Social anxiety is one of the most common psychological disorders, following depression and alcoholism. The study published by Psychology Today revealed shocking results: 90% of participants stated that they experience symptoms of social anxiety disorder regularly. The good news: these 5 tips could help you to overcome symptoms and start living more fulfilling life.
No matter how confident we are, our brain is always anxious. Just take it as rule. It works this way, period! Our brain is evolutionarily wired to keep us safe from danger and rejection otherwise we would not survive. Anticipating a worrisome event is always worse than the actual situation. Always! For example, after being worried about a date or even visiting a gym in the first times, it may actually be a relief to walk through the door, and surprisingly find out that it is not scary at all. Our brain always tries to draw the worse case scenarios. So it’s important to remember that the alarm bells before an event are usually louder than necessary.
2) Face your fear – volunteer!
Exposure-response prevention is one of the CBT techniques that recommends facing your fear voluntary step by step or at once (depends on your personality). Push yourself slightly or just “jump into the sea”. I mean, for example, ask whoever is in charge how you can help. If you are worried, for instance, about the big event and scared to meet new people – volunteer to be a host. It sounds a bit strange but it works. Often, social awkwardness could be eliminated by having a defined role. Asking attendees to sign the guest book gives you a reason to interact with people with no fear to be rejected.
3) Be curious
Many people feel anxious because they think that they have nothing to say. Here is one helpful technique: ask open-ended questions or ask for advice. Carry on. Ask another question based on answers that take the conversation deeper. Many people would be glad to talk about their lives.
4) Dedication is the key
Don’t trust to what you see in social media. Multiple social psychology studies shown that the average American has about two true friends and one out of four participants revealed that they have no social circle at all. Unfortunately, we are living in the century of solitude. It means you are not alone. We are all in the same shoes to some extent. All of us suffer from the lack of true deep relationships. So, take the initiative! Think, what you like to do and, based on your answers, plug yourself into a small, recurring group with like-minded people.
Do you like rave music? Go and party. Do you like skiing – take a day off and subscribe for skiing school. The most important part is to be consistent and to keep showing up. Commit for at least few month, even if you’re tempted to stop. Just keep going and trying, and one day you will meet nice people.
If you’re ready for a change, a good CBT partitioner could help you face your fears safely. You will be asked to build a hierarchy of things you are scared or avoid. Next, you’ll work through them gradually, moving on to the next level when you’re ready.
Don’t let the social anxiety to ruin your life. Take your time, practice, be friendly, slightly push yourself, and slowly but surely you will start being comfortable in your own skin.