There are 3 things that can make your box tiny and affect your social anxiety
The inspiration for this post came from a good ol’ TikTok video (how shocking).
There’s been some controversy around Ms. Rachel (a YouTuber that makes amazing videos for toddlers titled “Songs for littles”) because she opened up the floodgates when she mentioned that dinosaurs were created millions of years ago.
This one mom cannot accept this reality, saying she’s pulling the show out of her home because she doesn’t believe in evolution. I can only imagine the effort it will take her to shield her daughter from reality – I do not envy her task.
Someone stitched her video and asked the community, “If you did not believe dinosaurs were real, how was your childhood? Are you ok?” Someone replied most magically, which is the video that sparked my imagination.
In this video, she highlights her loneliness due to her inability to relate to the larger community because her parents fed her the belief of the Firmament.
She states in the most powerful statement:
If you’re placed within a rigid framework, and your beliefs are curated from a young age, you bet you will have difficulty connecting with others and socializing, and making sense of the world around you.
You’ll either back yourself into a corner, firmly standing your ground, or rebel and find the light (like she did, through her curiosity and unwillingness to be subservient).
Opinions and personal beliefs are not objective truths, especially if they go against rock-solid evidence.
Sometimes being the only one standing out can be a really good thing; it’s what makes pioneers, inventors, and creators shine.
But going against dinosaurs is not the standing out we should be cheering on.
You’re probably thinking, “what on earth does ANY of this have to do with social anxiety?” A lot, my friend, a lot.
See, being closed-minded to the world around can affect your social anxiety. Imagine you’re in a box, and you’re stuck with social anxiety. As you move through the world, doing what you do regularly, you’ll come into contact with people from all walks of life.
If your box is small and tight, meaning that you judge others for how they choose to live and think your way of living/thinking is right (regardless of the mountain of evidence laid before you), social anxiety will expand.
And with a small box, there’s little room for it to expand into, so it will suffocate and debilitate you. As she said in her video, she had problems in school. And it just compounds with age.
On the other hand, someone walking around with a giant box, or potentially without any walls closing in, can put some space between them and social anxiety, which is a much healthier way of being.
Whether willingly (we continue to be hard-headed) or unwillingly (beliefs passed down). This is not me pushing my agenda in any way.
Some of these I’m guilty of having believed.
The world moves so fast that if we’re holding on to how things used to be or denying the future (or past, with the dinosaurs), we’re doing ourselves a disservice.
As Adam Grant says in his book “Think Again”:
“The hallmark of successful critical thinking is the willingness to reconsider your most cherished beliefs in light of new information and perspectives. This requires a commitment to updating your beliefs and opinions as you encounter new ideas and evidence—not a commitment to defending your beliefs or propping up your ego.”
There’s no substitute for effort, but you can speed up the process if you understand and take these 5 ways seriously. This is your starter pack; what you do with it is up to you.
These are 3 examples of an outdated worldview, but there are many others that I don’t have the time to get into.
Here are 2 examples that expand on this point:
1. Believing something rooted in conspiracy, being dismissive of scientific evidence or theories, such as carbon dating and evolution, or even something as simple as believing that the Earth is round.
We can see science in action today, so seeking confirmation bias from a tight-knit community that counters it is problematic. What ends up happening is the preservation of beliefs through isolation and staying inside a bubble that feeds the narrative. It’s a formula for loneliness, anger, and avoidance.
2. Choosing Facebook group advice over the medical community.
We’ve seen this play out during the pandemic and how it made life harder for the healthcare workers who were completely overwhelmed worldwide with an influx of cases because too many people refused to believe the dangers. Let alone the number of people who died.
The Facebook groups are alive and well, sharing misinformation across the board.
Whenever I fall victim to confirmation bias, I try to stop myself and pull back. It’s a normal human reaction, but I’m working on re-wiring myself by looking at several sources, asking around, and making an informed decision that is not emotionally charged or opinion-based.
Here are 2 examples of ways you can start exposing yourself:
Travel isn’t just going overseas; but also visiting nearby cities, countries, and states (depending on where you live).
It’s running into people who don’t look like you, don’t live like you, or see life like you. What happens if you don’t seek out travel is that you’re not coming into contact with the world at large, and my goodness is the world large and beautiful and magical!
Another more direct reason to travel is that you’ll learn to adapt faster, be more flexible in your thinking, and see yourself through a new lens. And, of course, it opens you up to people.
2. Not seeking out new experiences.
Whether chasing a new hobby, finding a new interest, or going out of your way to test your comfort zone. Through lived experience, you can make new connections, both with others and within yourself.
This is the best way to learn more about who you are and how you want to show up. Also, as a plus, it’s been shown that people who experience new things regularly don’t feel like life is passing them by.
They can also pit someone against the world, creating an anti-social mentality. Rigid thinking will do anyone in! And that’s fine if that’s how someone wants to live and is happy with themselves and they have fulfilling relationships, but I’m willing to bet that’s not the case.
If that’s you, and you’re feeling defensive over any of these points, that’s a great indication to see where the triggers are coming from.
Were you raised to believe certain things that now, as an adult, you still hang on to by habit, but you know you were misled? That’s ok!
We all have that.
There are so many things I was told while growing up that don’t pass the test anymore. Whether from family, friends, school, or society. It’s just a fact of life that we all need to re-educate ourselves and question our values and belief systems.
Honestly, I still have a hard time letting go of the belief that quicksand isn’t going to kill me the way it’s portrayed in movies. The worst is that you die of dehydration because no one’s coming to pull you out. Who knew?!
In his book, Think Again, Adam Grant goes at length to promote regularly challenging your beliefs:
“Thinking again requires us to doubt our own competence – to recognize that we’re not as smart as we thought we were and that other people might see the world differently from how we do.”
Do this and watch your box expand. Hopefully, it expands so far into the atmosphere you can’t see its walls anymore.
Bye-bye box! Bye-bye, social anxiety!
Welcome openness, dialogue, and relationships. Again, it’s not about changing yourself but changing how you think. That’s where the bulk of our life’s work should be. Make it a fun game to question your thoughts regularly and see how often you’re wrong.
Most likely, you don’t have extreme views like thinking the Earth is flat, but we are all victims of bad thinking. Thinking that closes us off from the world and the people around us.
Preconceived notions we need to break down. I like to say, “See being “wrong” as a good thing – because it is.” It’s the only path to growth and being one with the world.
In this episode, I explain how your beliefs affect your social anxiety. I also highlight a TikTok video where someone grew up with a closed-minded view of the world and how it impacted her.
Here are 3 ways you keep your world small:
I went from being scared to ask a question out loud to hosting summits online. I love coffee, french crepes, and working from home. My mission? Help others build their social confidence to make friends, have conversations, and be comfortable around people!
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