Friday, 5 September 2014

The social anxiety scale

Have you ever tried putting the people in your life in order of how much anxiety they cause you to feel? It can be a worthwhile exercise and even rather fun. 

To begin, think of people you're totally comfortable around, with whom you can be yourself. It might be one or two, or even none. Count these types of people as zero. 

Now move up the scale to the people who freak you out and push that anxiety button the most. These people score a full ten. 

All the other people you know can be rated and fall somewhere in the middle. They might make you a bit nervous, or freak you out but not cause your worst anxiety.

You can add detail for why each person makes you feel a particular way. This can help you to look at your negative thoughts objectively and understand why you see the people at opposite ends of your scale as so different. 

For example, on my scale the people who score a zero are calm, quiet, non-judgmental, undemanding. They also happen to be family members whose unconditional love I can count on. If I mess up, I know they won't reject me.

The tens are all type A personalities who tend to get right in my face and bellow their conversation at me, asking rude questions, making me explain myself and generally making me feel ashamed of myself. 

There is one woman in particular I'm thinking of here, a family friend I am sometimes forced to deal with, who has what might be the world's LOUDEST voice; she always looks right into my face for minutes at a time as she regales one of her lengthy anecdotes. 

It makes me feel utterly uncomfortable and has done since I was a child, but like a lot of these people, the more scared I get the louder and more ridiculously animated she becomes. Sometimes I have literally been cowering at the back of my chair during one of these ordeals. 

I think she knows I'm terrified of her and is desperate to make me like her. Um, awkward?

If I'm honest, I try as hard as possible to avoid her company at all costs which I know is the veryt hing that makes anxiety worse. That's what we're continually told, right? It's just that mine has only ever got more extreme every time I face a trigger situation.

Ok, so I'm still working on ways to feel comfortable around the people I score as tens on my anxiety scale, but I now know I'm happiest around reserved, non-confrontational types who don't make cutting remarks, do sudden things or carry any kind of agenda. 

Give it a try and let me know in the comments what sort of people cause your worst anxiety :))

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