It’s hard to admit this, but I have to say I really agree with it.

Those of us with social anxiety tend to be quite self-absorbed.

It’s all about us and how we feel.

We seem to easily get locked up in a story of “why me” and think incessantly about how we can’t get over our social phobia.

Me, me, me, me, me!

I was just completing a lesson yesterday around beliefs in my upcoming Dissolve Social Anxiety program – and this was part of the explanation.

It seems counterintuitive, but we’re actually being quite selfish, by making it all about us.

No, it’s not a comfortable thing to face, but I think you’ll find some truth to it if you take a look.

The blog at PsychCentral just posted an article yesterday on this called “Move On from Self Absorption and Social Anxiety“.

Funny timing, as I already has recorded and talked about that in my lesson on beliefs and social anxiety.

Again, I have to agree with them, hard as it is to admit.

Even though we may use the excuse that “we are trying just to be considerate of other people”, what’s more likely to be going on is that we don’t want to make others upset, because we say we can’t handle potential judgment, or upset reactions from others, and we’re concerned about how that REFLECTS UPON US.

Back to us again.  And how much happiness does that bring you by not sharing yourself, staying small and hiding inside.

It may sound harsh, but maybe it’s a wake up call?

That’s why my DSA program and coaching is about shifting, all that time and energy we spend trying to get a cure for social anxiety, making it about us, instead of putting attention out into the world, to connecting with and really serving others.

Would it be nice to redirect all the time you spend working on your social anxiety, and put that attention into your life, for which a big chunk of it is cultivating and maintaining relationships with other people?

Now, don’t go beating up on yourself because you‘re realizing how self-absorbed you are in your social anxiety story!

The point is to check and see, really BE HONEST about this, and to NOT judge yourself. We’re not very well-versed in the skillset of non-judgment, but it definitely is a skill that can be learned.

And well worth it, IMHO.

I know, because I’ve done this time and time again. And I still fall into it, even yesterday out at a local coffee house working (I’ll talk about what happened in more detail in the next post).

Then I quickly came to my senses and said “WTF David?!?!  This has nothing to do with you, knock it off!”  Whew, a close one!

Yes, I still have episodes like this, but they no longer dominate my life.  I get to choose what I want to do, whether or not ANTs come up or not, because I know how to relate to them, and choose the story I want to live, everyday.

One thing I’ve learned recently about neuroplasticity (aka science of how the brain works, changing the brain) is that while we are reprogramming our brain, the old pathways may not actually disappear completely.

Your new pathways of social confidence are dominant, but the old ones are still there as remnants.

It’s possible this could be by evolutionary design, so you still have access to your old experience for survival purposes, that would be my guess, though I’m not sure.

What do you think?  Let’s hear it!

I’m also now offering coaching for those of you who are interested in someone who’s been through the process of overcoming social anxiety.

I’m also trained professionally as a personal coach, and you can read about coaching right here.


    19 replies to "Social Anxiety Problem: Being Too Self-Absorbed"

    • Nori

      People without social anxiety think really about other people or simply look for their happiness? Maybe this is not also “me, me, me”? I think that selfishness is to use other people as a mean for obtaining one’s pelasure or advantatge, and a person with social anxiety never would dare to tjink he or she is worth to use another person. Self absorbed, maybe, selfish definitely not.

      • David Hamilton

        The sort of selfishness I am talking about is holding ourselves back from sharing ourselves from the world. On a greater level, because you have something to give to the world and it is a win-win when you overcome SA. At least in my mind. Thanks for sharing Nori.

      • David Hamilton

        The kind of selfishness I am talking about has to do with holding oneself back and not giving to the world. You have a greatness within you to give, and overcoming SA is truly a win all around, because you get to feel better, and the world gets to have the contribution of who you are more. Thanks for contributing here Nori! Your voice matters.

    • Steve

      Duh, the problem is the anguish/anxiety is too much at the moment so we avoid the pain. If we could function it would not have to be about us. Fight or flight does not care about selfishness.

      • David Hamilton

        Hi Steve – thanks for commenting here. Yes fight or flight doesn’t care, but what I am trying to appeal to is the conscious part of the brain to all those in the community that read this article. And that the world is losing out because by being “selfish” aka holding back, the rest of the human world doesn’t get to experience the unique greatness everyone has to give.

