Social anxiety and awkwardness are real. It affects people of all ages and can be debilitating but it doesn’t need to be the end of your social life. There are some things you can do to take control and change the internal dialogue.
In my research, one really interesting site I came across is Learning-Mind.com
Here is how they describe the phenomenon of social anxiety.
“It’s all because socially anxious people tend to overthink and overanalyze everything. Their subconscious mind tells them that no matter what they do or say, others will judge them or laugh at them. That is the basic cause of this mental disorder – a fear of being judged and rejected.” https://www.learning-mind.com/this-funny-comic-perfectly-captures-how-social-anxiety-feels/
What this site has done (which is so brilliant), is depict the voice of anxiety in the form of a comic strip. As the site points out it can be difficult to actually put your feelings into words but the comics paint a picture that anyone can understand.
The site is a great resource for self awareness. Check it out https://www.learning-mind.com/this-funny-comic-perfectly-captures-how-social-anxiety-feels/
Social anxiety or awkwardness isn’t just about getting on with life or giving yourself a kick in the butt, it’s about real feelings and insecurities that need to be addressed.
One thing to remember is that…
You’re the only one
who can change you.
You are not alone.
There are a lot of people who suffer from social anxiety to some degree or other. If you can recognize that you’re not alone you may be able to make another person’s day a bit easier.
Perhaps you see someone struggling at a social event–you can see the whole awkward moment unfolding across the room and you really feel for this person. The question is can you ‘move’ for that person. Can you go over and stand beside and just say–Hey I’ve got social anxiety too. It may diffuse the situation. You may make a new friend.
Shake the perfectionism.
Seriously! You need to just throw it to the curb and stomp it down until it’s smashed to smithereens. This drive to be, or appear, perfect is a huge deterrent to relaxing and letting yourself be real. Perfectionism is debilitating and sucks your soul dry. You wouldn’t set those limits for others, why do it to yourself?
Everyone makes mistakes.
Oh man, I’ll never forget this one time when I went to a coffee shop–I was in line to pay. The cashier was a lovely young girl with a huge zit right in the middle of her forehead. When it was finally my turn she asked if I wanted anything else and I said…no lie….”No, I’m a pimple.” Wtf?
I wanted to die or at least crawl under the nearby table and bang my head against the brick wall. She saved me by laughing and she said “His name is Peter.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or run like hell… I took my coffee and left. I can laugh about it know but I was very embarrassed BUT it wasn’t the complete end of the world. Shit happens–move on.
People are–for the most part–kind and forgiving.
When you enter into a social situation and immediately begin to feel anxiety because of how someone else could react to you (or your awkwardness) isn’t very fair to those other people.
Why would you assume people won’t like you or will laugh at you? You’re the ones doing the judging before any of their actions even come into play. Could it then be a self-fulfilling proficiency from your own negative thinking? Hmmm…
The negative self talk needs to stop and some positive affirmations need to follow.
I know that it won’t be an instant fix but if you’re constantly calling yourself a loser or fat and lazy then you begin to internalize and believe those things. At the end of this post I will put some positive affirmations that you can write out and stick around your room or house so you can read them.
Try and live them.
Sometimes you need to Fake it Til You Make it.
We all wear a different mask in different walks of life.
We have one way we act at home, another at school, with our friends, our family, and still another for work and/or play.
The masks are endless and they’re our own creation.
Make one called the confidence mask.
This is one where you’re playing the role of someone who isn’t deeply shy or awkward but confident. Embrace the role–along with your new positive self talk–and hopefully it’ll make socializing or functioning a bit easier.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff...and it’s all small stuff.”
It’s not easy to make a change but things worth doing usually take hard work and energy.
I believe in you and I need you to dig deep and believe in your self.
Try to let things go.
Don’t put yourself in situations you know will be too much. Give yourself a break–I know you’d give someone else one and you deserve it too.
One thing about social anxiety is the constant fear of not measuring up and that is built up by negative self talk….things like saying “I’m a loser” “Everyone will see that I’m weird” need to be banished and new sayings need to replace them. Here is ten of my faves. For more check here: https://anxiety-gone.com/52-mantras-natural-anxiety-relief/
Repeat these to yourself everyday. Make sticky notes and put them on your bathroom mirror.
Read them. Recite them. Live them.
“This too shall pass.”
“Feel the fear but do it anyway.”
“Anxiety is just a feeling.”
“Other people feel this way too.”
“Release all worry and celebrate what could go right.”
“Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile.”
“This is only temporary.”
“I might not feel ok right now, but I will feel ok soon enough.”
“I am bigger than my fear.”
“I have survived and I will continue to survive.”
Take care of yourself and work on YOU.
I truly believe you can do anything.