Many people get nervous and self-conscious on certain occasions such as when they need to deliver a speech or undergo a job interview. However, social anxiety is more than just occasional shyness. Those who suffer from social phobia or anxiety feel an intense fear of being scrutinized in public. They try to avoid social situations that may be unfamiliar or frightening to them. These people believe that others will think badly of them, and this disconcerting problem tends to affect their interpersonal, professional and personal life.
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However, with the right approach and interventions, overcoming social anxiety will be easier. The following are some tips that you can apply in regaining confidence and conquering their fears.
1. Try to reason with yourself and maintain concrete social goals.
If you need to present a speech or start a conversation in a social gathering, avoid pressuring yourself by setting immeasurable goals. For instance, stop telling yourself “I must say something exciting and interesting to these people”. Keep in mind that people have their own standards, so a topic that is meaningful for you may be irrelevant to others. Instead, you should make attainable goals such as speaking to a certain number of people or approaching someone whom you have never talked to in the past. With clearer and more concrete goals, you are likely to gain success in accomplishing these.
2. Be realistic when you set expectations on yourself.
Accept the fact that it is not possible to be completely free from anxiety, particularly when you have to present a report or talk to a group in a party. While minimal anxiety may be normal, the nervous feeling tends to diminish as you start talking or delivering your speech. With this in mind, learn to accept that it is inevitable to be anxious, yet you should not let the feeling hamper your ability to perform well in social situations.
3. Realize that you can always improve your social skills.
Some people worry that they have poor social skills, and they end up feeling even worse about themselves. You should remember that those who have social anxiety are no different from people who feel nervous when in front of a crowd. It is important to understand that you can handle social issues as effectively as any other person can.
4. Stop stressing yourself by constantly thinking of a past social event.
In case you think your performance in a past social gathering was a flop, then you should just let it go and try to do better next time. The problem arises when you keep on telling yourself that you could have done better instead of focusing on a present situation. It is acceptable to reflect about a social mishap, yet you should never magnify your faults or failure because this will not do you any good. Avoid beating yourself up, move on, and try not to make the same mistake in the future.
5. Do not focus too much on how you feel.
When you need to present a speech in front of a crowd, it is normal to be anxious. However, do not focus solely on how you feel because this will only fuel your anxiety and unreasonable fears. Just try to think about your purpose for speaking and your desire to impart something worthwhile to your audience. Moreover, redirect your attention to others instead of zeroing in on yourself.
6. Contradict your negative thoughts.
If you have a habit of chastising yourself frequently, then you need to contradict your debilitating inner self-talk. Each time you catch yourself being stuck on pessimistic thoughts, try to challenge these harsh and disconcerting ideas and think of positive words instead. Learn to praise yourself for a job well done, and always remember your achievements.
7. Prepare yourself for greater challenges.
Several psychologists recommend people to face their fears and challenge themselves, so they can overcome their social phobia. Instead of running away from situations or people that make you anxious, you should challenge yourself by facing these one at a time. This exposure therapy can help you become stronger and more confident about tackling different types of situations that tend to paralyze you with intense fear.
These are only a few tips that you can try if you want to stay in control and overcome social anxieties or phobia. Try to remember that there is nothing to lose by applying these techniques to get rid of your fears. In fact, you can gain tremendous rewards when you have finally conquered unrealistic fears and set yourself for greater opportunities for success in life.
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