Jul 17, 2011 Posted Under: Health

Overcome Social Anxiety by Thinking Differently

Some people have no problem getting in front of a large group and speaking.

However, for many other people – this can be their very worst nightmare. Social anxiety sometimes makes us imagine ourselves making mistakes and embarrassing ourselves in front of everyone. We begin to worry about how people may judge us and whether or not they will like us. Often these racing thoughts can have a dramatic effect on our bodies too: making us blush, sweat, stutter, twitch, and a slue of other antisocial habits that make us look insecure.

The problem is our social anxiety becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our thoughts cause us to have certain experiences, and then those experiences reinforce those same thoughts that we are not socially fit.

How can you break the cycle of social anxiety? First, you need to start reframing your experiences and thoughts in new ways. It might be true that you have a poor track record of job interviews, presentations, or dinner parties. However, just because you had some bad experiences in the past doesn’t mean that you will continue to have bad experiences in the future.

What you can do is begin to view these bad experiences as a resource to learn from and improve yourself. Try reflecting back on that one time you had a God-awful date, then ask yourself questions on how you could’ve handled the situation better.

  • What were your beliefs going into the situation? How did these beliefs affect your actions?
  • What were your beliefs about your audience? How did these beliefs affect your actions?
  • Did you come from a place of strength (“I provide value.”) or a place of weakness (“I desperately hope they like me.”)?
  • Were you too shy to fully express yourself? Why? What did you feel insecure of? (write down a list of potential anxieties)
  • Did you view the experience as a learning experience? So even if you fail, you can still take something positive away from it.

These are just some questions you may find useful when reflecting on these past experiences. The more specific your questions, the more there is to potentially learn from. You have a better memory of YOUR experiences than anyone else, so be sure to dig deep and really get to the bottom of your social anxiety.

I believe that many of the causes of our social anxiety are inside our heads. Sure, there are some situations where we may feel legitimately worried or scared (and for good reason), but there are other times where our worries and fears are irrational and have no bearing on reality.

Seriously, what is the worst that could happen if you got rejected by a girl, or an employer, or even if you made some bad speech in front of a hundred or so people. It’s not going to kill you, and what doesn’t kill you often makes you stronger. Be willing to take more risks in social situations and the worst that can happen is you’ll learn something new about yourself.

I assure you that if you can adopt this new attitude about your social life the you’ll begin to see noticeable improvement. How you think (and the beliefs you have about your world) have a tremendous effect on how you act and the results you get at life. Be mindful of your thoughts and beliefs when going into social situations, and you’ll be able to improve yourself with time.

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