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I'm Afraid of People

Updated on June 14, 2016
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Living With a Fear of People

I'm afraid of people. I'm scared of just about any type of person regardless of how they look. Being scared of people actually makes a lot of sense considering the abuse I went through as a child. I learned that people hurt you. There was no place to hide to keep safe. I grew up with a keen sense of knowing "the look" someone has when they are about to assault you.

I learned how to be a people pleaser so I didn't get hurt. If people are laughing and smiling then probably they are not going to hurt you, so I practiced how to make people laugh. I can be very funny and entertaining. You'd never know by looking at me that I am scared of people. You'd never know I'm frozen with dread when someone says hello to me. When I'm in a crowd of people I want to be invisible so no one will notice me. I took the fear I learned as a child with me into my adult life. If you'd like to read more about my childhood visit: My Name is Sandra, I'm a Survivor.

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What it's Like to be Afraid of People

Fearing People

Many people fear public speaking. Perhaps if you do then you will understand what it's like to have that heart thumping, frozen feeling of fear. It's much like having a panic attack or an anxiety attack. Picture that happening to me on a daily basis.

Social anxiety is when you fear being in social situations. Though I don't like being in social situations either, I wouldn't label my fear as social anxiety since it's happens when I'm not being social as well. I probably fall in the diagnosis of a generalized anxiety disorder, and much of my fear stems from post traumatic stress disorder, however I prefer not to label myself. Rather than seeing it as being afraid all the time, I prefer to think that I'm a loner who thrives on solitude.

I don't take any medication for my anxiety. Instead I've learned calming techniques and I practice mindfulness. I also like to do a visualization exercise where I wrap myself in a cocoon of a soft, fluffy cloud of protection before I go out into the big scary world. I find this cocoon of cotton balls acts like a security blanket that protects me and keeps me safe. It also helps remind me to treat myself gently and care for myself.

Best Book for Overcoming Fear - Learning to Accept Fear

The Dance of Fear: Rising Above Anxiety, Fear, and Shame to Be Your Best and Bravest Self
The Dance of Fear: Rising Above Anxiety, Fear, and Shame to Be Your Best and Bravest Self

I liked this book because it used real examples of situations where people were fearful. The book doesn't say, "oh you should just get over it", or that you are too sensitive, instead the book suggests that fear is a normal part of life. It teaches us that if we accept that we will encounter situations where we are scared, and that fear is a natural occurrence, then it prepares us to cope better.

 

What it is About People That Scares Me?

Touching and Hugging

I especially don't like being hugged. Some people just don't like being hugged. Some people hate to be hugged. I'm one of them. When I'm hugged I retreat into my head and my body just goes limp. I paste a smile on my face and basically grin and bear it. People should ask first before they hug people, but no one does.

Hugging is the worst, but any kind of touch is also unpleasant. I immediately freeze up when someone touches me. Whether it's just a pat on the shoulder, or a touch on the arm, I just don't like it. There are times when I hate myself that I am so scared of being hugged.

© Willgame | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
© Willgame | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Is Being Afraid of People a Phobia?

Being Terrified of People

Yes being afraid of people can be a phobia. When fear of people is extreme it's called anthropophobia and most people who have it have had a traumatic experience in their past. It becomes a phobia when the fear is so irrational that it starts to affect your life. I wouldn't say my fear of people is a phobia because I still go out into the world. It's rare that I can't leave my house or I'm scared to go outside because I'm too afraid to face people.

For the most part I'm able to manage my fear by being aware of what it is that triggers me. For instance I know that crowds of people bother me, so I tend to shop or run errands during the times when it is less busy and there aren't as many people around. If I have to go out when I know the place I'm going to will be busy, I still go out, but I do a lot of deep breathing to get myself through it.

When there are many people around I'll choose the less busy or noisy spots. For instance if there are two people talking loudly in a line up to pay for something, I'll choose another cashier to pay for my items. If I can't avoid them because there's only one cashier, then I'll busy myself with reading the magazine covers and try to absorb myself in that. I try to accept my anxiousness.

Other Books About Facing Fear - Free Yourself From Fear

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I Don't Like Loud Voices

Loud Noises Scare Me

I'm still "on alert" to be being hurt by people so when I'm out in a crowd of people I usually become alarmed if there is someone around me talking loudly. That fear is ingrained from my childhood where a loud voice meant one of parents was angry and I might get hit. I'm especially jumpy when someone immediately behind me yells out a greeting to a friend. Gee I wish people wouldn't do that.

People tend to talk loudly on their cell phones, so I often avoid them if I can. If I have to be around them I usually go to the space in my head where I can tune them out. Most of the time it's simple to just move aside and let them pass so they aren't around me. Some may say I avoid people. I like to think of it as practicing looking after myself.

Things About People that Scare Me - People Frighten Me

  1. People that talk or laugh loudly.
  2. Intrude on my personal space.
  3. People touching me.
  4. Being hugged.
  5. Busy and crowded places.
  6. People that use my name when they are talking to me.
  7. People who are aggressive.
  8. Being the center of attention.

