Self-esteem and social anxiety are two closely connected concepts. Low self-esteem or negative self-assessment of oneself has its origin, among many other factors, in social interactions and our sense of adaptation to them. In this way we can say that we learn to value ourselves and know ourselves through others.
In this article we will talk about the concept of self-esteem, the characteristics of social phobia, the perception we have of ourselves, and the feedback loop that forms between self-esteem and social phobia.
INDEX OF CONTENTS
self esteem concept
Self-esteem is a set of cognitive and emotional phenomena that make up a person’s attitude towards oneself, that is, the way in which every person judges himself. A positive self esteem constitutes a basic condition for emotional stability, personal balance and mental health, while a negative self esteem it is a source of discomfort, being a characteristic associated with a large part of mental illnesses, especially anxiety and depressive disorders (Mckay & Fanning, 1991).
Van Tuinen and Ramanaiah (1979) point out that self-esteem also refers to a series of characteristics such as the feelings of adequacy and worth that the person perceives of himself, the sensation of being a “good” or “bad” person, his point of view about their state of health, their physical appearance, their abilities, their sexuality and their sense of adequacy in social interaction (Tuinen and Ramanaiah, 1979 cited in Mckay and Fanning, 1991).
Basic characteristics of social phobia
As it was named, the social aspect has a great weight in how we see ourselves. However, an excess of concern in the way in which we are evaluated when interacting can give rise to the so-called social phobia.
The social phobia, also called social Anxiety Disorder, It is characterized by intense, persistent, and excessive fear in response to one or more social situations in which the person is exposed to strangers or possible judgment by others. The person with the phobia has fear of being observedact in a way that you may find humiliating, or show anxiety symptoms before others. Feared social situations are avoided by the person in most cases and when they are not, they experience highly significant discomfort since they are perceived as dangerous stimuli (Bados, 2009).
This social anxiety, the result of interaction with others, is at first, a normal and adaptive emotion that we all experience in new and relevant social situations, in which we doubt our performance and how others will perceive us. The emotion of anxiety allows the person to put himself in alertness, thus allowing you to prepare for the performance. However, factors such as the degree of discomfort caused, the long duration, the high frequency or the interference in the life of the person, determine the appearance of social phobia (Bados, 2009).
Self-perception and thought projection
Many authors suggest that among people with social phobia we can find high scores in the dimension “public self awareness“. This concept refers to the ability of the human being to realize himself as a social object. This greater awareness results in the person evaluating and reacting to social relationships with greater intensity.
Another important element to take into account in the equation between self-esteem and social anxiety is the cognitive schemas. These are thinking models that help people label, classify, interpret, evaluate, and assign meaning to objects and events. Therefore, we can say that these schemata help us orient ourselves to situations and select relevant memories of them.
In people with anxiety, these cognitive schemata are influenced by alertness disproportionate that they experience and that makes them enter into a vulnerability mode. When this mode is active, distorted or cognitive distortions. The presence of these distortions causes people to interpret the situations that surround them in terms of weakness, magnifying the latter, focusing their attention on them and minimizing their personal advantages. Therefore, cognitive distortions make the person receives an unreasonable estimate of the threat or coping resources in social situations.
Feedback loop between self-esteem and social phobia
The connection between self-esteem and social phobia lies, among other factors, in the goal attainment, achievement and sense of self-efficacy perceived by the person after facing their problems. Thus, if the person’s performance is perceived as good in achieving his achievements or goals and he remains confident in her abilities, he will face the social situation with tolerable anxiety.
However, as we said, the appearance of cognitive distortions in the individual with social phobia causes the perception of self-efficacy in social situations is reduced. Beck and Emery (1985) pointed out that people with social phobia feared the negative consequences that could occur in interactions and that apparently could seem plausible. Thus, a person who fears being uncomfortable on a first date or doing a job interview may be right from time to time.
However, what we observe in the individual with social phobia is that the fear of the consequences itself gives rise to the actual occurrence of.
In other words, the fear and anxiety that he experiences in interactions with others will generate behaviors such as speech inhibition (he will barely speak or he will do so with monosyllables or short phrases), thought (he will find it difficult to find topics of conversation or he will block himself in conversations with the rest). This dynamic of blocks and conversational deficits provides additional evidence for your negative self-assessment.
This negative assessment of himself would lead to a negative self esteem and maintenance of the vulnerability mode already mentioned, typical of social anxiety.
In summary, the fact that we are social beings means that even our own identity is influenced by the way in which we relate to others.
Therefore, having good social skills and positive self-esteem can help us prevent what is mentioned in this article. At PsicoGlobal, pioneers in online therapy, we can help you with this, since we have extensive experience designing and implementing therapies to manage social phobia and improve self-esteem.
- McKay, M. & Fanning, P. (1991). Self-esteem: Evaluation and improvement. Martinez Rock.
- Horse. V, (2007). Manual for the cognitive-behavioral treatment of psychological disorders. XXI Century of Spain Publishers, SA
- Bados, A. (2009). Social phobia. Synthesis.