Overcoming Social Anxiety
Suffering from social anxiety? You are not alone! There are millions of people who suffer from the same anxiety.
Examples of social anxiety could be –
- Afraid of confrontation with someone
- Not good at introductions
- Stage fright
- Afraid of company of strangers
- Bad at explaining things
- Feel inferior to others
- Being conscious about your body type
- Giving Interviews
- And the list goes on…..
Why does this happen?
All of these come from something that has happened in your life. Perhaps, there was an event in your life that made you feel socially awkward and it’s imprinted on your mind. It can be something as small as criticism from a family member, or disapproval from your boss or a friend, or having a humiliating encounter. When you face a similar situation again in life, your subconscious mind recalls your previous reaction to it and sparks a feeling of awkwardness or nervousness.
Since all these automatic actions are driven by the subconscious mind, you are bound to react in a similar way in repeated situations, as you reacted initially. This adds up to become a Social Anxiety symptom, which inhibits your progress.
What is the solution?
The solution to this is – “Reprogramming your Mind”.
It sounds pretty easy, right? However, the human mind is more complex than that.
In fact, only some people develop symptoms of social anxiety while others can get over the same experience and never develop any social anxiety. As different situations are socially awkward for different people, we all are predisposed to react in different ways.
Hence, you need to introspect and understand what’s problematic for you.
Let’s take an example of stage fright. I am prone to having stage fright or nervousness while giving presentations. When I think about my past, I can single out a stage performance in school where I had to share the thought of the day on the special assembly day. I was so nervous that I started speaking my lines even before reaching to the mic and then after having spoken a couple of lines, I got completely blank and just said “Thank you”. Some of my classmates made fun of it for a day. They all forgot about it the next day. But, this memory triggers me every time I present something and makes me nervous. This nervousness/fear has been unchanging until a while back, when I happened to give a good presentation.
Will you need this much time to reprogram your mind? No, not really. I wish I had tried regaining the positive experiences a long time back and had not shied away due to my fear of the situation.
Repeated experiences only affirm the fear in the first place, so what we need to do is to go through the exercises which present the same circumstances. But, learn to respond to them in a totally different way, so that a more positive pattern of behaviour emerges.
This helps in “Reprogramming” your subconscious mind.
The same formula can be applied to any of the social awkwardness you face in your day to day life.
The trick is to do this on your own terms and to make sure that there are no emotions involved in the encounters you set up for yourself, so that fear never comes into the picture.
- If you are afraid of the company of strangers – talk to someone in the metro queue to ask what time it is. Make the extra effort of being with people, laugh, small-talk and expressing yourself as all these positive interactions will reprogram your subconscious mind.
- If you’re afraid of confronting someone, don’t place yourself into that situation in your transition period because you need to collect fearless/positive experiences first to gain confidence.
- If you’ve anxiety about an interview, give interviews with the feeling that you have nothing to lose. When you don’t really care if you get that job or not, your attitude will change.
To bring the change, imagine yourself as a really confident person. Lift your head up high. Approach people by looking them in the eye and don’t be conscious of what they are thinking about you.
The only person you’re letting down is yourself. No one around you is that bothered about whether you’re confident or afraid. You’re not the center of their world. Become the center of your own world and present yourself in a way that shows you’ve nothing to hide and are open and honest as that’s the best way to be in life.
Try not to approach things as a duplication of a past disaster. Approach it with a new attitude to reprogram your mind.
Remember one thing – our social anxiety is a learned behaviour and you can unlearn it just as fast, simply by knowing which events are likely to cause you problems and purposely make those problems trivial. It takes practice.
I know, it doesn’t sound easy. So let’s fake it till we make it. 🙂
My Source “Social Anxiety” Book by Celia Gutierrez.
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