Perfomance Anxiety in Everyday Social Situations

Another way that thought can create anxiety is called performance anxiety. I think that’s the name though that could be to do with sex though if it is then it is just a particular example of the general rule I wish to pontificate upon today.

Performance anxiety is what people experience before an exam or before going on stage. They perceive that they have to perform to a certain standard. Though this perception may be true in the case of an exam or a role in a play even there this perception doesn’t help.

It’s the cause of that strange phenomena whereby stupid people shout at clever people on game shows because the clever people couldn’t recall an answer that the stupid person could.

There may even be arguments for how this form of anxiety can be beneficial in competitive environments. It becomes a problem though when a person – and I was that person for a long time – has the same perception concerning everyday social interactions.

With me it came about that I thought I was clever and because I was clever I had to behave in a certain way, talk in a certain way. You know use big words and never say innit. So I would go into social situations and just not be authentic. I couldn’t carry a conversation, couldn’t hold eye-contact. Every social situation became a trauma because I would not only be trying to come across as “clever” (which is a very stupid thing to do) but I was simultaneously berating myself for not being authentic. I saw how stupid my actions – or rather the source of my actions – was but I couldn’t bring myself to behave otherwise. It was like there was a dive to be taken and I was too cowardly to take it.

It’s evident that such behavior is stupid because if someone doesn’t like you why does that matter? When it comes down to it what is there that you want to do that someone looking down on you will stop you from doing? Nothing! (except in cases like acting or a job interview but they are not the vast majority of social interactions). By behaving from a place where you are worrying about other people’s opinion of yourself you often bring about their disapproval. You become a prostitute for approval and people sub-consciously find that distasteful.

The problem was that no matter how much I understood my predicament knowledge did nothing to help me. So how did I remedy this situation? Mindfulness!!!

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