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How To Make Friends When You Have Social Anxiety

Dealing With Social Setbacks And Rejection

How Do You Make Friends if You Have Social Anxiety? | Kati Morton

As you put yourself out there socially, there will be times when you feel judged or rejected. Maybe you reached out to someone, but they didnt seem interested in having a conversation or starting a friendship.

Theres no question: rejection feels bad. But its important to remember that its part of life. Not everyone you approach will be receptive to starting a conversation, let alone becoming friends. Just like dating, meeting new people inevitably comes with some element of rejection. The following tips will help you have an easier time with social setbacks:

Try not to take things too personally. The other person may be having a bad day, be distracted by other problems, or just not be in a talkative mood. Always remember that rejection has just as much to do with the other person as it does with you.

Keep things in perspective. Someone elses opinion doesnt define you, and it doesnt mean that no one else will be interested in being your friend. Learn from the experience and try again.

Dont dwell on mistakes. Even if you said something you regret, for example, its unlikely that the other person will remember it after a short time. Stay positive refrain from labeling yourself a failure, or from telling yourself that youll never be able to make friends. The very shyest people do, and so will you.

Get more help

Are There Clinical Trials Studying Social Anxiety Disorder

NIMH supports a wide range of research, including clinical trials that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditionsincluding social anxiety disorder. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.

Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct clinical trials with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to a health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.

How To Make Friends By Asking Questions

In a study published in 1999, researchers looked into how relationships form with something called the Relationship Closeness Induction Task.

They had pairs of students practice structured self-disclosure. This involved students asking and answering questions of each other from a list of questions that grew increasingly more personal.

What they found was that by the end of the session, students expressed a feeling of closeness to the partner with whom they had asked and answered questions. One of the pairs even ended up dating!

Are you curious? Below is a list of the questions from that study. Try to find ways to weave these questions, or your own answers to the questions, into conversation with people you meet.

You might be surprised at what you learn and how interesting the conversation becomes.

1. What is your first name?

2. How old are you?

3. Where are you from?

4. What year are you at the University of X?

5. What do you think you might major in? Why?

6. What made you come to the University of X?

7. What is your favorite class at the University of X? Why?

8. What are your hobbies?

9. What would you like to do after graduating from the University of X?

10. What would be the perfect lifestyle for you?

11. What is something you have always wanted to do but probably never will be able to do?

12. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

13. What is one strange thing that has happened to you since youve been at the University of X?

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Here Are Some Of My Favorite Social Anxiety Tools

Thanks for reading! I hope you found some helpful tips. Since this site is about social anxiety, I wanted to also share some tools I use that I hope youll find helpful. Some of these are affiliate links, so if you decide to try them, Ill earn a commission. However, I only recommend things I have used myself and would recommend to a friend or family member.

Online Therapy: For online therapy, I have personally used and like the service offered by Betterhelp. It’s easy to get started from the comfort of your home. You’ll even get a discount on your first month of therapy when you use my link.

Doctor Visits: For doctor visits, Web Doctors offers convenient online appointments.

Audible Subscription: I recommend a lot of self-help books on this site, but I actually prefer an audiobook subscription over print books! My favorite subscription service is Audible because it has all the best-sellers and they stay in your digital library forever . You can and listen to your first two books for free.

Social Anxiety Masterclass: The Social Anxiety Masterclass is my signature course where I walk you through everything I know about how to manage social anxiety. If you’re not ready to enroll in the course, be sure to to hear about special deals!

Reassessing Your Thinking Patterns Could Help

How To Make Friends When You Have Social Anxiety?

Meeting new people isnt easy for everyone. Maybe youre shy or dont have a lot of opportunities to socialize.

But what about the way you think of yourself and others? Exploring what you tell yourself about making new friends could help you discover any thinking patterns that could be preventing you from originating new connections.

  • Are you concerned about what others think of you?
  • Do you have difficulty expressing your emotions?

Exploring these questions might be helpful.

Shyness, personality disorders, and living with depression could be making it harder for you to make new friends as an adult.

Cognitive distortions can also filter how you see yourself and others. But negative thinking can be challenged.

If you need support to work on these potential roadblocks, reaching out to a mental health professional could help.

Recommended Reading: How To Deal With Severe Anxiety

Consider Telling Your Friends About Your Social Anxiety

If those around you know you get anxious in social situations, they can support and encourage you. Telling your friends also helps them understand your behavior. For example, if you tend to avoid eye contact, they will be less likely to think you are aloof if they know you have social anxiety.

