Do you pretend not to see people that you know? This is a common thing to do if you have social anxiety. Pretending not to see people is a form of avoidance that makes you feel safe. After all, if you don’t say hi, then they can’t reject you and you can’t feel awkward.
People with social anxiety pretend not to see people they know out of fear of being judged or feeling awkward. Repeating this behavior makes it that much harder the next time you see someone you know to go up and say hi.
Introverts will also sometimes pretend not to see people but the reasons are different. It’s not so much that they fear judgment or being awkward, but that they just don’t feel up to social interaction. And of course, if you are both an introvert and you have social anxiety, it can be a little bit of both. Keep reading to understand more about why you do this (and how to stop).
You’re Afraid of Being Judged
People with social anxiety fear being judged or scrutinized by others, and may go to great lengths to avoid this happening, often at the cost of missing out on potentially life-enhancing opportunities.
Research has shown that people with social anxiety tend to have more negative self-evaluations, believe that other people think negatively about them (even if they don’t actually see evidence of it), and feel an intense sense of shame when they make mistakes.
When you consider these things, it makes sense that if you have social anxiety, you’d choose to pretend not to see someone you know in public. Rather than risk the chance of saying something dumb, looking foolish, or (even worse) being ignored, it’s easier just to make a beeline for the frozen food section. Am I right?
You’re Afraid of Being Rejected
If you have social anxiety, you might pretend not to see someone because you fear they will reject you. For example, you might worry that if you wave at someone they will ignore you or if you say hi, they will not respond. You might worry that if you say something and the other person does not respond, everyone will think you are a loser.
It’s Hard to Make Eye Contact
If you have social anxiety and you see someone you know in public, it might feel hard to make eye contact. You know the polite thing to do is make eye contact during conversation, but talking to someone makes you feel anxious and it’s not easy to look them in the eye.
When you have this fear of making eye contact, it can sometimes feel easier to avert your eyes so that you pretend not to see someone at all.
The problem is that this makes you come across as rude.
When you have social anxiety and feel the urge to avert your eyes when you see someone you know in public, try to do the opposite and make eye contact anyway and be friendly. The more you do this, the easier it will feel and it won’t even occur to you to look away. You’ll develop the habit of making eye contact, which will develop the belief that you are a person who is warm and friendly when you see people you know in public.
You’re Worried People Will Sense Your Anxiety
If you see someone you know in public, you might instantly tense up if you have social anxiety. This can make you nervous about saying hello because you’re afraid that the other person will notice your anxiety. But the truth is that people might not notice your anxiety at all.
While it might feel safer to avert your eyes or wait for someone else to notice you, it can actually be less anxiety-provoking to develop the habit of being the first one to say hi. Why? Because it shows others that you want to connect with them.
That’s why it makes sense to train yourself to say hi when you see someone you know. This is especially true when you notice someone who comes across as friendly. (In other words, they seem to be the kind of person who’d say hello back.)
Try saying hi next time instead of avoiding the person altogether. You might find that the other person returns your greeting right away—or even initiates a full conversation with you.
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You Can’t Remember Their Name
Most people indeed like to hear you use their name. It shows them that you have made a connection and you are paying attention to who they are as an individual. However….sometimes it’s hard to remember someone’s name. What do we do then?
In reality, most of us have a lot of names in our memory bank at any given time. The problem is that sometimes the name escapes us for one reason or another (sometimes anxiety can even cause this). The only way to remember a person’s name, if you have forgotten it for the moment, is to acknowledge that you may not remember it and ask.
The best way is just to say something like “I’m sorry I have forgotten your name, can you tell me again please?”.
Nine times out of ten this works really well…..people are usually very understanding when you make a mistake and sometimes will even remind you of their name. Usually though….remembering someone’s name is all about paying attention and using it often when you speak to them so that it sticks.
You’re Making it All About You
There, I said it. Yes, I understand you are anxious and afraid to be judged and that’s why you ignore people. There are three problems with this:
- When we pretend not to see someone we know, it can make them feel invisible and unimportant in our lives – this can be hurtful and upsetting for the person on the receiving end of this behavior.
- Pretending not to see someone you know makes them feel like they don’t exist in your life.
- It’s important to acknowledge others’ presence so that they know that you care about their well-being.
You don’t have to have a long-drawn-out conversation. In truth, most conversations that happen like this last under a few minutes. Extending a friendly hello could brighten the day of someone who is feeling down. It could also give you a chance to practice your conversation skills.
What about you? Do you ignore people that you know in public? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
Related Posts About Avoidance
- 100 Safety Behaviors Related to Social Anxiety
- Why Am I Afraid of Making a Fool of Myself?
- 5 Ways to Get Over Phone Anxiety
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