping and praising Him. What anyone else thinks doesn't matter.
 

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I am a member of a 7,000+ member church that has 3 traditional services and 3 contemporary services every sunday. Not to mention services in foreign languages. I attend the 8:00am service which has a lower attendance. I started in the back of the sanctuary, showing up late and have worked my way up to the front rows. Paxil & repeated attempts got me there but faith has taken over. I'm not perfect, sometimes I have to count the number of chior chairs, microphones or ceiling tiles just to make it through the sermon due to an anxienty attack. If you come clean an tell everone you have SA at appropriate times you would be surprised how many will admitt their shortcomings.
 

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I am currently one who arrives late and leaves about on time after I shake hands with a few people. I missed this morning's service but knew that I had to go to tonight's (thank goodness I did - I was in tears when they prayed for me by a special Communion). I had to walk up to the front two rows of the church to do it, too.

I couldn't believe how He put everything in place (after a rough three weeks) and had me take the right steps (knowing that I have SA) to seek Him.
He has been watching out for me!

And Paxil, yes it is true about how people will admit their shortcoming so you aren't made to feel freakish. That was a complete surprise to me!
 

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I agree. After I told my pastor about my SA he confided in me that after his mom died when he was younger, he began using drugs and suffered from social anxiety too.

I did pretty good at church today, except that for some reason I just didn't want to deal with the greeting and shaking hands part of the service so I left to go to the bathroom beforehand and stayed there till I felt the coast was clear. :)
 

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I just started attending church services a few months ago. I'm really trying to push myself to be more sociable and figured that would be the least threating place to do so. I have a co-worker/friend who's aready a member there which has helped some with the before and after service anxiety. At least when the services are over I can go over talk with him and try to avoid everyone else.
 

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I mentioned to a priest that I had been missing communion because of my anxiety, and he told me that he has the same condition. He has to be in front of a congregation a lot of the time, and I guess his anxiety is naturally very bad. He is in counseling and also on medication to control the anxiety. Those things are really making a difference for him. I was so surprised to learn that he had experienced this, and found his story inspiring.
 

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I actually created a similar thread before. :)

I attend mass, but every week, I get a dreaded and whiny feeling about it. It wouldn't be as bad if we didn't have to face the congregation as we walk back from taking the communion, and didn't have to shake people's hands to give peace.

I never liked the youth mass, at all. All it did was make me angry, seeing all the fake, superficial kids coming just to socialize and look good in front of each other. The mass I attend mostly has a lot of adults (I'm 18 ) and I like it that way. Seeing teens around my age makes me nervous.
 

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Dove said:
I actually created a similar thread before. :)

I attend mass, but every week, I get a dreaded and whiny feeling about it. It wouldn't be as bad if we didn't have to face the congregation as we walk back from taking the communion, and didn't have to shake people's hands to give peace
Being in the actual church building is relaxing to me. Sometimes they will have the church open for adoration or confession, and I like being able to sit in the church at those times. When it is time for mass, it feels so different. All of the people bring out these nervous feelings in me, and make it hard to focus as much as I would like on the mass. I totally agree, the walk to and from communion is a most difficult walk for me. I very rarely go to communion. I really want to, though. It's frustrating.
 

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I go to a baptist church and there's alot of singing and clapping--both of which I don't like doing. I'd like to go to a small church where I didn't know anyone and a mix of different kinds of people there. One where the people don't talk alot too would be good. I haven't been in a while. I don't like where I had been going.
 

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Church can be a high anxiety situation, because there is so much a sense of belonging and community, and if you feel like you are on the outside of the circle looking in, it can terrify you.

I will not and never will parade the book of the Gospel in the church I go to.
To me it feels like its too revealing, yes I know the thought is irrational, and I keep saying, this is irrational, but you all know how this goes.


jenky
 
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