Here is how a lot of people think who are socially anxious:

  • If I am anxious, then people will see my anxiety.
  • If people see you are anxious, then they will think you are a loser.
  • I should always appear in control and confident.
  • I have to get the approval of everyone.
  • If I don’t, it means I am defective or inferior.
  • It’s terrible not to have people’s approval.
  • There is a right way—a perfect way—to do things socially.
  • I should always do things the perfect way when around other people

And, people who are socially anxious often engage in “safety behaviors” which are superstitious behaviors that they think make them more secure and less likely to unravel in public. Typical safety behavior beliefs are the following:

  • If I hold a glass really tightly, then my hand won’t tremble.
  • If I talk really fast, people won’t think I’m a loser and have nothing to say.
  • If I have a few drinks, I can function better.
  • If I prepare my talk and read it, then I won’t lose track.
  • If I wear a jacket, they won’t see I am sweating.

Robert L. Leahy, PhD

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a character suffering from social anxiety. Include inner monologue.

Journaling Prompt: What anxious thoughts run through your mind? How do you respond to them?

Art Prompt: Social anxiety

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about social anxiety and provide strategies for coping with their inner thoughts.

Photo Credit: Mariana Zanatta on Flickr

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