In general, there are certain social anxiety symptoms we all share. Of course, we each have symptoms that are unique to us as individuals.

Today, I’m writing about a few of the more “subtle” symptoms that I still have sometimes, and how I manage those when they come up.

I was out several days and nights this week, but when I was out on Sunday night at an open mic (where musicians take turns playing songs) I noticed some SA coming up.

This is a bar where I used to know no one, but now have made a number of friends there, by putting myself out there while handling my social anxiety.

It was difficult to do, but I did it.

I was sitting by this nice little fireplace, chatting to another musician buddy that I met there.

A girl he knew came up to our table, and started chatting as she already knew him.

She was really cute.

As some of you know at the top of my behavioral hierarchy is talking to women I’m attracted to. As they talked, I watched myself withdraw and kind of “space out” i.e. feeling tired, quiet & disengaged.

I began looking away and excluded myself from their conversation.

Then I started to have some automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) about myself, big time. So I knew that was a clear indicator that I wasn’t really fine, and probably stuffing down my anxiety.

“I’m just not cut out to be comfortable with women I’m attracted to“.
“I always do this, it seems like I can’t get over this.”
“I’m not interested in the conversation, and am just comfortable sitting here.”

This is where some of the best learning happens, right in the moment of ANTs arising. I saw it all happening, acknowledging the ANTs and that they are creating my social anxiety, behaviors and state.

So what did I do? Here it is exactly:

1) STOPPED THE ANTS: I used a fantastic energy psychology technique called “Be Set Free Fast” (BSFF) right on the spot.

This stopped the ANTs chatter, and freed me up of the excess emotion of anxiety at the same time.

2) GOT ENGAGED: I turned towards their conversation, started listening for anything I was interested in, so I could chime in.

3) GOT IN THE MIX: Found something that I found interesting and could contribute to, and I chimed in. I was back in the game of being social.

Next thing I knew, my friend got up to go to the bathroom and it was just me and this attractive woman. We made passing comments to each other in the group conversation, and when he left she introduced herself and we had a great conversation.

The night had some interesting twists and turns later on, where a different girl actually got my number, but I don’t really have time to go into that, sorry, maybe another time.

Now, I’m just using this as an example of how I overcame my social anxiety as it came up in a particular situation. A big realization I came to about what “overcoming SA‘ really is – it is a process that has ups and downs, and you don’t just flip to the other side.

I used to be disillusioned that I’d be totally anxiety free. To me, overcoming SA means that you have crossed over to the other side, where sometimes you won’t have it, but when it arises (and it will) you have the tools to handle it.

My video on the continuum of social anxiety explains this pretty well, I think.

Please realize that you don’t need to be where I’m at, and it’s OK wherever you are at in the process, really!

I have already done a ton of work using CBT, BSFF, meditation, affirmations and more, so I have the solid foundation to handle situations like these, though mindfulness and values work helped me maintain consistency with this more than anything.

To overcome your social anxiety and learn how to be social in your own way, sign up for the Dissolve Social Anxiety Home Recovery Program.

This is just an example of what’s possible, and I hope it inspires you guys to do whatever it takes to handle your SA. I have many examples like this to share, but it’s time to wrap this post up!

Questions? Comments? Experiences where you notice the symptoms for yourself and either don’t know how to handle them, or
handled them on the spot? Chime in below!


    8 replies to "Handling My Subtle Social Anxiety Symptoms – Tired, Quiet & Disengaged"

    • Michael

      ANT’s are classic symptoms for me, often taking the form ‘ I’m not interested in this chitchat I want to talk about something important/nobody else seems interested (its them not me). This is a recent discovery for me and just yesterday found myself unusually relaxed at a family occasion where I even started a few threads in the group conversation which would have been a first ever I think – and all without ‘trying’

      • David Hamilton

        Awesome awareness Michael! What’s more you took action and it way far more effortless because you just saw those thoughts getting in the way and realized they are just thoughts, nothing more. Excellent work, keep it up.

    • Lauren Kennedy

      I really like this article. There are times where I find myself sitting in the background while people around me are taking part in conversation. I am an engineer so I mostly work with men. On occasion, I will go to lunch with a group of coworkers. I have hung out with the boys, so to speak, for most of my life so I wouldn’t say being the only woman in the group is causing me to feel anxiety. However, even though I’ve known a couple of my coworkers for years, from engineering school, there are times when I feel like I can’t say anything.

      They will start talking about video games or something similar and I don’t know a thing about that to chime in. Then I think I could expose myself to those things with the goal of being able to talk about it with them, but I’m just not interested in that subject. I have a hard time getting myself to learn about something that I don’t really care about. But as a result, I sit with nothing to contribute. I always listen for a point where I can come into the conversation, but it doesn’t always happen.

      That’s when I start thinking negative things about myself and my abilities. I just don’t know what to do about it.

      • Michael

        I’m the same with conversation about TV shows – but just can’t fathom the task if watching a whole series of inane TV just to be part of a potential conversation . I have a working practice of saying what comes to mind ( rather than holding back my ‘non conforming’ or ‘unimportant’ view) which has the benefit of ( sometimes) steering the conversation in a more interesting ( to me) direction

      • David Hamilton

        I love how you shared such a specific situation Lauren. It is just some negative thinking in the way, and continuing to look deeper will reveal more of it. That is all that is holding you back, really. If you didn’t believe the negative thinking to be real, you would know what to do about it. One thing to do to accelerate the process is to get help. Plenty of resources here and out in the world for that. Highly recommend you seek it out.

    • Ken

      This is a great story. I can really relate to this. I used to go through the same thing when I met someone I was attracted to. I am married now but I still have difficulty talking to certain people. For example, this past weekend I went to a wedding with my wife and met new people at our table. I froze and had all kinds of ANTS thoughts. I really had a difficult time handling the situation. I did give myself credit for going to the wedding which I would have avoided in previous years.

      • David H.

        Ken you get a gold star for being the best (and only) commenter so far. LOL. That’s great you gave yourself credit for going and talking to people. Good for you. Doing this kind of exposure is key for overcoming SA.

    • Sparky

      Kick the tires and light the fires, officially solved!

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