Social Pressure & Social Anxiety

Social Pressure Concepts & Plasticity

What is Social Pressure?

Social Pressure is the idea that what other people and social groups might think about YOU is ‘incredibly important’ and has a direct impact on the way that you feel. In most people it is what we might refer to as a ‘learned behaviour’ rather than being an inherent part of your personality.

In other words, Social Pressure is a belief system and like all belief systems, can be changed through the use of the right types of tools and techniques.

How do YOU feel about the idea of getting up in front of an audience and making some sort of presentation?

Those thoughts than run through your head such as “I hope I don’t make a fool of myself” or perhaps “I bet they’ll think I’m useless at this” are both classic examples of idaes born out of the notion of ‘social pressure’.

public speaking social pressure
social pressure - frustration

Why Do I Experience Social Pressure?

Interestingly, most people who experience a high degree of social pressure also tend to have a low Self-Esteem and also a more internal Locus of Control. This is no real surprise as the belief system that we call social pressure (or social anxiety) is actually one of the Core Limiting Beliefs that has a very significant impact on the way a person feels.

People who experience a high degree of social pressure tend to imagine that people in their social environment are ‘inevitably’ making negative judgements about them. This is often far from the truth of the matter and research suggest that the main reason socially anxious people feel this way is principally due to how critical they are of  themselves.

Think about it for a moment, if you spend many hours a day criticising yourself (perhaps only in your ‘own head’) then it makes perfectly logical senses that other people must be doing the same. If this wasn’t the case, then you would tend to believe that everybody else sees you in a completely different way to what you believe is true about yourself!

We have also found that socially anxious people tend to be quite critical of other people, so if it seems normal to criticise others, it should be no surprise that this might appear to be the ‘default’ position of everybody else too!

Notions of Social Pressure

Here you can see examples of the types of thinking associated with the ‘social pressure’ belief system.

Negative Social Constructs

  • I worry what people think of me
  • I always try to say the ‘right thing’
  • People’s approval is important
  • I could never ask somebody out on a date
  • Criticism is terrible

Useful Social Constructs

  • People are entitled to think anything about me they like
  • I believe in what I say, other people may think differently
  • People’s approval is nice but not essential
  • Not everybody I ask for a date is going to say yes, that’s fine
  • Criticism is the route to personal improvement

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