I am often interested to hear the response to the question from people who do not suffer from social anxiety: “It’s just about having more confidence isn’t it?” or “maybe it’s just shyness and if you are shy you are shy”?
Social Anxiety is a fear of social situations. When social anxiety becomes extreme or severe it is then possibly Social Anxiety disorder which is actually one of the most common anxiety disorders and is an acute fear that can have a disruptive affect on the sufferers life.
Social anxiety is very often a fear of being exposed, judged, embarrassed or in a situation that is out of your control. It is much more than shyness as it can be an intense fear (or complex phobia in the case of Social Anxiety Disorder) of what to many is a simple and everyday situation. It is a bit of a chicken and egg situation as to whether social anxiety leads to lack of confidence and low self esteem or whether lack of confidence and low self esteem can exacerbate social anxiety.
A few tips to help with social anxiety and lack of confidence in social situations:
- Have a calm and relaxed anchor that you can apply before going into the situation where you would have felt anxious – When you are in a space or place when you feel calm and relaxed take a moment to notice just what that feels like. Where is that calm and relaxed in your body. Breathe deeply and notice everything about you as you just allow yourself to be even more calm and relaxed. You might notice that a picture comes to mind or a sound that makes you feel even more calm and relaxed but if not that’s fine, just breathe deeply and notice everything you notice. Now take your thumb and forefinger and gently squeeze them together just for a five seconds or so. Practice this a few times. Next time you are about to go into a situation where you might previously have felt anxious of lacking in confidence just gently squeeze that thumb and finger together and notice how you can bring back that calm and relaxed feeling.
- Bearing in mind social anxiety is very often a fear of being judged or embarrassed flip the situation. Instead be curious about the other people there. What can you notice about them, what can you find out about them if you just ask them a curious question. People are actually quite interesting if you are curious about them.
- Turn off your mind reader. Recognise that you actually have no idea what anyone is thinking, the same way they have no idea what you are thinking!
- Power Pose – See Amy Cuddy’s study of standing in a posture of confidence can increase testosterone and decrease cortisol. Power posing (the wonder woman pose is a great one) for just 2 minutes can have a big affect on your feeling of confidence and you testosterone and cortisol levels
- Put on your confidence uniform – find that outfit that makes you feel really good, that is your style, that you can be your most confident you in.
- Celebrate your difference – what would the world be like if we were all the same? Pretty boring right? So celebrate your difference.
- Think about what you ideally want to have happen in the situation, if you were at your best how would you be? If the evening were to go exactly how you want it to go and is a real success in your eyes. How would that be? Now imagine that it is an hour after the evening has gone just like that and been a real success. How would you be feeling then? Practice doing this for each situation and notice how different it makes you feel.
If you suffer from social anxiety practice these tips above and let me know what you notice about the difference you feel by dropping me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org