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I see, in so many places, "explanations" saying that SA is due to an "irrational" fear of people.

Well sure, that might be the case if you're a person with impeccable social skills, hence, have "no problem" otherwise with being around people.

The thing is, I have crap-all social skills. So to me, my SA is what you'd call a completely "rational" fear. Say, if you were told to pilot a Boeing-747 when you have know idea what to do - would you be scared? I sure would. Yet this is a completely "rational" fear. And this is exactly how I feel regarding social situations.

Put me in a room with another person, in any context - hell, I wouldn't know where to place my eyes, I wouldn't know what to do, I wouldn't know what to say, I wouldn't know how to reply to whatever the they say, I wouldn't know how to respond to any silence / awkwardness... the list goes on. And this sort of thing happens in ANY context where I'm in contact with another person / people.

With regard to social skills, I've become sick of the "just-do-it"/"immerse-yourself-in-the-situation" kind of advice. My question is - just do WHAT? They tell me to jump in the deep end of the pool. Ok. Then do WHAT? Sure, to the people "advising" you it's all-too-easy. Social skills are second-nature to them. They cannot comprehend what life is like without those skills. When thrown in the deep-end, those people will break off into an "instinctive" paddle, whereas I would drown.

To take this analogy further, after some near-drowning experiences (i.e., horribly bad social experiences where at any moment I didn't have a clue what I was supposed to be doing) I'm now staying away from it all. Those "bad" experiences, if anything, VINDICATED the fact that indeed, my "fear" of people (SA) was "rational" and "justified", given my complete lack of social skills.
 

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I completely agree with you. My last therapist kept telling me my fears were all irrational. All I kept thinking was 'not at all'. It would be appropriate to say a fear of social situations was irrational if you were competent whilst actually being in that situation.

But like you, I don't feel I am completely competent in these types of situations. How can it possibly be irrational if when I'm in a situation which is potentially harmful to my SA? I mean, what do they think? Telling us that SA is irrational is going to magically cure us?

Me thinking my SA is irrational helps me in no way at all. Each time I have a bad social experience, my SA worsens. Hence why my fear of social situations is definitely not irrational.

Ahh, I don't know. :|
 

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SA is a mental illness because our fears are irrational.
 

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Geese
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I don't think SA is an "illness", more a disorder.

But anyway, perhaps the reason why your social skills are so bad is because over time you have grown fearful of social situations and thus your social development has suffered as a result. So yes, you could say that your fear of these situations are rational because your lack of social skills are real, HOWEVER the reason why you are lacking so much in this department could be due to growing up with irrational fears of social situations which has grown into the very real problem you face today?
 

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She-Wolf
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i strongly believe that lack of proper social skills can be a completely separate problem from the anxiety - in that it's not the fear itself that is preventing the success in social situations, rather the lack of knowledge on the essential social skills one would need.

it seems as if for many SA sufferers it is often the fear holding them back, and i certainly believe them, but for me i know much of it is that my social skills are just ****. i can practise as much as i can, put myself in social situations almost constantly but i still can't pick up enough of it to be able to have normal day-to-day conversations, relationships (however small), etc.

i know in many situations i do have anxiety, and completely irrational fear, but it's much more than that for me. (and i have analysed in depth my thoughts in every situation, why i don't talk as much as i should, etc etc)

its frustrating because many people just don't get it, at all. when i tell it to my doctors/mental health professionals i've seen they say that it's just my general fear and that you can't just have such poor social skills since we are meant to be social animals and it's a natural innate quality (or, something to that effect).
when i've tried to explain to family members in moments of frustration that a lot of my behaviour towards them is just lack of social skills and just not completely knowing what to say, they practically think that's a joke or an excuse for not liking them (not true at all) and don't believe me, since no one can just not know how to talk, according to them.

it took a ton of convincing for my doctor to at least see it from that view point. its hard to find help for it as well. i tried to contact a social skills group run by a psychologist at a place but the cut-off age is 18. :/ thats supposedly all the help (in terms of group settings, which sound more helpful than one-on-one) that is currently available in the city
 

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Tooshy, I think you make a good point. :) I read somewhere that SA can actually start from a feeling of inadequacy of social skills. And of course it becomes a viscous circle or catch-22.

If there is anyway you could observe how people interact that might be one way to learn. Maybe even watching TV (I try that to learn about eye contact, but I always end up following the movie).

So yeah, I mean if you have no social skills, or feel that you have none, it would obviously be helpful to spy on people! :) If you're not too SA to do that. A bookstore maybe? Honestly, I have thought about getting a mini camera and record people. They are expensive though.

