Is it more important to consider what we are afraid of, or which situations we are afraid in?
The Canadian psychology research professor David Moscovitch suggests that the answer is what we are afraid of. He has proposed that instead of trying to categorise your social anxiety according on the type of situation that you are afraid of (such as public speaking, small talk, or being photographed), it might make more sense to divide your fears into 4 different types.
Moscovitch proposes that with social anxiety, we are afraid that some “fatal flaw” about ourselves will be revealed to other people.
The idea is that it’s not the situation that we fear, it's what will revealed about us when we are in it.
Does this feel true for you?
Remember that with this kind of research, there is often a tendency to generalise and try to explain complex phenomena in simple ways. It's kind of like trying to make one-size-fits-all clothes, but we should remember that as humans, we are different. "One-size" might not fit.
Let's nonetheless briefly consider Moscovitch's argument.
He claims that he has identified four expressions ― or types ― of social anxiety, and that these four each represent a type of flaw that we fear will be revealed.
Flawed social skills
Fear about your anxiety becoming obvious to others
Flaws in how you look
Flaws in your personality
The anxiety then comes from the fear of how catastrophic it would be to have these flaws revealed - often how weird or stupid or awkward you feel that you are and will be seen as if you have these flaws. Does this theory feel true for you? If so, which of the four expressions is strongest for you? Is it a combination? Is it different around different people?Hoping that you find this helpful, and curious what you think.