I used to have severe social anxiety.
I know, I know—it’s hard to believe. But it’s true! I used to be a shy, introverted person with a fear of public speaking and a crippling fear of rejection.
But then something happened that changed everything: I realized that life was too short for me not to go after the things I wanted and needed. And so, I started taking steps towards creating my own business (which is crazy exciting), and as part of that process, I started building up my confidence by doing things like applying for jobs in front of people and giving presentations at conferences.
And guess what? It worked! The more practice I had being more outgoing and confident around other people, the easier it became for me to do those things without feeling completely overwhelmed by anxiety or fear. Nowadays when I have an interview or presentation scheduled, it’s just another day—and one that happens to have some fun stuff on it!
So, if you’re struggling with social anxiety or fears about being around other people… don’t worry! You can break through them and be successful too!
Over time, I learned how to manage my anxiety. And I’m sharing with you the 5 steps that helped me break through severe social anxiety.
I started with a visualization exercise
One of the first steps to overcoming social anxiety is to believe you can achieve your goal. Visualizing yourself succeeding, and then visualizing what success will look like for you, is a powerful tool for helping people get out of their comfort zone and do new things.
You may wonder how this works since it’s just an image in your mind—but your subconscious mind doesn’t operate on logic; it operates on images. When you repeat positive imagery over time, it becomes a driving force behind your actions and decisions in life.
For example: If when I wanted to run my own businesses as a fulltime entrepreneur, I visualized it like this as:
- In my mind’s eye, I see myself sitting at home office with all my equipment set up around me (laptop computer, monitors, printer, microphone, phone charger), coaching clients to 10x their careers, successfully hypnotizing clients to reduce anxiety and build confidence, writing amazing articles about something that really interests me or my audience (the articles might even be about social anxiety, confidence, and careers). The words flow off my fingertips effortlessly because this topic excites me so much! As I’m coaching and hypnotizing, a sense of peace comes over me and fills every cell in my body with joy!
- It’s really easy to get excited about That career shift, right!
I made a point of laughing at myself
I tried to laugh more often when talking with people and it made a huge difference. Not only did they seem to like me more, but I also felt less stressed around them because I wasn’t worried about being judged negatively for a poor joke (ask anybody, I don’t do jokes well at all) or something like that.
It really helped me to dial back perfectionism because I learned to laugh at my own mistakes instead of freaking out about how everyone was going to judge me for making a mistake. It also helped to dial back my fears that everyone was watching and judging me.
I became really great at telling funny stories, and sometimes they were funny stories about me. This really helped me to be a little more open and humanized. Unfortunately, in an extrovert world those of us who are quiet (anxiety can make you play small, feel small, and be quiet) and like to exist in the background can often be judged by others as standoffish, not being a team player, judgmental, thinking you’re better than everyone else, intimidating others, or even condescending. Let’s face it, none of those are positive and if you’re anxious that just adds even more stuff you have to work through and deal with. Whew!
I started to take small risks
By the time I was 35, I had begun to see my anxiety as an adversary. I started to challenge it by taking small risks.
I began by asking for help when my car broke down and instead of embarrassed. Then, I started strike up conversations with random people while standing in line. Instead of making decisions based on how safe I could be, I stepped out of my comfort zone.
Slowly but surely, these experiences helped me become more confident in myself and less dependent on other people’s approval for my sense of self-worth—which made it easier for me to feel comfortable around them! And much easier to like me, for me.
I committed to do something tough that scared me
- For example, it took me 3 years to apply for licensure to become a therapist. I was literally afraid to complete the application because it was too long, so I thought. I became committed to getting a license as others around me were doing it. No matter who afraid I was. I pulled out the application and started working on it. Found out that the application was only about 5 pages long!! The stack of papers I thought I’d have to fill out was actually just the code of ethics. I realized I had allowed a mindset issue to hold me back all that time.
- This became my strategy for overcoming social anxiety, do something that scared me. And it worked. In fact, it wasn’t until I did this on a regular basis that my social anxiety started to dissipate. And once you start doing things you’re afraid of regularly and see that they don’t harm or kill you, the power of your fear begins to diminish.
I read other people’s stories on confidence and success
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” In a similar way, “you are whom you read.” When we read about the success or struggles of other people, it can have a profound effect on us.
Reading about other people’s lives can be helpful for many reasons, including:
- You learn from their mistakes: If someone has succeeded despite making mistakes along the way and learning from them, then so can you!
- You get inspired by their stories: Reading other peoples’ stories is often inspiring and motivating in itself. It will often make you feel like anything is possible!
- It gives you hope: Seeing others who have overcome obstacles gives us all hope that if they could do it, then so could we!
Success is possible and you can overcome even the hardest obstacles yourself!
There is no shortcut. There’s no magic pill, and there’s no one “right” way to do things. But if you’re committed to making a change in your life, success is possible, and you can overcome even the hardest obstacles yourself! Including social anxiety.
Dr. Twanna Carter helps high achieving professional women who are anxious about transitioning into a new career, have absolute confidence and belief in their own abilities, so they can communicate their unique value, honor their true purpose, and boldly pursue their dream career.
You probably already know that anxiety is the most common mental illness in the world and that if you commit to taking the right steps then you can reap the benefits of living a better life with more freedom, confidence, and success.
Schedule your free 15-minute Anxiety Consult with Dr. Twanna here: https://bit.ly/3uO4CPF