Social anxiety

Understanding motivations

People are complicated. It’s often hard to understand why they behave in certain ways. Sometimes, it’s hard to understand your own behaviour. I’ve often failed to understand my reactions, although, as I get older and (hopefully) wiser, things are becoming clearer.

Cat of Daily Improvements wrote about people who behave out of character and about her own lapses when talking to officials. Many people will be surprised to learn that I also occasionally break out of my normal reserve and shout at people – strangers – including some who really don’t deserve such treatment. For years, I didn’t understand why I did this. Now I know that it’s my way of turning off social anxiety. Like Cat, I’m not proud of losing my temper in this way, but I understand where it comes from. My poor victims don’t understand.

Cat says she’s going to “try and be more aware of the motivations of other people and the mitigating factors that might explain their behaviour.” That’s good advice for anyone, but often it’s impossible to know what motivates others. We just have to be aware that everyone has motivations, and often things ain’t what they seem.

By Miriam Drori

Author, editor, attempter of this thing called life. Social anxiety warrior. Cultivating a Fuji, edition 3, a poignant, humorous and uplifting tale, published with Ocelot Press, January 2023.

6 replies on “Understanding motivations”

Interesting post! My daughter has SA and gets quiet & soft-spoken in social settings when she’s troubled with her anxiety. Everyone loves her. They don’t even know her and they like her. On the other hand, I can get loud and irritating when I feel anxiety. (Like your yelling.) I try to remind myself not to do that since my normal personality is quiet. It’s the anxiety that makes me turn around and not be my true self. As long as I know that, it helps me manage it.

I came across a saying that sums that point up best.

“Nobody fears when angry”

It’s meant in a self defence context but the principle applies to SA as well. Plenty of socially anxious people lose that anxiety if they become angry or aggressive enough about something. Even my SA has disappeared when someone has annoyed me enough.

If the other person is really annoying, they might deserve your aggression. I think problems can arise if you blow you top at someone who is only slightly annoying. They’re left wondering what they did to cause such an outburst! Or – more likely – what’s bugging you.

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