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5 Ways to Overcome Social Anxiety

Updated on December 8, 2016
Michael Kismet profile image

Michael is a self-taught expert in human behavior. He enjoys writing and sharing his insights on the human condition.

Overcoming depression and anxiety
Overcoming depression and anxiety | Source

How do I Overcome Social Anxiety?

Regardless how much good advice one hears or how many professionals one sees, it's ultimately up to the individual to overcome their anxiety, it takes an enormous amount of conviction and commitment. There are no "easy steps", Every step towards trying to beat your anxious feelings will be excruciating, because it will definitely involve being social. But it's prudent to manage one's expectations, it'll take a substantial amount of time and perseverance to at least lessen the severity of one's anxiousness.

If there's one thing I'm qualified to write about, it's overcoming social anxiety. I was so socially phobic, if there were too many people within a given space I would be crippled by an irrational fear. I was even afraid to answer phone calls out of fear of interacting with someone over the phone. The uneasy feeling of uncertainty, always self conscious, always talking myself out of speaking up in a group. I know the ramifications of being afflicted with social anxiety.

If the mere thought of feeling obligated to attend an event makes you crazy with fear, then something isn't right. No matter how much you try to convince yourself that you're just fine. Let's call it what it is, social anxiety can and will hold you back in life. Just think of all the amazing experiences that involve other people that you'll be missing. This is the one thought that resounded in my mind to force positive change. If you're living with social anxiety, then you're not even in the game, and life shouldn't be a spectator sport. Here are five ways to overcome your anxiety.

1. Social Anxiety and Self-talk

No one can truly know you better than yourself, cause rarely do we genuinely share every detail of of our true selves to anyone, not even the ones closes to us. There's always something that is held back, thoughts only reserved for ourselves. Take some time and evaluate yourself, what is it that's really causing your anxious nature. Identifying exactly what and where our social fears truly originates from will give us power over of it.

To truly be able to overcome problems associated with social phobias, one must find the will for themselves. Without a personal motivation, there won't be much that can be gained. If you're not frustrated with the idea that life is passing you by, then I would personally question if one could accomplish change without first hitting a proverbial rock-bottom. So, be honest with yourself, are you ready to address the anxiety in your social life?

2. Anxiety and Negative Thoughts

To effectively avoid negative thought, one must nip it in the bud before it even becomes a problem. Many that live with social anxiety will commonly have irrational fears that just seem to not make any sense.They believe everyone is looking at them and thinking the worst of them. The fact is, most people in public will totally dismiss your presence, let alone have the time to observe, analyze and/or judge you.

Not because you're socially invisible, it's because human beings are designed to be self-centered and they're busy with their own ride in life. We can only choose not to be. Becoming self aware enough to know when your fears are just demons of your own creation is key. Generally, the majority of self-thought will be negative, but this was evolutions way of keeping us safe, with the creation of fear. We may not be able to control it, but we have a choice to let it socially handicap us, or to process it in a passive way.

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Overcoming anxiety without drugs | Source

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3. Learn how to Relax with Social Anxiety

It's easier said than done to try to relax, but all the physical manifestations of anxiety can be mitigated successfully if you learn to reprogram yourself from being tense. Simply put, people with social problems have conditioned their bodies to feel uncomfortable, and anxious. After I learned to control my body's tension, and how to lower my heart rate around social interactions, it became a load off from my mind.

When we're happy, a signal is sent to the facial muscles to express what we're feeling with a smile. Scientist have learned it works both ways. Consciously and deliberately smiling, will send a signal back to the brain letting it know "this is how you should feel". Try it. Learning to master your physical inclinations won't be easy, but it was definitely worth the time for me, and suffice it to say, this requires practice.

4. Facing Anxiety Head On

I discovered that admitting to yourself that your life isn't everything that it could be really makes you take action. I took it upon myself to attend social gatherings that I had previously deemed as impossible, if I had something constructive or witty to say, I would speak up. If you never make yourself heard, how will people know what a lovely person you are? Imagine all the manner of friendships you could have forged by just interjecting your own insights.

Don't be that person that sits around waiting for their wonderful life just to fall into their laps. This isn't a movie, life doesn't just go out and divide happiness and fulfillment evenly to everyone. You have to get off your butt and put in the work. I feel compelled to reiterate that no appreciable amount of change will occur if you can't fight for it, like you want it. One must face fear and anxiety head on, no excuses.

Making friends with social anxiety
Making friends with social anxiety | Source

5. Anxiety and Friendships

People who live with the stress and discontent of social anxiety often will keep themselves hidden, in more ways than one. Always insisting to themselves that they're not good enough, or that people won't approve. This is all just negative thought at work, the truth is most people are friendly and will give you a chance. In life, sometimes all we need is one person to give us a chance.

When I was in the phase of changing my ways, I met one friend, and that friend introduced me to everyone he knew--leading to a life changing moment of having an entire network of friends, because an individual could see that I needed it. But I can't stress enough that you must put in real efforts for real results, you must find that motivation.Take it slow if you have to, but don't give up on overcoming your social anxiety. Ask yourself, do you fear socializing more, or letting your anxiety dictate your destinies in life?

Everyone has some Social Anxiety

The truth is everyone has some form of anxiety that they will exhibit, it is to only what degree. If you're letting minor social interactions dictate your actions day to day, you might have a more severe form of social phobia.

Which might be harder to cope with, but anything that originates from our own minds can still be changed, if we will it. You may think that I am being over redundant, but no growth will occur without action, you have to go out there and experiment with attaining your own social needs. There's no fighting it, human beings are highly social, and it's paramount to our mental health.

Help Someone with Social Anxiety

Thank you for taking the time to read my article, if you have any suggestions or opinions, please do not hesitate to voice your opinion on what we can do to overcome social anxiety and it's perils. Additionally, if you know for a fact someone has a severe social phobia, don't be afraid to take the initiative to possibly make a great friend, you just have to say "hello" first. There are certain outward signs and symptoms of social anxiety. Let's all treat each other better out there. Please feel free to share this article with your social network--Facebook, tweet it, pin it!

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    • Michael Kismet profile image
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      Michael Kismet 2 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you Sally, I appreciate it.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Excellent advice for anyone who suffers social anxiety, it takes so little to be kind to others - especially when you know that they are feeling a little anxious or nervous. Voted up and useful, google+

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