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Social Phobia, Writing in Public

I find when I have to write in front of someone, such as a simple matter like writing my name in front of a bank clerk, my hand shakes to the point you can’t read my name or anything else I may write.  This is very embarrassing to say the least.  Is this a lack of confidence or is it a phobia or an anxiety disorder? 

This is a symptom of a social phobia.  People often imagine they are being scrutinized, often for shaky or sweaty hands.  One of our Phobia Counselors, Judy Shaw has recovered from this and offers the following comments:

First of all remember that this fear is common-the fear of being judged and being trapped in a situation.  I would suggest these manageable steps:

With pad and paper in hand, go to a mall, sit and write in public.  Make notes, write in your journal, and do this for 20 minutes at a time and as often as you can.  Once you are comfortable doing this, ask strangers for directions and write them down as they tell you.  Do this as often as you can.  Next, with a trusted person, go to a post office or a small store.  Ask your friend to engage the clerk in conversation while you are signing a check or a credit card receipt.  This deflects the attention from you and allows you to practice signing your name in public.  Next step would be to go to a store by yourself with the purpose of writing a check for the purchase but with enough cash as your “safety valve”.

Remember there will be anticipatory anxiety so learn techniques to manage your feelings.  Don’t be discouraged and keep working in manageable steps.

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