You want to meet some new people and you want to have friends that you can share your world with, but it may be difficult because social interactions leave you feeling drained, inadequate, and anxious. You spend quite a lot of time worrying about what will happen if people do not like you are what they are saying about you when you leave. These are all signs of social anxiety.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can get through social anxiety. Make some small changes in your life and you will begin to feel more comfortable in social settings. And if it is too rough for you to do on your own, find a qualified therapist to help you. He or she will be able to help you walk this slippery path and navigate toward your best self.
Here are six things you can do on your own that will alleviate social anxiety:
1. Think Positively
Negative thinking is at the heart of social anxiety. One of the most helpful things that can be done during treatment for social anxiety is helping patients work their way through negative thinking processes and find ways to change the pattern. Therapists usually recommend that patients keep a journal so that they can get a better sense of what the negative thoughts are usually about and see evidence of how damaging these negative thoughts can be. Patients are encouraged to recognize a negative thought and follow it up with a positive thought.
2. Stop Avoiding Situations the Make You Uncomfortable
If you never step outside your comfort zone, you are never going meet any new people or make any new connections with the world. While keeping away from any situation that makes you uncomfortable seems like it is the best thing to do for yourself, but avoidance actually makes anxiety worse in the long run. If you never leave your comfort zone, you will never learn how to control your anxiety. It will have control over you.
3. Know When to Leave
Getting out of your comfort zone and taking some social chances is a good thing for you to do, but that does not mean that you have to go to a big office party and stay there for hours and hours. Go with a set amount of time that you plan to stay – an hour, or a half hour, or even just 20 minutes. When you talk to the people you know, mention that you are just dropping by and have another commitment. Have your exit strategy worked out before you go. If you start to have a good time, you can always stay for a while longer and allay inquiries with a text that your plans changed.
4. Compare Yourself to No One
Each person on this planet is unique. Comparing your situation and behavior to anyone else’s is not going to do you any good. There will always be someone who is more confident or better at social interaction than you are. There will always be someone who is less confidents and not as capable of social interaction as you are. Rather than comparing yourself to others, try to improve yourself. Compare yourself to yourself. Make constant improvements so that you can look back in a year and see your improvements.
5. Predict Success
Focusing on what you do not want to happen or what could potentially go wrong is not going to be helpful to you. Focus on the positive. Think about what you DO want to happen. The surest way to find failure is to expect failure. Visualize yourself as a confident conversationalist. Think about talking to people that you have never spoken to before. Picture yourself talking to many groups of people and making the rounds to talk to everyone. These things might not happen, but at least you have given yourself a chance.
6. Ask Questions
The easiest way to engage people and to make yourself feel more comfortable is to ask questions. It takes the pressure off of you trying to think about something witty or interesting to add. People love to talk about themselves so ask sincere, open-ended questions so that the responses will elicit conversation. Come up with some questions beforehand so that you can pull them out when you need them. Ask about the job of the person you are talking to, a movie you both saw recently, or some other kind of shared experience.