People with social anxiety disorder often have an irrational fear of criticism from others and also of being rejected by others. It is possible that if it happens to you, you constantly worry about what others may think of you, or that they have negative thoughts towards you or that they do not like you.
The main focus of cognitive theory is to convince you that your fears are unfounded and that people are much less critical or rejecting than you can imagine. However, it is normal that on some occasions you experience criticism and rejection, but it is necessary to know how to take it and how to deal with them so that they do not affect you more than necessary.
Assertive defense of your person
One of the main causes of anxiety in these cases is the overestimation of danger. For example, people with panic disorder are afraid of physical symptoms because they signify the start of a heart attack. People with social anxiety disorder fear being judged negatively because of their anxiety in social situations.
Sometimes people criticize, if you are not prepared to deal with the judgment and rejection you will continue to be afraid of social situations and that your relationships may end badly. One way to increase your coping skills in the face of other people’s judgment is by increasing your self-confidence and learning to deal with criticism and rejection, so that if it happens, it doesn’t matter too much .
Practice Assertive Self Defense
Although increasing confidence is ideal to work with a therapist, you can also do it yourself. How to get it? Follow these steps:
- Step 1. Identify the automatic thoughts you have about other people’s criticism and what you think they may be saying about you. Make a list of all the possible things you think they say about you.
- Step 2. Create a list of responses. This step is the assertive defense of the self. It implies a safe and assertive reaction to each of the possible criticisms.
Silence your inner critic
One way to practice this process on your own is to argue against your critical voice inside your head. Do this at home first and keep them out of social situations until you can easily defend yourself from criticism you may receive from others. Then, once you feel in control, try to practice this in real situations, imagining the critical voice of others and answering in your mind what you would say to them in case of criticism.
You can even try exaggerating your symptoms or seeking rejection, just so you can practice your coping skills . If your hands are shaking while making eye contact or when you ask someone for something when they are busy to talk to you, these are examples of good times to be able to practice everything we have explained here.
The goal of all this is for you to learn to develop more confident and assertive skills against rejection and criticism. So that the negative judgment of others does not affect your life or the concept you have with yourself. When you expose yourself to criticism or rejection, you can learn to cope better.
While it is true that you may not want to be in tense situations and that the fact of looking for these situations does not make you very funny, the ideal is that you be attentive to the various situations that you may have during the day to be able to put it into practice. For example, if you are at work and someone tells you that your hairstyle looks bad, you can answer that even if they do not like it, it seems to you that it is fine that way.