Humans are inherently social beings. We need and desire interactions and relationships with others. However, sometimes even the best of us feel nervous when they have to interact with others. This nervousness emerges out of our fear of being judged negatively by others. We all want to be liked and being judged otherwise, is scary and can affect our self-esteem.We are all afraid of acting in a way that can be embarrassing or being criticized or made of fun of.
We normally see examples of this social anxiety in public speaking situations, dates, interviews etc. While all of this is normal, for some people these social situations can be so stressful that they may begin to be nervous weeks in advance or simply avoid social situations. For people with social anxiety disorder, even simple daily situations like buying groceries can be incredibly stressful.
Their anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms like shortness of breath, tightness in their chest, upset stomach, vomiting, sweating, shaking, dizziness, fainting etc. In cases of extreme social anxiety, mediation and therapy is required.
1. Recognizing the negative thoughts behind the fear and trying to understand them. These thoughts can be exaggerated and irrational. It is necessary that be rationally challenge them and replaced them positive thoughts.
2. Recognizing harmful techniques we might be using like assuming what others are thinking, assuming others dislike us, predicting the worst possible outcomes and blowing small things out of proportion. These might come naturally to us but recognizing them is the first step to slowly removing them by challenging them with alternative explanations of the situation.
3. Recognizing that there will be awful social interactions and situations and that's normal. Sometimes things don't go our way and everyone embarrasses themselves sometime in their life but we must move on.
4. Using relaxation techniques like controlled breathing or counting when faced with stressful situations.
5. Most importantly, the only way to overcome this anxiety is through practice. We have to put ourselves in the uncomfortable situations and again and again. The more we do it, the more we learn on how to navigate the situations and the easier it becomes. You can start with smaller goals that seem easy and slowly work up to the larger goal.
Social anxiety can be debilitating when we are unable to express ourselves and represent ourselves the way we want to but it can be dealt with and it can be overcome just like any other problem.