Get Out There!
For every social butterfly out there, there are perhaps hundreds of others who consistently find themselves in socially awkward situations. As communication is imperative in society, as well as in our individual lives, let’s look at a few methods that will counterbalance that urge to ‘run and hide’ in social situations.
Tried and true, relaxation and breathing techniques aid in many environments where your emotions are threatening to get the best of you. When you feel like your anxiety is reaching a high point in a social setting, focus on slowing and regulating your breathing. Consciously relaxing each part of your body in turn is a quick and easy way to talk yourself down off of that anxiety ledge.
Do Something Every Day That Scares You
In celebration of this astute suggestion, challenge yourself everyday to expand your social comfort zone. Say “hi” to a stranger, make a trip to the store to force yourself to be around and interact with others, ask someone what time it is. These are all little behaviors you can practice everyday that will slowly chip away at social anxieties and give you a sense of accomplishment and pride.
Stop Focusing on Yourself
Chances are that in any social setting, most people are thinking more about themselves than about you or anyone else. Instead of focusing on your own flaws and concerns about what others may be thinking of you, and focus on others. It will get you out of your own head and allow you to engage in conversation that will genuinely interest them. Many people like to talk about themselves; all you have to do is instigate the conversation with a precisely targeted question.
Find a Group or Club With a Common Interest
Honing in on some of your interests is a great way to meet new people with whom you can more easily connect. These groups or clubs are usually more intimate and allow you to converse about shared interests in a relaxed and comfortable setting. This is a huge step towards overcoming social anxiety among groups of people.
It’s OK to Watch and Listen
Especially in larger groups, don’t force yourself to speak before you feel you have something genuine to say on the topic. It’s ok to just sit back and relax, absorbing the conversation, instead of throwing out some stiff comment that just makes you feel more uncomfortable afterwards. Let the thoughts come naturally and then calmly speak them when you feel that they fit into the conversational flow.
Often it’s the anxiety or fear itself that controls our lives. Be patient with yourself and always challenge those anxieties, even if it’s a little step at a time. Before you know it, your life, and relationships, will positively reflect those changes you have worked so diligently to create in yourself.