I've been thinking about the impact of anxiety on our lives. Especially the kind of anxiety that circles around our relationships and attachments. I've been hatching a new theory about how our level of vulnerability to social anxiety (or lack of vulnerability) affects the way we approach relationships and operate within them.
Are you willing to help me test my theory?
First, some background. Let's talk about anxiety. By "anxiety" I mean physical symptoms of anxiety: pounding heart, tightness in your chest, cold sweat, nervousness, a feeling of dread, etc. These are measurable things. Objective and palpable.
Secondly, I'm targeting a specific source of anxiety, namely the kind of anxiety that is sparked by interactions with other people. For example, anxiety about a breakup or your friend getting pissed at you. There are other potent sources of anxiety of course, such as fear of physical violence or going to the dentist. These kinds of anxiety relate to physical pain. I want to steer clear of those in this study.
I've put together a survey to explore how much social anxiety you experience in your life. For each question, rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on the strength of the anxiety you would feel in that particular situation (i.e., the intensity of the physical symptoms). 1 means you feel no anxiety at all. 5 is moderate, but bearable anxiety. 10 is severe and unbearable anxiety compelling you to take immediate action to stop it.
How much anxiety do you feel when:
1. Watching movies full of tense drama, conflicts, and heartbreak.
2. In childhood, being yelled at.
3. In childhood, being separated from your parents.
4. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence, but not because of something you did.
5. When a person acts angry or sad in your presence because of something you did.
6. Witnessing strangers arguing/fighting.
7. Someone crying in front of you.
8. Public speaking/group attention.
9. Facing a deadline in work, school, or other commitment.
10. Sitting down to a written test in which your score will be known to others.
11. Getting the silent treatment.
12. Thinking that you might not be invited.
13. Thinking that you might be invited.
14. Being left alone.
15. Being the object of someone's interest.
16. Your partner acts like he/she is disappointed in you or unsatisfied with you.
17. Your partner is angry at you.
18. Revealing the person you are.
19. Failing to meet your parents' expectations.
20. Disagreeing with someone.
For each of these final questions, please indicate whether you either strongly disagree, somewhat disagree, somewhat agree, or strongly agree.
21. If there is a person I want to be with, I am quick to feel anxiety if I feel that the person is drifting away from me or is not liking me.
22. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to get even closer to the person and let him/her know how I feel. My first thought is to try harder to succeed with that person.
23. If I ever feel anxiety that the person I want to be with is drifting away from me or is not liking me, the solution is usually to distance myself from the person and hide my feelings. My first thought is to protect myself from that person.
I'll let you know how my hypothesis works out. (Feel free to answer anonymously if you'd like.) Thanks for weighing in with your own experiences!!
(Click HERE for the results.)