To start from the beginning, anxiety isn’t a problem always as it saves you from many tricky situations. Such is also the social anxiety as it sometimes really saves you from being clumsy and inappropriate in a social interaction. It works as a defense mechanism sometimes to stop you from acting foolishly for example, “your anxiety during crossing a road makes you alert or else you might drop dead”. So, you need that anxiety to some point for alertness but it becomes a problem when it stops you from reacting properly in a situation i.e. you are so anxious that you start to be nervous.
As psychologists say that such levels of social anxiety emerge from a traumatic and significant event in early childhood. It leaves an impression and feeling that we don’t want to experience again. We are made fun of in school or we get ridiculed because of an overbearing parent. After that singular traumatic event, our brain goes into overdrive trying to keep us from feeling sad or embarrassed again. This is anxiety.
The problem, as psychologists explain, is that it’s the problem with the brain that it doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong if you don’t feed it. Another thing is that our brain is very good at adapting to whatever we feed it with. So, if subconsciously an event has triggered your anxiety and next time your anxiety has made you feel safe, then your brain will make itself more identified and adapt to the feeling. In simpler words “If anxiety gives you that feeling of safety then your brain will try to master it to make you feel safer”.
But it does not only stop at that as the brain always wants to identify and learn patterns. It starts to identify and mark the surroundings in which the incident has taken place and feeds itself an anticipatory mechanism for similar surroundings. So, if you have felt scared or embarrassed with people around you and if that memory was significant enough then that’s what transforms into social anxiety.
So, if you have to overcome the feeling then you will have to fight it out with your brain and command it the way you want it to behave. Moreover, just not once but the repetition of convincing your mind about the reality check will slowly and gradually decrease your social anxiety. When you feel anxiety the next time around people, take a look around and realize that you are not in danger hence you don’t need to be anxious as you don’t need protection.
In another way, anxiety is like a child and it loves attention. You might not agree to it or like it but many people indeed like to feel anxious. They don’t realize it but a person having a problem of anxiety unknowingly starts to identify that state as a normal one and further starts to like it. One of the reasons is that anxiety keeps you on your toes which in a way gives you a feeling that you are being ready to face the problem whereas in reality, you are just anticipating what might happen and what might not!
Some of the common symptoms of social anxiety are:
- Being Super Shy
- Having Very low self-esteem
- Doing Negative self-Talk
- Being Afraid of what people will think of me?
- Being Afraid of leaving the house
- Being Afraid of a place full of people
- Feeling of depression
- Afraid to meet new people
Some methods to help with anxiety are:
- self-improvement videos
- Morning and Evening Rituals
- Sound therapy
Therapy is nothing to shy down from
Some of the non-medical measures which might help you with social anxiety are:
A relationship with a caring therapist can help a lot for your self-esteem. He or she will help you to realize your self-worth. Therapy is indeed costly and not everyone can afford it but genuine appreciation and understanding by someone will do wonders for you.
There is like a code followed commonly by all therapists i.e. Unconditional Positive Regard; something that they strive to feel for each of their clients. It’s part of their code of ethics, and it can really make a difference for someone with Social Anxiety.
- For instance: When you share some of the most bizarre and private things with your therapist and they don’t judge you for who you are, it’s a feeling like no other.
Be yourself and if its weird its all right
Another way out of this anxiety rabbit hole is to accept that you don’t need to be like everyone else and being weird is absolutely ok. You will have to acknowledge that the world needs you the way you are. The biggest mistake you will ever do to tackle your social anxiety is to try to be like everyone else.
It will not help and it might further choke you internally as a constant struggle between your true self and pretention. Yes, to socialize you should create a personality with which people are bit comfortable with but it should not be far from an extension of yourself.
- For instance: When you speak out your mind, at first you might be concerned about what people think but eventually you will realize that no one is much bothered about what you speak and anyway what they think is not going to impact your life. Moreover, the relaxation you will feel while finally being yourself is priceless.
Introverts, extroverts, bold, shy etc, …..everyone is important
If you are an introvert or highly sensitive person then stop beating yourself on that. You feel and perceive things differently from others and that’s absolutely alright. Usually through all channels of media and communication are being bombarded with the idea that how much more extroverts are liked by everyone and how being badass is the only way. Well, that may a be good for many people but if its not you then its perfectly fine.
- For instance: Extroverts have qualities such as, Socially acceptable, outgoing, enthusiastic, spontaneous etc. Introverts have qualities such as, survival skills, thinker, good listener, imaginative, creative etc. So, the moral is that you are fine the way you are.
Once you screwed up…. that’s just once and that’s not all you
Another way you can surpass your social anxiety is by remembering and looking into your childhood. You can do it yourself or ask a therapist for help. As you look back you might realize that when the all kids were learning to socialize, you might have been traumatized by some event or events, which made you feel scared or embarrassed.
You might ask that how identifying a trauma will help and how it might be pessimistic. Well, firstly it will allow you to be less judgmental about yourself and second it will allow you to understand the root cause because of which the anxiety triggers.
- For instance: “you fell of your bicycle as a child and every other kid laughed at you” such incidents could have made you extremely tentative around people which with time has created a feeling of anxiety around people. Now identifying that incident as a catalyst will help you realize the facts about your anxiety i.e. just because you failed that once doesn’t necessary means you will always fail and that how people perceive you does not matter.
Other’s expectations doesn’t matter but your life does
Always be compassionate towards yourself as you never know how long your life is! Just for a second think, that all the anxiety you have is because you don’t want to get embarrassed. Now imagine the perfect scenario which might give you goosebumps and make you feel triumphant in that social gathering.
Now ask yourself are they going to remember how good I was 10 years or 20 years down the line. The answer that 99.99 percent times no. Moreover, the day you die or the days after your death no one really cares about your social presence or awkwardness.
So, your social anxiety is making you worry about the things that really don’t matter in your life. Your anxiety is just thoughts and sensations that prevent you from enjoying you one incredible human life.
Thoughts are thoughts, just thoughts and that’s it….
Don’t act or crazy with your thoughts rather evaluate how realistic they are. People with social anxiety suffer the most because of the non-stop negative thoughts that come into the mind. They usually imagine each and every scenario in which they are being embarrassed or insulted. It’s dangerous and harms your much more than actual awkwardness. So, whenever you are feeling anxious, you should evaluate that are there actual reasons of your fear or they are just in your mind! Off course, it’s easier said than done but if you practice it then it will become your biggest cure.
Lastly, Keep reminding yourself that you are human, it’s human to be a bit anxious, everyone around you also has it and they are just better equipped to control it that’s all. Others also might have your struggles in their mind but they just know how to cope with it. If you think your situation is miserable and if you identify that everyone else is miserable too, then suddenly the world around you will start to look much less scary.