"What is your best tip for overcoming social anxiety?"
Someone asked me this question recently and I was surprised at how hard I had to think of a good answer.
I have thought, written, and spoken about social anxiety so much in recent years that it was hard for me to narrow my strategies for it down to just one best tip.
Most people who have to deal with social anxiety would probably not instantly overcome it from just one piece of advice, but I will give you what I think is the key strategy to moving in the right direction with SA:
You have to figure out a way to reduce the amount of worry have about what other people think about you.
Obviously not. This is a clear case of "easier said than done," but I do think there are some things we can do to reduce our obsession with other people's opinions of us:
1) Be committed to worrying less about things we can't control.
2) Realize that everyone is not going to like you no matter what you do.
3) Think hard about whose opinions should really matter in your life.
So there are three tips in one for overcoming social anxiety. None of these is a quick fix, but the closer you can get yourself to each one, the less power social anxiety will have over you.
Hope this helps.
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I’ve been thinking lately about who I am and why my personality is what it is.
When I was in high school, I was pretty much a robot - focused on school and sports and not much else.
I was somewhat confident, but that didn't translate into social skills. I figured the same thing would continue in college.
Then it happened...
My life would be changed forever when a motivational speaker spoke at my school at a freshman orientation event. I can still picture myself sitting in the school auditorium and listening to the talk.
The speaker said:
"There is nobody in the world who EVERYBODY likes. So why are you worrying so much about what people think of you? So my attitude is IF YOU LIKE ME, THANKS. IF YOU DON'T, HAVE A GOOD DAMN DAY.'"
In other words, be yourself and be at peace with the fact that some people will like you and some won't.
I realized that my lack of social skills were caused by an excessive concern about what people thought about me.
The logic of his statement set me free and sparked a lifelong study of social skills and eventually all things communication.
By the end of college, I was becoming a confident, hardcore never-met-a-stranger, people person. After taking numerous public speaking-heavy classes, I decided to become a high school teacher - a job that is heavy on public speaking and social skills.
I was completely transformed.
I should add this disclaimer: committing to being yourself is not a license to be a jerk all in the name of "doing you." That is not what this is about. It should be a combination of being authentically you AND trying to be a good person. When you do both of those things, you can be free to relax and feel good about who you are and how you act.
I totally bought in to what that speaker said that day, and I still do.
You Can Do It Too
If you want to improve your confidence, you might want to consider changing your mindset in the same way I did.
My attitude is that I am going to be me.
I'm going to try to be a good person.
And if you like me, thanks...
I love the study of communication and social skills and I love helping people improve their own skills. I will be answering questions and giving advice for both personal and professional situations in this blog.
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