Most of us harbor anxiety over public speaking. Some of us have difficulty making small talk, eating in front of others, meeting strangers, attending interviews and using public restrooms. Most can tide over this situational anxiety and carry on with life, for a few this anxiety becomes disruptive and interferes with optimal personal and social functioning. Here are five ways in which you can overcome social anxiety.
Here is a short introduction to social phobia and social anxiety, where you can read about what social anxiety is and how it is diagnosed. To read about ways in which one can overcome social anxiety, keep reading.
1)Change you thinking style – We often make predictions about the future based on our current knowledge and past experience. We also assume these predictions are 100% true. For example, before a presentation, one might think “I am going forget what i wanted to say, and people are going to think i am stupid.” This thought, will automatically be assumed as fact, leading to intense anxiety – Avoiding the presentation, gets rid of the anxiety. So if one had social anxiety the easiest way to loosen up is to skip the presentation.
Though avoidance can temporarily ease the stress, it is the worst way to deal with anxiety.
One simple practice can kill the anxiety – DO NOT TAKE YOUR PREDICTIONS SERIOUSLY. Most often than not, our predictions about the future are incorrect.
1)You might not forget anything during your presentation.
2)No body might notice you forgot.
3)No body is going to think you are stupid because you forgot something.
2)Face you fear – Do not avoid! When you avoid a certain situation, you have reinforced your fears.
For example, if you go through with a meeting, your predictions might be proved wrong. The meeting might go well and your fear might disappear in consequent meetings.
Avoidance will reinforce your wrong predictions, meaning that you will be even more afraid when the time for the next meeting comes.
3) Experiment with your weaknesses – Lets say you have difficulty making eye contact. Keep trying to make eye contact with people you feel comfortable with, keep a mental record of what actually happens. Once in a while experiment with people you aren’t comfortable with, record what happens. This way, you will gradually tide over avoidance and become a master of your anxiety.
4) Work on building self esteem – There are a million resources available out there which can help build self esteem. At the bottom of a low esteem are dysfunctional beliefs that keep conjuring up images of inadequacy and inferiority. These beliefs need to be challenged, and proven wrong !
You may start here
5) Remember this – We live on a small rock, floating around in space, revolving around a ball of fire. In reality there is no one superior to you and there is no one inferior to you. Any judgement anyone holds against anyone becomes irrelevant when compared to the vast expanse of the universe. If you saw human life for what it was, you would realize that the only thing that truly matters is that you live life to the fullest. Nothing else really matters. So go out there and show the world who you are, without inhibitions and without anxiety !
6) Seek Help – Choose a mental health professional and seek their help. There is no need to feel guilty, feel low or blame yourself for anxiety. There are effective ways in which anxiety can be overcome. Best of Luck!
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