Every single person has experienced a moment of social anxiety during the course of their life. It seems to be a part of the human experience. Social anxiety is defined by feelings of intense fear and panic in social settings. For some individuals these feelings are triggered by specific places and circumstances. For example, a phobia of public speaking is a very common form of social anxiety. We may be perfectly comfortable speaking to friends in a crowded restaurant, but the scenario of speaking in front of an audience will cripple us with fear.
A lot of these social anxiety experiences come from the internalization that those around us are judging us in the harshest way possible. That somehow, they have instantly picked up upon all our deepest insecurities.
We ruminate on these thoughts sending our body into panic mode. We experience somatic symptoms, including sweating, tightness in the throat, tremors, and raised heartrate. All of these symptoms are the result of a flood of adrenaline which puts us in fight or flight mode.
Something to remember is that social anxiety is multi-faceted.
The idea of willing ourselves to be more confident when we are in these socially crippling situations over and over again, so that we no longer panic sounds like the answer logically, but it oversimplifies what is actually happening in our minds that triggers the body’s response. It is difficult to regulate this involuntary body response in the moment, so I’d like to share a few things to keep in mind as a point of reference next time you find yourself in a socially crippling situation.
1. No one cares
This is a major root of most social anxiety is this racing thought in which you feel that every single person that sees you is hyper-analyzing you.
But always remember this: every single person has social anxiety.
Perhaps not every second of every day but feeling nervous is a natural human emotion.
Statistically speaking the odds that every single person around you is shredding you to pieces in their minds are very low. And this is because most people are too busy worrying about themselves.
So remember, no one cares as much as you think they do.
2. Use others to inspire confidence.
This is a game changer when it comes to managing social anxiety. Confidence is a character trait that you quite literally have to build from scratch.
There are individuals who are highly extroverted and are seemingly very outgoing in social situations but will tell you they too suffer from crippling social anxiety. How is this possible?
This is because confidence is quiet. The loudest person in the room is most likely the most insecure. And insecurity synergizes with social anxiety. We are afraid of being judged and rejected so being outgoing and dominant in social settings blocks that judgement and possible rejection.
So how do I build my own quiet confidence from scratch? Use other people for inspiration.
If you admire someone, it could be a family member, a friend, a celebrity, use them as your idol. Study all the things you admire about them and borrow their confidence.
Next time you are in a social setting, tell yourself that you are this person and you have their confidence. This is that quiet confidence, its internal strength you are borrowing from this person you admire and your body will follow your mind’s lead.
Disclaimer: All information, content, and material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.