I'm Afraid of People
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.
What it's Like to be Afraid of 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
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.
Self Help for Managing Fears
- Phobias and Fears: Symptoms, Treatment, and Self-Help
Learn more techniques for managing fears.
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
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
- People that talk or laugh loudly.
- Intrude on my personal space.
- People touching me.
- Being hugged.
- Busy and crowded places.
- People that use my name when they are talking to me.
- People who are aggressive.
- 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.
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.