In the meantime, how about google videos? I seriously Youtubed "eye contact" and got some hits (on picking up women) :p, but still could be useful. Books also might help.

Ultimately, you're right that you are vindicated but it's kind of am empty victory no? Like Dr. Phil says, do you wanna be right, or do you wanna be better? :) Good luck tooShy!
 

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Having social skills is not a must in order to be successful with people, its more about holding other people in medium esteem, not elevating the value of their opinions of you imo. Also:

"Its no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
 

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I see, in so many places, "explanations" saying that SA is due to an "irrational" fear of people.

Well sure, that might be the case if you're a person with impeccable social skills, hence, have "no problem" otherwise with being around people.

The thing is, I have crap-all social skills. So to me, my SA is what you'd call a completely "rational" fear. Say, if you were told to pilot a Boeing-747 when you have know idea what to do - would you be scared? I sure would. Yet this is a completely "rational" fear. And this is exactly how I feel regarding social situations.

Put me in a room with another person, in any context - hell, I wouldn't know where to place my eyes, I wouldn't know what to do, I wouldn't know what to say, I wouldn't know how to reply to whatever the they say, I wouldn't know how to respond to any silence / awkwardness... the list goes on. And this sort of thing happens in ANY context where I'm in contact with another person / people.

With regard to social skills, I've become sick of the "just-do-it"/"immerse-yourself-in-the-situation" kind of advice. My question is - just do WHAT? They tell me to jump in the deep end of the pool. Ok. Then do WHAT? Sure, to the people "advising" you it's all-too-easy. Social skills are second-nature to them. They cannot comprehend what life is like without those skills. When thrown in the deep-end, those people will break off into an "instinctive" paddle, whereas I would drown.

To take this analogy further, after some near-drowning experiences (i.e., horribly bad social experiences where at any moment I didn't have a clue what I was supposed to be doing) I'm now staying away from it all. Those "bad" experiences, if anything, VINDICATED the fact that indeed, my "fear" of people (SA) was "rational" and "justified", given my complete lack of social skills.
i still think its irrational to fear those things. to fear not knowing what to do , were to place your eyes etc... is still an irrational fear

there are a few chunks to social anxiety

1)safety behaviours
2)self conciousness
3)beleifs
4)social skills

and sa should be treated one steop at a time in that exact order. notice how social skills is last.

in treating SA you should get to the point were you are not unconfortable in social situations and you dont avoid them, you do not show symptoms of anxiety very often and even when you do you dont care, you do not get self concious , and all of your beleifs are intact. now you should reach that point before social skills

you should get to the point were you feel completely safe in a social situation despite not actually knowing how to ocialize. once your at that point you then work on your social skills

my advice is forget about your social skills for now and work on trying to feel safe in those situations despite not knowing how to act. once you are there then work on your skills. the best way to do it is to SCRUTINIZE OTHER PEOPLE AND MODELL THEM. watch what other people do, what do they talk about etc....

just go to any social event and just wacth grpups and see what they do and what they talk about

there are also mny, many books that teach the art of socializing and conversation - they are very helpful.

remeber some people in life get rejected all of the ime but they DONT fear rejection. they dont care.
your goal should be not to fear being in a situation were you dont know what to do
 

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i just had an idea

*watch as many reality tv programmes as possible and just monitor how people behave and how people talk etc....

watch shows like the hills, big brother etc... and just watch them socialize and write down what they do
 

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I completely agree with you. My last therapist kept telling me my fears were all irrational. All I kept thinking was 'not at all'. It would be appropriate to say a fear of social situations was irrational if you were competent whilst actually being in that situation.

But like you, I don't feel I am completely competent in these types of situations. How can it possibly be irrational if when I'm in a situation which is potentially harmful to my SA? I mean, what do they think? Telling us that SA is irrational is going to magically cure us?

Me thinking my SA is irrational helps me in no way at all. Each time I have a bad social experience, my SA worsens. Hence why my fear of social situations is definitely not irrational.

Ahh, I don't know. :|
it is irrational because because fear is an emotion that is only built into the human nervous systme for one thing only - TO PROTECT US FROM A THREAT.

sitting in silence, having people reject you or criticise you, not knowing what to do are NOT threats. they re PEIRCEIVED threats by somebody with an IRRATIONAL way of veiwing these situations

being rejected , criticesed, sitting in silence are veiwed as dangerous by SA people cos of the way they look at those situations.

normal people do not get bothered by these things or at least do not get bothered by tem to a very lare degree, large enough that it ruins their life

lots of people can be completely confy in sitting in silence (the reason most SA people fear silence is cos the attention can be on them therefore people will see their anxiety), with being criticised (a lot of people laugh in the criticizers face cos it doesnt bother them, with being rejected
 

