We’re going to have a fun time today talking about how to vanquish Social Anxiety.
But first, where are my Harry Potter fans at?
Tell me you wouldn’t like to have the potion Draught of Peace handy at all times for all those anxiety-induced social situations you find yourself in? By the way, the fandom Harry Potter world is beyond imagination; browsing through the list of potions made my heart smile. The amount of creativity and joy people have when they enter that world is inspiring. I’m thiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to turning off my laptop, pouring some tea, and binge-reading the entire series in one day. But I’m resisting temptation because I have this awesome valuable post to write for you. So, what does the Draught of Peace potion have to do with Social Anxiety? While it’s not directly associated with it (but quite handy on its own), I decided it was time for me to develop my own potion to vanquish Social Anxiety.
I love the word vanquish because its definition suits the cause quite beautifully: to gain mastery over (emotion, passion, or temptation).
Let’s face it, we’re the ones that brought Social Anxiety to life (through our experiences, worldview, and continued mindset), and now we’re stuck dealing with the havoc it leaves behind. It’s definitely something we need to gain mastery over before it’s too late and it’s swallowed us whole (and we’ll never see another human again!).
Now, I’ve had ample time to dissect what it really takes to overcome Social Anxiety. I’ve been writing about this topic for at least 4 years now, and I’m acutely aware of my own reactions to it. The truth is that it’s not so much about what it takes to overcome or vanquish Social Anxiety but how to put it in its rightful place. It will most likely tag along with you for the rest of your life, but it’s up to you how much of an audience you give it. Remember, this is your own internal creation (what a beautiful creature you’ve brought to life!), so it’s in your power to keep it at bay and as far away from your interactions with the world.
You’ll know you’ve overcome it when:
- You no longer have your words on repeat at the end of the day (you’re able to say things and remove yourself from them)
- The first thought that pops up isn’t something along the lines of (I can’t believe I said that…they’re going to think x, y,z of me)
- You don’t forget your name or title when you introduce yourself (and sweat profusely while doing it)
- Your biggest wish isn’t for a canceled/rescinded event or invitation (because you dread having to talk to people)
- Your first reaction to a group activity isn’t to run and hide all the way to Zimbabwe (or Madagascar, or Australia, or…)
- You can freely ask a question in front of people, specifically strangers (even if it might be a “dumb” question)
Of course, there are other signs that Social Anxiety has a stronghold on you, but I find that these are the main ones that play out the most frequently.
Let’s get to the point of this blog post.
There are 3 main ingredients to vanquish Social Anxiety.
Go ahead, potion these up.
You need courage to keep showing up no matter how uncomfortable you might feel or what external responses you’re receiving. With courage, you gain the confidence to show up every time, even if Social Anxiety beat you up the day before (man, I can’t even keep up with the number of beatings I’ve received). You’ll definitely get knocked down, but if you keep showing up, you’ll get hurt less in the long run. Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes confident.
And as a strong reminder, it’s courage that will help you vanquish Social Anxiety. As a society, we definitely have to face much more difficult situations these days (#pandemiclife), which translates to more opportunities to be courageous. Unfortunately, if you’re not willing to choose courage or bravery in the face of resistance (in this case, Social Anxiety’s nonsense), then you’re automatically choosing retreat and abandonment. This, in turn, leads to zero growth, and unfortunately, more disappointment in the long run. Disappointment that your Social Anxiety is dictating your life. And that for some reason, things aren’t “working out for you,” when in fact, they would have with just a bit of courage.
You need humor to laugh at yourself when you get embarrassed, or things don’t go the way you expect them to (if you have Social anxiety, you know that’s a frequent occurrence). You’re going to have a much harder time moving on from a “failed” social interaction if you can’t laugh about it. But, you can learn this skill. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and try to remember that no one really cares about you. I promise that that’s a really, really good thing. Plus, as a bonus, people love being around light-hearted individuals who can laugh at themselves. It makes for better conversation and less anxiety.
Imagine talking to someone who gets frustrated at themselves every time they slip up and ruminate over what they said. You’re going to stand there, worried about the next time they shut down. Now, imagine the opposite. Imagine someone saying the silliest thing ever, realizing they did so, and then correcting themselves by saying, “ha! How silly of me, that’s totally not how I wanted that to come out!”. Wouldn’t you be more inclined to want that person’s company more than the previous one? Yeah, I thought so.
You need self-reflection to understand the root cause of your anxiety and how to minimize it when it appears. Still, above all else, self-reflection brings to light established mental boundaries. It tells you when they’re prodded, and pushes them further out. Do not, I REPEAT, do not shove your feelings in the deepest and darkest corner of your soul. They will fester and make their way out through internal crevices you didn’t even know you had.
Instead, allow yourself to feel what you feel and then analyze where these feelings come from. This is the quickest way to vanquish Social Anxiety. If you choose to ignore the truth, and the root cause, you’re giving it power. Let me also point out that self-reflection requires courage. Too many people hide their emotions away because they’re too scared and unwilling to face them. They’re wildly aware that that’s what they’re doing instead of using the skill of self-reflection to face the harsh truth.
These 3 ingredients are crucial in your quest to vanquish Social Anxiety. Keep them in your back pocket at all times.
When you face an impromptu social situation or have ample time to dread one, blend these 3 ingredients. First, you’ll activate courage, which will help you through a conversation or an ice-breaker. You know you can do it because you’ve done it before. Secondly, humor will rise because you’ll be able to laugh off whatever it is that went wrong. Maybe you said good morning instead of good afternoon. You’ll correct yourself, call it a silly slip-up, and use it as a self-deprecating joke the next time around. Lastly, self-reflection will bind it all together. You’ll assess how it all unfolded, why you had the feelings and thoughts you had, and course-correct for the future.
If I could, I’d package this potion up and become a millionaire, muahahaha. Or, at least, keep a vial in every pocket at all times.
But, since that’s not really possible, all I can do is empower you to blend these ingredients. Go ahead, drink them up when Social Anxiety is present.