Overcoming Social Anxiety

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Overcoming social anxiety is a tough road if you structure your life to avoid the very situations, social encounters, that will help you achieve your end. Repeated exposure to the source of an irrational fear tends to make this fear dissipate because you come to realize that you don’t suffer any lasting consequences like you imagined you would.

If you have social anxiety, rather than dulling your senses with drugs or alcohol, the first thing you can do is determine whether you are catastrophizing, imagining the worst possible scenarios and believing one of them will come to pass. By making a mental list of what these scenarios are, ideas that might be flitting at the edge of your conscious awareness in half-formed thoughts and fleeting images, you might come to see that some imagined outcomes are frankly outrageous or highly unlikely, while the ones that are real possibilities aren’t all that bad and only involve feeling embarrassed.

But the logical knowledge that no lasting harm will come to you in a social setting might not do much for that aching feeling in your stomach, or for all the other symptoms of social anxiety, when push comes to shove and you have to decide whether to engage. To overcome you’ve got to pass through the fire, facing your fear by putting yourself in the social situations you have been trying to avoid. Just make sure you keep in the back of your mind that humiliation and rejection are not death.

You can’t necessarily change the way you feel overnight. You can’t just magically make your social anxiety go away. But you do get to decide if you’re going to let it hold you back from taking risks in social settings. You don’t have to feel completely confident and comfortable to reach beyond yourself, you just have to reach beyond yourself because you want to, in spite of the social anxiety trying to keep you in your bubble.