Social anxiety is a fairly complicated subject, actually, because of the challenging relationship between a competitive culture and the highly sensitive person. There can be many symptoms of social anxiety. One of the better signs of social anxiety is overarousal which HSPs need to watch for as a sign that stress reduction strategies are needed.
Worry is a cause of overarousal in highly sensitive people especially if it lasts for an extended period of time. Often HSPs will develop an anxiety based personality because they are so different from the dominant culture and that difference can be poorly received if not abused. As a result there are legitimate reasons for highly sensitive people to have anxiety including social anxiety.
One of the most important things an HSP can do is validate or seek validation for their perceptions and their differentness. Because the dominant culture is unlikely to do so, it can be difficult for an HSP obtain the validation needed to acquire the confidence in life. Self-doubt can become an ever present companion that undermines the HSPs capacity to function and thrive. Supportive people including other HSPs can be invaluable.
HSPs And Aggression
Highly sensitive people and aggression do not mix because HSPs have an including rather than excluding approach to life and relationships. HSPs have a number of problems with aggression and an aggressive society. As a result, what is social anxiety for highly sensitive people is different than it might be for someone else.
1. Aggression often puts results first and therefore, lacks the conscientiousness that an HSP finds important. Conscientiousness is a matter of responsibility and compassion with an HSP, and is an important part of who they are.
2. Aggression in its nature is adversarial. Since HSPs are highly empathetic, an adversarial approach is counter to an inherently social impulse in HSPs, that is often misunderstood and mislabeled.
3. HSPs are transpersonal, which gives them a perspective beyond the personal and individual. This means that HSPs are often big picture people, who take into account as many factors and perspectives as possible in their decisions and actions. HSPs cannot work at high speed when their need for thoroughness is so important to their makeup and therefore are not suited to work environments or fields that require speed.
HSPs are instinctively problem solvers who naturally seek common ground. They will likely define life as a journey or a process, rather than as a fight.
Social Anxiety And Boundaries
Because of an HSPs collaborative nature, social boundaries can be challenging particularly with aggressive people. HSPs need to develop strategies to create boundaries that they can handle. Constant boundary violations from another person can elevate signs of stress and anxiety in an HSP and are best minimized as much as possible.