The perks of social anxiety

I’m fascinated at how there’s a downside to most positives. Optimistic people (good) can overlook risks (bad). Empathetic people (good) can lose themselves and become overwhelmed with everyone else’s pain (bad).

And on the flip side, most negatives have their benefits. Take social anxiety, for example. It sucks, but it brings its own set of benefits.

Here’s a quote from the book How To Be Yourself:

The research—as well as my experience working with many shy and socially anxious individuals—demonstrates we are often:

• Careful thinkers—we consider what we’re going to say

• Conscientious, with a robust inner guide and strong work ethic

• Gifted at remembering faces

• Deeply empathetic

• “Prosocial,” meaning positive to others, helpful, and altruistic

• Considerate of the rights, needs, and feelings of others

How does this manifest in our lives and the world? Those of us who experience social anxiety often:

• Omit needless words—in a world full of shouting and mugging for attention, we rise above the “more is better” approach to speech

• Work hard to ensure others feel comfortable

• Look and listen closely—a near-lost art in today’s look-at-me culture

• Hold high standards, which lead to exemplary work

• Respect other cultures and backgrounds—we are the diplomats and ambassadors of the world

Sound familiar? Many people who experience social anxiety also rack up these strengths.

And the best part is that I can drop the social anxiety but still keep all of that. Sweet!

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