I'm an Introvert

I Love to Be Alone

It's probably no surprise that I'm a person who is an introvert. I never seek the limelight and prefer to be the one in the room who no one notices. I love the silence of being by myself. I thrive in solitude. I have a husband and children, but if you ask them, they know that I need quiet time for myself ...... a lot.

There are days when I'm afraid to leave my house and my anxiety symptoms are severe. On those days I have muster up more courage than usual. I pace myself and set only one goal at time. If I have to go to the grocery store, then mail a parcel, and pick up a book a the library, I'll choose just one errand and do that one first. Once I get through the first one, then I'll try the second one, and so on.

© Shahinkia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
© Shahinkia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

How Do You Overcome Fear?

Accepting I'm Frightened of People

Since fear is a fact of life for me, I've learned to accept it and live with it. I know the situations which are scary for me so I've learned techniques to cope. Sometimes I reposition my myself in the crowd, sometimes I focus on my breathing and use calming techniques. I keep people a safe distance from me. Most of all, I never let the fear take over and paralyze me. If I did that I might not be able to leave my house and that would not be healthy at all.

It also helps that I understand where my fear comes from. A childhood spent in fear obviously will play out somehow when that child grows up and becomes an adult. My adult brain understands it's not realistic to be afraid of all people. These are thoughts I hold onto when I don't think I can overcome the fear.

What are you scared of? Do you have any fears? - Or just leave a note to say you stopped by

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    • DaydreamerJay profile image

      DaydreamerJay 2 years ago

      Man, do I relate to a lot of what you have to say. I like when you talked about having to mentally wrap yourself up in a cocoon just to go out. I love people, and I can learn a lot from them, but I find people draining on me and also seem to often thrive when I'm alone. I have to push myself not to be too isolated. Like you, I have to mentally prepare myself each time I go out into the world. Some things that help are physically surrounding myself as well as mentally. With items given to me by loved ones that help me feel they are with me and bring me strength to face what's to come. And giving myself a pep talk about how people are not all that scary no matter what my anxiety and body are trying to tell me. Thanks for this article. I learned some things even having lived with this fear nearly my entire life.

    • somebudiesangel2 profile image

      Tami-Lynn 3 years ago from North Vancouver

      Thankfully i don't suffer to any extreme but some of your words resonate due to past abuse.

      I think you are awesome and brave for telling your story:) A very interesting lense that im sure many many people will relate to. I have a family member who hates being hugged and also has anxiety disorder...i never really 'got' the hating to be hugged thing but your lense helped me to consider it on a deeper level to help me empathize with her.

    • violetanarusevi profile image

      Violeta Naruseviciute 4 years ago from Bristol, England

      I admire the way you use images in this lens. Eager to learn every day

    • rainydaz profile image
      Author

      rainydaz 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I wish I had an easy answer for you. When fear starts to impact your life severely then I'd seek professional help. I find calming techniques and visualizations work for me on most days, however I still do have days when my need for safety is so high that I just avoid people (and in your case you would want to seek out people on those days).

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I'm afraid of people, but not loud noises/contact etc like you've said, but of the quiet, or strangers. It's starting to affect me, I can't walk my dog on my own if I know no one is home. I'm scared of being attacked. How do I stop thinking that innocent people are planning to hurt me? It's only with people I don't know... And the more people around the less scary it is for me.

    • NanLT profile image

      Nan 4 years ago from London, UK

      I have a fear of people that manifests in anxiety around people not part of my immediate family coming into my home. I'm fine when my kids have friends over, but adults just send me into a spiral of anxiety - and the longer I have to think about someone coming over, the worse I get. Like you, I also do not deal well with loud noises, especially when people are talking loudly.

    • Kalafina profile image

      Kalafina 4 years ago

      When I was tormented relentlessly by a stalker and a horrifying experience left me willing to do ANYTHING a person asked. I became conditioned to do it to avoid the consequences of refusing. I was terrified of letting myself have a relationship. The undying love of my boyfriend helped me overcome the fear and he made me realize it was okay to say no. It took years but now I no longer have flashbacks/attacks at close physical contact. You can overcome when you let yourself shine through and realize it is okay to feel afraid but not to let them 'win.' Ihope you can find peace and I admire your courage to share!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you so much. This has helped me understand myself a lot more, and helped me realize that I'm not a lone. I'm the exact same way, and this just made me feel a lot better about myself. Thank you for linking that self help book too. I'm going to be buying it in the future so I can try to be a lot braver. Thank you.

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 4 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      Yes... sometimes I am afraid of people but not all people. I just get a gut feeling that I should stay away from someone, make myself "invisible" like you describe.

      I'm really impressed with your lenses on these personal topics! I'm sure that your thoughts are helping many.

    • StylishGoddess profile image

      StylishGoddess 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this.It's very inspiring. I too, an introvert. Most people just do not understand the nature of introverts. I would say I am less fear now than I was as a child, but I still like my alone time.

