Changing Perceptions In Social Anxiety
Learning to identify your hot thoughts that contribute to your social anxiety learning to test these thoughts against real-life evidence and learning to come up with a constructive attitude about the situation and yourself that is more realistic, helpful and compassionate.
Cognitive Restructuring alone is not always enough to overcome our distressing hot thoughts. Often, cognitive restructuring is a first step in preparing for experiments , where we have the opportunity to test out our hot thoughts v. our constructive attitude about a situation and ourselves. Sometimes we do cognitive restructuring during or after an upsetting situation so we can overcome our distress and learn from the experience.
Behavioral Experiments For Social Anxiety
Developing a series of learning experiences to help you work on your therapy goals and overcome your social anxiety in small, manageable steps. You choose your own experiments based on your fear and avoidance hierarchy, starting with situations that are only a little uncomfortable, and gradually working on harder things as you build self-confidence one small step at a time. Generally you will do cognitive restructuring before the experiments, and practice mindfulness during the experiments . You will also identify safety behaviors that you want to limit using during your experiments so that you learn more and build more self-confidence.
Some of these experiments take place during therapy sessions: doing various moderately challenging role plays and other activities with the therapist, as well as going out in public with your therapist to do experiments with strangers. If you are in a social anxiety therapy group, you will do many of these in-session experiments together with other member of your group, and occasionally with former members of past groups. If you wish, you will have the option of making private video recordings of some of your in-session experiments so you can test out your hot thoughts about how you come across v. how you actually do appear.
You will also do many other experiments as self-chosen homework between sessions, either on your own, with therapy group co-members, or with personal friends.
Take The Focus Off Yourself
Try shifting your attention to whatâs happening around you instead of whatâs inside your head. You can do this by really listening to the conversation thatâs happening or reminding yourself that other people probably canât tell how anxious you are just by looking at you. People appreciate when others act genuine and interested, so focus on being present and a good listener.
Also Check: How To Resolve Anxiety Attacks
Make It A Competition
Do you have a competitive nature? If so, could you make a sport out of trying to overcome your social anxiety? If you clam up at dinner parties, try over-preparing with interesting stories to tell.
Try to ask every person at least one question. Keep track of how many times you speak and give yourself points. Make it a game!
Realisations That Helped Free Me From Social Anxiety
The main reason I found freedom from my social anxiety, was that I no longer followed my minds initial response to escape and began to regain control and make my own decisions. I always had this power I just never used it.
I could have carried on following my minds reaction like a puppet for the rest of my life and continue to avoid and get nowhere. But I started to see how nonsensical it all was and that there was no real danger in being around others and began to override my minds fear reaction by staying put.
I did feel uncomfortable initially as my old fear reaction would continue to come but eventually through continued doing my brain realised that I was fine and so started to turn the fear reaction down.
I realised the only language my mind understood was my actions, it would always respond to the feedback I was sending it, that it was a survival machine and was just trying to protect me. When it finally got the message that I was no longer in danger, then this reaction would no longer be triggered.
If it could speak back, it would have said Yes I getting that now and Im turning the fear response down for you, but before you were telling me the opposite by avoiding people, and so I was just doing my job and keeping you safe.
My reply being, I know, sorry it was my fault, I realise you were just doing what you were designed to do and following the message I was sending to you.
Read Also: Do I Have Severe Anxiety
Take An Incremental Approach To Overcoming Social Anxiety
Keep in mind that working through a significant social anxiety habit is going to take time.
There are no quick fixes or silver bullets, tempting as that possibility is.
Unfortunately, many people start strong in their journey to overcome social anxiety only to have a setback or two, get discouraged, and then give up.
There are a couple reasons why this happens:
The solution to both of these issues, I think, is to foster an incremental attitude and approach to overcoming your social anxiety.
For example, after reading this guide, homely there are at least a handful of good ideas and strategies you want to implement in order to overcome your social anxiety.
Dont try to do them all at once!
Instead, pick one and focus on that until you start to see some progress and it feels more automatic for you. Only then move on to implementing another.
Struggles With Intimacy Or Commitment In Friendships Or Romantic Relationships
Heightened anxiety is essentially your body going into fight or flight mode because it thinks you are in danger. So if your body is working extra hard to protect you and keep you safe, it makes sense that you would find it extra hard to be vulnerable and open up with other people.
But all healthy relationshipsespecially romantic relationshipsare built on intimacy . So if you cant be vulnerable, it severely limits your ability to grow and deepen your relationships, which eventually can lead to conflict or struggle in the relationship itself.
And once again, this unfortunately becomes a vicious cycle: the less willing you are to be vulnerable, the more the relationship struggles but the more the relationship struggles, the more anxious and afraid you are to be vulnerable.
Also Check: Why Is Anxiety So Common
Remember Baby Steps Are Still Steps
You dont need to make huge strides every step of the way. Something as small as committing to yourself that youll attend an event and following through is a huge sign of progress. It doesnt even have to be a formal event. it can be something as small as ordering a coffee if thats something that would normally trigger your anxiety.
You dont need to commit to doing something as huge as giving a speech to hundreds of people or throwing a party on your own keep in mind that any progress is progress to be proud of.
Ask Your Support System For A Helping Hand
It can be embarrassing or humbling to admit to people in your life that youre anxious in social situations and might need help. However, letting a friend or loved one know you might need some extra support can be a major boost. Many times, people are going to feel more comfortable if theyre in a social situation with somebody that theyre close to, Dr. Potter says. Especially if somebody has been fairly isolated in recent times, it can be helpful at first to have a buddy when you go back into a social situation.
