First I would ask “Which other people?” Are they strangers, acquaintances, work colleagues, friends, close friends, or family?

social anxiety disorderSecond I would suggest that you slow down worry or anxiety symptoms by deciding on a range from not caring to caring in the order presented in the opening list. The opinions of others are their own. The ones that matter most are the ones you hold in high regard. This is for reasons ranging from “They write my paycheck” to “I think they know a lot about this subject.” Or they are the opinions of those you love the most. And you are not required to agree with those either.

Third, based on the relative value of the other person’s opinion (you decided that in steps one and two) you may now decide how much to care. Put a number on it. Say, on a scale of 1-100% where 1% means you care almost less than nothing and 100% means this person’s good opinion of you matters a great deal. Assign a value.

Fourth, based on your rating, make a list of what you might choose to do or not do (always a good option). This may range from considering the person to be a wanker whose opinion is meaningless to “Boy, I really need to address this issue.”

If they happen to have a different opinion from you, you can simply accept that and ask them about how they came to that conclusion. This will provide you with valuable information and may affect your next response to them.

Completing each step provides time and needed distance from the initial anxiety or panic attack. It gives your frontal cortex a little time to participate over your fight, flight or freeze response.

Remember that worry and anxiety are all about the story you are telling yourself, and it may not be true. Just because you think it does not make it so. You can rewrite that story. To understand a little more about the way social anxiety feels, read my last post.

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