Overcoming Social Anxiety
Did you know that public speaking is the #1 fear? If you have social anxiety, it can help to know that it's a feeling that many people have experienced. But you probably also know it goes deeper than that. With social anxiety, the fear of negative evaluation, embarrassment, or rejection is intense, and you might try to avoid these situations at all costs.
Even though it can feel insurmountable, you can overcome social anxiety and reclaim your life!
take baby steps, build confidence
Give yourself encouragement.
Be kind to yourself as you take whatever small steps you can. Criticizing your fear only adds to the cycle of anxiety and frustration. Even when your social fears seem irrational or get in the way of you living your life, it's more helpful in the long-run to view them with acceptance and speak to yourself with compassion.
And stay willing to be uncomfortable.
Even baby steps toward facing your fears can be uncomfortable. So, don't judge the discomfort. Instead, remind yourself of what's so important that you're willing to do it anxious or not. You'd be amazed at how much fear you can withstand when you stop fighting it.
4 tips to get you started:
- Focus on what you want rather than what you don't want.
- Let it be awkward while you're practicing new skills.
- Focus outside of yourself.
Give your fears a calm, rational response.
So much fear is driven by the thoughts we have about ourselves, other people, and the feared situation. These stories are usually exaggerated, focused on threat and danger, and critical. Practice noticing anxious and self-critical thoughts when they show up and redirecting them to more constructive thoughts.
Listen for the "what if"...
So much of our fear is about our identity, connection to others, and future happiness/livelihood/survival. So, if you're having trouble recognizing anxious thoughts, just listen for the "what if" and "what will they think" thoughts.
...and look for the bigger truth.
Anxious thoughts feel true because they trigger big changes in our bodies and emotions. But feeling true doesn't make it true. Even when there's a kernel of truth to your anxious thought, it's probably not the whole truth. Look for the evidence that contradicts your anxious thoughts, asking yourself questions like:
- Is this really true? And how do I know?
- Do I have any evidence that this fear isn't true or isn't the whole truth?
- What feels threatened? Is the danger real?
- How do I feel when I consider other ways this could go or other things this could mean?
- What would I tell a friend who was worried about this? A small child?
- What are 3 other ways I could look at this?
- Let's say the worst DOES happen or IS true? How would I deal with it?
Look for What You Like About Yourself
Get to know your strengths.
Pay attention to your unique method of solving problems, helping others, and taking action in tough situations.
Follow your own path.
When you get lost in comparison or self-criticism, turn your attention back to your path and what you want/need in your life journey.
Let your values lead.
When in doubt, remember what matters most to you. What is your personal vision for your life? What are the beliefs, ideals, ethics, or morals that make you who you are? Most importantly, how do you want to incorporate these values into your daily life?
Try it now:
Finish these statements:
- I am…
- I am a...person
- It is easy for me to…
- I am completely free to…
- My life is an example that…
- For me, being great means…
- The best possible version of me is…
- Learn more about writing your own positive affirmations.
Ready to learn more?
MORE TOOLS FOR ANXIETY
FROM THE self-paced self-help LIBRARY
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TAO Pathways offers free self-help activities recommended by CAPS to help with stress, anxiety, relationship problems, anger management, problem-solving, communication, or evaluating your alcohol and drug use - without a counseling appointment.
Enroll for free with the enrollment key: CAPS-Cares-520
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At CAPS, enrolled students can receive mental health care, including:
- short-term counseling
- short-term psychiatry
- groups and workshops
- self-paced self-help
- specialty services, including ADHD treatment and evaluation, eating disorder services, Oasis sexual assault and trauma services, LGBTQIA services, and substance abuse recovery
Learn more about getting started at CAPS.