Social Anxiety: How Buddhism Can Help You Cope

Crowded coffee shop.

Social anxiety disorder, also known as “SAD”, is a common psychological diagnosis centered on a fear of negative evaluation by others. Social anxiety is not about shyness or introversion, or even a dislike of people of social situations; rather, social anxiety occurs when a person is afraid of being judged by others, because of embarrassing behaviors that person believes he/she will display.

Viewed through a lens of Buddhism and Buddhist psychology, social anxiety isn’t a pathological state requiring a clinical diagnosis, but rather, a result of the mind or ego. In Buddhist terms, suffering stems from the mind: from distorted thinking and also from over identifying with ego, or taking ourselves to be our minds.

What would Buddhism say about social anxiety? This type of suffering could be explained on two levels:

So what’s the antidote to all this? Self-compassion, self-love, and techniques – such as mindfulness and meditation – that help us detach from our thoughts and realize that we are not the voice inside our heads: we are the Light and Love and that hears it.

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