[This is a continuation from my previous article on “The POWER of Awareness“!]
What is Social Anxiety?
Written By Benjamin Ngiam
In the current day and age, where potential mates and fellow Pokemon masters are being cordoned away from you due to this invisible force-
Social Anxiety has sprouted itself and burst through into becoming of one the world’s leading Social issues. In fact, so much so, that it is now, a rather common term being used but, what exactly is Social Anxiety?
That’s what we’re gonna go sleuthing and find out today 😉
(Note: This is where I’ll usually roll the intro if this is an episode of PBIY TV but hey, I don’t always have time to write and record a script then go google for images and edit them all together now, do I? Feel free to play it in your head here though :-P)
Let’s break Social Anxiety up into two separate words.
Social = Communication / Interaction
Anxiety = Constant worry over nothing
When you put them together…
Social Anxiety = Constant worry over nothing during interaction.
I’m sure you have an idea what this means now, don’t you?
Yup, the idea of you talking to a stranger or your crush, has been contaminated with this germ aka Social Anxiety.
And you need the remedy…
Imagine, a life where you don’t experience any Social Anxiety at all when talking to people you’d normally be nervous around (Or be on the verge of a panic attack).
This life sounds good yes?
And yes, I am here to sell this ideal future life to you.
The price? YOUR KIDNEY
Just kidding. I want your time to read on AND your commitment to make a Social Anxiety free life a reality! I guess in a way, you can say that I want your heart lol.
Living with Social Anxiety
Now, growing up as a socially awkward child (Read my About page) I’ve had my sets of embarrassingly bad experiences. Like one time a girl came up to me, telling me I’m cute and what did I do? I shyly looked away and walked off. SERIOUSLY LOL. My heart shattered afterwards hahahah. Poor young me.
Fortunately, I learned from my mistakes and I learned A LOT from them. And I’m about to share them with you.
One of the most important thing that I’ve learned on how to deal with Social Anxiety is acquiring the understanding to all the negative things that we imagine in our head:
- Like the bad hollywood-style rejection clips that keeps playing in loop over and over in your head?
- They are just irrational thoughts- Generated by our brains’ / ego’s defense mechanism, to prevent ourselves from going through with an alien experience, which might cause us to fail and get hurt. (Click here to watch our video on FEAR!)
If you can understand how Social Anxiety works and actually hammer it deep down into your outlook in life? You’d pretty much be free of it.
Then again, life is only available in “Hard” mode so it’s not as easy as it sounds to achieve that! So, in order to help you attain that level of Anxiety-Coping Mastery, here are 7 tips to assist you in your quest!
Benjamin’s 7 Tips to Understanding and Managing Social Anxiety:
- Be Aware of Your Behavioral Pattern
- Make a Decision to bring about Change
- Cognitive Assurance
- Gather Intel for War
- Social Support
1. Be Aware of Your Behavioral Pattern
Observe your own behavior and ask yourself, is the current behavioral pattern (Or lifestyle) you have in your life at this present moment beneficial to you?
Is it encouraging Social Anxiety or discouraging it?
Whenever you are in close proximity with a stranger, assuming you are usually wishing that you’d be able to strike up a conversation with anyone without engaging panic mode,
you’d choose to turn and walk away due to your constant worry on possibly saying the wrong things and be perceived as a jackass.
The act of always turning away and diving under a table (Not literally I hope!) to avoid being in any social contact due to your fear of interaction is not a healthy behavior to help you cope with your anxiety and definitely not a good behavioral pattern to cling onto.
Why? Let’s look at it this way…
If you keep putting yourself out of sight and away from danger, you will never grow and learn to confront them.
Do you think you’d be able to manage the many challenges that you’d be facing in future if you keep running away from your problems?
You might be able to, actually. But even if you do, it’ll probably not be as well-managed as compared to if you’ve been putting yourself out there to face those issues and learn to deal with them and try to steer things towards the direction you want.
2. Make a Decision to bring about Change
After being conscious and aware of your problems, you got to accept that there is actually an issue here that needs to be resolved and you have to make a decision to do something about it.
That said, you got to start taking action before things can happen because nobody is going to do it for you.
