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Topic: Afraid of being looked at when standing face to face

4 posts, 0 answered
  1. BradDad
    BradDad avatar
    12 posts
    25 May 2021
    I've recently returned to work and it has put some old fears of mine back in the spotlight. I have social anxiety and panic attacks. Most of the time I find this manageable but returning to work has been hard. Interacting over zoom was a lot less confronting for me. In particular it's the incidental in-person chats where I stand opposite someone. I feel their gaze intently and my panic rises. I'm afraid that I will appear nervous (which I am) and that they will think less of me because of it. CBT has taught me to challenge that assumption but it doesn't help in the moment. I'm much more comfortable with such engagement if I am sitting however. Has anyone experienced this? Any tips/insights?
  2. white knight
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    white knight avatar
    9368 posts
    26 May 2021 in reply to BradDad


    Many people feel that fear when talking to another. Two thing come to mind to help you with this-

    1/ focus on their forehead not their eyes. The eyes can be haunting or inquisitive.

    2/ Fill in the gaps in conversation. Tense moments can arise if there is silence and eyes are glued on each other.

    Do you think you have a sense of humour? You'll find people will joke with you more often than others if thats the case and so interaction will be easier and more relaxed.


    1 person found this helpful
  3. bluenight
    bluenight avatar
    88 posts
    26 May 2021 in reply to BradDad

    Hi Bradad,

    Yes I've experienced this a lot, I have had social anxiety for years.

    For me what has helped is exposing myself to the socially anxious situations over and over again, I didn't really do this by choice, I had to, for work each day. Over time the anxiety has reduced, I still avoid eye contact and I still have anxiety but it's more manageable. Have you tried looking just above or below their eyes when talking? Or when you're in that situation focus really intently on a thought or a word while still focusing on the conversation.

    1 person found this helpful
  4. BradDad
    BradDad avatar
    12 posts
    28 May 2021
    Thanks both. Yes, being out of practice has really exacerbated it. Hopefully it'll get more tolerable. Thank you for the tips. Nice to hear other's have had similar experiences.
    1 person found this helpful

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