Standing Up for Yourself Can Reduce Social Anxiety

When I act like I matter, connecting with others feels safe and good. When I act like I don’t matter, connecting with others feels unsafe and uncomfortable.

So many of us learn from our patriarchal social conditioning to believe that we don’t matter.

We learn this through messaging that tells us our emotions are wrong — that we shouldn’t be strong, or we shouldn’t be vulnerable — that we shouldn’t speak up, or we shouldn’t be tender — that we shouldn’t feel sad, or we shouldn’t feel angry, or even that we shouldn’t feel pleasure — that our natural array of human needs and feelings are wrong.

And when we learn to believe that our true selves don’t matter, it impacts how we relate with others.

When I treat my feelings and needs as unimportant or insignificant or wrong, my body feels unsafe. And when my body feels unsafe, other people feel untrustworthy — even those who wish to treat me well. Social contact feels dangerous. My nervous system goes on high alert and my body braces with tension and even pain or other stress symptoms.

I feel resentful, competitive and defensive around others. I struggle to recognize and protect myself from unwholesome social interaction, and at the same time, I struggle to accept kindness, because letting others in feels unsafe.

By contrast, when I have my own back and honor the importance of my feelings and needs, my body feels safe. And when my body feels safe, healthy social connection can feel wonderful! I can discern between social interaction that feels wholesome or unwholesome, and I can make space for the imperfections that happen within loving connections. My heart fills with warmth, compassion and generosity.

Everything and everyone in this world is safer and better off when we each treat ourselves first with love, respect and dignity.​​​​​​​

Sending warmth, encouragement and infinite belief in you,

💖 Anna

➡️ Ready to jumpstart your recovery from chronic pain? Click here for a list of the 6 resources that have helped me most in my own recovery.


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Anna Holtzman
Anna Holtzman
Anna Holtzman is a chronic pain recovery therapist and coach based in New York City.
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