Can an extrovert have social anxiety? (A complete guide)

In this article, we will answer the question ‘Can extroverts have social anxiety?’. We will do that by defining what sort of people are extroverts. We will move on to describe social anxiety and whether extroverts can go through it. This will follow up by discussing the experience of social anxiety for extroverts. Finally, we will discuss methods or ways extroverts can cope with social anxiety. In the end, we will answer a few frequently asked questions related to extroverts and social anxiety.   

Can an extrovert have social anxiety? 

Yes. Both extroverts and introverts can have social anxiety. Whereas, extroverts with social anxiety experience more intense social anxiety because they derive energy from social interactions but also fear them. They are conflicted between approaching social situations and avoiding them. Such individuals feel fatigued and sad after long periods of social situation avoidance.

Extroverts

Extroverts are people who are externally oriented. This means that they gain energy by socializing and spending time with a lot of people and engaging in different activities.  They process things by talking about them.  Also, they prefer to spend their time seeking new experiences.  Whereas,  spending time alone at home with no new activities, depletes their energy. They are opposite to introverts.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety refers to the fear of social situations. Individuals with social anxiety are fearful when they have to interact with other people. This means that such individuals are afraid of being judged, scrutinized, and evaluated by other people. This condition is pervasive and affects all areas of a person’s life. In chronic cases, it can start effecting the daily, social, and occupational functioning of an individual and may become a diagnosable condition. 

Individuals who are socially anxious are usually shy, quiet, and withdrawn. They want to make friends and be social but their fear holds them back from doing so.  

Situations that trigger their anxiety include being introduced to someone, being criticized, being in the limelight, being observed, having to make a public speech, and talking to people in authority. 

Furthermore, daily actions like looking into other people’s eyes, swallowing, writing, eating, talking, making a phone call, etc. are hard for such individuals and they get embarrassed easily. Usually, they blush, shake, sweat, experience a racing heartbeat, and may have trouble breathing. At an emotional level, they have all negative thoughts about worst-case situations and are just overcome with fear. 

Treatment for social anxiety is possible through medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Extroverts and Social Anxiety

Extraversion and social anxiety is a combo that is poles apart and very difficult for an individual to experience. Extroverts can have social anxiety which means that they derive energy from socialization but at the same time interacting with people cause them to experience intense fear. Socially anxious extroverts are concerned about being accepted by everyone and continue to be preoccupied with whether they are being judged by others.

Due to this, they are unable to enjoy or stay calm in the company of other people. They have trouble focusing and their thoughts are centered on the fact that people are evaluating them negatively. 

Experience of Socially anxious extroverts

Socially anxious extroverts may experience the following:

  • They dislike last-minute changes in plan
  • They feel comfortable doing things with other people rather than doing them alone.
  • They dislike situations where they have to wait for along time e.g. waiting for a response on text
  • They find confrontation quite difficult. Usually, they keep their thoughts to themself and suppress their emotions instead of expressing them openly with others. 
  • They seek validation and acceptance from others but at the same time find compliments difficult to accept
  • They are concerned about people judging and evaluating them. 
  • They feel uncomfortable in long conversations and find ways for them to end soon. 
  • They find prolonged eye contact difficult
  • They continue to meet new people but avoid them at a later point due to fear and negative thoughts. 
  • Similarly, they make plans with people and cancel at the last moment.
  • Since they are preoccupied with people judging them all the time, they find it hard to focus on the topic being discussed at a social gathering. In other words, it is hard for them to stay in the moment. 
  • They worry that they look stupid while talking.
  • They obsess and overanalyze their behavior, actions, and choice of words. 
  • They continue to think about their actions for weeks after it.
  • They are people pleaser and avoid confronting others or expressing their true thoughts due to fear of being disapproved. 
  • They show symptoms of anxiety in social situations such as shaky voice, cheek twitching, sweating, etc. 

