How to Overcome Social Anxiety
Do you hate interacting with people or are you afraid of being near a crowd? Here's what you call "social anxiety" or "social phobia" or "social fear".
To answer your question "what is Social Anxiety"?
Based on Social Anxiety Institute:
"Social anxiety is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, self-consciousness, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression."
To learn more about how to overcome your fear of people interaction, here's how you can overcome it.
Important Note: If you have severe social anxiety, then this advice is not for you except for the therapy one. Plus, I am not an expert and these are all beyond what helped me get through social anxiety.
So grab your mug of coffee or tea and let's get right to it!
Symptoms of Social Anxiety
The main Symptoms that cause emotionally distressed are:
- Being in the spotlight
- Being teased or criticised
- Interacting with other people for the first time (social encounters)
- Being picked on to say something
- Social sharing (eg. Going around the circle having to say something)
For example, say being in a classroom full of other peers and you get these negative feelings (as mentioned above). That is until you get out of that classroom or when it comes to home time that you finally have that light feeling of relief.
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I found out I had social anxiety when I was in my early years of secondary school (high school). It wasn't until I turned 15 that I realised, I was afraid of people! Well, not afraid of people but more like, interacting with people because I was self-conscious about myself and the way I looked.
You thought that high school was the best years of your life! Not for me, it isn't. I started going out of my way to becoming social-able when I started online school but I still had this anxiety deep in my soul. At the same time, it was when I was suffering from depression and anxiety.
I feared that people will judge me and I'll be awkward or embarrassed. Here are a few tips for learning to deal with the world.
Learn more about "going out of your comfort zone"
It might sound like something that won't work for you but trust me, I've tried this and it helped me realise that we only have one chance in life. You may have heard older people complaining about "I wish I had done this when I was younger" (oh, of course, I heard this lots of time even in novels I've read).
Ask yourself questions like "what if I'm missing out? What if I have the guilt feeling when I don't face my fears? How will I learn to conquer this fear in the future?"
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Read more books on it by visiting Simple Truths or reading the books I mentioned below.
Write a list of reasons why social anxiety is stopping you from doing something
Have a note or journal to jot down the reasons why social anxiety is stopping you. Just list everything that comes to your mind that relates to your phobias.
Make sure to expand upon your reasoning and add why your anxiety is stopping you. This is so that you can analyse and come up with a plan. Also, it would be a great motivation for you to start going out of your comfort zone.
For example, my social anxiety is stopping me from purchasing items that I need. I hate interacting with people at the cash register when I'm shopping and I really don't want to talk to them. I feel utterly embarrassed and awkward waiting for the cashier to scan my items. But this is stopping me from buying products that I need to use. If I don't buy the product, then I would walk out of there with nothing and feeling like a loser.
Now, there are some optional plans for this situation such as using self-serving cash registers (if you guys have them in your nearest market), purchasing the item online or go with a friend or family.
Expose yourself to the outside world
What better way to help you overcome social anxiety than to expose yourself to it (but don't do it if you have severe social anxiety). Start with your family, relatives or friends.
You can follow a hierarchy that helps you slowly overcome this phobia. For example, if you're afraid of going outside in your neighbourhood in case of social interactions (walking past them or even having eye contact with them). Then there are options to take this step slowly. Like walking early hours or late hours, wearing sunglasses when you go out for a walk (sunny days), walking with a friend or family member, listening to music, keeping your head down and focusing on your shoes. You can think of the rest.
Once you adapt to this hierarchy exposure, you start expanding upon it and removing things from your list. For example, if you don't feel the need to wear sunglasses, then try bringing them along on your walk (just in case) but don't wear them. Go slowly through your list and make sure to note the step/s that trigger your anxiety.
You can read more about "Behavioural interventions" here.
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Take an online course
I didn't find out about this until later on but there's actually courses online that help with self-confidence.
If you can find confidence courses in your neighbourhood, then lucky you (well not really because you're going to be dealing with a lot of social interactions face-to-face). It's better because it helps you expose yourself to people and also share the experience with those who suffer the same problem as you.
Go to cognitive-behavioural therapy or support groups
If these options don't help, it's better to go to a cognitive-behavioural therapy or attend a support group for social anxiety to help you with mildly-severe social anxiety.
This therapy involves talking face to face, or even through the internet (section "take online courses").
If you feel like therapy doesn't work, seek another therapy until you find the right one.
After you tried out this advice such as learning to go out your comfort zone, list the reasons that are stopping you from doing what you need to do, expose yourself to the outside world, take an online course or go to cognitive-behavioural therapy.
Another helpful tip for social fear is to try meditation.
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