Social Anxiety Self Help

social anxiety self help

Social anxiety self help can work wonders for those who experience mild to moderate anxiety in social situations. Social Anxiety can run the gamut from mild shyness, perhaps taking the form of a slight degree of apprehension  when engaging with  others, to severe, debilitating terror at the merest thought of engaging another person or a group of people.

While self help strategies can be very helpful in quelling mild and even  moderate  social anxiety, if you find yourself paralyzed with social anxiety to the degree that it is deeply affecting your overall quality and  enjoyment of life, in tandem with a self help program,  I highly recommend getting professional help.

My Own Experience Involving Social Anxiety

social anxiety self help

My own experiences surrounding social anxiety self help, began as early as I can remember. Even as a child of five, I recall using a variety of self soothing, coping mechanisms to try to quell the anxiety that arose surrounding school. But it was not until I began to really understand the mechanisms behind my social anxiety, that I began to unravel the path to conquering it.

While I was always a shy child, my social anxiety really took off following a run in with a nasty kindergarten teacher, who took it upon herself to humiliate me in front of the class after I was too anxious to ask to use the washroom, and as a result,  ended up wetting my pants.

She had me remove my wet leotards, hung them up in front of the class, and warned my fellow classmates not to sit with me at snack-time, as I was a baby and I needed to learn my lesson. She watched in smug silence as various children approached me at snack-time, to tease me about wetting my pants, and to call me a baby, and then leave.

The shame and humiliation manifested in such a way, that the mere thought of returning to kindergarten created a sense of terror in me.  Fearing further reprisal from my parents, I neglected to tell them about what had happened, and as the teacher herself never volunteered the information about my little accident, they remained unaware of my reasons for not wanting to return to school. I lived in fear that they would find out and think less of me, and endured their constant attempts to coax me back to kindergarten , by saying I did not know why I was scared to go back. 

I kept my secret for many months, until my parents were caring for a  child of one of their friends, who happened to have been in my kindergarten class.  He gleefully informed my parents at dinnertime, “I know why Faye won’t go back to kindergarten….she peed her pants!”

I ran from the table and hid under a blanket, refusing to come out for hours. My parents were  supportive and told me I should have told them at the time, and to some degree, there was relief in their response,  but in terms of laying  the ground-work for some fairly intense future social anxiety to gain a foothold, I think the damage had already been done.  

Determine What Makes You Anxious

social anxiety self help

Determining specifically what makes you anxious is an extremely important aspect of social anxiety self help. While the majority of my social anxiety was experienced in large groups, I was still often very shy one on one.  Meeting a new person always came with  a certain degree of discomfort. I recall being  accused of snobbery in high-school, but the truth was, I was painfully shy.

In seeking social anxiety self help, it’s important to initially pin-point the kinds of scenarios that evoke anxiety.

Do you feel anxious in larger groups? At parties, or in a classroom?

Do one on one encounters make you anxious?

What exactly is it about the situation or circumstance that creates the anxiety? The possibility of having to speak out in a group? The possibility of looking foolish, stupid, or perhaps even anxious in front of another or a group of others?

For most who experience social anxiety, there will be some very specific details that serve as triggers. If you are going to successfully employ social anxiety self help, it’s very important for you to become aware of the specific details surrounding your social anxiety. Ask yourself, “What is it I am most afraid of?” At the root of most social anxiety is the fear of looking foolish, not measuring up to the standard,  and being judged harshly for it.

Define What Success Means To You

Improve Self Esteem

Before you embark upon a program of social anxiety self help, it’s also really important to define what success will mean for you. What do you hope life will be like once you gain a grip on your social anxiety?

Try to get as specific as possible. Imagine yourself engaging with others, completely free of any sense of anxiety. What would that mean to you? How will it improve your life and how will it improve your relationships? How do you see yourself engaging one on one. How do you see yourself engaging in group encounters?  Write down your vision and definition  of successful social anxiety management in a journal, and add to it as new visions arise. This step is very important as it serves as a go-to visualization for you when you’re in the throes of an anxious situation.

The next step in social anxiety self help, is to activate the witness within to observe the thoughts and beliefs that give rise to the anxiety. Often tied up within the social anxiety are deep seated self esteem issues. Thus, any work you can do to increase self esteem, will go a long ways towards healing social anxiety.

Direction of Focus - The Key To Social Anxiety Self Help

As I began to really pay attention to what was happening when I experienced social anxiety, I began to see that my focus was mostly directed inwards. It could be said that my deepest of anxiety, hinged upon a very “self centered” focus. When I was lost in anxiety, the only thoughts I really entertained about the other, were thoughts about how they were negatively perceiving and judging me. Any sense of curiosity on my  part regarding their lives, interest or well-being, were overshadowed by my own intense self focus.

Seeing this was actually a huge turning point for me, in terms of successful social anxiety self help.  For wrapped up in the seeing of my own intensely selfish focus, was the realization that I was in fact judging others, and assuming them to be as critically focused upon me, as I was.

I also realized that just because another may not appear to be outwardly anxious, they too may come to the encounter with less than perfect self esteem, and thus, may also be to some extent, despite appearances,  be struggling somewhat also to put their best face forward.

Very socially  anxious people tend to assume that most others are fully confident and have no issues whatsoever concerning how others see them, when the truth is, many people have less than perfect self esteem.  

With all of this in mind, I began to consciously direct my focus outwards, instead of inwards and the results were nothing less than stunning.

Social Anxiety Self Help – The Power Of An Outward Focus

While it may initially be difficult to drum up actual curiosity about another when you are in the midst of a full blown social anxiety attack, there is power in “faking it til you make it.”

Get into the habit of asking questions of others, with the intent of truly getting to know them. Focus upon their words, and allow your natural curiosity to become engaged, leading you into a greater depth of questioning. Really listen to their answers. Everybody loves a great listener, and if you find yourself initially  too anxious to speak much yourself, focus the majority of your attention upon listening intently to others.  If you are really and truly listening, taking it all in with an honest curiosity, you will win the other over in no time at all. Great listeners are rare. A large portion of  folks who are relatively free from social anxiety,  engage in conversation, only partially listening, and waiting for a break in the others narrative, so they can interject with their own ‘better/bigger’ story.

A Spiritual Approach

New Age Spiritual Wisdom

Again,  most social anxiety has its roots in low self esteem. When you find your connection with the spirit within, there is simply, very  little opportunity for  self esteem issues to arise.  Thus, anything you can do to connect with or remind yourself of your divine nature, is sure to help alleviate social anxiety issues.

Meditation is a powerful tool to attain control over wayward dis-empowering thoughts. When you can stand apart from thought to observe it, you have gained a strong measure of power over your anxiety. Once the thoughts and beliefs that give rise to anxiety can be ascertained, you can then get busy dismantling them. When previously held to thoughts and beliefs are seen to be false, they begin the process of falling away.

It is in the absence of self limiting thoughts that we become free to interact socially, which means moving  from a sense of being bound to one of  freedom and abundant joy

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