An essential feature of avoidant personality disorder is a pattern of being socially inhibited, feeling inadequate and hypersensitive to rejection or criticism starting by early adulthood.
This pattern occurs pervasively which means it spreads across all areas of your life. So it’s not something you only noticed after being a bad relationship with someone who sucked your soul and tore you down emotionally. After a relationship like that, you will have some battle wounds that can look like feeling inadequate.
Most of the personality disorders including this one really start to manifest around late adolescence and early adulthood. And with avoidant personality disorder, you can get hints of social awkwardness and insecurity that seem a excessive that the child doesn’t seem to grow out of.
Here’s the criteria. You need 4 or more of the 7.
1. Avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection.
2. Is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked.
3. Shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed.
4. Is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations.
5. Is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy.
6. Views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others.
7. Is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing.
There is a lot of overlap between social anxiety disorder and avoidant personality disorder. However, with social anxiety, the fear and anxiety is limited to social interactions. And you realize your fears are unreasonable at some level but you’re still anxious about it. And you can still have close personal relationships.
With avoidant personality, there’s a deep belief that there’s something wrong with you and because of that, you hyperfocus on subtle cues that people are rejecting or criticizing you. The threshold for seeing something as critical is very low. Meaning it doesn’t take much for you to feel insulted or hurt by someone’s remarks. Your reaction to this is to stay away and avoid dealing with people in any way you can.
The treatment for this is cognitive therapy. There may be some behavioral exercises that a therapist can help set up for you, but generally the approach is addressing your distorted beliefs about yourself.
Social Anxiety video
Cognitive distortions video
Challenge thoughts video
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