Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Social Anxiety and Facebook

I hate it when I get to comparing my life with the lives of others on Facebook!

Maybe it's just my social anxiety raising it's ugly head again but I sometimes get myself feeling like the whole thing is a popularity contest and I might be the loser!

I update my status and wait for someone to "like" it (and therefore me I guess).

I write something I think is totally brilliant - which gets no response - or maybe one or two likes - if I am lucky - only to find 20 or 30 likes on someone elses mundane ordinary status update.

I start to feeling sorry for myself - "What is wrong with me?" " Why do the things I say not seem to matter?"

Of course this isn't limited to Facebook. I find I am always looking for clues of approval from others - I really care what others think and am desperate for people to not just like me but really LOVE me - as in just can't get enough of me - hang on every word I say - always be the topic of fascination to others.

I have heard that one cure for social anxiety is to stop caring so much about what others think about you.

Caring so much about what others think is damaging because it stops me from being my true self. If everything I do is based on the level of acceptance I think I might receive from others, I end up modifying myself based on what others want or like.

Taken to the extreme, just think about what a loss this is - to give away my "true self" for smiles or "likes".

Of course some degree of behavior modification happens to everyone just because we humans are social beings. Some behaviors are not appropriate or are dangerous or damaging to others and people respond unfavorably - which usually stops the behavior.

But for someone who suffers from social anxiety this constant monitoring of others opinions becomes extreme and ineffective.

You know the saying "You can't please all of the people all of the time"?

I think that is precisely what I and other socially anxious people spend our precious days doing!

"Please like me!" is what my behavior constantly screams.

And this has the opposite effect from what I had intended.

Others view this desperation for attention, affection and caring as a sign that something is wrong. And withdraw from me. It's the desperation, the willingness to change my thoughts, opinions and personality based on what others think or like.

I need to get clear on who I really am and be that person - freely without worrying what others think or if they "like" me.


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