Also, nobody is going to spoon feed you with any help as well, especially when you are not even doing anything to let others know you wish to be fed so, if you feel that you need someone’s help, be sure to work on it yourself first and then ask for support.
Notice that they are your Support, NOT Problem-Solver!
Nothing will help with your Social Anxiety issue until you decide to do something about it yourself.
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
The mountain is never going to move if you don’t start so start by taking the first step, no matter how small it may seem.
A change in mindset results in a change in behavior which may then yield… Well, results. Awesome.
3. Cognitive Assurance
Awareness of what you are up against isn’t enough. You got to have the conviction to be able to assure yourself that you are going to see things through.
Keep reminding yourself why you can make things happen and why is it so important that there has to be a change in your current reality.
Whenever you feel uncertain or in doubt, try to convince yourself otherwise. Either assure yourself that things will go according to plan or, tune down the effect of the consequence in your mind.
One of the best ways to do this is to consider the extreme ends of things and imagine them actually happening that way.
- If things are going to be positive, isn’t it great to be living in this outcome? Isn’t it possible that this can actually become YOUR REALITY?
- If its negative, how bad is it, really? Can you do anything about it to make things better?
- If you feel that it is ‘Hopeless’, ask yourself “Whats the worst that could happen?“
You want to talk to your crush but you’re too afraid to.
Why? What’s the worst that could happen?
Assuming that you do try and you get rejected, hey, life goes on. You’re still alive and guess what, there are still plenty of fishes in the sea. Just because one doesn’t like your bait, doesn’t mean others don’t either (I’d like to thank my friend, Jer, for always using fishing as an analogy in life lol).
Besides, that current crush you got probably isn’t exactly someone worth your time if he/she doesn’t see you worthy of theirs anyway. Chances are, there’s someone else better for you out there so keep hunting, hunter 😉
We usually perceive bad situations to be ‘Hopeless’ no matter how significant/ insignificant the situation really is and that is because it is so much more easier to confront life issues with!
By telling and assuring yourself “Oh I can’t do anything about this”, you can just quit and stop worrying about having to work on an issue that require lots of time and effort to resolve.
Now, notice how COGNITIVE ASSURANCE works like a double-edged weapon?
- If you wish to be successful, you can assure yourself that things can be if you do something and work towards it OR;
- You can tell yourself that things have already gone to hell and you can’t do anything about it, which you’d be right as well and just let it be.
Assure failure or success in you, it’s your choice. Personally, I prefer the latter.
So, the next time you want to talk to someone but you are too nervous to and want to chicken out, just ask yourself “Really, what’s the worse that could happen?”
It’s not like someone strapped a bomb on you that’d go off if you opened your mouth to speak to your person of interest… Right..? That actually just reminded me of a scene in American Dad…
4. Gather Intel for War
Like in Dragonball Z, what Piccolo said to Goten and Trunks when they were up against a mighty killing monster, Majin Buu:
“Every battles won didn’t happen with just brute strength. It was with planning”.
As with every battles in history that has occurred, understanding what you are up against is definitely the best way to source for and come up with a master plan to win.
You, reading up on the issue itself right now, is already one way of Information Gathering! Kudos to you for making progress, soldier! 😉
Other examples for Intel Gathering includes watching documentaries / TV shows on Social Anxiety and studying them, doing research on books, discussion with friends for their thoughts and insights etc.
Did you know that you can strengthen bonds and relationships when you’re facing an issue together with someone else? Use this to help you strengthen your friendships as you tackle the issue together and at the same time, learn more about each other’s character and problem solving attitude. Sweet.
Simply put, Reflection of your past.
According to the Founder of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, all of our behaviors and mindset stemmed from our past experience.
I totally agree with that, don’t you?
Why do you eat? You’ve learned in the past when you were an infant, that eating (Or drinking milk at the time) satisfies the negative hungry feeling coming from your stomach and hence, you engage in food searching behavior now whenever you are hungry, to fill your tummy.
So why are you afraid of interacting with people? It’s something you got to dive deep inside your mind and discover it yourself as you explore the mysteries of YOU- Your true Self, and your past.
If you can find the root of your problems, you can resolve the inner conflict that you have contained inside you MUCH quicker.
6. Social Support
Friends can teach us so many things. Plus, they make our life feel like it’s a sitcom!
