Do you have social anxiety?
Everyone experiences social anxiety to some extent. It's normal to feel anxious socially sometimes.
Social anxiety is a continuum. Some people feel a little uncertain or awkward when meeting new people, or attending a social event alone. Others experience such severe nervousness about social situations that it has a significant negative and isolating impact on their lives.
Regardless of where you fall on the social anxiety spectrum, whether you feel occasionally shy or have significant issues caused by social anxiety, be assured that this is all "normal". Everyone experiences social anxiety at one time or another, and if your social anxiety is so strong or frequent that it really bothers you, there is help available.
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety is the experience of nervousness when interacting socially with others. It is the result of the fear of being negatively judged or rejected by others, which in turn leads to self consciousness, self criticism, physical and mental signs of agitation. When severe it can lead to the avoidance of almost all social situations.
You are experiencing social anxiety when you:
- find yourself worrying excessively about what to say
- dread meeting new people
- feel suddenly at loss for words
- blush, shake, or experience a pounding heart in response to social encounters
- fear speaking in front of a group
- re-live social encounters and repeatedly evaluate what you said and how you acted
- feel that others are judging you negatively or fear that they might be
- have trouble making friends
- feel uncomfortable eating in the presence of other people
- are extremely aware of every movement your body makes and are certain your body movements are coming across as weird
- feel tense and unsure around others
- hesitate to express your opinion
- often feel isolated and alone
If you can relate to this, you have definitely been experiencing social anxiety. Only you can decide whether or not it is uncomfortable enough or life limiting enough to warrant doing something about.
People of all ages suffer from social anxiety. It often starts in childhood.
If you are like most people who have frequent problems with social anxiety, you probably have memories of feeling shy as a kid, not fitting in, feeling left out, not knowing what to say, or how to make friends. If your family moved around a lot when you were young, it may have made things even more difficult. You may have been afraid to admit to your parents that you had no friends. You probably hated the moments in school when people paired up for projects or teams and you were always the last one picked, or the one left without a partner that had to be the unwanted member of another group.
You wanted to make friends but couldn't seem to be able to figure out how to make that happen. You may have memories of standing alone trying to look busy at recess, making friends with a new kid, only to have them reject you a few days later in favor of the "cool kids". You started to wonder what was wrong with you.
If you are like most people who experience social anxiety frequently, you likely did make a friend or two eventually, but the scars of childhood awkwardness and the feelings of being left out stayed with you somewhere deep inside, shaking your confidence, even as an adult.
The first thing to realize is that social anxiety is not your fault!
There is nothing you did and nothing about you that is the reason for you having social anxiety.
Most people who have social anxiety experienced some type of trauma or an event of random social rejection at a critical moment in their development, that caused them to become extra cautious socially, and hesitant about social interactions.
Many people with social anxiety have parents who were also socially anxious, and did not have the awareness or the ability to instill a sense of social confidence or teach social skills to their child. Or they may have been very socially adept, and just unable to see that their child was struggling socially.
The second important thing to know is that you are a wonderful, perfect, unique and worthy person. You are someone people would like to get to know.
Regardless of how you might sometimes feel about yourself, realize that you are perfect just as you are, you are "friend-worthy", you have amazing things to contribute to the world, and you are an interesting and lovable person.
The third important message you need to hear is that you can learn social confidence now.
You can learn to appreciate yourself and to feel more comfortable in your own skin. You can learn to really like yourself, realize that you have lots to offer and let your true self shine. You can learn to feel relaxed and confident in social situations. You can learn the skills of social confidence you may have missed as a child.
Social anxiety & social confidence are both learned behaviors!
You might be happy to find out that social confidence is not something that is out of your reach just because you were not born with it. The good news is that you can unlearn social anxiety and learn social confidence, resulting in a personal transformation that will change your life.
A combination of proven cognitive behavioral principles and mindfulness techniques can help you leave social anxiety behind and fully express the person you really are - the one that is often hidden behind all that anxiety.
Some of the most intelligent, thoughtful, polite, generous and caring people have social anxiety.
If you have social anxiety, I like you already. If you are fortunate enough to be in a room full of people with social anxiety, the odds of meeting many wonderful people are enormous.
People with social anxiety tend to be sensitive and considerate of other people, they usually have a deep sense of ethics and a strong value system, they treat others with respect, they are considerate of the opinion & interests of others, they are caring and loyal friends.
Yet people with social anxiety are unsure of themselves socially and often:
- don't know how to join in on a conversation so they stay silent,
- feel nervous when meeting new people,
- don't know how to "do small talk",
- are afraid that others won't like them or will find them boring,
- freeze and become speechless when its their turn to talk,
- analyze and critique their conversations and actions,
- avoid social occasions,
- feel as though others are judging them negatively,
- have trouble relaxing and having fun in social situations,
- feel uncomfortable making & sustaining eye contact,
- can't think of what to say and when they do are extremely aware of the reactions of others,
- spend a great deal of time analyzing or worrying about what they just said and what they "should have" said instead and the potential impact of what they did say.
- have very high standards for themselves and judge themselves very harshly.
People with social anxiety usually want social connection with others, yet just don't feel comfortable.
If any of this sounds like you, WELCOME! You have come to the right place.
You have probably tried many things on your own, been afraid to admit you need help, been too embarrassed to ask for help or go out and get the help you need. Or you may have looked for help and found none. Some people with social anxiety just give up and try to convince themselves that being alone is all that they can expect.
You need to know that all this can change.
You need to know that there is nothing wrong with you - you are perfect just as you are. If you would like to become more comfortable socially, you can learn to do this and still stay true to your sense of self.
You can stay true to yourself, be yourself and feel comfortable socially.
You don't need to become a different person, become more extroverted, or learn any psychological tricks.
It's not too late!
Start learning social confidence now and you can begin to enjoy yourself in all sorts of social occasions. Instead of feeling anxious and uncomfortable, you will feel relaxed and self assured. Imagine actually looking forward to meeting new people, going out with friends, letting go and expressing yourself without worry or self consciousness.
My experiential training program is scientifically based and helps you learn to become confident, calm and enjoy yourself in social situations.
It has been designed to work with various learning styles, and includes cognitive, emotional and experiential elements. You will find yourself effortlessly speaking, laughing, having fun with others, enjoying shared experiences and making true connections. We can help you every step of the way.
This approach is supportive, self-affirming and most importantly -- it works!
Social confidence training opens the door to real personal transformation, allowing you the freedom to express yourself with confidence.