    • TrishaCornelius1 profile image

      Trisha Cornelius 4 years ago from Gauteng, South Africa

      Hi, I support your decision to not take medication but personally have found that being on medication has made managing my fears and anxiety much easier. Congratulations on acknowledging the fact that you are a survivor and knowing what your triggers are: that makes such a difference.

    • Skin-Health profile image

      Skin-Health 4 years ago

      This first step, to write about your phobia, is huge. Very brave of you! I recommend massage therapy, if you can trust someone to massage you. Massage has a great effect on mind and soul. Expect results at second or third session.

    • rainydaz profile image
      Author

      rainydaz 4 years ago

      @AlleyCatLane: Thanks for the Squid Angel blessing!

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      You are very courageous to share such a personal story. I am happy to hear you have an understanding husband and children. I can't imiagine living with such anxiety. My heart goes out to you. Blessed.

    • PaulWinter profile image

      PaulWinter 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story.

    • profile image

      sibiana 4 years ago

      Surprisingly enough, it is mainly the people I am mainly afraid of. Mean, ill-mannered, egocentristic, selfish, radical in religion or politics. I believe they can hurt us

    • rainydaz profile image
      Author

      rainydaz 4 years ago

      @blessedmomto7: Thanks for the blessing and stopping by!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your story. Angel Blessed.

    • Nomadabstracted1 profile image

      Nomadabstracted1 4 years ago

      Thank you for being so brave and bringing these issues to light.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have social anxiety disorder. This lens really hits home with me.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      We all have fears - lots of them. The key to living is finding ways to manage our fears. You have found (and listed) the best books on managing fear. I've read most of them and can recommend them. Congratulations on publishing this courageous article. Wish you the best.

    • profile image

      dreamsfree 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your story...I found it interesting to hear and learning about this phobia.

    • Rymom28 profile image

      Rymom28 4 years ago

      I am very close to some people that have this similar issue and it really can make them just miserable. I hope you find with time that this will get better. My fear is of spiders, doesn't mater how big - they freak me out and my automatic reaction is to scream or freeze!

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your experience because it will help others who are going through a similar situation, it can be hard to reach out to people especially in our socially obsessed world.

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 4 years ago from California

      Being an introvert myself, I can identify with some of the things you're going through. Before I leave the house, I like to say a prayer of protection and that makes me feel that I'll be safe. I'm glad you were able to create your own family in spite of your childhood.

    • nolinel lm profile image

      nolinel lm 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing...

    • kburns421 lm profile image

      kburns421 lm 4 years ago

      I think it's great that you wrote this lens. It shows people that they need to be more mindful of others. We never know what someone else is feeling, what is going through their mind, or what their life is like. Everyone should be more understanding and respectful. As you mentioned, something as simple as asking if it's OK to hug someone rather than assuming can be helpful to people. Everyone just assumes that others think and feel the same way that they do. Stay strong though. I know what fear is like (although a different fer than yours). Don't let the fear take over. Thanks for writing this insightful lens.

    • kristalulabelle profile image

      Kristen 4 years ago from Wisconsin

      A few years back, I had an unfortunate incident happen to me that causes me to have anxiety when I hear men speaking with a certain accent. I also don't like it when people grab my wrists. I understand your feelings completely and I congratulate you on your bravery.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 4 years ago from Somewhere in England

      That was amazing. I'm afraid of dogs because of something that happened in my childhood. It doesn't compare with your situation, but it helps me understand it. Your fear, like mine, isn't irrational. It's just exaggerated. I don't like people using my name when talking to either, by the way.

    • rainydaz profile image
      Author

      rainydaz 4 years ago

      @WildFacesGallery: Thank you for the blessing. Glad to hear you've managed to find your safe place in the world. Wishing you peace on your journey.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 4 years ago from Iowa

      Really an amazing story and thank you for sharing. I share much of your fears and reasons for them. Having turned my art into a business I had to learn how to be a social creature but coming from an abusive childhood has left me with many issues. Mostly people yelling at me will trigger anxiety so I try very hard to surround myself with only good souls.

      Again thank you for bravely sharing your story. Blessed.

    • profile image

      BeyondRoses 4 years ago

      I have fears, but I don't think of myself as being afraid of people. It's interesting though, as your list of "Things About People that Scare Me" are some of the things that make me uneasy. I'm overwhelmed by crowded places. The hugging thing has always been difficult, like when being in some group, eveyone is greeting each other, and hugging. At a support group, for a health condition, everyone was hugging when a husband of a woman asked me to hug his wife to comfort her. I almost froze, it was so awkward for me. It can almost make one feel something is wrong with them, but I don't think so. It's something that's just there, part of our past, part of us. In regard to pain and loss, I seem to suffer more deeply. I'm glad for you, that you have found ways to manage your fears.

    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 4 years ago from Ozun

      darling, my daughter is a collection of fears, i will send her your link, probably will help her. i am not hugging you but i have to tell, this is a very good lens.

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