Is anxiety situational? Yes, anxiety can be highly situational! Watch the video to see why!
Why do some people fear one-on-one conversations but are perfectly comfortable speaking to large audiences? And why is it the complete opposite for other people?
Why is it that some people perform in a band comfortably - or play guitar on stage with no problem - but are uncomfortable speaking in small meetings.
Think about the situations where you are anxious - and the ones were you’re comfortable. Why is that?
Let's look at public speaking anxiety and social anxiety as an example. Public speaking anxiety and social anxiety are caused by a fear of negative judgment. When you find your anxiety rising in a specific situation it’s because you have more fear of negative judgment in that situation.
Basically you’re making a calculation that looks something like this: In one column is probability and in the other is cost. When we’re evaluating probability were asking what’s the likelihood something bad is going to happen? If we think that the probability is high that something bad will happen then our anxiety goes up. If we think that the probability is low, our anxiety goes down.
When we’re calculating cost, we’re asking If something bad happens, what will I lose? For example, if we’re giving a speech and we think that it’s likely that we’re going to be demoted or lose our job if we make a mistake then our anxiety will be very high - getting demoted or losing a job is a very high cost. If we think we might lose important relationships or alliances at work that’s also a big cost, and our anxiety will be high. If both probability and cost are high, then our anxiety will be very high in that situation.
Think about your situation and let me know in the comments below if this resonates with you.
For you Redditors out there, you asked this question 27 times during my Ask Me Anything (AMA) in 2018. Here are a few of the questions that came in:
▪︎ How can I be super anxious in normal social situations, but have zero fear about public speaking? https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/8brgl2/hey_redditors_ive_studied_social_anxiety_and/dx9noa6?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x
▪︎ I have crippling social anxiety, but once I get on stage to speak in public, I'm a star. https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/8brgl2/hey_redditors_ive_studied_social_anxiety_and/dx9ojkw?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x
▪︎ I’ve got a question! I have mild social anxiety, yet I’ve never had a problem with public speaking. Why not? https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/8brgl2/hey_redditors_ive_studied_social_anxiety_and/dx9u3gn?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x
▪︎ Why is it, with so many anxieties plaguing me, that I have absolute confidence in my ability to speak to an audience? https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/8brgl2/hey_redditors_ive_studied_social_anxiety_and/dx9u7sf?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x
▪︎ I get extremely uncomfortable in crowds or even small gatherings. If I could just live like a hermit I would. However, I have no problem speaking in public and I'm even quite relaxed and comfortable as I do. Am I normal? Is this normal? It just doesn't make sense to me that I avoid interaction with people on a more personal one on one environment, but have no problem standing in front of large groups and saying what I have to say. https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/8brgl2/hey_redditors_ive_studied_social_anxiety_and/dx9j01b?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x
▪︎ I can play music in front of around 1800 people and have no problem at all. But talk in front of 30 ..oh my god.. Could this just be a comfort thing? Or could it be that in a group situation its easier to be comfortable because I am not the sole center of attention. I've never cared when people watched me play sports either (college rowing). https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/4trd2a/im_cheryl_mathews_ive_studied_public_speaking/d5jvdmn?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x