Let’s hit on a couple last considerations/questions for the self-assessment:
- How much has social anxiety interfered with your life?
- How and when did your social anxiety begin?
- Behavioral assessments
- Social anxiety monitoring form
To what degree does your social anxiety interfere with your life?
Is social anxiety preventing you from living to your full potential? I’m sure it is to some degree, but how bad is it really? If you’re reading this, it’s likely quite a bit.
Think about how social anxiety has impacted your relationships, education, career, and so on. How much does your social anxiety bother you? When you start weighing the costs of social anxiety, you will start to get motivated to make a change. As I said before, it may require some initial discomfort, but in the long run, it will pay in dividends!
Think deeply about the following questions. I also recommend that you write your answers down.
- How has social anxiety interfered with your life?
- What areas of social anxiety do you want to work on the most?
- Are there any parts of your social anxiety that you don’t want to change?
- These answers will be important when you begin to develop you treatment plan.
How and when did your social anxiety begin?
This introspective question can shed some light on the root of your social anxiety. Do you remember the first time you experienced social anxiety? If so, do you remember what was going on?
If you’re like me, you don’t remember the first time you experienced social anxiety, you just remember having always been shy and quiet. Do you remember the course of your social anxiety? How has it developed over the years? Has it gotten better or worse?
For me, it started out as shyness at a young age and eventually developed into social anxiety and severe blushing. I believe a lot of people start out shy, but if left unaddressed, it can develop into social anxiety.
Can you identify any factors that have made it better or worse? Think about the people in your life, your job, where you live, etc. Consider any specific events that have made you a lot more nervous in social situations.
Behavioral assessments are the last component of your self-assessment. Behavioral assessments are very effective in helping us to understand what we are thinking, feeling, and behaving like in the midst of a feared situation because someone is observing you and can take notes.
You can enter into the fear situation in real life or you can do it in a role play scenario (if you’re too frightened of the real life situation).
Since this is a self-assessment, you won’t have a trained professional watching you while you are engaging in a feared situation, so you will do you best to rate your level of fear while in the social situation. Rate your fear and do your best to observe your behavior, thoughts, and physical feelings in the moment.
By observing yourself, you take a step back, out of your mind, and this can be helpful in calming yourself down. When you become the observer, you don’t get lost in the anxiety cycle of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You’re just observing them. As soon as you can, write these observations down on a monitoring form.
Social Anxiety Monitoring Form
Now that you have completed your self-assessment, the next part of your self-assessment is to start a journal or a social anxiety monitoring form. You want to begin writing exactly how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, and what behaviors you’re exhibiting when you’re hit with an anxiety attack.
You want to fill out this form during the anxiety attack if possible. I understand that you can’t just whip out a notebook and start writing how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, and what behaviors you are engaging in while in most settings (meeting, speech, meeting someone new, etc.), so just get it done as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk forgetting a lot of the details of the event.
Re-cap of the Self-assessment
The three components of the self-assessment:
- Social situations you fear and avoid
- Physical sensations
- Thoughts – beliefs, expectations, predictions
- Communication skills
- Social anxiety monitoring form
- Behavioral assessment
By now, you should have a good understanding of what types of social situations you fear and avoid, the types of thoughts, physical feelings, and behaviors that contribute to your social anxiety, how anxiety has interfered with your life, and what areas you want to focus on and improve.
Keep in mind that this self-assessment is an on-going process. You may not be able to answer all of these questions, or you may be unsure of certain aspects, but do your best anyways. As you progress, more answers and clarity will come to you, so continue to add data to your self-assessment as you go.
Additionally, focusing on these social anxiety questions may give you a bit of anxiety. This is normal! When you begin to uncover things and look into the shadows of your mind, you may feel a little uncomfortable. Digging in these areas may bring up bad memories, but the only way to grow is to get out of your comfort zone a little. Again, you may feel a little uncomfortable in the short term, but in the long term, it will be well worth it.
Next, we will look at how to overcome your social anxiety by developing a treatment plan, addressing your anxious thoughts and predictions, facing fears through exposure, and lastly, improving your communication skill set.