Severe social anxiety symptoms vs. normal symptoms

Think of social anxiety on a continuum of 0 to 100. Where 0 = no anxiety and 100 = worst anxiety you can imagine. 

severe social anxiety symptoms fear levels

Here are a few important points:

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    No one is at a zero in every social situation. (Even presidents and prime ministers are going to have some social anxiety in some social situations sometimes.) So your goal is not to get to zero anxiety. Your goal is to get to manageable anxiety.
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    "Low fear group." Those who have a 1-30 fear level have some social anxiety symptoms but it's manageable. When you think of this category, think of your friends and family who seem pretty comfortable in social situations. They may have some symptoms in some social situations, but the symptoms are manageable. They enter the social situation and get through it. That's the "normal" level. Individuals at this fear level have some social anxiety, but it's not getting in the way of  accomplishing their goals. Fear is not limiting their ability to graduate from school, pursue their choice career, or develop relationships. social anxiety is not limiting their ability to pursue a high quality of life. This group is thinking about the situation differently as we'll see in the next blog.
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    "Medium-to-high fear group." Those who have a fear level of 31-100, anxiety symptoms are getting intense enough to make social interactions anywhere from difficult to extremely painful, and this is seriously impacting their life (career, relationships, quality of life). This level is typically where you might be diagnosed with "social anxiety disorder" because the anxiety is interfering with your life (career, school, relationships). The higher you go on the scale, the more intense the symptoms, and the greater the avoidance of social situations. Avoidance is what keeps the fear alive so it's a self-perpetuating cycle.

If you're in the medium-to-high fear group, your goal is to reduce your anxiety to a manageable level, and to develop a tolerance for the anxiety at that level. Note that your goal is not to get to zero anxiety in all social situations as this is not achievable (everyone has some social anxiety in some situations). Your goal should be to expect some anxiety, and as you recover, the anxiety will become more manageable.

Please ask questions or leave comments below!

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