Monday, 22 August 2016

How To Overcome Social Anxiety

As a hypnotherapist, one of the most common issues I treat, is social anxiety. This issue can manifest in a number of different ways, from avoiding nights out, to not speaking up in groups, to wanting to plan every detail of the event.

As well as social situations, this type of anxiety is very commonly experienced in the work place. Lots of people find team meetings very intimidating or get very nervous when speaking to their boss.

Social anxiety is one of these issues which has a huge impact on your wellbeing. It is horrible feeling anxious. It also holds you back in life. I've met people who have avoided going to university because they are so worried about meeting new people. I've also encountered people who have been held back in their career because they have been too shy to put their ideas forward or deliberately avoid interviews.

So, how do you overcome social anxiety? How do you become less shy?

The first way is to push your comfort level. We all have a circle of comfort around us. Inside the circle are the things we are comfortable with doing, for example, spending time with close family. Towards the edge of the circle are the things which make us mildly uncomfortable, for example, walking into the cafeteria at work on our own. Outside the circle are the things we avoid, for example, a party where we don't know many people. The problem is, that as we start to avoid the things on the edge of the circle, our circle of comfort gets smaller. So, one way to widen that comfort circle and to decrease anxiety, is to keep challenging yourself to do things, which are just beyond your comfort level. Challenge yourself to do one thing per day, for example:

  • Present an idea to your boss.
  • Volunteer to speak in a team meeting
  • Start a conversation with the cashier in the supermarket
  • Go for a coffee on your own
Each time you do one of these challenges, you prove to yourself that you can do it. You also realise that nothing disastrous happens.

The second way to overcome social anxiety is to notice the way you speak to yourself, in your own mind. We all have an inner monologue, going on inside our own minds, all of the time. Sometimes this inner monologue can be very critical and negative. For example:
  • I'll make an idiot of myself if I speak up
  • I haven't got anything interesting to say
  • Everyone will think I'm boring
  • People might make fun of me
Sometimes this critical inner voice stems from things said to us in our childhood. Sometimes it stems from beliefs we have picked up through our adult lives. However, it can be changed. You do not have to get stuck with this internal criticism.

Whenever you find yourself being negative, stop and think of someone you love very much. Would you say the same thing to them? No, you wouldn't. So don't say it to yourself. It is so important for your general happiness and confidence, that you speak to yourself as if you are your own best friend.

Another great way to boost self-confidence and overcome social anxiety is by using the Confidence Hypnosis MP3, which is available here.