This is Part II of a Two Part Series. In Part I (click here), we discussed what exactly social anxiety disorder is, including such things as symptoms, causes, and treatments.
I believe that anybody can overcome their social anxiety.
It may not be easy or quick, but I do believe it can be accomplished.
There will always be extreme cases that need more advanced treatments, but I believe this to occur infrequently.
It basically comes down to anything else in life:
HOW HARD ARE YOU WILLING TO WORK FOR IT?
Any worthwhile accomplishment is a direct result of how hard we worked to achieve it.
Like anything worthwhile – it will take practice, discomfort, and determination to get past social anxiety.
But it can be done.
Below, I will outline the self-help methods I used in my journey to help get past social anxiety forever.
METHOD #1: CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
- “I can’t do this.”
- “I’m not smart enough.”
- “People will laugh at me”
- “I’m not attractive enough for her”
- “We won’t have anything in common, there is no point”
These are some of the negative thoughts which socially anxious people experiences.
The first step in recovery is to begin a deliberate, logical process of challenging these thoughts.
- What is really making me apprehensive?
- What is my basis for thinking this way? Will it definitely be bad?
- What would those closest to me think about my thoughts?
- Will I care about this in a week, in a month, in a year?
Think hard about what you are fearful about.
Unhealthy and negative thoughts keep your confidence low and reinforce inertia when it comes to social situations.
Take a look at it from a logical perspective and you will see that it doesn’t really make sense to be fearful of harmless situations.
Remember that your thoughts are usually not logic-based; instead, they are a creation of your fears and a often a clear distortion of reality.
You must constantly apply positive reinforcement – every day – until you begin to feel better in social situations.
Repeat the positives over and over again in your head.
Mentally visualize yourself overcoming these fears.
Apply this logic for the various social situations that make you uneasy and over time your negative thoughts should begin to lessen and hopefully go away.
This process will not happen overnight – but it can be done as your willpower begins to strengthen through the constant positive reinforcement.
METHOD #2: EXPAND YOUR NETWORKS
This can be achieved many ways, but your goal is to expand your social circles. You want to meet new people and develop new relationships. This might seem like an awful idea for a socially anxious individual – but it will help you immensely (even if it might not seem that way).
Some examples include:
- Career networking events
- Social skills seminars
- Volunteer work
- Public speaking events (such as Toastmasters)
- Intramural sports (flag football, softball, kickball, etc.)
Assimilate into groups outside of your comfort zone is a must.
You will associate with others who have shared interests. This will enhance your comfort level and eventually lead to the reduction of the stress and pressure of attacking your social anxiety.
METHOD #3: FACE YOUR FEARS
This is how I crushed my social anxiety.
I identified the social situations which brought me the most fear – and I attacked them head on.
Was it easy?
But as hard as it was, it became an addiction.
Once I realized that it would be okay, that nothing “bad” would come of the situation, I wanted to keep going until I eradicated the anxiety entirely.
I got to the point where the anxious physical feelings went away.
I spoke in front of groups, and felt at ease. I approached women, and my heart rate wasn’t through the roof (this takes time).
Attacking your fears head on is the best approach to conquering social anxiety.
You have to acknowledge and then challenge your phobias that you have spent years internalizing.
These negative feelings and beliefs are rooted deep inside you – so it will take time and consistent effort to fully overcome your social anxiety.
Therapy or medication can never take the place of real life interactions OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
That is the key to it all – leaving your comfort zone.
At first, you will trigger your social anxiety. You will experience fear and paranoia.
The fear of rejection, the fear of the unknown, dislike of uncertainty – all these things will quickly bubble up inside you.
Your body will want to freeze in place. This is normal.
You are attacking your fears directly, and it will take an acclimation period. If you push through and encounter the moment, you will feel resounding better afterwards.
Things will begin to get easier every time you enter a social situation.
Taking baby steps in attacking uncomfortable and you will build your confidence.
Social situations that were once upsetting will now feel like a walk in the park.
Dedication, consistency and will power will determine how long this takes you.
Do you suffer from social anxiety? If so, what steps have you taken to help yourself? Share below.