Does being in social situations make you sweaty and nervous? Do you feel like you want to ground to swallow you up whole on the spot you’re standing on? Social anxiety can make your life a living hell but you can change that today by understanding where it comes from and simple techniques to over come it.
What Is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety comes in many different waves and can affect people on different levels it can make being in a social situation totally unbearable and on a level ruin your life, maybe you don’t know if what you’re experiencing is social anxiety? Here are a few signs of social anxiety that you can look out for to determine if what you’re feeling is indeed social anxiety
- Uncomfortable with silences
- Ability to be yourself in social situations
- Fear of being judged
- Nervous cough
- Phobia of being in a social situation
- Low motivation to socialise
- Not able to speak in a group
- Nervous laughter
These tell-tale signs of social anxiety can make attending any social events or gatherings like your worst nightmare come true, simply too hard to face and inhibit you from having a fun and fulfilled life that you so desperately crave.
What Causes Social Anxiety?
Like most other anxieties social anxiety is most likely to arise from a mixture of factors throughout your life, the possible causes of social anxiety are:
- Inherited Traits – You will probably find that anxiety tends to run in families however it isn’t clear how much of this is due to genetics and whether it is more of a learnt behaviour from watching our family members act the same way as we grow from children.
- Brain Structure – The part of the brain called the amygdala may be playing a role in controlling your fear response. People with overactive amygdala may experience heightened fear response causing this increase of anxiety during social situations kind of a defence mechanism.
- Environment – As with all other anxieties social anxiety can be a learnt behaviour, meaning that after witnessing such behaviours of other people around you, you can begin to adopt those behaviours from what may seem like out of nowhere. It is said that we tend to adopt the behaviours of the 5 people we spend most of our time with, so if you do spend time with somebody who has social anxiety you are more likely to behave in the same way.
How Can I Overcome Social Anxiety?
- Relax – Very few people think of worrying as inner self programming but it definitely is. Spending times intensely worrying about upcoming social events or situations link those negative feelings towards upcoming events in the future. You are programming yourself to feel this way at any social event due to that negative anchor you have created.
Overcome this by simply thinking about the situation whilst already relaxed maybe in a hot bath whilst relaxing. Imagine yourself in the social situation as relaxed as you are now in the bath. Repeat this process so your mind can create a new relaxed anchor for social events.
- Seek Out Social Events – Don’t avoid these situations anymore, imagine if you lived in a house for many years and always avoided one particular room. If one day you finally ventured into the room you might feel a little tense or anxious, this is because the more you avoid something the more you are confirming that message to yourself that it is a dangerous thing that we must avoid your mind creates a fear in order to help us.
In life we avoid what scares us and we are scared by what we avoid so I want you to try to actively seeking out events that would usually worry you, even try creating a situation in your mind and allow your mind to create the scene knowing that all is ok and there is no need to fear social situations.
- Be Mindful In Social Situations – People who have social anxiety tend to focus inwards like the have blinkers on focusing on their own intense feelings. How many times have you gone to a social event and can’t recall what the room was like what people were wearing? That’s because you were in your own tunnel of fear looking inward and not outward. So next time try focusing on the outward make a mental note of three different aspects of the situation you’re in maybe the colour of the walls, pictures or what other people are wearing. This tip helps you to focus on other things than yourself.
- Ask Questions – People who suffer with anxieties about social situations tend to worry about what people will think of them so take that focus off yourself and ask about the people around you. Try to avoid closed questions that require simple yes or no responses, if you can get them to actively talk about themselves this will make you feel more comfortable, and you may even become comfortable enough to talk about yourself eventually.
These tips are ones that give to clients during sessions they may test you in some ways but I do encourage you to try at least one the next time you have a social event to attend.
Remember this one thing I always tell people I see for social anxieties, the majority of times when you are talking to somebody and you’re worrying what they think of you, they probably are too wrapped up in their own thoughts to give a damn about you. As harsh as that sounds it’s the truth, they’re probably thinking about their shoes being a bit tight maybe they shouldn’t have worn the dress or jeans they picked out they genuinely aren’t focused on you.
A great quote I found from Ray Bradbury on Good Reads.com sums up anxiety and self-consciousness and how it is in fact your enemy in life:
“Self-Consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself which is the greatest art of all”
Don’t let your anxiety be your enemy anymore give these tips a go and enjoy your life from now on.