I had a conversation with a friend today. He has had issues over the years with being around people. Some call this, “social anxiety”. He (and many others) are talked into taking meds in order to alleviate these social fears. But all meds do is make him feel like a zombie, so he went back off of them (slowly and with medical assistance). After getting off of the meds, I talked with him and gave him some Biblical guidance. He said, today, that this really helped him and it’s even helped him overcome a great deal of depression that was caused by his social anxiety.
So, here are a few things I shared with him:
1. First, realize that you are not crazy. This happens to all of us to one degree or other. I know preachers that are nauseated to the point of vomiting when they preach, even to small crowds. What you are experiencing is very typical.
We are all fallen sinners. We are all flawed. Jesus is the only human being to ever be “perfect” in His thoughts, words and deeds, and that was because He is God (see John 1:1 & 1 Timothy 3:16 in a King James Bible). And facing our inadequacies is the first step toward a remedy. The apostle Paul is considered an example for all believers to follow, yet he said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18)
No one is flawless or sinless, except the sinless Saviour. So don’t be fooled or intimidated by those who exude confidence and may even try to make you feel inferior. They are just as flawed as you!
2. Know when to avoid certain people. I have a friend who stutters. I’ve had some issues with that myself. He was badly affected by those who would mock and make fun of him, or poke fun at him behind his back. But he learned to just stay away from such people as much as possible.
Proverbs 4 says:
14, Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
15, Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.
16, For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
You are under no obligation to be around everyone or to be everybody’s friend. If you show yourself to be friendly, but are made to feel inferior by someone with a “superiority complex”, pray for that person but STAY AWAY. Just by doing this, you will see an improvement in your mental and spiritual well being. And an important principle is found in the Psalms:
“A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.” (Psalm 101:4)
3. Don’t think about it so much. We tend to think too much and we think everyone else is thinking about us. The reality is, most people are just as nervous and worrying about what YOU think of them. Sadly, some folks try to mask their own anxiety by being critical of others. Recognize this sinful tendency and remind yourself that people really aren’t as obsessed with you as you think they are.
Jesus tells us to stop obsessing over what MIGHT be or what MIGHT happen. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34)
And our apostle, Paul, said, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)
It may be that you are just thinking too much. Pray more. Fill your mind with the word of God (Romans 10:17) and build up your faith with prayer (Jude 1:20). This is simple, yet too few will DO it.
4. And finally, worry more about what God thinks about you and less about what other sinners think of you. When you stop worrying about what man says about you and focus on what God thinks about you, you will find yourself set FREE from the bondage of “social anxiety” and other so-called “phobias” related to being around other people.
Meditate on Ephesians 1 and especially these three verses:
6, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7, In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8, Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
If you are a believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and you know that you are saved, your sins are forgiven and God’s Spirit lives in you, then you are ACCEPTED by God and you are a member of “the beloved”! Who cares if you are a little awkward around people. Who cares if you’re considered “uncool” by certain people. You are IN with God and that is all that matters.
Colossians 2 confirms this:
9, For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10, And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.