SURVIVING SOCIAL ANXIETY
Do you experience anxiety at social gatherings?
Do you have issues speaking in front of groups?
If so, do you feel nervous, feel your heart racing, have trouble communicating, stutter or “freeze up” in front of a group?
I believe the source of all social anxiety goes back to a fundamental fear of being judged. Nobody likes to be judged, especially when you don’t feel you’re at your best.
When I feel that people are judging me, or my performance, and I’m nervous about it, I can suddenly think of a million reasons why they’re right.
The funny thing is, they most likely aren’t thinking anything of the kind. If fact, I’ve had plenty of positive experience giving presentations.
All too often though, I forget about the good experiences and go right to the bad ones.
Do you believe that something like that is going on with you?
How can you relax around other people?
One thing you can do is take a deep breath. Before going into a meeting, try taking a few deep breaths, or engage in “yoga-breathing.” This means you inhale through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
When you’re talking to people in a meeting, continue to breathe in and out slowly. You also can relax by slowly breathing on the back of your thumb.
Anything else that will relax you will help. Some people can do self-hypnosis. Some people can do stretches. Some people can actually just “shake it off.”
Think about what you’re doing rationally.
Say you’re giving a speech, and you have a of history of doing it successfully many times, but you’ve “frozen up” a few times, too.
Why does your mind go right to “freezing up?” You’ve given successful presentations before. Even after you’ve practiced your speech in front of friends. Even after you’ve given successful speeches in front of the same people.
We sometimes go there because fear takes over. When we talk about rational thinking, we mean thinking logically, without fear.
So take a deep breath, do what you can to relax, and look at the situation rationally. Since you’ve done it before, you can do it again. Be confident.
Attempt the easiest goals first, then build to the most difficult.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can be overwhelming, especially if you attempt to go too far too soon. If you have a goal that seems overwhelming, start small.
Always break overwhelming goals down into manageable pieces. When you’re working on being more social, start with something easy.
Ask a stranger for directions. There’s not a lot at stake. Work up to more difficult social situations slowly.
Every time you take steps outside your comfort zone, be sure to reward yourself, whether you have a positive outcome or not. Even if the stranger ignores you, you’ve succeeded by reaching out.
Work your way up the ladder, taking slightly larger risks each time. If you want to ask someone out, just talk to her. Don’t jump straight in. At each step you gain confidence.
If you feel you might need some support following these strategies,
think about calling me to discuss it.
Remember, as always, the phone consult is free, as well as the first one-hour session.