Many of us struggle with some form of social anxiety. Some have a social phobia that is even more severe, causing extreme discomfort and unease in social situations. One of the most common symptoms of these conditions is this tendency to think about and pick apart every interaction we have, and imagine that the other person responded in a negative way.
For example, we may have a short interaction with a stranger, and when we leave the interaction, we think that the stranger is probably laughing at us, judging us, or dwelling on every single mistake we made in the conversation.
Do Other People Care?
One thing to ask yourself, however, is how often you dwell on the mistakes that someone else made in the conversation. For most people, the answer is “not at all.” In fact, most of us spend no more than a few seconds thinking about any conversation we had with anyone. Life is too busy. We have too many of our own worries, needs, and stresses to waste time thinking about every little talk and interaction we had.
That is true of *everyone else* as well. In this case, the phrase “no one cares about you” is meant to be comforting. Of course they “care” about you – your friends and family love you, and if you’re sad or hurt they’ll be there to help pick you up. But unless you have an immediate need, most people have too much of their own needs to deal with. Their interactions with you represent less than a fraction of their mind, and – seconds after the conversation is over – they are thinking about something or someone else.
Recognizing Our Fears and Our Reality
It is with this in mind that part of overcoming social anxiety comes from realizing that our fears frequently do not match reality. Our worries about being judged, for example, are not connected to our own experiences and how little time we have in the day thinking about anyone besides ourselves.
Life is too busy, with too many other people and things and needs to spend much time thinking about an interaction with have with someone else. So, if you feel anxious about an interaction that you had, it is important to remind yourself that the other person is probably not thinking about you – and does not have the mental capacity to worry about the interaction for more than a few seconds.