You may find that your friend has similar problems. Lots of people have no friends and struggle to grow their social circle as an adult. Sharing your experiences can bring you closer together.

Befriend People With Similar Interests I See You Like Reading/hiking/movies Too

A great trick for easing your social nerves is to become friends with like-minded people. Try hanging out with other socially anxious or introverted people or seek out people who share your interests. If you can bond over a shared experience or pastime, it will naturally provide you with a lot to talk about and help you feel confident in your interactions.

While at College, try attending events that will help you meet similar people. Pursuing your interests in this way will put you in the same room as people that share your passions, which can really boost your chances of making friends!

Resist the urge to pretend to be someone you’re not when you are meeting new people. You will attract more like-minded people if you are honest about your interests, hobbies, and the way you like to spend your time.

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What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder

Risk for social anxiety disorder may run in families, but no one knows for sure why some family members have it while others dont. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety and that genetics influences how these areas function. By studying how the brain and body interact in people with social anxiety disorder, researchers may be able to create more targeted treatments. In addition, researchers are looking at the ways stress and environmental factors play a role in the disorder.

Understand The Symptoms Of Social Anxiety

3 Ways to Beat Social Anxiety!
  • Being shy and having social anxiety are two different things. Though being shy might prevent you from making friends, social anxiety can feel debilitating at times. It often manifests in physical and emotional symptoms, and it may feel like it’s negatively impacting your life. Thankfully, recognizing the symptoms can help you manage and overcome them. You might have social anxiety disorder if you experience these symptoms:XResearch source
  • Fear of judgment
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    Talk With A Therapist

    Despite what some people might suggest, social anxiety goes beyond shyness, or feeling uneasy and nervous around new people. Social anxiety is a mental health condition, and its not always possible to work through symptoms yourself.

    You can do a lot on your own to manage the anxiety and distress you experience, but getting professional support is always a good place to start.

    A trained mental health professional can:

    • offer more insight on the difference between social anxiety and shyness
    • help you identify social anxiety triggers
    • teach helpful coping strategies, social skills, and relaxation techniques
    • offer guidance with challenging and replacing or reframing negative thoughts

    Therapy also offers a safe environment to practice navigating anxiety-provoking situations through graduated exposure, one potential treatment for social anxiety.

    Your therapist might recommend group therapy or support groups, which give you the chance to practice social skills and interact with other people also coping with social anxiety.

    A therapist can also refer you to a psychiatrist, who can prescribe medication for social anxiety. Medication can provide some relief from severe symptoms, making it easier to start working through them in therapy.

    Help Reframe Their Thoughts

    Your friends anxiety can make it difficult for them to gain a perspective on social situations. You can help them think of the bigger picture by asking questions like:

    • What is the worst that could happen?
    • What is most likely going to happen?
    • Whats something good that could come out of this?
    • Have you ever felt like this before? You survived it last time.
    • If you look back at this situation years from now, what will you think about it?

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    Explore Your Neighborhood On Foot Or On A Bike

    Exploring your new neighborhood on foot or on a bicycle is a smart way to meet people. The best thing about exploring your new neighborhood is that you will likely be doing it more than once and can get to know the area slowly over time, instead of trying to do everything in one day and burning yourself out.

    If you have a dog, take him or her with you on your walks so that he can get to know the area, too. Dogs can be helpful as ice breakers when you are trying to meet new people.

    Practice Your Social Skills Make Eye Contact

    How To Make Friends When You Have Social Anxiety?

    As you begin the journey of making new friends at college, it is helpful to practice your social skills in day-to-day life.

    Some easy skills that can make a huge difference include using open body language, such as firm handshakes and eye contact, and learning how to make small talk with new acquaintances. Start to look at all of your daily social interactions from the cashier at the grocery store to a classmate at college as opportunities to practice your skills. Smile at a stranger, ask a peer a question about themselves, pay someone a compliment, and observe their reaction. Spoiler alert, youll probably receive some smiles and compliments in return!

    To make this process even easier, try writing a list of small-talk topics that you can draw from to help you feel more comfortable in these casual interactions. Examples of small-talk topics to use when talking to a college peer might include the weather, plans for the weekend, what brought them to college, or their hobbies or interests.