    • Blue

      I read somewhere that shyness & SA have the same
      evolutionary biological root.
      Humans have evolved with a predisposition 2 want the approval from others…
      since if they were banished from their tribe…
      they would have 2 survive in the forest by their self & that would not be possible.
      Ppl with SA just have much more sensitized biological systems of feeling the biological fear that comes from fearing disapproval from others which develops 4 evolutionary survival purpose …
      So if shy ppl can become immensely immensely immensely outgoing + their original shyness came from that same evolutionary root….
      wouldn’t it be possible 2 rewrite over the old pathways in neuroplasticity sooooooooo much that they’re pretty much sooooooooooo small that one could say those pathways r not even there?
      considering I notice ppl make SUCH HUGE leaps from shy 2 outgoing,
      & even ppl that r originally immensely immensely immensely outgoing feel nervous when they approach an attractive person.
      well of course old neuro pathways can’t shrink so they r completely gone since humans evolved w/a predisposition 2 fear others……. but it seems it could shrink 2 an UNBELIEVABLY UNBELIEVABLY SMALL SIZE…. + that just sounds SO realistic 2 say.., given there r ppl out there that go from being immensely shy 2 SO SO SO SO outgoing + ppl that go from being really outgoing to 100xs more outgoing. + I figure this should develop thru continually training the brain.

      • David Hamilton

        Yes, I think what you are saying here is more accurate than before. Shirking to an unbelievable small size, but still there “just in case.”

    • Blue

      I don’t think it has anything 2 do with being selfish.
      I think it’s just being too too absorbed in one’s own thoughts.

      “One thing I’ve learned recently about neuroplasticity (aka science of how the brain works, changing the brain) is that while we are reprogramming our brain, the old pathways may not actually disappear completely.”
      I was wondering… is it possible 4 the old pathways 2 disappear completely?
      cuz it seems there r ppl that go from being shy 2 the MOST outgoing person on earth.

      • David Hamilton

        Hi Blue – depends on your perspective and I can agree with you too. I like that you are sharing your voice here more than anything!

        It is possible but not likely from what I’ve seen to try to get them to disappear completely. But it doesn’t work that way, and doesn’t have too. The thought does not have to go away, we just have to know on a deeper conscious level what is happening (I talk about this tons in my programs).

        Again the really cool thing is that they don’t have to disappear! We need to change our relationship to our thoughts – much more simple and powerful at the same time. I still have shy and anxious thoughts sometimes (and I 100% guarantee so do the others that have overcome extreme shyness or SA like me), but they don’t affect me or stop me at all from being social, etc. There is a difference between the thought going away, and the observed behavior going away. You see that the observed behavior has changed and are assuming the pathways (thoughts) aren’t there anymore. The thought can still happen weekly but it is like a ghost. Again part experience, part conjecture from this conversation with an experienced therapist.

    • Juanita

      I have the same issue as Hanh — both SA and depression. I think if I could decrease the SA, that my world would open up a lot. Without the SA stopping me, I’d be able to return to work, have more active relationships with family and potential friends, go more places, do more things (for myself and others), and “have a life,” the lack of which is very depressing! I feel like I’m just barely surviving this life right now, not thriving or enjoying it at all.

      Unfortunately, since I’m not working (because of the SA), I have more time to worry about myself, but little money to go do things for myself or others, including paying for what sounds like a very promising program that you have. In this case, what can I do?

      • David Hamilton

        Hi Juanita – I am sorry to hear it is so tough. I really get that for you.

        AND at the same time if we blame things on our SA as the reason, we will stay stuck. That is just how it works. Saying “because of SA I can’t do this” is just a limiting belief. I am glad you are putting out what you think here, makes it easier for you to clearly see it. The first step is to acknowledge that this is what is occurring, the next steps on remove this and other limiting beliefs can happen many different ways.

    • Ana

      Thanks again for another great and insightful article David. It really makes sense that those of us who suffer from SA do so because we are so focused on ourselves, making it all about us although we don’t think/realise we are doing that. We think it’s all everyone else’s fault for making us feel this way. I’m learning alot through just reading your emails and articles but am defintely considering investing in your DSA program soon…

      • David Hamilton

        Thank you again Ana! I truly believe that investing in ourselves is one of the best things we can do. Especially when it comes to personal development. It’s priceless compared to buying a house, car or even nice clothes (though I love all those things, too).

    • Hanh

      Hey, so I am in need of help. I don’t know if I should start overcoming depression or SA first since I currently have both. Help me

      • David Hamilton

        They probably go hand in hand. You just need to start. There are two ways to approach it:

        1) The most powerful place (could be the harder one, for the more courageous)

        2) The easiest place to start getting some traction.

        Which of these two ways do you think would be best for you to start with?


    • jimbo

      Definitely think this is at the heart of the issue

      • David H.

        Yes I think it’s at the core as well, and life becomes much more interesting when we aren’t always so focused on ourselves and what others think of us all the time.

    • Ken

      I agree with you. In social situations, I am really self absorbed. Good article.

      • David H.

        Yeah it’s a challenge to get out of our heads, take the focus off of us, and onto the people around us. But it gets easier and easier with practice!

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