Social Anxiety Disorder-Triggers-Tips And Best Treatments
Why do I have social anxiety? Can my social anxiety go away? How can I overcome it? Is there something wrong with me?
These are the types of questions that people keep asking and on this page I am going to give you some very valuable information that will help you:
- Understand why you have social anxiety
- Help to reduce it, overcome it and feel calmer and more relaxed socially by treating it at its very root source.
If you or somebody you know has social anxiety then do not despair or think that all is lost.
You maybe really suffering at the moment, but there is a lot of things that you can do starting from today.
That will help you to overcome your social anxiety and help you to feel calm, comfortable and confident in all social situations.
The first step is to have a strong faith that you can overcome it and as there are already many people who have overcome it then there is no reason why you can't too.
What triggers social anxiety and is it a mental illness
Some people think that social anxiety disorder is a mental illness that they will somehow have to live with and put up with for the rest of their lives.
Many people think that there must be something wrong with them.
This couldn't be further from the truth.
There is nothing wrong with you. Infact anxiety is a form of creative intelligence, you are just using your creative mind and intelligence in self-defeating ways.
Social anxiety is a learned behavior and a collection of fearful and negative experiences, patterns and associations that you have formed.
Here's the good new, what can be learned can be unlearned. You just haven't learned how to change your fearful responses.
Knowing the psychological, emotional and physical triggers and root causes of your social anxiety is the first step to overcoming it.
Your brain is an association and pattern matching machine; meaning it learns to associate feelings, including your fight, flight, freeze response with.
- Words, thoughts
- Pictures, sounds, smells, noise
- External stimuli
The primary job of your brain is to move you away from anything that may harm you or anything that might cause you physical or emotional pain and suffering and move you towards safety and pleasure.
This age old mechanism works well. If you are about to face a real genuine threat.
But unfortunately your brain can attach fear and emotional pain to things, people and situations that are not going to harm you, such as:
- Socializing-social triggers
- Being judged
- Making a mistake
- Talking to strangers
- Speaking in front of a group
- Being made the focus of attention
- Being looked at
Once you have attached your fight, flight, freeze response to any of these kind of social triggers.
Anytime you have to face one of your social trigger stimuli or you learn that you will have to face one.
Then your brain will use anxiety and your fight, flight, freeze response to try and get you to avoid or leave the situation.
People with social anxiety, will usually use avoidance or safety tactics, so they can avoid these intense feelings of discomfort and stress.
This is the easy option. The trouble is, it justifies and feeds your social anxiety and makes it stronger as well as pushing you further and further into isolation.
If you use safety or avoidance tactics, your brain will think.
The situation must be dangerous, or why else would you be avoiding it, dreading it or wanting to leave the situation?
Social anxiety can start off with on fear and then your fears can grow and spread into other areas.
Later we will focus on how to break your fears and anxiety.
Have I got social anxiety
Everybody worries about socialising at times and everyone gets socially anxious or uncomfortable.
So it is perfectly normal to feel a bit uncomfortable, especially in new situations or situations that you're not that familiar with.
If you suffer with persistent worry, dead, nervous anticipation, fear and panic in many if not all social situations and you find you're struggling to be yourself and relax and interact socially.
Or if you find that you constantly anticipate and imagine all those what if thoughts and scenarios.
Maybe the mere thought of having to face a social situation, person or trigger cause you to react with fear.
Then this suggest, that you may be suffering with social anxiety.
If you think you're alone, then statistics show that it is estimated that 15 million adults in America suffer with social anxiety and millions of other people are equally suffering around the world.
This article covers latest and most effective social anxiety treatments and approaches, such as:
- Relaxation techniques
- Methods to bring down your anxiety levels
- Ways to rewire your brain
- Ways to change your fearful learned behaviors.
If you have not got time to read this article, then you might want to checkout these;
Is social anxiety curable?
Everybody lacks self confidence at times and nearly everybody feels a little bit anxious, awkward and uncomfortable at certain social events or in specific social situations, at times.
This is why people drink alcohol before they go out or before they attend a big social gathering or the drink quite a lot, during social events.
Therefore; it is perfectly natural to feel a bit uncomfortable in certain situations, especially if you're facing a social situation that is new to you.
For most people, they accept it and let it go and their feelings of discomfort are minimal and short lived.
Because they don't make it a big deal, their anxiety levels soon decrease and they then let it go and they usually relax and enjoys the occasion.
