Social anxiety is one of those disorders that leave you wondering whether you’ll ever be free from it.
As someone who has struggled with social anxiety for as long as I can remember, I know how pessimistic it can make you.
There have been countless times I couldn’t imagine being completely at ease in public or initiating small talk with a stranger. These thoughts wouldn’t even cross my mind.
When I eventually worked on my mindset and started taking steps to overcome social anxiety, I couldn’t believe what I started accomplishing.
Being able to join an ongoing conversation or crack jokes with strangers made my heart swell with surprise as well as joy. All of a sudden, I could see myself gradually easing into social situations and doing the things I had always longed to do.
Although I still live with social anxiety, I have certainly reached a point where I don’t think twice before going into a social situation anymore. I am now more focused on the results and excited about overcoming social anxiety with each step I take.
I would understand if you were giving me the eye-roll right now and thinking, “Yes I keep seeing accounts of people who have overcome their social anxiety, but I just don’t see myself getting to that point”.
I was once at this phase.
You can only imagine what you’ve not experienced. You can hear or read about it, but you’ll never truly know what it feels like until you experience it yourself.
However, it is possible to get to that point where you start anticipating your freedom from social anxiety. At this point, you’d be excited and motivated to change even though you don’t know what it feels like. You’d be willing to do all it takes to be a more confident person even though you know it would not be an easy journey. Reaching this point requires a radical change in mindset.
Prior to the period I started tackling my social anxiety, I had to overhaul some of the existing beliefs that were fueling my anxiety. Doing this made the work of facing my fears much easier and motivated me to crush my anxiety. All it takes is a shift in mindset.
These 5 mindsets will help get you to this point and make the process of overcoming your social anxiety much easier.
Your Negative Thoughts Are Irrational
One of the first steps to overcoming social anxiety is realising that your negative thoughts are not based in reality.
Yes, they can be overwhelming and crippling, but they’re not indicators of what would happen in the future.
For instance, if you experience thoughts like “I look so awkward.” or “ People will make fun of me for the way I look.” when you’re about to visit a mall, you would certainly feel anxious and self-conscious.
These negative thoughts would becloud your mind and might cause you to stay home instead. However, if you brave it up and still go out, you may discover that what you fear wouldn’t happen. It’s either most people would be too preoccupied to take any notice of you or the mall would be scanty enough to make you feel at ease.
Think back to all the times you’ve envisaged the worst happening before going for an event. How many of your negative thoughts have come true? When you realise that a majority of the things you fear would never happen, you start seeing how irrational your negative thoughts actually are.
Knowing this gives you the ability to challenge your negative thoughts and replace them with more rational ones.
You’re Not Flawed
People with social anxiety often believe they have a fundamental flaw that makes them the centre of attraction.
They may have just one flaw but have a distorted view of reality that makes them believe it pervades every area of their life.
For instance, if you feel you suck at conversations, you may magnify the negative feelings you have about this flaw and start viewing yourself as a “loser”.
However, there’s really no such thing as a loser — everyone loses in some aspects of their lives but wins in others. You may be bad at conversations but great at making good first impressions and vice versa!
Realising that while you have weaknesses, you also have strengths is a powerful mindset for social anxiety. It helps you to get over your insecurities and gain confidence.
You Have an Internal Monologue
We all have an internal monologue or self-talk mechanism. This internal monologue triggers the stream of thoughts we have on a daily basis.
Without it, you wouldn’t have social anxiety in the first place because you’d be unable to experience negative thoughts. Our internal monologue or self-talk is tied to our sense of self. When it is clouded by negativity, we have a distorted view of reality, and vice versa.
This explains why negative thoughts lead to social anxiety. When we have a wrong perception of the things that have happened to us — whether good or bad — we become anxious.
Thankfully, your internal monologue or self-talk can be altered. You can change the way you converse with yourself using positive affirmations and techniques for minimising negative self talk.
You Have to Be Willing to Change
Leaving your comfort zone is never easy. You may have had social anxiety for so long that the thoughts of facing your fears or challenging your negative thoughts are downright terrifying. To get to get to a stage where you are willing to change, you must have a ‘Why’.
Is your social anxiety debilitating? Has it made you miss opportunities or does it affect your day to day life? If your answer is “yes” then you should be willing to do what is required of you to change.
Having a strong reason to change will help you when you feel overwhelmed by your social anxiety or feel like giving up.
The more willing you are to face your fears, the higher your potential to be social-anxiety-free.
Social anxiety is a byproduct of a distorted mindset. Change that mindset and you’ll reach a point where you can face your fears without thinking twice.