Either have your current circle of network (Friends/Family) to support you in your endeavors, or find people similar to you out there somewhere and support each other!
Human Beings are very social creatures. We thrive in communities and groups with the same mindset- Though not everyone is consciously aware of that!
But, you are conscious of it now so I hope you have a good network of people to go to for support. If not, put yourself out there and start looking!
You will NEVER find some good network by sitting around and DOING NOTHING. A little Ben’s Wisdom (Bendom? Bend em! XD):
“One does not simply find water for flowers without first seeking it.”
You might even find a fountain if you do try! In the context of meeting new people?
You got access to the internet. You can start looking at the communities here in WordPress (Everyone I’ve met so far here are all pleasant & wonderful!), and even in other community sites such as forums and etc for new network of Social Support. [Which is actually what I’m trying to create here on Project BIY ;-)]
If all else fail and you feel that you truly need some advice? Feel free to email me and I’ll do my best to help you!
People are well connected everywhere in this current digital day and age. You just need to know where your kind of people (Similar mindset) are hanging out at.
Gamers hangs out in the gaming community and LAN shops.
Students hangs out in cafes and libraries.
You get the idea.
This one is a cliche but hey, if it doesn’t work, it wouldn’t have ended up being such a cliche, right?
Persevere. Stand and fight till the end. Don’t give up. Once you give up, that’s when you’ve truly lost.
Commitment is key here and one way to help you keep in touch with your Inner Fighter while training yourself to become a more respected, seasoned and admired Individual without any Social Issues, is to set realistic goals and work towards them as you try to achieve your dream.
Don’t you dare give up on yourself when others have yet to give up on you.
I swear, I WILL come over and slap you awake PERSONALLY if you do.
Don’t make me do it.
“Restructuring” vs “Miracle Cure”
You’ve probably noticed by now, my 7 Tips are more of a long term “Restructuring” solution rather than a on-the-spot, short-term “Miracle Cure“.
This is because it really takes time to perform a system overhaul of your Individuality to remove that “Virus” in your motherboard and… There is no such things as a “Miracle Cure“.
Regardless, I know you will need all the help you can get in this area of your social life so…
To help you deal with this issues during your journey in “Restructuring“, here are some direct ways to approach your anxiety during the heat of the moment which you can apply immediately to see some changes:
- Take slow and controlled deep breaths to allow more oxygen flow into your brain.
- Controlled breathing allows you to control your heart beat rate and enrich oxygen in your bloodstream, which can help calm you down, let you think and access the situation more calmly and effectively.
- Panicking is just a recipe for disaster. Don’t go there.
- Conscious muscle relaxation. Tensing up won’t help.
- Try to relax as much as you can.
- A calm state of mind and body is the best way to confront issues.
- Be open and ready to change, learn to adapt.
- Human Beings are masters in adaption. If we are thrown in a desert, we learn to figure a way out to build/find shelter to survive the scorching sun, hunt for food and find water to sustain our physiological needs.
- You have this innate ability to survive in you as well. You just need to hone it into mastery.
- Get familiar with the situation fast so that you will feel right at home and not like you’re in an alien spaceship. This helps you to stay calm as you know where the exits are and which plan to execute for specific situation.
- Use Self-Encouraging Imageries to assure yourself things aren’t as bad as they seem to be.
- Learn to be more Confident
If you are confident in yourself, you will not be bothered much at all with things like Anxiety.
So that’s it for today’s post! What do you think of this article?
I’m able to write this partly because I had this problem as well in the past and it was quite severe lol so if you have dealt with Social Anxieties before in the past and you’d like to share your story as well? Please do so! It will benefit everyone as we learn from each other’s experiences 😉
Let us hear what you have to say in the comments section below!
Got extra time to spare?
Did you know that you can have Sherlock Holmes’ superhuman-like perception as well? Checkout the article on The POWER of Awareness;
Watch our latest video about Fear- Where we learn about WHAT exactly is Fear, why are we attracted to it and if it is good for us?
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please consider “sharing” or “like”-ing it by quickly tapping on one of the buttons on the side and/or below.
It makes my day to know that there are people such as you, reading my stuff and finding them beneficial to your life. A click from you can help push me to go even further . Cheers 😉