Let's talk about social anxiety. Have you ever been at a social gathering where there is someone who is just hopping around making friends with everyone? Did you wonder– how on earth do they do that? Well, then you're in the right place!
Social anxiety is incredibly common. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 7.1% of adults have struggled with social anxiety in the past year. I'd like to offer you a solution. Before I do, I have to warn you– this is easier said than done. All right, are you ready? Here it is…
Everyone cares about what other people think of them, even those super social butterflies who can seemingly talk to anyone. It is a natural human trait to want to fit in with the pack. But, people with social anxiety tend to be over-concerned with what other people are thinking about them.
The truth of the matter is that most people are thinking more about themselves than they are about you. And, if they are standing there judging you, well then they probably aren't someone that you want to be around!
The only person's opinion of you that matters is… YOURS! After all, you are the one who has to spend a whole lifetime with yourself. You shouldn't be so concerned with what others think of you, especially if it's someone who hardly knows you.
Like I said earlier, it is much easier said than done. So, I put together a list of practices that you can use to help ease your anxiety in social situations. It won't happen overnight, but if you keep working with them you will begin to feel more confident in your social skills.
Talking to people is a skill, so don't beat yourself up if you're not up to par yet. You'll get there! I know people who can strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere– it has taken them years, even decades to refine this skill. Keep practicing, and you'll get there too!
Try being that person who can walk up to anyone and start a conversation! I do have to warn you… there might be some awkward moments, but that's okay! Chances are that you will never see that person again, so have fun with it.
Next time you are at a social gathering, or even waiting in line for coffee, try striking up a conversation with someone. Don't think about it, just go for it. After all, the best way to overcome a fear is to face it.
When you start to feel uncomfortable, lean into it. All growth begins with leaving your comfort zone. And who knows, you make a new friend!
If you struggle with social anxiety, the voice in your head is likely telling you things like...
These are just a few examples, you may relate to some of them and you may have others. Whatever they are, I am happy to tell you that they aren't true!
That inner voice is a pesky little thing that often makes up stories that aren't true. Next time you are feeling anxiety in a social situation, remind yourself that you are amazing and capable and that anyone would be lucky to have you in their life!
Once you become aware of the negative things you are telling yourself, you can choose to hype yourself up instead. Tell yourself how amazing, kind, and capable you are.
Remember that the people around you are probably in their heads– just like you! Chances are they are only worried about themselves. And, if they are judging you then why would you want them to like you? Judging people is a sign of insecurity and you don't have time for that in your life!
Though you can't always control who is around you, try to avoid people who make you feel anxious or drain your energy. Sometimes, anxieties are a result of false beliefs that we hold, but sometimes it's our bodies telling us that we should remove someone or something from our lives.
If there is a particular person or place that makes you feel especially anxious, it may be because it is not supporting you the way that it should. If a person makes you feel like you can't be your amazing self, then find someone new who appreciates how wonderful you are!
If you are in a crowded space and you start to feel anxious, try taking a few deep, slow breaths. Uncomfortable situations can cause you to switch into fight or flight mode. Taking slow calming breaths will help bring your nervous system back to a state of rest.
Now, go forth and practice! Remember, that whatever you are feeling will pass. You are strong, capable, and the world is blessed to have you!