How to Overcome Your Social Anxiety
When searching for methods to overcome your social anxiety, many websites will suggest that you talk to a professional. I agree, but I didn't write this article just to redirect you. While cognitive-behavioral therapy has been markedly successful, there are still many things you can do to relieve your fears without having to pay for therapy.
In the past, my experience with social anxiety was serious. It got so bad that I would run and hide whenever someone, who wasn't my best friend, tried to interact with me. Eventually, I worked to overcome many of these fears.
How to Defeat Your Social Anxiety
- Try to identify the cause
- Work with the cause
- Strengthen your focus
- Don't worry about being perfect
- Synchronize your mind with your actions
- Work on appearing confident
- Become fully aware of your senses
- Pay attention to who you call your friends
Becoming self-confident was a long journey, but I was successful. Below you will find a detailed list that explores each step I used to overcome my social anxiety.
1. Try to Identify the Cause
Some common causes of social anxiety are:
- Feeling ugly or physically insecure
- Being afraid of people disliking you
- Feeling you have to act in a different way than way you really are (smiling more, talking more, doing more) in order to have a good interaction
- Feeling you don't "fit in" with the ambiance
- Feeling your outward appearance doesn't reflect your personality
How Do I Know If I Have Social Anxiety?
Let's take a look at the most common symptoms of social anxiety:
- Feeling tired or emotionally drained after socializing or being with a group of people
- Feeling safer and more comfortable when being alone
- Getting anxious over trying to figure out the best way to act in front of somebody
- Fear of messing things up when talking to someone
- Being afraid of not saying or doing the right things in front of people
- Not liking to be the center of attention
- Feeling insecure about oneself
- Feeling tense and presenting physical anxiety symptoms
- Being over-conscious about oneself
- Feeling as if you are not acting according to your true personality, but are trying to act in a "perfect" way/changing yourself to fit in
If you can relate to at least some of these behaviors, then you might want to keep reading. After all, there is a solution. Working to conquer these fears can drastically improve your life.
Is Anxiety Bad? Can't I Just Be an Introvert?
There are many people who live their entire lives like this, and many will assure you that their personalities work this way. But hey, this is not about changing your personality, it's about improving yourself.
Getting rid of social anxiety doesn't mean you'll be the most popular kid. It means you will be able to overcome your fears, improve your confidence, and have a great tool to succeed in anything you want to.
2. Work With the Cause
Remember that outer reality is only 10% as important as your inner reality. We are who we believe we are and, sometimes, that belief can be horrible. You can try to improve it in some aspects, but the important thing here is to work inside your head.
3. Strengthen Your Focus
Your mind's focus is everything, when it comes to conquering your fears. I promise, you'll get better with practice. Start by thinking of things that correspond to your goals and to your surroundings at the moment.
4. Don't Worry About Being Perfect
This doesn't have to do with the way you are, or with your flaws. Nobody is perfect, so worrying about perfection is not useful to anyone. Try to keep your victories in mind, rather than your failures. Keeping a positive mindset is hard, but focusing on your good qualities and your successes will help you grow your confidence.
5. Synchronize Your Mind With Your Actions
Understand you have no obligation to say anything or make others have a good time. You have the right to act according to what you feel. You may think, Damn, if I acted according to what I feel, no one would go near me. Although it can be hard to remember, this is not true.
Be Yourself, but Don't Delete Your Filter
Just to clarify, I'm not saying you delete your filter. Either way, if you think that acting according to what you feel would cause everyone to stay away from you, then you might want to figure out why you think this. Paying close attention to these red lights can lead you to detecting areas of opportunity that are useful for working on yourself. Don't forget, it's essential to merge your personality with the way you behave.
6. Work on Appearing Confident
Pay attention to your movements and actions, but not in an overly-conscious or anxiety-producing way. Start to progressively eliminate bad habits that you don't want to have anymore (cracking your fingers/ biting your nails, touching your hair excessively).
7. Become Fully Aware of Your Senses
When you feel like everything's out of control, just breathe. It's okay to look for a quiet and calm place. You are not failing. Deep breathing provides oxygen to your brain and muscles. It can even help to stabilize your neurological health. The more you pay attention to your body, the better you'll be at controlling your anxiety. Remember, anxiety is not just mental. It is physical as well.
8. Pay Attention to Who You Call Your Friends
Pay attention to how you feel after being with certain people. Is your energy high or low? Do you feel more positive? Do you feel more anxious?
Try them out. Always look for causes, for solutions, for explanations, for situations, and for observations that will help you to better understand yourself and why you might be feeling these fears. This is how you really find your way out of anything.
Stop Trying to Customize Your Character. Play the Game.
You are you. There are many people worse off than you. There are many people better off than you. You learn and grow through time, and it's all right. Stop thinking that you will not be interesting, funny, likable, normal, stylish, etc. Remember, you are enough!
Everyone Is Different
Mental health and issues corresponding to the functioning of our minds are the most curious and complicated topics. You won't find a book with instructions that show you how to be happy, because everyone's playing a different game. However, nowadays, many people underestimate the importance of having a healthy mind. Often they will say, "thinking about this kind of thing is just a waste of time." It's not.
Progress is progress, no matter how small it is; as long as you keep trying.— Mixed quotes
Remember, Overcoming Anxiety Takes Time
Here's one tip that helped me get rid of my social anxiety and boost my confidence.
- Don't be afraid to be a leader. There are followers and there are leaders. Followers try to fit into conversations, while leaders are the ones who start conversations.
We are always thinking, no matter what. So go on and say what's on your mind. At first, it may seem scary, but you'll see how it gets easier over time. Open up your mind, show others who you really are. Don't even waste a bit of energy worrying if they'll like you. This is how you really meet the right people for you.
If you show yourself to the world, you give others the opportunity to know you and love you for who you really are, and not a "fake" person, fearing the disapproval of others. Don't let your social anxiety cage you in.
In a final note, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this article. I've always been fascinated by the power that our minds have over us and the ways in which we can use that same power to reach our life goals. It was great to share my personal experience.
For More Information:
- TheSocialAnxietyInstitute.org, "What is Social Anxiety?"
© 2018 Vanessa Gómez Valencia