Social awkwardness and social anxiety affect more people than you might expect. One of the things that makes dealing with social anxiety is just that; the fact that it is not always obvious to others around you. While severe social anxiety requires professional help, not every form of anxiety does. Sometimes, it might just be shyness or lack of confidence at work. There are numerous self help articles and books out there to help you overcome social awkwardness yourself and bring about a change in personality, but making a choice about which article or book to read can be difficult. Here’s a simple starting place for anyone who has a hard time just saying “hello” and does not know where to begin:
Embrace the reality
Most people who deal with social awkwardness have trouble accepting that they need help. By help we don’t necessarily mean a therapist; even opening to someone close to you, such as a friend is vital to success. Embracing the fact that you have a problem and need someone to help you out is not shameful. It is actually a mark of your strength as a person and is the first step to finding a solution to your anxiety. The role of friends and family cannot be over-emphasized, so if you know someone who you might think faces social anxiety and a fear of meeting people, it is better to reach out than remain a silent spectator.
Learn to Relax
More often than not, because we have a social situation coming up in the future, we tend to worry ourselves about it incessantly and generate anxiety well before the situation has even occurred. This makes facing it even more difficult when it actually comes up. Instead of worrying about an upcoming social situation, try and think about it with a relaxed mind. If a particular kind of surrounding such a listening to music or going for a walk calms you down, then use it to your advantage. Going a step ahead and visualizing yourself as relaxed in the future also helps. It instills a sense of confidence and over time conditions your mind to be relaxed when you think about that particular situation.
Start interacting more
The fear of the unknown can only be countered by, well, getting to know the situation first-hand. The longer we avoid situations and individuals, the more fear we will have. Start involving yourself in social situations and make it a habit to start accepting invitations to a social gatherings with friends instead of opting to stay at home. Again, it helps to imagine these situations in a positive light beforehand. This will give signals to your unconscious that this is not as bad it seems, and is in fact safe and familiar.
Shyness and anxiety come from within
Focusing more on what people around us are doing, or the way our surroundings look is one way of decreasing the tendency to focus only on yourself in a social situation. Anxious individuals have a different way looking inward, and it usually results in negative thoughts and self-image. Try to turn your focus away from yourself and towards the world around you.
Look at the positive side of life
When you can’t find a positive take on something, leave it at that. Overthinking conversations or situations is never helpful. You might be giving rise to unnecessary negative thoughts which will usually zero down to self criticism. A good exercise is to try to catch yourself whenever your thoughts start to turn negative. The eventual goal is to be able to boost your positivity in every aspect of your life.
Being able to accept that you feel awkward in social situations is one thing, it means you are accepting a problem. But what about accepting yourself? Being able to accept ourselves as we are is important and it doesn’t happen overnight. Complete self-acceptance is not just about accepting our appearance or our interactions with others; it’s about being emotionally aware and accepting of our thoughts and feelings. Situations in the outside world will look totally different when you view them from a place of positivity and self-love.
Want the change
You have to want to change to see it happen. Decide that you deserve to feel loved and part of a community. Believe that you are capable, funny, charismatic. Trust friends and family when they compliment you and say that they enjoy spending time with you. You have to decide that you want to be more open with people and leave behind your closed-off ways; this is definitely daunting when you have anxiety about social situations. Just remember that you are in control and you are choosing your own path. If you have the right attitude and determination, then you will have a healthy foundation from which to grow at your own pace.