How can I overcome social anxiety?
Last Updated: 02/24/2020 at 4:39pm
Lindsay Scheinerman, MA, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor
My work with clients is to help them recognize and build on their strengths to find solutions for the conflicts presented in their lives.
Top Rated Answers
Social anxiety is something that lives with you always but you can manage your anxiety. I find that faking it until I make it works wonders for me - that is, looking people in the eyes; focusing my thoughts on what they are saying rather than my anxious thoughts; and not hiding. I generally find that when I do this, people are receptive and when I notice that, my confidence grows and the anxiety subsides. When I hide, lower my eyes, or concentrate on my internal thoughts, my anxiety goes through the roof. This is how it works for me at least. Take it as you will.
I believe that social anxiety is one of those things that can only really be overcome with time. Although, I have always had anxiety; including social anxiety. The only way I truly overcame it was to practice interacting with people. Although, to begin I had to realize that the spotlight effect was happening. This means that I may believe that everyone is watching and judging, but in reality , you are only the center of your own world, not theirs. Most people are usually too focused on themselves to really look that deeply into what you are saying or doing. If you can look past that and just take it one day at a time and set small goals, then you will overcome it.
The best way I have found is to simply put yourself out there. I know it's scary but you have to take baby steps. If you commit to stepping out of your comfort zone maybe once a week to start with you'll start noticing a difference. And as time goes on you can make it two or three. For some people it never truly goes away, but if you make yourself get used to it in a safe way where you still feel safe, it can get a lot better
This is really hard. It takes time, and slowly working your way into more social activities. But, it really takes effort to manage and reduce anxiety through the adoption of health coping techniques (self soothing, positive affirmations, grounding techniques, distractions, mindfulness...) and building up your self esteem. Depending how severe your social anxiety is, you may benefit greatly from working with a professional therapist or counselor on these issues.
I've had a social anxiety for a good amount of time by now and in my case, talking to people anywhere (even online) worked because it gives you some type of positive validation and that positive validation makes you move forward and step by step, you'll bloom again like a beautiful flower.
Take deep breaths. Slowly immerse yourself and by that I mean start hanging out with 3 people, then 4 then 5. Make sure to not listen to the voices in your head that are causing you anxiety. If it gets to be too much you can try again some other time.
Social Anxiety is a big thing- For a lot of people, therefore you are definitely not alone in this! Lots and lots of people are in the completely same situation as you. There are professional people you can talk to, Counsellors, you can go to therapy groups. You can speak to your doctor, local GP about your social anxiety. And you can speak to us here at 7cupsoftea, and your friends and family- You are not alone, everybody cares about you and wants the very best for you in life- Don't be afraid to tell people.
Being someone that is diagnosed with social anxiety, I am beginning to overcome this by getting out there in public. I don't do anything that I find incredibly overwhelming because that wouldn't be a step forward, but I do things that I know can make me happy. I go out shopping more, I hang around with friends more, I take walks with my dogs-- something to get out of the protective bubble that I've had cast around myself for so long. Something as simple as taking a walk, which I do usually once a day, is something that can be a great help-- it allows you to see people, understand how they work and realise that the threat that I've imagined isn't there. In my own experience, spontaneous events also help a lot. If something is randomly decided, then I can't over-analyse things and decide to drop out.
Talk about it. A lot. On 7cups, on social anxiety forum, to friends. Put yourself in situations that make you socially anxious. I don't think my social anxiety will ever disappear, and new situations always trigger it, but by putting myself in new situations and gaining experience it becomes manageable and subsides over time. You need determination and patience.
Confidence is the key! Remember that you don't owe anybody anything and have a consistent air about yourself. Don't hunch. You're better than 90% of the people you know.. Why getting anxious?
You need to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and speak to people, or face whatever fear you have of social environments. That is truly the only way to overcome social anxiety.
You can start by practicing simple small things to overcome feeling awkward in social situations, you can do it!
Social anxiety often stems from the fear of something happening. For example - making a fool out of myself in front of people. I tend to question my thoughts "what's the worst that could happen?" - Yes I could say something wrong and everyone may care or actually may not! It's completely okay. We are human :) I will face it and learn from it.
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