    Remember, not every interaction will result in a new best friend, but you will have practiced smiling, chatting, and managing those negative feelings that social interactions can bring out. The more you face your fears, the more comfortable you will be talking with new people and, eventually, making long-lasting connections.

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    Connect With A Faith Community

    If you belong to a particular religious faith, try to connect with people in your religious community. It is easier for some people who are new to a city or neighborhood to find connections within their faith communities rather than trying to meet random people through other means.

    If you dont belong to a particular religion but still get along well with different types of spiritual individuals, try attending local community events at a spiritual institution. You may be able to find people who share similar interests and values as you do in this way, which can lead to friendships down the road.

    Take Baby Steps And Reward Yourself

    Slowly expose yourself to each social situation on your ladder. Do not be tempted to skip ahead too quickly. Aim to gradually push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

    As you ascend the fear ladder, you will start interacting with more people and develop your social skills, which are both essential if you want to make friends. Keep a record of your achievements and reward yourself when you move to the next step.

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    What Fears Are Involved

    With social phobia, a person’s fears and concerns are focused on their social performance whether it’s a major class presentation or small talk at the lockers.

    People with social phobia tend to feel self-conscious and uncomfortable about being noticed or judged by others. They’re more sensitive to fears that they’ll be embarrassed, look foolish, make a mistake, or be criticized or laughed at. No one wants to go through these things. But most people don’t really spend much time worrying about it. The fear and anxiety are out of proportion to the situation.

    Take Pride In Who You Are

    Does Social Anxiety Make You Immature?

    You might feel that you are socially awkward, quirky, or weird due to having social anxiety and thats perfectly all right.

    Take pride in your idiosyncrasies, interests, and traits, where you have come from and how far you have come.

    Embrace these in their entirety and wear them like a flag!

    You are entirely unique and thats a beautiful thing. Being unique also means that it is entirely pointless to compare yourself with others.

    Your uniqueness makes you stand out and people do notice that.

    Somewhere down the line, one of those people will want to be your friend.

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    Connect With Professional Organizations

    If you belong to a particular profession or interest group that has events and gatherings for its members, try looking into getting involved in these types of organizations. By doing so, you will be able to meet people who are into the same type of work or hobby that you are.

    If this isnt possible, because your time is limited due to other commitments, try looking for local organizations on Facebook and see if they have pages where members can post comments about whats going on in their lives outside of professional activities.

    What Happens When Someone Has Social Phobia

    Extreme feelings of shyness and self-consciousness build into a powerful fear. As a result, a person feels uncomfortable participating in everyday social situations.

    People with social phobia can usually interact easily with family and a few close friends. But meeting new people, talking in a group, or speaking in public can cause their extreme shyness to kick in.

    With social phobia, a person’s extreme shyness, self-consciousness, and fears of embarrassment get in the way of life. Instead of enjoying social activities, people with social phobia might dread them and avoid some of them altogether.

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    Talk To Others With Social Anxiety

    You might find that other people with social anxiety are more understanding of your struggle. While everyones anxiety is different, 45% of all Americans struggle to make new friends and that number is likely higher among those with social anxiety. Therefore, you can be quite sure the other person will be in the same boat as you.

    You can do this by joining forums for people with social anxiety and connecting through there.

    Here Are Some Easy Ways To Engage In Conversation With Someone New

    How to Make Friends: Facing Social Anxiety

    Remark on the surroundings or occasion. If youre at a party, for example, you could comment on the venue, the catering, or the music in a positive way. I love this song,The foods great. Have you tried the chicken?

    Ask an open-ended question, one that requires more than just a yes or no answer. Adhere to the journalists credo and ask a question that begins with one of the 5 Ws : who, where, when, what, why, or how. For example, Who do you know here?Where do you normally go on a Friday?When did you move here?What keeps you busy?Why did you decide to become a vegetarian?How is the wine? Most people enjoy talking about themselves so asking a question is a good way to get a conversation started.

    Use a compliment. For example, I really like your purse, can I ask where you got it? or You look like youve done this before, can you tell me where I have to sign in?

    Note anything you have in common and ask a follow up question.I play golf as well, whats your favorite local course?My daughter went to that school, too, how does your son like it?

    Keep the conversation going with small talk. Dont say something thats obviously provocative and avoid heavy subjects such as politics or religion. Stick to light subjects like the weather, surroundings, and anything you have in common such as school, movies, or sports teams.

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