How What You Wear Impacts Social Anxiety
What you wear matters, but not for the reason you might think..
Clothes. Everybody wears them.
We are all aware to some degree of how our clothes impact our confidence. What we choose to wear is the most outer layer of how we are perceived by the world.
If we’re going to a formal event, dress formally, or else you will stick out negatively.
Whereas others of us who grew up in certain cultural or family beliefs might think someone who dresses in particular clothes is a particular kind of person, etc.
What you wear matters…
But not for the reason you would think.
We probably don’t think twice about what we are going to wear and how it may impact ourselves and our anxiety. Today we will discuss the role of our clothes and social anxiety.
Here are 4 essential points I want to bring up…
PS. Before we begin I’m announcing group coaching sessions for a small group of you beginining shortly THIS WEEK - check out the details here: https://www.markmetry.com/group-coaching
1. Physical Appearance Layer of SA
Social anxiety consists of four major layers. One of the first layers of social anxiety is indeed our physical appearance. We get anxious about what others think of our body type, our clothes, skin’s appearance, skin color, etc.
Each person who faces this anxiety around physical appearance often has a deeper story to be uncovered. Personally, for me, I grew up poor in a wealthy town. I wore the same clothes to school almost every day.
While Jake was getting new Jordan’s and the latest designer clothes…
I was wearing the same old grey sweatshirt I always wore and in turn, I was often judged and ridiculed because of what I was wearing.
Oftentimes, what you wear is an aspect of the physical appearance layer of social anxiety. It’s important to understand this is a legitimate fear and anxiety.
2. Cultural or Family Clothing Values
Depending on what your family or culture or religion believes this will largely shape your beliefs around what people wear and the meaning derived from what they wear...
Personally, my parents told me to not wear black or anything on the tighter side, always dress nicely before going to church, and to dress like a respectable young man.
Absolutely nothing wrong with that at all.
However, a lot of the times when I was a kid, and didn’t care about what I was wearing to church or if my button-up was neat or not. My Mom would often anxiously remind me of my clothes and how other people would perceive my clothes and derive meaning about me based on what I was wearing.
Looking back, this situation alongside wearing the same clothes to school again and again set the foundation for clothing anxiety within my social anxiety.
Maybe you are in a similar situation or an altogether different scenario but find the similarities and common ground of the concept I’m illustrating here…
3. Wearing Clothes to Start Conversations
If you understand the potential negatives I laid out above, you would also see how you can actually use your clothes to help you and your social anxiety.
The first step is to realize, what you wear matters. But it really only matters to you. Of course, others will see your clothes, but make sure you don’t wear things that aren’t true to you.
Next, if you are battling social anxiety and want to challenge yourself, try wearing clothes that help you break the ice breaker of social interactions.
For example - I own a collection of various graphic tees and shirts. They all have random funny references to things that I enjoy. For example, I have a few featuring Pokemon or Star Wars references, etc.
Not every time, but sometimes when I’m out in public someone sees my shirt and uses it to start a conversation with me. Now, if you don’t want to talk to someone, maybe this isn’t for you, but if you do, it can be a great springboard to do so.
4. Exposing Yourself
I’ve talked about the basic concept of exposure therapy before in my newsletter.
If you identify with what I’m talking about, luckily you can challenge yourself with exposure-type exercises. However, as a disclaimer, I do not recommend doing this if it’s your first step towards managing social anxiety.
1. Understand your physical appearance layer of social anxiety. How did it come about? When does the anxiety get triggered? How long has this pattern existed?
2. Next, find a specific exposure type behavior to address it.
For example: One exercise I chose was to wear ridiculous clothing in very publically crowded areas. I would wear a pink neon flowery full-body costume.
You might be asking why would I want to do this to myself? Well, it’s because when you experience social anxiety, that’s what your mind wants you to think other thinking you.
When people literally start staring at you and perhaps laughing it deconditions your mind from caring about people’s perception of you. Please keep in mind it’s vital to work on other areas of social anxiety first like mindfulness meditation & improving nutritional diet quality.
Exposure therapy looks different for different people. But, I hope my example sheds more light on how to approach this and how effective this can be :)
If you have any questions, concerns, etc please feel free to respond directly to this email and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
If you want to listen to the audio version of this on my podcast - Social Anxiety Society.
PS. In self-paced individual online course we address many more ways on how to do reduce social anxiety, check it out here: www.markmetry.com/program
💬 I am opening my calendar right now to work with 1 more person 1-on-1 on an ongoing basis to manage anxiety and heal your mind more effectively.
Interested? Schedule a free call with me to see if it’s right for you or not :) by responding directly to this email.