Conducting a self-assessment

The self-assessment will consist of three parts – conducting a self-interview, journaling/monitoring form, and behavioral assessments.

Conducting a self-interview is really the first step in formulating your own treatment plan. The purpose of a self-interview is to identify the main features of your social anxiety:

  • Which social situations cause the most fear
  • What variables make it better or worse
  • Which components do you experience (physical, thinking, and behavioral)
  • How and when did your social anxiety begin
  • How much does your social anxiety interfere with your life?

Answering these questions will shed some light on a lot of things you may have not considered to be important in the past. For me, breaking it down into these smaller components really helped me feel less overwhelmed and more in control. Once you get to the bottom of these questions, you discover a lot about yourself and why you feel the way you do.

It’s an empowering exercise and a necessary one if you want to overcome social anxiety. As I mentioned previously, if you want to overcome social anxiety, you have to take responsibility for it – you need to take ownership in order to make change happen. You are not a victim.

A self-interview will also help you identify which specific situations you need to focus on the most. If we don’t know the main problem, then we won’t be able to come up with an effective treatment plan.

There are a lot of questions, but it is necessary to answer them to really understand all the various aspects of your social anxiety. These insights will be key in developing your social anxiety treatment plan. You have to make the commitment to change!

Self-interview Questions

Which social situations cause the most fear? Which social situations do you avoid?

Social Situations – Fear and Avoidance

There are two types of social situations: interpersonal and performance based.

Exercise: for each situation below, write down how much you fear it (1-100) and how often you avoid the situation (1-100). For example, I had a very intense fear of speaking up in class (rating of 80) and I would avoid doing it almost always (rating of 90).




  • Making eye contact
  • Being assertive
  • Asking someone on a date
  • Job interview
  • Sending back food at a restaurant
  • Returning items at a store
  • Attending a party
  • Initiating a conversation with a co-worker or friend
  • Initiating a conversation with a stranger
  • Having people over for dinner
  • Meeting new people
  • Expressing a personal opinion
  • Talking on the phone to a stranger
  • Talking on the phone to a friend or family member

Are there any other situations that come to mind? How would rate those?


  • Speaking in meetings
  • Speaking in class
  • Walking in a busy place
  • Shopping in a busy store
  • Giving a presentation at work
  • Playing sports/exercising in front of others
  • Writing while others watch
  • Making a mistake in public
  • Introducing yourself to a group
  • Making a toast
  • Singing in front of others
  • Playing an instrument in front of others
  • Eating in front of others
  • Using a public bathroom

Are there any other situations that come to mind? How would rate those?

Variables to Consider

Which variables make your social anxiety better or worse? Certain things, like who you’re with, how you are feeling, or where you are, can greatly impact your level of fear and discomfort. You may feel very comfortable around elderly people or kids, but feel more uncomfortable around people of authority or physically attractive people.

Write down how much of an effect the variable below have on your discomfort. 0 having no effect and 100 having a very large effect on your discomfort.

Aspect of the other person:

  • Sex (male/female)
  • Age (old, young, or same age)
  • Physical attractiveness
  • Relationship of the other person
  • Success of the other person
  • Financial status of the other person
  • How well dressed the other person is
  • How interesting the other person
  • Ethnicity of the other person
  • How confident the other person is
  • How aggressive the other person is

Relationship status with the other person:

  • How close you are to the other person
  • How well you know the other person
  • The type of relationship (boss, co-worker, employee)
  • History of relationship (any conflicts/disagreements)

How you are feeling:

  • How stressed you are overall
  • How tired you are
  • How well prepared you are for the situation
  • How much you know about the topic being discussed

Aspects of the situation:

  • How many people are there
  • How formal the situation is
  • Lighting
  • How you are postured (sitting, standing, etc.)
  • Duration of situation
  • Activity type (speaking, writing, eating, etc.)

Physical Sensations

How do you feel when anxious? Your physical feelings are a major component of your social anxiety, so it’s necessary to examine what physical sensations you’re experiencing when hit with an anxiety attack.

Are there any physical conditions that make your social anxiety worse? Some of us have physical conditions that make our anxiety worse – blushing, stuttering, sweating, shaking, etc. Some people don’t mind if people notice them exhibiting these physical conditions, but others are absolutely terrified to sweat, blush, stutter, or shake in front of others. If other people notice (or if they think other people have noticed), they spiral out of control – cue anxiety thoughts, feelings, and behaviors!

Think about yourself. Do you have any physical conditions that contribute to your social anxiety?

Do you get a racing heart, sweating, blushing, etc.? Rate your level of intensity from 1-100. 0 being none at all and 100 being very extreme.

Intensity of the Physical Sensation Scale

You also want to examine how you feel about those physical feelings. Do you fear your blushing, shaking, sweating, etc.? Again, rate your fear of that sensation from 1-100.

Fear of Having the Physical Sensations in Front of Others

Physical sensations:

  • Blushing
  • Sweating
  • Pounding heart
  • Shaking (hands, knees, whole body, etc.)
  • Breathlessness
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Poor concentration
  • Nausea/butterflies
  • Lump in the throat/dryness in mouth or throat
  • Dizziness
  • Shaky voice
  • Tearing up/crying
  • Hot flushes
  • Chills
  • Blurry vision
  • Chest pain/tightness in chest
  • Feeling detached

What other physical sensations do you experience when anxious, worried, or fearful?

