Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common anxiety disorders that involves a fear of being judged by others, an avoidance of social settings, and extreme anxiety and panic attacks when in the presence of people.
Because it is so debilitating, many researchers are working on solutions to it.
The latest of these is a study in the journal Mindfulness that shows that people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) lack two things.
Fortunately, it’s not so hard to regain these two things if you use the right approach.
In some ways, the connection among SAD, mindfulness, and self-compassion seems to make sense on the surface.
SAD is an exaggerated and irrational fear of being judged by others. Mindfulness is the ability to observe and accept the world without passing judgment on it. Self-compassion is the ability to be kind and nonjudgmental towards oneself.
As such, it seems possible that people who are judgmental towards the world and themselves will also walk around with an exaggerated and incorrect belief that everyone else is judging them.
That is, if one of your most common thinking patterns is to judge, and to judge yourself harshly, you might imagine that other people are judging you too.
To tease out the relationship between these concepts, the authors of the new study recruited 136 people diagnosed with SAD.
They gave them the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and a short form of the Self-Compassion Scale to complete.
They then compared their subject’s scores with scores obtained from the general population to see whether they differed.
Through more questionnaires, they also obtained their subject’s scores for depression, self-esteem, social adjustment, and satisfaction with life, just to make sure that none of these influenced their results.
They observed that those with higher levels of self-compassion and/or mindfulness had less severe SAD, less severe depression. They also functioned better, had higher self-esteem, and experienced more satisfaction with life.
Hence, both mindfulness and self-compassion together and separately affected the severity of SAD, but the effects of self-compassion was stronger.
People with severe SAD and low mindfulness can improve their SAD by learning self-compassion, even if they never improve their level of mindfulness.
The scientists theorized that this was the case because our tendency to criticize ourselves gives rise to a belief that everyone else is criticizing us too, which can easily become SAD.
Interestingly, I’ve been focusing on these two factors when helping people with all types of anxiety. Click here to learn the exact steps I ‘ve taken to help hundreds of people to overcome anxiety . . . .