The key to this support is helping an anxious person become more independent over time. Eventually, people with more generalized social anxiety will find it uncomfortable to go shopping or order food by themselves, Dr. Potter explains. You want to balance supporting a person and encouraging them to do it themselves.
If youre a friend or family member of somebody anxious in social situations, one way to offer support is to bring them into the conversation. You might be like, Oh, I think Sara has something she would probably like to say on that subject. Shes really interested in that, Dr. Potter says. You can support them by bringing them out of their shells. Before doing that, however, be sure to ask the person if thats OK. If youre a person with social anxiety, you may not like being put on the spot to say something. Talk to that person in advance about how they want to handle certain things.
Also Check: Can Anxiety Cause Sharp Chest Pain
Try Exercise Or Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Research shows that certain physical activities like jogging can help lower your anxiety. Progressive muscle relaxation can help, too. This means flexing and releasing groups of muscles in your body and keeping your attention on the feeling of the release.
Yoga can also help you calm down. Certain types involve deep breathing, so they can help lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Studies show that doing yoga for a few months can help lower overall anxiety. In fact, just one class may improve mood and anxiety.
What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder seems to run in families.
Social anxiety most often begins in the early teenage years.
Cause 1: Its likely that anxiety-producing lifestyles and thinking habits are learned gradually during childhood and then first begin to produce anxiety during the social pressures of young adulthood.
While it is less common, when social anxiety disorder begins in adulthood there is often a specific triggering event.
Whats not as clear is whether social anxiety is a genetic disorder or something that is learned.
Cause 2: Its most likely a bit of both.
Genes are a little bit more complicated than most people think. Genes work a bit like a light switch.
Its possible to have genes that predispose you to anxiety. But just because someone has the anxiety gene doesnt mean they WILL develop an anxiety disorder.
If someone has a genetic predisposition to anxiety and they then go through a traumatic event, they are more likely to then develop an anxiety disorder.
The traumatic experience may activate the gene .
The great news is that no matter how your social anxiety came about, there are effective strategies to overcome it.
Lets look at some of those strategies now.
You May Like: How To Stop Health Anxiety
What Causes Social Anxiety
Like a lot of important questions in life, What causes social anxiety? is a more complicated question than wed like.
For one thing, different forms of social anxiety are likely to have different causes.
- If you struggle with social anxiety at workparticularly with imposter syndrome and feeling like other people are about to discover how big a fraud you really arethat may be caused primarily by perfectionism and a mental habit of self-criticism and comparing yourself to others.
- On the other hand, if your social anxiety tends to crop up in the context of romantic relationships and having a hard time being emotionally vulnerable, that might stem from your experiences as a child seeing how poorly one of your parents was treated when they expressed emotion in the context of a relationship.
I bring this up because its unwise to hang onto the idea that theres one cause of social anxiety. And that if you just figure that out, youll be able to crack the code and end your struggle with it.
More than likely your social anxiety has very different causes than your mothers social anxiety, which has different causes than your bosss social anxiety.
Of course, that doesnt mean there arent common factors in what causes social anxiety that many people share. There are! But the point is theres no way to shortcut the hard work of identifying the unique causes of your social anxiety.
You Can Be Changed Into Someone You Really Dont Want To Be
OK, technically you can be changed into almost any type of person but the point is, youll be able to hear every word your therapist says as you wont be unconscious.
So on the one-in-a-million chance that you end up with some evil practitioner who wants to turn you into an angry misogynist with a fear of flamingos and an addiction to pickled cabbage, you would just get up, refuse to do what he is asking and go home to report him!
I know some people are put off due to what theyve seen on TV. Like where they get someone to bark like a dog when they hear a whistle or jump onto a kids toy car and drive it around the studio thinking they are in a Ferrari motoring around Silverstone! But that is all done for entertainment. Hypnotherapy is a serious profession these days.
My therapist talked to me about my issues before going under. It was the first time Id ever revealed my feelings to ANYONE and he empathised with everything I said. He was even telling me how I felt about things BEFORE Id had a chance to! This made me feel so safe in his hands and completely understood for the first time. It was easy to then relax into the session.
You May Like: Do Cats Get Separation Anxiety
More Than 50 Million People Feel Awkward And Nervous In Social Situations Here’s How To Keep That From Being You
Social anxiety–fear, nervousness and self-consciousness related to social situations–can be debilitating. People who are overly worried about making a mistake or being judged by others tend to avoid situations that otherwise might have good outcomes. For example, networking events, conferences and meetups are great opportunities to develop relationships with people who can bolster a career trajectory or possibly turn into lifelong friends.
Even so, it’s a problem for more than 50 million people in the U.S. That’s according to public speaker and social entrepreneur Andrew Horn, who says entrepreneurs, in particular, often struggle with social anxiety in spite of how they may come off as self-assured and confident. As someone who has founded several companies and overcome social anxiety himself, Horn has some advice on how anyone can become more comfortable interacting in public venues, pitching investors or meeting new people.
Get Good At Telling Stories
They are the medium through which you will turn people into fans. The secret to telling stories, Horn says, exists in a technique he calls WWAVE:
- W-Who is the protagonist and what happened to this person? “You should never tell a story, but only relive one,” he says.
- W-What was said? It can be in your own head or a conversation you had with someone else.
- A-Adversity–what is the struggle or problem you encountered?
- V-Victory relates to identifying the moment when you overcame adversity.
- E-Emotional context involves telling how it felt to overcome adversity, as well as how your idea empowered yourself or others.
“These constructs are helpful because they give you a baseline of understanding about what you want to talk about, so that you can be fully present in conversation,” he says.
Inc. helps entrepreneurs change the world. Get the advice you need to start, grow, and lead your business today. for unlimited access.
Read Also: What Herbal Supplements Help With Anxiety