Does Social Anxiety Get Better Or Worse With Age
If you asked this question ten different people with social anxiety, you’d get very different answers. Some would say that it gets better because you stop caring so much about what other people think. Others would say that it actually gets worse because their friends already have families and they’ve ended up more or less alone and stuck with their anxiety.
However, the right answer is that age doesn’t have an impact on your social anxiety at all.
What affects your anxiety is how you approach it… how you approach life and how you approach social situations that make you anxious.
You see, over time you learn how to cope with your social anxiety.
You learn how to deal with certain situations in a way that helps you survive them with the least amount of stress and negativity.
And these coping skills that you acquire somehow make it easier for you over time.
You learn how to deal with certain situations that you have to deal with on a regular basis. You acquire certain coping skills that help you go through these situations.
And since you have these different ways of coping, you get a wrong impression that your social anxiety is less intense than it used to be. It makes you believe that with age things get better but the reality is that they really don’t get any better unless, of course, you’ve done something to improve your situation.
Just developing these coping skills hasn’t really helped you all that much.
You see, over time our lives change.
When you’re in school or on college you have to deal with lots of stressful social situations on a daily basis and that’s why it makes you feel like that your teenage years or your college years are the hardest.
It makes you feel like your social anxiety reaches its top at that time.
And once you’re out of college… once you have a job and you don’t have to deal with certain social situations anymore, things get better.
But the reality is that things haven’t really changed with you and your anxiety.
The reality is that you’re just not exposing yourself to these same stressful situations anymore.
Once you’re out of school you don’t have to compare yourself to others anymore or at least you don’t have that many people around to compare yourself to.
There’s no peer pressure anymore. There are no cliques that you’d like to belong to where no one gives a damn about you.
So basically you’re dealing with far less stressful situations than you had to deal with before.
If you don’t have a job and you’re just staying at home then you don’t have that many stressful situations that would make you feel lots of anxiety.
And if you have a job that you had for a while you also become accustomed to all the situations that can happen there. You become accustomed to your coworkers and their company. You somehow learn to cope with stress at work.
But, if you were put in the same situations, as you had to deal with in high school or on college, you would notice that your anxiety is still there. You would notice that it didn’t get any better. You might even notice that your anxiety actually became worse.
And I’m about to tell you why some people’s social anxiety gets less intense over time and why other people’s anxiety gets more intense.
Reason Why Your Social Anxiety Can Get Less Intense Over Time
You see, you’ve learnt ways of coping with social situations and you’ve developed a certain mechanism of coping that helps you stay in these stressful situations in spite of feeling the anxiety.
And when you stay in stressful situations your anxiety actually gets less intense over time because your brain learns that these social situations aren’t really dangerous.
Your subconscious realizes that there might be some threat but it’s not really as bad as it used to think that it was.
So, if you use your coping skills to help you stay in social situations you can make your social anxiety get less intense over time because your non avoidance shows your brain that social situations are safe.
Reason Why Your Social Anxiety Can Get More Intense Over Time
However, when you have social anxiety disorder it’s much more likely that you develop a coping mechanism that helps you avoid social situations that make you anxious.
You avoid going out on lunch with your coworkers.
You avoid Christmas parties at work.
You avoid family gathering.
If at all possible you buy your food and other stuff over Internet. You don’t go to your local grocery store. And if you go to the grocery store you use automated self-checkout so you don’t have to deal with cashiers.
So, in a way this so-called coping mechanisms actually help you avoid situations that make you anxious and in this case you’re sending your subconscious a very different message.
You give it more and more evidence that social situations are dangerous.
Every time that you avoid something that makes you anxious, your subconscious gets a confirmation that it was right to fire the fight-flight-freeze response that made you anxious and made you avoid that situation.
As you avoided that situation, you didn’t get hurt so you actually felt quite safe. Consequently, your subconscious got another evidence that avoidance is the right thing to do.
So when you have to deal with these situations anyway and you can’t avoid them, your symptoms of social anxiety become very intense. You can even experience panic attacks when there’s no way to avoid.
So, basically these coping skills that help you avoid social situations don’t do you any favor. They actually make your anxiety get worse.
The Effect Of Time On Your Social Anxiety
If your coping mechanisms allow you to stay in social situations in spite of having the anxiety, your anxiety gets less intense over time. This happens because staying in stressful situations helps you teach your subconscious mind that social situations aren’t that dangerous.
Now, on the other hand, if over time you’ve developed a coping skill that is “avoidance” and you’ve developed avoidant behavior in order to avoid intense feelings of social anxiety then with age, of course, your social anxiety gets worse.
So, as you can see, your age alone has no influence on social anxiety, however your attitude toward handling social situations has a huge impact on how intense your social anxiety gets over time.
Your way of dealing with stressful social events determines the intensity of your social anxiety over time.
So, what can you do?
What is the best way to deal with your social anxiety disorder?
Well, obviously you need to start working on yourself as soon as possible.
It doesn’t matter how old you are.
You can always turn things around.
Of course, that the older you get the more frustrated you can become and the more hopeless and helpless you might feel.
However, age doesn’t make it impossible to overcome social anxiety because anyone can overcome it as long as there is a will to do it and as long as you follow the right process that helps you neutralize your limiting beliefs.
The longer that you postpone overcoming your social anxiety, the more evidence that support your limiting beliefs you can gather. Consequently, you have more work to do in order to overcome your social anxiety disorder.
And that’s why it’s so important that you start as soon as possible so that you don’t have to work on so many beliefs as you would have to if you postponed.
Now if you’re still in high school or on college you might have a different challenge because you have more social situations to deal with. Your life might be more active and you might have less time to work on your problems and you might get more chances of experiencing setbacks.
And on the other hand the older you get you get less interruptions, less chances of experiencing a setback or experiencing something that throws you back at square one. However you have more limiting beliefs to deal with and you have more evidence that support these limiting beliefs.
So in a way it doesn’t matter how old you are.
You can overcome your social anxiety as long as you start working on it.
If you just hope that with age things will improve, you’re not giving yourself very good chances of ever overcoming your social phobia.
You need to become proactive.
There are many ways you can deal with your limiting beliefs.
I’ve studied quite a few approaches and over time I had figured out that neuro-linguistic programming works very well, especially the linguistic part where you use reframing for “challenging” your negative beliefs.
And it works even better when it’s combined with emotional freedom technique that allows you to discharge the feelings of anxiety that you experience in social situations.
So, if you’d like to learn more about overcoming social anxiety, subscribe to my free email newsletter below.
Right now I’m actually working on a series of videos that will help you turn in the right direction and make the right and educated decision on what you need to do to overcome your social anxiety. Basically, I’m going to show you the whole process I went through in order to defeat my social anxiety.
As soon as this is ready you’ll get it in your inbox, so make sure you subscribe below.