In the video below, Jordan Peterson describes in detail what it means to be socially anxious and ways in which this can be overcome in order to be able to live a more meaningful and happier life.
The video opens with Jordan Peterson asking the question, “what happens when you’re socially anxious?” He uses the example of a socially anxious person attending a party. “You go to a party and your heart’s beating – Why? – The party is a monster – Why? – Because it’s judging you.” In the mind of a socially anxious person, the events surrounding them are happening to them, and not regardless of them.
The judgement they feel by those around them has a negative impact on their mindset, and whether this is true or not, they place themselves low down on the dominance hierarchy. This manifests itself in terms of their perception that nature is judging them harshly, which interferes with their sexual success.
Attending the party is, in a way, confronting the “dragon of chaos.” In order to mitigate this confrontation, their body language tries to portray them in such a way as not to be perceived as a threat. For example, hunching over.
Internally, a slurry of potentially negative thoughts run through their mind. “What are people thinking about me? Am I looking stupid? Am I looking foolish? Jeez, I’m awkward. I hate being here. Man, I’m sweating too much.” These internalized thoughts are all self-focused. There is an inability to actually focus on the happenings around them. Their only focus is other people’s perception of them.
How do you combat this? The first thing is to tell them to look at other people. Don’t tell them to get out of their heads, because this will cause them to become fixated on their negative thoughts of themselves, and their perceptions of what others are thinking of them. It becomes a negative feedback loop.
Once they are able to look at other people, they can have a better idea of what the other person is thinking. This method does not work for those that are unfortunately terribly socialized. This is not the majority of socially anxious people. Most socially anxious people are much more comfortable, and are able to, engage in conversations one-on-one. Why? “Cause they look at them.” This helps them to focus their attention outward and away form their internal negative looping thoughts.
If you’re having a conversation, in order to pay attention to the discussion, you need to look at the other person. This is how you see how they are responding to what is being said. The conversation will have a better flow, because part of what is being said will be based on the other persons body language and facial expressions reacting to what you are saying. This is where you will “get all your information.”