Social Anxiety

I think we all have “social anxiety” at one time or another, but widows really suffer from this.  It’s important to recognize our feelings of social anxiety.

  • Feeling that you’re being judged.
  • Believing that others would humiliate you.
  • Trying too hard to impress others.
  • Feeling inferior in comparison to others.
  • Nervous that others can see your flaws.
  • Your standards for yourself are too rigid.
  • Scared of expressing any negative feelings.
  • Avoids conflicts or disagreements.
  • Doesn’t want to be asked for their opinion.

As you can see from the above list, social anxiety can hold a widow back from meeting new people.  Widows are already stressed and lonely, making it harder to open up and share their feelings.

Widows exemplifies many of the self-defeating attitudes that lead to social anxiety.  We feel that we must impress others and put on a show to be likable.  We hide our grief and loneliness because we think it makes others uncomfortable.  This creates social tension and the terrible fear that someone will see our real, unacceptable self and what is hiding behind our masks.

  • Do you have rigid ideas of “right” and “wrong” social behavior?
  • Do you think that sharing your feelings openly will make you socially unacceptable?

We widows pay a high price for grieving, it makes us feel constantly stressed, fearful of mistakes and criticism.  We often feel lonely, and struggle to open up and share our feelings.  Instead of feeling anxious and nervous, while holding all of our feelings inside, we need to tell people how we feel.  This can be remarkably helpful, as we learn to accept ourselves as a real human, with all our insecurities.

We often think that people will only accept and admire our strengths, and will reject us if they knew our weaknesses.  Because of this belief, we are often afraid to put ourselves out there socially.

Personal disclosure is a powerful antidote to social anxiety.  Tell people when you feel anxious and ask them if they have ever felt nervous or worried.  If you share your feelings, you might learn that others are also human and willing to accept you, just as you are.

Sharing your vulnerabilities can be one of the best ways to overcome social anxiety and to develop closer relationships with others.

Mary Francis, The Sisterhood of Widows

#widows #supportforwidows  #thesisterhoodofwidows

4 Responses

  1. sharon linford
    | Reply

    I was stunned when I read this message today. It describes exactly the torment I have been puuting myself through, espeacially lately. Although I have always had at least some social anxiety, it has really been horrlble the last few months (my husband died 5 months ago). I am in therapy but it is so hard to wait patiently for relief when you can’t be positive it will actually work this time. It is so hard to be stuck in self-loathing while also dealing with the loss of the light of your life.

  2. Barbara
    | Reply

    My husband died 4 1/2 years ago by suicide. I still struggle with feeling isolated and lonely. It’s a depth of loneliness that I didn’t know existed before. Although, I feel more peaceful about my situation, I am still astonished at the way our society deals with grief. People in my own family have told me it’s time to get over it, move on. But, as you know, grief doesn’t work like that. My problem is that I have been transparent about my grief and the way it feels to lay in bed awake at night worrying if I am going to be enough to physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially support my 2 children. I feel so exhausted sometimes. I wonder who will care for and comfort me. It feels like another wound when I share with my “inner group “ and they criticize me. I have been told to “move on”, “find someone new”. As if I can replace an entire 30 years of a relationship like I replace a worn out pair of shoes.
    And then there is the group who thinks I just “need to get out there” whatever that means. I do have a lovely friend that has entered our lives and now this same group has become very judgmental and don’t like him. I feel like I can’t win for losing. I think it’s just something a person can’t understand the unique complexity of it unless they go through it and I certainly wouldn’t wish that on anyone!!

  3. Kathy Eberle
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    Mary-everything you wrote about social anxiety is absolutely true. I have found that many if not most people do not want to hear complaints or negative talk and make you feel terrible for going through the natural grieving process after 52 years of marriage. Most likely these people (that includes relatives) have not lost their spouse or have never been married and just do not understand and therefore lack empathy. They want you to move on fast so they don’t have to listen to you talk about grief. People have their own problems and are self-centered-it is human nature and rare to find someone who accepts where you are and is willing to listen. My own situation is very difficult because I was thrown into a 55 and over community in the rural South U.S.after having lived in the Northeast (N.Y.)for 78 years and I am alone and have no friends or relatives here at close to age 80 and everyone has their life and it is extremely difficult to make friends at this later age. There is gossip and judgment in this tight living situation where the small villas are connected. I am constantly looking for a place to move to where at least some people are gentle, kind and understanding. Thank you for an accurate article on social anxiety.

  4. Annetta Gay Roberts
    | Reply

    ThankYou!

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