3 Tips to Overcome Social Anxiety (and build a social life!)

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What if there are 3 tips anyone can use to significantly reduce their social anxiety? What if there is a way to finally build a great social life?

It all starts with the following:

Step #1: Reminding yourself that you are not alone

There is one thing about anxiety that makes it even more uncomfortable: your belief that you are alone. 

But according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, almost 20% of the US adult population suffers from one form of anxiety.

That would mean that in a room of 10 people, at least 2 would have anxiety. 

I didn’t know that at the peak of my anxiety.

You know, people are very good at hiding their internal struggles from the outside world, and when you struggle with anxiety, it sometimes feel like you are the only one with internal battles in an ocean of confident happy people…  

Why is this important? 

It means that if you struggle with social anxiety and go to a meeting, your work or a party… you are probably not the only one there who struggles with anxiety. 

There are people in that situation who struggle with it as well. People who know how you feel, because they feel it themselves. 

Just reminding yourself of this can help you feel way more at ease when you feel anxious in social situations.

It’s OK to feel anxious in social situations, don’t be ashamed and when you are OK with the feeling, you are ready to overcome it.

But how do you do that?

Your mind learns by making connections. Situations that are nice, comfortable and create happiness it wants to move towards to, while it wants to avoid dangerous and uncomfortable situations.

But your brain is not always good at making these connections. You might feel anxious before going to a party, as it connected rejection and embracement to it, instead of laughter and making fun.

So, we have to train our mind to make new connections, which you do by practising exposure therapy. 

Tip #2: Practice Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy means willfully exposing yourself to whatever evokes anxiety, to then show your mind that you are safe.

You can tell your brain to not be anxious a million times, but it doesn’t speak your language… the language of your brain is not talking but showing. You have to show your brain you are safe. 

Because when you show your brain you are safe in anxiety-evoking situations, it learns that there is actually no need to feel anxious.

So… how do you do this? First, you should pick a situation that makes you anxious. Let’s pick going to a party as an example.

And when you picked a situation it is time to make a fear ladder.

Ask yourself: What is the least scary thing you can do and the scariest thing you can do at a party? 

Is simply being at a party the least scary? Then saying hi to some new people? And the scariest thing: finally talking to someone you don’t know? 

Try to make a ladder of around 7 from least to most anxiety-evoking.

With that fear ladder in mind, you can practice exposing yourself to it and gradually move up the ladder the more confident you feel. 

Doing it willfully is important and staying in the situation until your anxious feelings decrease by about 50% means you are doing it the right way.

It is not dangerous, and nothing bad can and will happen, so try not to flee the situation. This creates the opposite effect: training your brain that the party is dangerous. This creates more anxiety the next time. 

I recommend doing this with a trained therapist, because they can help you do this successfully. And I will soon make a full video on practising exposure therapy successfully, so make sure you subscribe to my channel not miss it. 

And yes, exposure therapy is the single best way to overcome social anxiety, you need something to keep you motivated as it requires repeated practice. And that is rewarding yourself. 

Tip #3: Reward Yourself

We want to make exposure therapy fun and rewarding. We keep reminding ourselves that we not only get back our freedom in life, but also want to give ourselves a reward each time we practice.

Otherwise, why would you put yourself continuously in anxiety-provoking situations? 

So every time you practiced exposure therapy, give yourself a reward. This can be something small, like a treat, or just a compliment… to then celebrate it in a bigger way when you can step up the fear ladder, like a massage or by buying a gift for yourself. 

When you reward yourself for practising exposure therapy, you train your brain to look forward to the exposure and to keep going with it.

Because repeated exposure is how you train your brain to not perceive situations as dangerous, which results in a decrease of anxiety the next time. And rewarding yourself each time is a great way to stay motivated.

Conclusion

Struggling with social anxiety can be very frustrating. It’s not that you get anxious, because you don’t want a social life… you get anxious because you really value social interactions with people. But getting anxious every time before a social situation can make it a lot more difficult… but with the 3 tips from this video, I hope I sent you into the right direction.

And if you struggle with social anxiety, there is a chance that you worry a lot as well… and that’s why you need to watch THIS video, where I explain how you can instantly worry less! 

Struggle with anxiety? Then you need to watch my free limited-time training about overcoming anxiety here.

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Author: Wouter Manders

Wouter is a mindset coach from The Netherlands. For many years he suffered from depression and anxiety. It gave him the motivation to coach people on overcoming their anxiety, out of first hand experience. With more than 6000 blog visitors a month he helps many people on their road to having less anxiety.

About Wouter

Wouter is a mindset coach from The Netherlands. For many years he suffered from depression and anxiety. It gave him the motivation to coach people on freeing themselves from anxiety. With more than 6000 blog visitors a month he helps many people on their journey towards less anxiety.

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