You’ve seen them and you envy them: the people the world calls social butterflies. They are perfectly capable of talking to anyone on any situation, good or bad, without any hesitation and without any fear. You have always wondered how they do it because for you, social anxiety is something that is a part of your life, something that limits you in so many ways and something that you have to live with.
No matter how hard you try, being with people makes you so nervous and self-conscious that you just want to get away – and you do. You feel judged and like everyone’s attention is on you. The only problem is that no one understands – they seem to think you have some kind of psychotic disorder that you should seek help for.
Well, here is the good news. Social anxiety is a common disorder, in fact so common that it’s the 3rd largest psychological problem in the United States today. That means that a lot of people suffer the same things that you do, and of course it also means that being so prevalent, there must be ways it can be controlled.
This article will discuss the various ways in which you can manage social anxiety and start to have an ordinary social life once again. There are many ways to cure the condition, so let’s have a look at some of the most common and most effective ones.
If you see a medical professional and get diagnosed with this disorder, they may opt to put you under medication that you can take to calm yourself down when you feel that the pressure is starting to come on you when you are in a social setting, or medication that you take right before you go out to meet other people. Medication is fine, but there are warnings against using it for such conditions, especially because users tend to become reliant on medication, keeping them in a loop where they will be on medication for the rest of their lives. The most effective therapists will combine medication and other therapies after examining you to know exactly the root of your problem, and the chances of you getting better with this approach are much higher.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
More and more, this theory is being used to treat mental conditions especially those that come with phobias, fears and other symptoms that come with panic and behavioral disorders. It’s based on a simple theory – if you think in a certain way and act contrary to what you think, there is going to be so much tension, so much dissonance between what you’re thinking and what you’re doing that the level of discomfort will force you to change. This involves a lot of counseling as you can imagine. You will have to sit with a trained therapist who can then explain to you how to direct your thoughts so that when you go contrary to them, the level of discomfort forces you back to acting in accordance with what you have trained your mind to think about. So far, it has been found to be one of the most effective ways of treating social anxiety and the success rate is very high. If you haven’t tried it yet, talk to your therapist about it and ask them to refer you to a person who is qualified to take you through the necessary sessions.
3. Keeping a Journal
This is a little known method that helps many people overcome uncomfortable social conditions. It is very simple to carry out, and you may not even need a practitioner to do this. Once you have had an attack, go back to a quiet place and take out a journal. On one page of it, write exactly what happened: what brought on the feelings? Who brought on the feelings? How did you feel during the attack? How do you feel now? The point is to write down as much about the attack as you can possibly remember. Then go to a new page and start to write about yourself – your real self and not what you think other people see. It should be what you think you are or how you feel deep down, it should have nothing to do with anyone else. You will see as you write that a lot of positive things come out – it’s natural for every person to have good things about them. Open a third page and then on it, trace back your life to where you started having social anxiety.
Go as far back as you need to, because someone or something caused you to start having anxiety. Tracing your life means examining all your relationships (it's not as hard as you think), jobs, bosses, friends, siblings, how you felt being with those people and how they made you feel. It may take a long time to do this, and you don’t have to do it all at once. In fact, it is recommended that you don’t. Take your time and let the process come out slowly because as you do it this way, your brain is processing cause and effect. That’s usually the very source of healing. If you can trace the cause of the problems you have now, especially if they are psychological, you will know what to do next and you will know what kind of help to seek.
4. Get ready to be out there
The problem is that you are afraid of being with others, so the more you prepare yourself and condition your mind to the fact that you are going to be going out and that you will be meeting people, your subconscious will start to work with you. It will tell your brain to be ready, not to panic, to resist the urge to flee, to want to stay, and all kinds of reassuring things. If preparing means talking yourself into it, do it so long as you are reaffirming that you will be ok. If you need to write it down, that’s fine too. Just make sure that all you say is that everything is under control and no matter what happens, you are going to see everything through successfully. Your subconscious is a powerful tool and it’s there for you to use at will.
Social anxiety need not change your life. You must stop hiding from the world because you are afraid of people or what they will think. You must come out because it is true that there is so much out there for you to enjoy and great people for you to meet who can literally open up your world. Don’t let yourself stay in a prison that you have the key to. Let yourself out.