Did you know that most people on Earth say that they have social anxieties? Its right up there with public speaking as one of the biggest fears. Social fears are one of the most common issues that a lot of people face or claim to face. It may be worse for some than for others, but social fear is a pretty universal issue. For most of us it started in our teenage years. We either learned to cope with it, or it manifested into something worse.
There are some ways in which you can learn to face social fears without having to drop out of society. Most of these tips are easy to accomplish. If you have issues that exceed these tips, consider getting some professional help.
1. Start Small
If you are ready to make a huge change in your life and face your social fears, don’t choose to start with speaking in front of 1500 people. Instead, start small with a small group like a reading group, Sunday school class, or a scrapbooking class. Get a little bit out of your comfort zone, and then build up to more.
2. Plan Ahead
Most people are nervous in social situations, but if you plan ahead, you’ll be more relaxed. Practice introducing yourself, and if you have a good friend ask them to practice your handshake too. Being more comfortable around people starts one step at a time, and practice will help it feel more familiar.
3. Love Yourself
Many social fears come from wrong-headed beliefs that something is wrong with you. You don’t think enough of yourself, and you think you’re weird or somehow wrong. But, nothing could be further from the truth. Most of us have something different about us; if we were all the same it would be quite boring. Embrace your differences and accept yourself for who you are. Remember that Mark 12:31 says to love your neighbor AS yourself.
As an added thought, love yourself, but focus on others. Be friendly and be a good listener. Don’t obsess about how you’re coming across or how you look. Plan, look your best, then forget about yourself.
4. Avoid Judgment
Some measure of social fears come from our own poor judgments of not just ourselves but others. We think that if we are so judgmental then other people are too. So, to avoid that judgment we just avoid the situation entirely. If you learn to stop being so judgmental you’ll be able to be less afraid. Learn to accept other peoples differences and personalities as just being human. Being human is perfectly acceptable.
5. Your Fears Aren’t Reality
Just because you’re afraid of something doesn’t mean it’s real. You may have all sorts of ideas in your head about how your voice sounds, how you look, and your perceived awkwardness. But, the truth is, most people are so tied up in their own fears that they don’t even notice that you’re nervous. Fearing something doesn’t mean it will actually happen.
6. Take a Deep Breath
When you feel the anxiety coming on, stop, and take a deep breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose, filling up your lungs completely, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. One or two slow breaths can help you overcome your initial fears fast.
7. Take the Leap Anyway
Most of the time, fear is worse than the actual situation. Even if you’re doing something scary like getting a shot, or an operation, or getting a root canal, the worry leading up to the event is much worse than the actuality of what you are doing. (Well, maybe not the root canal! Just joking!) If you take the leap and jump in with both feet, you’ll find that your fear level drops substantially.
Most social fear is a normal reaction that people have. You’re not abnormal to have social fears. This is especially true if you’re unwilling to allow your fears to block you from having a happy and productive life.