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it is irrational because because fear is an emotion that is only built into the human nervous systme for one thing only - TO PROTECT US FROM A THREAT.

sitting in silence, having people reject you or criticise you, not knowing what to do are NOT threats.
I think they are actually threats. If you think about it from an evolutionary perspective, being social = being part of a group = survival. That's why it's so damn scary! Even though the possibility of literally dying from social rejection (either by not being able to hunt or gather or seek protection from predation as a group, or just plain getting your *** kicked (killed or wounded so badly that you couldn't even fend for yourself)) has pretty much been removed in modern society, our brains have not evolved to take that into account! As far as our human brain is concerned at a fundamental level, the fear felt when we detect not belonging or standing out, or not being social is still in response to a threat. And one that we better pay attention to! That sick feeling you get in your stomach when you tell a joke nobody laughed at or were offended by? Courtesy of evolution. Meaning: eh, get your *** in gear and fix the problem somehow so that they DO like you....eh...or run! :p The consequences of not being good socially or of being rejected socially may not be life-threatening anymore, but it is still hazardous to your health. It would definitely be a good idea to avoid being socially inept anyway you look at it. In fact non-SA people I know have those fears--they are just exceptionally adroit at diffusing or dismissing those fears. Lucky *******s. :p
 

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Just to point out some irrationalities and false beliefs in your post. First you said socializing comes to everyone naturally and they never make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and fears certain social situations. You also act like your lack of social skills condemns you to never being able to have relationshiops or enjoy going out.

Certain things you feel you lack may be caused by anxiety and people may not even notice things you constantly beat yourself up about. Like eye contact for example there is no set answer for it and everyone has there own opinion. One person may talk to another person and feel they are staring at them while another may feel there eye contact was fine. If you felt calm and relaxed you probably wouldn't worry about eye contact.

But anxiety causes us to over analyze and place too much importance on things like facial expresions, eye contact, and body language which just leads to anxiety which causes us to fail. Plus like me you probably believe everyone catches our every little slip when they probably weren't even paying attention. Just to prove how much people are focused on there own problems and how much they miss you should check out this video on change blindness.
 

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I think they are actually threats. If you think about it from an evolutionary perspective, being social = being part of a group = survival. That's why it's so damn scary! Even though the possibility of literally dying from social rejection (either by not being able to hunt or gather or seek protection from predation as a group, or just plain getting your *** kicked (killed or wounded so badly that you couldn't even fend for yourself)) has pretty much been removed in modern society, our brains have not evolved to take that into account! As far as our human brain is concerned at a fundamental level, the fear felt when we detect not belonging or standing out, or not being social is still in response to a threat. And one that we better pay attention to! That sick feeling you get in your stomach when you tell a joke nobody laughed at or were offended by? Courtesy of evolution. Meaning: eh, get your *** in gear and fix the problem somehow so that they DO like you....eh...or run! :p The consequences of not being good socially or of being rejected socially may not be life-threatening anymore, but it is still hazardous to your health. It would definitely be a good idea to avoid being socially inept anyway you look at it. In fact non-SA people I know have those fears--they are just exceptionally adroit at diffusing or dismissing those fears. Lucky *******s. :p
uve got a good point there, u really have. ive never actually looked at it that way before

what i will say though is that the level of fear that we have about those situations is irritional. it may seem normal to not want to be rejeted etc... and to be a bit wary of it but when your fear reaches a level were it beginsto restrict your life and make your life miserable then it absolutely is irrational
 

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Just to point out some irrationalities and false beliefs in your post. First you said socializing comes to everyone naturally and they never make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and fears certain social situations. You also act like your lack of social skills condemns you to never being able to have relationshiops or enjoy going out.

Certain things you feel you lack may be caused by anxiety and people may not even notice things you constantly beat yourself up about. Like eye contact for example there is no set answer for it and everyone has there own opinion. One person may talk to another person and feel they are staring at them while another may feel there eye contact was fine. If you felt calm and relaxed you probably wouldn't worry about eye contact.

But anxiety causes us to over analyze and place too much importance on things like facial expresions, eye contact, and body language which just leads to anxiety which causes us to fail. Plus like me you probably believe everyone catches our every little slip when they probably weren't even paying attention. Just to prove how much people are focused on there own problems and how much they miss you should check out this video on change blindness.
when im in a social situation i notice everything, even little tiny facial expressions on people. an im self concious too so what doesthat tell you ?

if a self concious person notices tiny details then im sure an outwardly focused person does too
 

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Ty social. :) I wish therapist and non-SAers would understand that though. Especially doctors though. They act like it's no big deal. And these are science guys after all. Oh, and I agree that the level of fear is out of proportion to the actual threat and irrational on those grounds. But it's like instinct almost. it sucks.

