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Social Anxiety and Jumping to Conclusions

October 27, 2016 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Living with social anxiety and jumping to conclusions is like perpetually bouncing on a crowded trampoline: We must be watchful so we don't cause harm to others; we must avoid bumping into, and thus annoying, others; we know if we do it wrong we will surely ruin things for everyone; and we jump, jump to conclusions that we're being judged negatively. Social anxiety is exhausting (Social Phobia [Social Anxiety Disorder, SAD]). You don't have to remain stuck on the social anxiety trampoline, jumping to conclusions that you are somehow lesser than others. To stop jumping to conclusions and soothe social anxiety, to find some peace of mind, you must understand some of the effects of social anxiety.

Jumping to Conclusions and Other Effects of Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is like a trampoline; we jump to conclusions about how others think of us. Learn more about social anxiety and jumping to conclusions. Read this.Social anxiety causes us to overthink almost everything. This involves a variety of different thought patterns, among them are:

  • Mind-reading, or assuming that you know what someone is thinking based on your observations
  • Making assumptions, or believing that you know how someone feels about you
  • Catastrophizing, or looking at something you perceive as negative and giving it too much importance in your life
  • Jumping to conclusions, or forming an opinion about what someone thinks without actually hearing him/her say what it is

These negative thought patterns are interrelated, sharing similarities and contributing to each other. Whether individually or in combination, they exacerbate social anxiety.

Consequences of Social Anxiety and Jumping to Conclusions

Social anxiety has us bouncing on a trampoline, jumping to conclusions that are quite harmful. It's common with social anxiety for people to conclude that they're being judged negatively, that they don't measure up to others, that they're annoying or stupid or [fill in the blank with a derogatory label].

As a result of jumping to the conclusion that others think poorly of him/her, someone with social anxiety can feel physically ill and emotionally upset. He/she can lose self-confidence and a sense of self-efficacy. Jumping to conclusions affects behaviors, too. When someone feels negatively judged, he/she is likely to be reluctant to go places and do things with others. Social anxiety and jumping to conclusions are more exhausting and dangerous than jumping on a trampoline.

Stop Jumping to Conclusions; Get off the Social Anxiety Trampoline

When we jump to conclusions about how others perceive us and our worth, we keep social anxiety going, fueled by our thoughts about the thoughts of others. When we practice mind-reading, we make assumptions about what others are thinking. In actuality, of course, we cannot know what someone else is thinking.

A strong link exists between social anxiety, mind-reading, and jumping to conclusions. It's possible to break that link. For more on ending mind-reading, conclusion-jumping, and social anxiety, tune into the following video.

Let's connect. I blog here. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. My mental health novels, including one about severe anxiety, are here.

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2016, October 27). Social Anxiety and Jumping to Conclusions, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2016/10/the-social-anxiety-trampoline-jumping-to-conclusions



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson delivers online and in-person mental health education for students in elementary and middle school. She is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She also speaks nationally about mental health. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Zoe Puebla
August, 3 2020 at 1:53 pm

hello! I have a question. Over the last year I started feeling very strong symptoms of social anxiety and I'm always trying to educate myself about the topic but I find it hard to found information to rely on. Not because what says in the article does not apply to me, but mostly because I'm constantly doubting myself and all the information around me. I'm just scared I'm self diagnosing myself and that I will look stupid if I go to my parents (I'm a minor) and tell them how I feel when they don't even know what anxiety is. So my question is, what are your thoughts about self diagnosing? how could I know if I have anxiety without a professional now that we are in lockdown?
Have a nice day!!

August, 4 2020 at 12:37 pm

Hi Zoe,
Your concerns are very common. It's so hard to know with certainty what's going on in our minds and bodies. There's so much information out there about mental and medical health, and it can all seem to blend together and be hard to figure out what applies to you and what doesn't! If it makes you feel better, even professionals have a hard time with it and both mental and medical conditions are often misdiagnosed at first. That doesn't mean that there are no answers, though! You're motivated to figure this out, and you're seeking reliable information--this is providing you with a very strong foundation to build on and get past this.
Have you tried online self-assessments like this one for social anxiety https://www.healthyplace.com/psychological-tests/social-anxiety-social-phobia-test ? These are not designed to diagnose people, but they do help you understand your symptoms and see what does and does not apply to you. They can be great tools for helping you gain some understanding of what you are experiencing. They are also good tools for communication. You can print out your results and share them with your parents, doctor, counselor, etc. to start a conversation. You can talk about your results and tell your parents (etc.) that these things are bothering you and affecting your life and that you'd like some help dealing with them.
Many therapists are continuing to see clients and are following hygiene guidelines like handwashing, sanitizing surfaces, plus wearing masks and practicing social distancing. You might be able to get an in-person appointment with someone even now. There's also the possibility of online counseling. HealthyPlace doesn't endorse or recommend any service at this point, but Talkspace.com and BetterHelp.com are two of the many reputable online therapy services available. Online counseling has been found in studies to be very effective, and it might be something to look into.
I hope this helps! Keep seeking information and evaluating it to see if it is relevant for you!

San Miguel
May, 31 2018 at 7:34 am

Hello Tanya
Thank you for this captivating article and I strongly agree with it

Zee Malvern
October, 29 2016 at 1:01 pm

Thank you for this article. I do find social anxiety to be very exhausting. I suppose it can be attributed to black and white thinking along with low negative self worth. You are right for me anyways...I always jump to conclusions about what others are thinking and not usually in a good way. Thank you for the coping tips.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 31 2016 at 4:11 pm

Hello Zee,
I'm glad you like the tips, and I appreciate your comment. You are right on -- black and white thinking and low negative self-worth do contribute greatly to social anxiety. Being aware of our thoughts and knowing that they're not always accurate and reliable are helpful in getting rid of social anxiety.

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