Social fears, anxiety are normal and necessary - expert

Weekend Life 30/06/2018
Image: File.

In the last decade more and more people are feeling ashamed of their natural anxiety.

Dr Eric Goodman is a clinical psychologist, author and speaker who specialises in helping people face their social fears and anxiety disorders.

His new book, Social Courage: Coping and Thriving with the Reality of Social Anxietysays that anxiety is normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

“Social anxiety is a perfectly normal experience that almost everybody has from time to time.”

Dr Goodman says that some of the blame can be put to social media and advertising.

People are comparing how they feel on the inside to the perfection that people on social media and in adverts portray on the outside.

Social anxiety can often lead to thoughts around rejection, embarrassment, feelings of being an outcast, as well as sweating, numbness, and a racing heart. It also comes with a urge to resist or avoid some situations all together.

But Dr Goodman said that anxiety is a completely normal, and very necessary, part of life.

“We need to have a certain amount of social anxiety to function in a human community.”

Social anxiety is what gives us awareness of stepping outside of cultural norms, so rather than ‘curing’ social anxiety it’s important to focus on decreasing the phobic aspects and make sure it doesn’t impact day-to-day life.

This interview prompted a lot of feedback from listeners who shared their own stories around anxiety.

One listener said: “I have 3 children that all suffer different degrees of anxiety," while another said “sometimes [my mother] won't want to see anyone for months being afraid people will judge her”.

Listen to the full interview with Dr Eric Goodman above.

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