Thoughts – Beliefs, Expectations, and Predictions

What kind of anxiety beliefs, expectations, and predictions do you have? As mentioned earlier, your beliefs play a big role in how you feel about social situations. If you believe that people will view you as dumb, incompetent, or unattractive, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you really believe these things, you will put a lot of pressure on yourself to perform well and this will only cause you to be more stressed and anxious.

Funny enough, those who don’t really care if people view them as dumb or incompetent appear less anxious because there is no pressure for them to perform well. It simply doesn’t matter as much to them. Ironic, right?

Those of us who have experienced social anxiety have a tendency to focus on beliefs that are not really in alignment with reality. We tend to focus on the potential negative outcomes instead of having more even keeled expectations. Socially anxious people are much more likely to view a relatively safe situation as threatening and dangerous.

Part of your treatment plan will include changing your anxious thoughts and beliefs into more realistic ones. Before we can get there, we must observe and identify which anxiety provoking thoughts, beliefs, and predictions we are experiencing.

Recommended reading: core beliefs

Think of a tough social situation for you (speaking in class/meeting, talking to an attractive person of the opposite sex, making a speech, etc.) and then answer the following questions:

  • What am I afraid of happening?
  • Is it important that I make a good impression? Why?
  • What will people think about me in this situation?
  • What symptoms am I likely to show in this situation?
  • What if my expectations come true? What will happen next?
  • Am I aware of how much these beliefs and expectations are contributing to my anxiety?
  • By examining these beliefs and predictions, you will start to see how they have increased and maintained your social anxiety.


What kind of anxious behaviors do you display?

It’s no surprise that when you are anxious, you do things to try and protect yourself. You want to get out of that situation as soon as possible. It’s human nature. Unfortunately, a lot of these instinctual behaviors do not help in reducing your social anxiety over the long term. They actually help to maintain it and increase your fear of social situations. Here are several types of behaviors:

Avoidance – This is the most common behavior socially anxious people partake in, but it is also one of the worst because it teaches you to stay in a state of fear and anxiety. Even though it sounds counter intuitive, exposure to feared scenarios is actually the right approach to take.

Do you avoid social situations in an effort to avoid feelings of anxiety and fear? For example – do you avoid answering the phone, going to parties, or making presentations because you fear how you will feel in these social situations?

Look over your list of feared social situations (interpersonal and performance) and note which ones you avoid the most.

Constant reassurance – Socially anxious people are constantly seeking reassurance by asking their friends if they are smart or by looking in the mirror to make sure they look perfect (hair, clothes, etc.). Seeking reassurance occasionally is fine, but when it becomes a habit, it can backfire.

If you seek constant reassurance, you’re maintaining your fear and never learning to believe in yourself. Your own reassurance is enough. Additionally, when you constantly seek reassurance, you will teach other people to be more critical of your behavior.

Do you ask your friends and family for reassurance more than you should?

Are you constantly checking yourself in the mirror to make sure you look perfect?

Overcompensating – We all have a few perceived flaws, especially the socially anxious types. Side note: keyword here is perceived because socially anxious people believe they have more flaws than they actually do. Socially anxious people try to cover up their perceived flaws by overcompensating.

This is something I used to do a lot! I would try to cover up my flaws by over preparing. I would rehearse speeches or what I would say in a meeting hundreds of times to make sure I didn’t mess anything up. This actually had the opposite effect because the pressure to perform perfectly became immense.

If I messed up, I would lose my train of thought and quickly spiral out of control – cue anxious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors!

Do you engage in overcompensation for perceived flaws?

Comparing yourself – Most people compare themselves to people who are about the same or who are slightly better than them in certain areas (finances, academics, looks, etc.). Socially anxious people tend to compare themselves to people who are far superior to them in those same areas (finances, academics, looks, etc.). Of course, when you compare yourself to someone who is far superior in those areas, you’re going to feel pretty lousy!

Do you often compare yourself to people you think are ideal or perfect? If so, how did you feel after?

Others – There are other behaviors besides avoidance, comparing, and overcompensating, but they are a little more challenging to identify at times. Here are some examples of subtle behaviors that may be contributing to your social anxiety:

  • Standing behind a podium in order to “hide yourself” during a presentation
  • Avoiding eye contact with the audience during presentations
  • Using a lot of visual aids during a presentation to keep the focus off of you
  • Wearing certain clothes to hide features of your anxiety
  • Staying close to someone you know so you don’t have to interact with strangers (at party)
  • Offer to help clean up in order to avoid talking to people (at party)
  • Get buzzed before a party to get rid of your social anxiety
  • Take lots of bathroom breaks to get away from people

Again, these behaviors are not helping you, they are actually holding you back. These techniques act as friends at first because they can get you through some tough times, but in the end they will betray you. Over the long term, they will only help to maintain your fear and anxiety of social situations.

When you behave in these ways (avoidance, reassurance seeking, overcompensating, comparing, etc., you are telling yourself that there is something to be afraid of. By pushing yourself to do the opposite, you can learn that these perceived threats are not scary at all, they are perfectly safe.

Let’s look at a couple more areas that are helpful in conducting a self-assessment – communication skills, behavioral assessments, social anxiety monitoring form.

6 thoughts on “Conducting a self-assessment”

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