John is starting to shake. He’s in a meeting with his boss to discuss his recent performance and, even though his boss is giving him a glowing review, he’s sure he doesn’t really mean it. John tells himself that his boss is probably just too nice to say what he really thinks about how John is doing his job. As his hand starts to shake a little harder, he begins to think that his boss will notice and think he can’t handle his job. He is petrified, and he feels like getting up and running out of the room as fast as he can.
People who have social anxiety disorder often engage in making assumptions about what the people around them are thinking. Most of the time, people who suffer from social anxiety disorder assume that people are thinking negative things about them. While not everyone can like you all of the time, most of the time these assumptions are false or exaggerated. In fact, sometimes people they think are thinking horrible things about them aren’t even noticing them at all.
Some examples of these types of assumptions include:
- When I can’t think of the right word, people think I’m an idiot.
- People think my stories are always boring.
- People think I’m weird just by looking at me.
- They say they like me, but I know they’re just being nice.
Constantly telling yourself that people think this way about you enhances the overwhelming discomfort of social anxiety disorder and can make it nearly impossible to deal with other people in even mundane everyday situations. Are you a mind reader?