Living With Social Anxiety
Social anxiety consists of many disorders. Besides general tension and fear felt in social events, you maybe don’t know that there is a specific fear of having a red face called erythrophobia that also falls under this category. Let’s not forget the fear of public speaking, which is said to be the number one fear for most people in the World (even overtaking the fear of dying).
It is important to state here that most anxieties are hard to get rid of completely. We can, however, put them under control so that they don’t ruin our life’s quality.
Important note: any overwhelming state of mind that pushes you over the edge needs immediate doctor’s help. Don’t postpone asking for help if you feel helpless and have suicidal thoughts.
How I’ve handled my social anxieties and phobias
There are several points that help put our social phobias and anxieties under control or ease the symptoms. Let’s begin with the most simple and head on to the more demanding ones.
Admit you have social anxiety and phobia
Is there any way we can solve something if we don’t even acknowledge the problem? Why not being completely honest with ourselves and admit (if not to anyone else but) to ourselves that we are in a very serious problem. To others who don’t have it, this might seem like exaggerating. But do not let others put you further down with their stupid remarks. Social anxiety and phobia are real and very serious to someone who has it.
Observe your feelings in larger groups of people. Don’t turn your head in another direction and burry your problems under the rug. You must admit what’s bothering you so that you can go on to the next step.
Accept that you have a problem
This is essential to be able to handle social problems. I couldn’t accept for a long time I had these problems. Why? Because I hated myself for losing control when I was forced to function in a larger group of people. Then I realized this hate kept hitting me on my back because I continuously ran away from my problems and it only made things worse.
At some point, I realized that nothing can be solved unless facing it and dealing with it. And so started doing just that.
Acceptance is of great importance to be able to open the door to recovery.
Fears can only be handled if we get into them
After accepting fears, panic attacks, and other social problems, I began to deal with them. As one problem emerged, I was determined to deal with it from all angles. It was NOT easy. I fell down exhausted from the ongoing fights with myself so many times that I even decided to give up on fighting it all together. Many times.
But nothing good would come out from quitting my own change. So, I kept picking myself up and moving on to deal with my issues, over and over again.
Take it one step at a time
When we want to handle something that is unpleasant, we usually want it to be handled fast and effortless. But remember: no pain, no gain. It is vital to be patient and ready to spend a lot of time dealing with our own psyche.
Don’t get carried away by someone’s “quick fix” ideas. If anything we have learned as kids, it is that we can’t learn how to drive a bike unless we first learn how to walk, then ride a bike with additional wheels and in the end, we were ready to learn biking only on two wheels. Approach this problem-solving in the same way. No overnight quick problem solving and healing.
Methods that help deal with social problems
Finally, we come to the methods and there are some that might be helpful for you. I can’t say they will work for sure because we are all individually programmed. But give it a try. And don’t give up on trying to find your own additional ways to cope.
As time goes, more and more people are becoming aware that positive affirmations are a gold mine. The reason why they are so effective is that you can replace negative with positive thinking if you regularly use them.
You don’t have to be particularly clever to put together a few of the affirmations yourself that will work for you. For example, if you feel uncomfortable talking while three or more people are listening, just say to yourself something like “I am ok speaking out loud, nothing bad will happen if I speak my mind in front of people”. Or one of my favorite “I am relaxed and comfortable speaking in front of others. If others can do it, so can I.” This makes my fear lose its strength.
Get into the fear and do it anyway
Turning our back to any problem doesn’t solve anything. It actually enhances the problems and pushes us further into the arms of fears. However, if we face our problem and decide to be brave to overcome our fears, we will slowly start reducing the enormity of our problem. Trust me, this works 100%.
One of the best examples I like to give is overcoming the fear of driving. After I had passed the driver’s test, I didn’t drive for a few years. Naturally, the fear of driving started building inside of me. After some time, I’ve decided to buy a car. But the thought of driving got me scared so much that I wasn’t sure if buying a car was the right decision for me.
In the end, I figured out that the only way to release and surpass this fear was to get into it. So, I hired an instructor to pass a few hours of driving with me and after I sat in my own car. The fear didn’t go away overnight. Actually, it took me a few months to completely get rid of it. But the result was that I started driving fear-free and calm, enjoying my rides. Only because I’ve decided to face my fear and beat it.
Yes, it is NOT pleasant but it is necessary.
The same goes for every fear we experience. Not that we all have the same level of fears but we can overcome all of them by gradually going through them.
Being here and now, while releasing any thoughts that come without judgment or attachment is a great way to deal with social issues. Why? Because if you are fearful, that means you live in the future (“They will judge me when I speak in front of them” = future event). If you focus on the now, you won’t feel anxiety because your attention will be placed on the present moment.
I know it is impossible to completely stop worrying or thinking about the future. But it can surely be reduced a lot. Try practicing living in the now, it will minimize past/future thoughts and with it, anxiety will lessen.