Ways of Coping

Socially anxious extroverts can cope on their own apart from seeking professional help. A few ways they can do that is by the following:

  • Avoid negative thoughts during an anxiety episode. Be mindful of your thoughts and try to observe them objectively. 
  • Try to give a different and more positive meaning to your perspective. This is called the perspective reframing technique. 
  • Catch yourself when you find that you are thinking of worst-case future scenarios. Remind yourself that you are not a fortune-teller who can predict the future.
  • Try to relieve yourself from the pressure of looking perfect all the time. Not many people notice or think about small things people do in a social situation. So, instead of focusing on your words and actions, try to focus on the conversation that is going on. 
  • Try changing your lifestyle. This includes reducing caffeine intake and avoiding foods that can add to anxiety. 
  • Regulate your sleep cycle and quit smoking if you do. 
  • Try to practice daily meditation and mindfulness. Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation are also helpful in reducing symptoms of social anxiety. 
  • Journalling and writing your thoughts and feelings down can help you process your emotions and experience in a better way. 
  • Employ distraction technique when you find your negative thoughts to be overwhelming. This includes purposefully engaging in some other activity or task to avoid overthinking. 
  • Schedule an overthinking time slot. This means that whenever you find yourself thinking and feeling negative, push yourself to do so in your overthinking time slot which is when you decide a chunk of the day e.g. an hour solely dedicated to overthinking. Chances are that when you do that, you purposefully stop your thoughts, don’t overthink as passionately in your time slot, and can go through the rest of the day a bit more relaxed. 
  • Build your social support system. This includes having a group of people you can trust and talk to without fear of being judged. Talk to them bout your thoughts and feelings. Take their assistance when navigating through fearful social situations. 
  • If your social anxiety is severe, talk to a professional. You can either opt for anti-anxiety medications after consulting a psychiatrist. Another option is to talk to a psychologist with whom you can develop an individualized treatment plan. Set goals collaboratively and gradually work through them with assistance from your therapist. 

FAQs: Can an extrovert have social anxiety?

Can an extrovert be shy?

Yes.  An extrovert can be shy.  This can be explained by the fact that human traits exist on a spectrum.  Extroverts and introverts are not black and white categories.  Instead,  extraversion and introversion exist on a continuum.  A person can be an extrovert with introvert tendencies i.e an ambivert. Such a person can enjoy being surrounded by lots of people but may not like to be the center of attention.  They would also need time alone torecharge. So, shy extroverts have the social skills to socialize but they may avoid social situations to recharge as they can also get overwhelmed by constant social stimulation. 

Are shy extroverts rare?

Yes. Shy extroverts are rare.  This is because according to researchers,  up to 50-74 percent population are extroverts and the rest are introverts,  so shy extroverts may lie somewhere in between them. 

Can an extrovert be an introvert?

Yes.  Since extroversion and introversion exist on a continuum,  people with both extroverted and introverted tendencies also exist. They are called ambiverts.  They gather energy from socializing in big crowds.  However,  they also need time alone to recharge their battery. 

Can a person change from an introvert to an extrovert?

Yes.  An introvert can become more extroverted but with active effort.  Usually,  this is done to get by in public and professional settings.  However, it is not easy and can be uncomfortable and draining for the introvert.

Is social anxiety a learned behavior?

Yes social anxiety can be based on learned behavior. It can particularly happen slowly after experiencing an embarrassing or unpleasant social situation. However, other factors also play a role in development of social anxiety. 

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question ‘Can extroverts have social anxiety?’, We found out that Yes. both extroverts and introverts can have social anxiety. Whereas, extroverts with social anxiety experience more intense social anxiety because they derive energy from social interactions but also fear them. They are conflicted between approaching social situations and avoiding them. Such individuals feel fatigued and sad after long periods of social situation avoidance.

 I hope you found this article interesting. If you have any queries or comments, please state them in the comment section 😊

Citations

https://socialphobia.org/social-anxiety-disorder-definition-symptoms-treatment-therapy-medications-insight-prognosis#:~:text=Social%20anxiety%20is%20the%20fear,areas%20of%20a%20person’s%20life.

https://rojakdaily.com/lifestyle/article/9920/is-it-possible-to-be-an-extrovert-with-social-anxiety#:~:text=Both%20introverts%20and%20extroverts%20can,feel%20lethargic%20and%20extremely%20sad.

https://www.healthcentral.com/article/can-extroverts-have-social-anxiety

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

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