SOCIAL ANXIETY – LET’S TALK ABOUT IT
My guest today is Sadie Hall, creator and host of the Your Social Anxiety Bestie podcast and a lifelong social anxiety sufferer. Sadie was kind enough to spend some time with me to help bring some understanding of social anxiety to the podcast. This is a topic I have not covered nearly enough so I appreciate Sadie helping me to remedy that.
Sadie struggled all of her life with issues that she only learned recently were part of a social anxiety diagnosis. Shyness, introversion, and shaky social skills
Social anxiety is being seen recently as more a disorder or affliction based on shame. Traditionally we have seen socially anxious people as excessively shy or susceptible to the fear of being judged. But really, there is often an underlying sense of shame that fuels social anxiety. It’s not so much “don’t judge me” as “don’t SEE me because I am truly broken and defective and I don’t want you to realize that.”
Both CBT (learning how to confront and navigate through the discomfort) and Psychodynamic (uncovering the shame component of social anxiety) therapies have helped Sadie. She went through an initial round of CBT and exposure work to address the need to learn tolerance and navigation skills when confronting and going toward the social situations and interactions that triggered her fear. Next came a round of psychodynamic therapy that helped her learn how to treat herself with kindness and compassion while working on the underlying emotional beliefs that create the shame that drives the disorder. Sadie then underwent another round of CBT focused on addressing her perfectionism.
Perfectionism is a component of many anxiety disorder variants. In social anxiety, perfectionism is part of the defense mechanism. Being perfect means nobody will have reason to examine you. Nobody will dig deep to uncover the hidden secrets of perfect people. Nobody will reject a perfect person.
Sadie is starting to see herself as a “socially anxious extrovert”. This is very interesting given that most of us would assume that socially anxious people will automatically tend toward introversion. In her case, she is drawn to connect with people (an extrovert) but that activity has traditionally triggered her (social anxiety). Social anxiety isn’t necessarily about shyness, introversion or being highly sensitive.
Social anxiety isn’t about being cured. Social anxiety is about learning to accept and be OK with your natural personality traits. Learning that it is OK to be shy, or quiet, or more sensitive than others is an important part of learning that you are not broken or defective, and therefore do not have hide your “broken-ness” from the world.
People with social anxiety often work overtime to hone and fine tune their social skills. This is a defense mechanism designed to camouflage the broken-ness they see in themselves. Fitting in, being socially competent, and knowing what to say and when to say it becomes not necessarily a natural way to be, but an exhausting and calculated method for building and maintaining a “wall” that keeps the world out of that dark self-image.
Sadie discovered that she was heavily invested in the cognitive distortion of mind reading. She was certain for a very long time that she knew what people were thinking about her based on their words, facial expressions and body language. Learning that she was likely NOT a good mind reader was a real eye opener, and a challenge at the same time. Her “mind reading” skill was part of her defense. Having it stripped away was not easy.
Sadie’s social anxiety journey has included addressing her struggles with maintaining both platonic and intimate relationships in the wake of some challenging family issues from the past. She’s also had to address her perfectionism in relation to becoming a parent. For a perfectionist that feels driven to find self worth in being the “perfect mom”, what does the “good enough mom” look like?
For Sadie, the recovery process has included creating social anxiety podcast and starting an online book club for socially anxious people. Her goal has become to go beyond just telling her story to include “helping people on purpose”. She appears to be well on her way to achieving that goal!
Find Sadie Online
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/yoursocialanxietybestie
- Your Social Anxiety Bestie Podcast: https://anchor.fm/yoursocialanxietybestie
- The Socially Anxious Book Club: https://patreon.com/yoursocialanxietybestie
- Sadie’s Links: https://www.liinks.co/yoursocialanxietybestie
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Podcast Intro/Outro Music: "Afterglow" by Ben Drake (With Permission)