That was a really good video on you tube. :D I was not surprised that it seemed to be the women that noticed the differences. I wonder if more women noticed than men did?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sex/index_cookie.shtml

(Part 1, the 2nd half shows women tend to be able to pay attention to details)

These were pretty glaring visual details though. Perhaps men excelled in noticing the difference :) Anyway, that video does make me feel a little better though. Good reason to be a little less self-conscious I guess. See tooShy? :p
 

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I would think the opposite a self conciouss person will constantly be trying to notice everything and then relate it to how people feel about them. While an outwardly person will be focusing mainly on themselves and what they are trying to do. Im not saying outwardly people notice nothing but notice less then you think. They also don't read into it nearly as deeply as a self conciouss people do. For example a self conciouss person could talk to someone and the person they're talking doesn't seem like they want to talk. The self conciouss person would probably think they don't want to talk because the person doesn't like them while a more outwardly person would just think they were having a bad day.
 

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My fears come from having trust issues more so than having a fear of looking incompetent socially. Although I'm not sure which came first, the trust issues or the SA. I think part of my fear of talking to strangers stems from this fear. Since I've been fairly quiet most of my life, I've been verbally bullied by people off and on for as long as I can remember, mainly in school, I guess my quietness made me an easy target. Because of this, I think I learned to be weary of people. At some point in my life, I began to be suspicious of people in general, to the point that today it's hard for me to initate conversations with strangers in public. I know it's irrational because it's automatic for me. I don't even give people a chance!!! How crazy is that?!!!! I can't even tell you that amount of people who I thought were going to be mean spirited people, who turned out to be very nice people. Is this rational?

I think it helps somewhat to have role model in life, to remind you of what's rational and what's not. My mom is one, she is unbelievably nice to everyone. She just assumes that everyone is a good friendly person unless they show otherwise. She isn't necessarily the most outgoing person, but she's not afraid of people either. I've met a lot of people in my lifetime who are like that.
 

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Born Of Blotmonað
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I too think that poor and/or lacking social skills & social anxiety are 2 separate issues that are of influence on each other. Poor social skills should result in nothing more than some mild discomfort or awkwardness honestly, the fears born of the lack of these skills reaching the point of anxiety are irrational I feel.

That said last time I was in therapy I asked about the times when things aren't simply a matter of negative thoughts/anxiety but of truth, for example:

- When a person's body language and/or reaction to you clearly suggests disapproval i.e. they dislike you/something about you/ something you've done
- How do you reach a point of not allowing it to get you, or not caring?
-Yes it's true people have off days and/or their own issues but it's also true that at times you will be the source of their disapproval as well. My point being that things are not always rosy despite working on positive thinking. There is a hell of a lot of criticism out there & modern technology is allowing for it to be of more minuscule things. It also increases the frequency with which people contemplate & make such criticisms.

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is"

Jan van de Snepscheut

The above quote I think applies to many things in life in that on paper things can be found to be of near perfection but in practice not necessarily so. Self help books on social skills I think are as such. If you go in knowing that the application will be tweaked slightly then they may be of use

i strongly believe that lack of proper social skills can be a completely separate problem from the anxiety - in that it's not the fear itself that is preventing the success in social situations, rather the lack of knowledge on the essential social skills one would need.

it seems as if for many SA sufferers it is often the fear holding them back, and i certainly believe them, but for me i know much of it is that my social skills are just ****. i can practise as much as i can, put myself in social situations almost constantly but i still can't pick up enough of it to be able to have normal day-to-day conversations, relationships (however small), etc.

i know in many situations i do have anxiety, and completely irrational fear, but it's much more than that for me. (and i have analysed in depth my thoughts in every situation, why i don't talk as much as i should, etc etc)

its frustrating because many people just don't get it, at all. when i tell it to my doctors/mental health professionals i've seen they say that it's just my general fear and that you can't just have such poor social skills since we are meant to be social animals and it's a natural innate quality (or, something to that effect).
when i've tried to explain to family members in moments of frustration that a lot of my behaviour towards them is just lack of social skills and just not completely knowing what to say, they practically think that's a joke or an excuse for not liking them (not true at all) and don't believe me, since no one can just not know how to talk, according to them.

it took a ton of convincing for my doctor to at least see it from that view point. its hard to find help for it as well. i tried to contact a social skills group run by a psychologist at a place but the cut-off age is 18. :/ thats supposedly all the help (in terms of group settings, which sound more helpful than one-on-one) that is currently available in the city
I agree with this
 
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