The “Threat” of Interpersonal Anxiety

Social or interpersonal anxiety is a message that ‘there’s a threat,’ but the anxiety is mistaken. The signal in your mind got mixed up, because it all happens so quickly. Your mind sends you the signal: ‘threat.’ In reality, there’s only discomfort, perhaps because you’re shy or have had bad experiences with people in the past. Part of the solution to this problem is to work, over time, on retraining your mind to (a) see every new person as a potentially valuable and pleasant person to know; and (b) recognize that interpersonally nobody can be a threat. Threat refers to a physical danger, and the physical danger requires either fight or flight, and quickly; but no interpersonal ‘threat’ would require this. Threat is not discomfort. Interpersonal discomfort can be ignored. It’s OK to ignore some of your emotions–especially when you know they’re mistaken.