How To Overcome Social Anxiety And Live Life To The Full!
If you want to know how to overcome social anxiety keep reading as I uncover some powerful and proven tips…
Social anxiety can be very debilitating, affecting many areas of your life.
Making new friends becomes extremely hard, and the idea of walking into a room full of people you don’t know, an impossible task.
It can seriously hold you back, stopping you from seizing opportunities.
Unless you take control you won’t reach your full potential, and you may end up feeling lonely and unfulfilled.
That may sound harsh, but I’ve been there and know how it feels.
I used to be extremely shy and found talking to people a real challenge.
I gradually overcame it as I grew older, and working as a hairdresser was a great way to learn how to talk to people, and overcome my shyness.
It wasn’t easy, but making myself talk to people I didn’t know seemed to help.
So what is social anxiety?
Social anxiety is an excessive fear of social situations. This isn’t just about feeling shy, but a real fear of being judged or criticised by others.
Just the mere thought of going to a party or other social event will make you break out in a cold sweat!
Someone who suffers from social anxiety may even suffer panic attacks if they put themselves in social situations they feel uncomfortable in.
The result is they avoid social situations completely for fear of being ill, humiliated, or looking ridiculous.
Of course this is a false scenario being played out in the mind of the sufferer, and in reality no one will be judging them!
In fact most people are far too concerned with their own problems to even notice that poor trembling soul in the corner of the room!!
Do I have social anxiety?
As I previously mentioned this is an extreme condition, and just feeling a bit nervous or shy isn’t social phobia.
If you really believe your symptoms are severe enough that they affect your daily life then the following suggestions may help,
Change your inner voice
We are constantly talking to ourselves mentally. That’s great if your inner voice is positive, but if you’re constantly telling yourself you’re not good enough, or no one likes you, then you need to take action.
Your core beliefs are laid down in childhood and can be hard to change.
Upbringing, your parents view of the world, your teachers at school, your friends, all help to shape the way you think.
Overcoming low self esteem isn’t easy. Firstly make a note of all your achievements no matter how small. Write them down so you can look at them when you’re feeling negative.
Secondly note down all your negative beliefs then try and find evidence to prove them right.
Chances are you’ll have a hard time trying to find many.
Most if not all of your core negative beliefs are probably false, and with a little bit of effort you can change them.
Next time you have a negative thought write it down and replace it with a positive one.
How using body language can help overcome social anxiety
As humans, it’s not speech that’s the greatest communicator, but body language.
When you meet a new date for the first time, the way they sit or stand has a great impact.
If someone is hunched up and tense they’re giving off a vibe that says they lack confidence.
They can also seem unapproachable and aloof.
A smile, no matter how you’re feeling inside can make you appear warm and friendly.
It can also have a positive impact on your mind. You see your subconscious mind doesn’t know if your smile is false or not.
Try smiling and looking in the bathroom mirror. You’ll immediately feel happier and more confident. Try it:):)
Stand tall with your shoulders back. This makes you look confident, even if you don’t feel it, and will also make you feel better.
Can mindfulness help you beat social phobia?
Panic, and worrying how others see you can often be helped by practicing the art of mindfulness.
When you worry or feel anxious you’re either projecting your mind into the future, or back to the past.
Focusing on the present moment can be very calming, and helps you relax. Mindfulness meditation gets you to focus on the breath.
It also gets you to observe your thoughts with detachment. You’re not allowing them to take over, or trying to push them away. You’re simply observing them.
You cannot stop thoughts from entering your mind, and trying to will only make you stressed.
Next time you feel panicky at being in a social situation you’re uncomfortable with, accept those feelings and don’t try to fight them.
Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, and just let go. Realise that these feelings are all in your mind and not real
Once you accept them without fighting you may find they start to disappear.
The pounding heart beat, sweaty palms, dizziness, and fear you’re going to faint are all in the mind.
Once you let go and relax you’ll find yourself feeling better.
If you ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen, you will realise that your worries are completely unfounded.
Set yourself goals
If you suffer from social anxiety a good approach is to gradually build up your exposure to situations you feel uncomfortable in.
Set yourself goals that gradually take you further away from your comfort zone. This will seem very hard at first, but it does get easier as you progress.
For example, you may be able to tolerate lunch with a few friends. You feel slightly uncomfortable with the idea that other people may be watching you eat, but you can handle it.
However, attending a dinner party is way outside your comfort zone! Gradually build up exposure, by inviting a few close friends to an intimate dinner party at home, then try accepting your next invite to a dinner party where you don’t know all the guests.
Then finally accept the next invite to a party where you’ll know very few people.
Grading your social anxieties!
Write down all your feared social situations, and grade them from 1-10.
For example you may feel that talking to someone you don’t know for directions is a 3, whereas being in a room full of people you don’t know is a 10.
Attending a board meeting at work that involves giving a presentation may be a 10, but talking to clients on the phone may only be a 7 or 8.
You may be ok at talking to a complete stranger at the checkout in a supermarket and grade that as a 2, but talking to work colleagues is a 4.
Only YOU know your tolerance level which is why it’s important to create this list.
Starting with the lowest tolerance gradually build up your exposure.
Don’t beat yourself up if you end up walking away from a situation. It’s ok, don’t force anything! You’ll only end up more stressed! Take your time and reward yourself as you reach a new goal.
Using the power of visualization
Visualisation is a very powerful tool, and can be used in desensitising yourself.
For example, in the situation where you’re giving a presentation in a meeting, try and visualize yourself actually doing it.
Before you start, completely relax and do simple breathing exercises for a few minutes.
Picture yourself in the board room. You’re standing next to the whiteboard with a marker pen in your hand. You’re slightly anxious but nothing you can’t tolerate.
You’ve read your notes and are confident you know what to say.
You’re speaking clearly and confidently, and your work colleagues are listening intently.
You start to relax and feel happy with the presentation.
In the real world you may have experienced a pounding heart and dry mouth at the very idea of talking in public.
You imagine being laughed at, or looking stupid as you give the presentation.
Remember, you can’t control other’s reactions, but so what if someone disagrees, or laughs at your ideas. Nothing bad will happen to you. You won’t literally die from embarrassment!
Visualizing yourself in a feared social situation is a very effective way of overcoming it.
I hope this article has inspired you on how to overcome social phobia, and that you’ll start taking action:)
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Wishing you health and happiness,