25 September 2023

Social Courage

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Dr Eric Goodman, Exisle Publishing, $29.99.

Social anxiety is normal and you can learn to cope and thrive with social anxiety … even though you may not believe it to be possible!

We are told social discomfort, to some degree in some situations, is normal.

A licensed psychologist and author, Dr. Goodman says: it’s not just you and it is neither your fault nor a sign of weakness to feel that way. “If you are human, it is safe to assume that you, at times, experience social anxiety. You may feel that social anxiety makes you wrong, broken, or defective. Instead, I’d like for you to think of social anxiety as your birthright. Rather than it setting you apart from your fellow humans, it is actually something that ties you together within the broader human race.”

Social anxiety is part of the cost we pay for being part of a human community. It is only considered a problem if it negatively interferes with your social or life goals or activities or causes excessive suffering.

If your life has been limited by social anxiety for a long time, you may not believe things can improve, but they can. Dr Goodman specialises in the treatment of anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

He points out: “I imagine that many of the people reading this book on some level are doubtful that the words on these pages could possibly offer anything that could truly help make their lives better. I’m going to ask you to set that belief aside for a bit and do the best you can to read on with an open mind. Just let that old belief be in the background without clinging to it for now.”

Social anxiety, shyness and even introversion are not diseases. In fact, they are perfectly normal human experiences. Rather than seeing social anxiety as a demon haunting you, perhaps you could begin to see it as a lifelong, albeit occasionally annoying, companion in life.

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