By Shane Kulman
I hope you can help me with a challenge I’ve been facing for a long time. I have social anxiety that often makes it incredibly difficult for me to engage with others in social situations. It’s not just about feeling nervous; it’s the paralyzing fear of judgment and embarrassment that keeps me from participating in the activities I’d love to enjoy. I’ve missed out on so many opportunities and connections because of this anxiety. What advice do you have for someone like me, who wants to overcome social anxiety and start living life to the fullest?
Sincerely, Yearning for Connection
Dear Tense Tamara,
Feeling tense or anxious in social situations is a common experience. The good news is that you can cultivate a sense of relaxation by embracing authenticity. Authenticity is about being true to yourself and letting go of the need to conform to others’ expectations. Here are some easy ways to help you feel more relaxed around people in social situations:
Self-awareness is key: Start by understanding and accepting yourself. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and be comfortable with them. When you embrace who you are, you’ll feel less pressure to be someone you’re not, which can significantly reduce anxiety.
Be present: Focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the past or future. When you engage fully in the conversation or activity at hand, you’ll find it easier to relax and connect with others. Mindfulness techniques can help you stay in the moment.
Practice active listening: One way to feel more relaxed around people is to shift your focus from yourself to others. Actively listen to what they are saying and show genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings. This not only helps you connect better but also takes the pressure off you to be the center of attention.
Embrace vulnerability: Authenticity often means being open and vulnerable. Sharing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, even if they make you feel exposed, can create deeper connections with others. Most people appreciate honesty and vulnerability in a social setting.
Challenge negative thoughts: If you find yourself ruminating on negative thoughts or self-doubt, challenge them. Remember that everyone has their insecurities and moments of self-doubt. Recognize that it’s okay not to be perfect, and that imperfections make you unique and relatable.
Set realistic expectations: Don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting to be the life of the party or impress everyone you meet. Instead, aim for genuine connections and enjoyable interactions. Setting more realistic expectations can help reduce anxiety.
Practice self-compassion: Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend. Treat your own self-doubt and anxiety with compassion. Remember that it’s okay to have off days or awkward moments, and it doesn’t define you.
Seek social exposure: The more you practice being in social situations, the more comfortable you’ll become. Gradually challenge yourself by attending events and gatherings, and over time, you’ll develop greater ease and confidence.
Learn to say no: If you’re feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable in a social situation, it’s okay to say no or take a step back. Prioritize your mental and emotional well-being. You don’t have to be social all the time.
Seek support: If social anxiety is significantly impacting your life, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor. They can provide strategies and techniques to manage your anxiety and help you become more relaxed in social situations.
Remember, authenticity is a powerful tool for building meaningful connections with others. By embracing who you are and letting go of the need to conform, you’ll find it easier to relax and be yourself in social settings. It may take time and practice, but with dedication and self-compassion, you’ll notice positive changes in your social interactions and learning to leave a social event is SUPER important!
If you’d like help with this, it’s one of my favorite things to support sensitive people with! If you’d like support or have a question for Enchantress Shane, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org