Fear of Negative Evaluation

That’s the identifier of someone with Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia). It also should cause such marked distress that it is clinically significant or it impedes the daily life/work of an individual.

Throughout this year and the last – perhaps even more – I have sequestered myself away from the public, choosing a select few individuals to not just experience my friendship but to have a view of myself; outside this, I am hardly there in spirit. It’s already been clinically diagnosed, but what I’m observing now is how this fear of being negatively assessed by even random people bears weight on me.

If I am well-prepared, successful, have all the makings of gregariousness, or caught in a moment where I know no mask is necessary, then I can be free in front of people. It has happened under those circumstances. If luck or life’s circumstances had willed it, I would be, but the forces in my life have made me anything but most of the time. Take well-prepared, for instance; a few times in life I have had prior knowledge of an upcoming performance-based social activity that requires preparation beforehand. On those times, I succeeded if not purely from rote memory then from intrinsically adopted knowledge. In a person that is at times lazy, however, these situations provide a chance to fail. That is all that is in the mind of that person. It leaves them circumspect of hard-work, instead of providing a motivator it serves to lower their moods further thus increasing their laziness, therefore leading to a negative outcome which eventually validates their premonitory negative evaluations. Ah, cycles, if they become visible as a part of the world there’s a chance, when in you, good luck.

So these negative evaluations, “Why do they move thee?” you could ask. They speak to this long-ago need for positive appraisal, of acceptance and validation of my worth; in part of my criticism towards myself, I see how I must be different from them and in the worst ways, but there is a part in me that knows my worth, lauds my uniqueness, and marries it to my self, and I can’t cut it out without dilapidating my soul. All it wants, therefore, is to be acknowledged as real by… me – but I need external evidence to prove it to myself before I can accept it.

I want that validation. But I know that’s giving a smoke to a panhandler; he’s only going to be asking for another one and another. It causes unrest in its search, not in satisfaction. How do I then rewire the workings of the mind as it was built, brick by brick, without tearing it all apart? “Just find love in your own self.” What is there to love? To love, a virtue, is to seek virtue in whatever it is. How do I seek that if not from others onto me? That is the infernal question. Someone with a carousel for a life, tell me, please.

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