However, for those who have social phobia or social anxiety. They can't stop focusing on their feelings of discomfort and they declare an inner battle with their thoughts and feelings.
Because of this, their levels of anxiety do not come down and they cannot relax and enjoy the social occasion or situation.
The difference between somebody is socially more confident and a person who suffers with social anxiety is;
The person who is socially confident, looks forward and enjoys social situations whilst the person with social anxiety dreads and worries about social situations
When you suffer with social anxiety, you can dread, worry about and fear a social situations, for days, weeks and months.
The more you worry and fear a social situation, the more you will train your mind to associate the forthcoming event as being threatening and something that you need to avoid.
When the time comes, they feel as if they are about to be attacked by a killer tiger, in those social situations.
People with social anxiety, worry about what they're going to say or whether what they say is worth saying or they worry and dread they will be embarrassed, shamed, judged or humiliated.
To answer the question, can social anxiety be cured?
Here's the great news.
With the right information, understanding and techniques, Social anxiety is treatable with the right approach and techniques.
Does this mean that you will never feel anxious or uncomfortable again or you can cure your social anxiety without much effort or learning?
That is unrealistic and not possible for anybody, because it takes time, effort and learning and nobody can have the certainty that they will never feel anxious or embarrassed again.
Your fight or flight response is part of your evolutionary, genetic and physiological makeup.
It is also not advisable, because trying to stop any fear or anxiety response, will certainly prolong the problem and makes it much much worse.
Now the good news!
If you are fully prepared to learn and do. Then not only can you reduce your fear and discomfort down to its very minimal and very short in duration.
With practice you can reach states of blissful flow, calm and inner peace that at the moment you have never really experienced or thought possible and you can keep on building your confidence levels.
Until you reach a point, where at worst. All you will feel is a small amount of very brief and mild discomfort and bit by bit as your confidence grows you will begin to relax, enjoy and look forwards to socializing.
This achievable by training your brain, not to activate your fight or flight response, when it is not necessary or appropriate and learning how to relax your body and restore those beautiful states of calm, flow and harmony.
Take A Look At Our Best Social Anxiety Cures
What triggers social anxiety?
Everybody has their own social anxiety triggers, but the real root cause of your social anxiety is it is beingfear driven.
This means the reason why you suffer with social anxiety or excessive blushing, is because you have attached your fight, flight, freeze response and strong intense emotions, to:
- All those social situations and people where you feel anxious, threatened intimidated or afraid
- You feel you want be able to cope or handle a social situation or trigger
- You feel as if there will be a consequence
- The redness and heat in your face, being put in the spotlight or the thought of having to face of being put in a situation you know might trigger a blush
The fear part of your brain, that protects you, is over protecting you or it has wrongly associated certain social situations or trigger as being dangerous.
Some of the typical emotions that have may have been linked to your fight or flight response, could be:
- Fear of being embarrassed/blushing
- Fear of making a mistake
- Fear of being judged
- Fear of being the center of attention
- Fear of people looking or staring at you
- Fear of speaking in front of a group
- Fear of not being good enough
Why you have attached your fight or flight response to specific strong and intense emotions, could have been; because at some point in your life, which could stem right back to your childhood; you had a negative experience, where you were:
- Highly embarrassed or you went bright red and you didn't like it
- You were ashamed or humiliated
- You were teased, bullied or laughed at
- You felt insecure or intimidated
- You bought into some negative beliefs about yourself
- You felt uncomfortable doing something
- You created an imagined trauma or negative memory
Whatever the original experience, somehow you have managed to associate fear and danger with, certain people, trigger or social situations.
Anytime you are in any of your fearful or potentially embarrassing situations or you learn that you will have to face any of them.
Because your brain wrongly thinks that you're in danger; those strong negative emotions will kick in, which will release adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol into your body
Your fight or flight response will then be activated, which further intensifying those powerful and intense feelings and emotions, which can cause redness in your face and physical symptoms of fear and stress in your body.
Because you're being tricked into reacting as if something really bad is about to happen, it will make you feel like deploying safety tactics or wanting to avoid or escaping from that uncomfortable situation.
The actual physical or imagined situation, is not the biggest problem, the biggest problem is, you have attached your fight or flight response to these situations and emotions.
When you attach strong emotions, such as:
Your brain learns through associations and repetition
Your brain works by learning to associate two things together to help protect you and make sense of your world.
If you suffer with social anxiety or you worry a lot.
Then it means that your amygdala's; which are the part of your brain that deal with your emotional responses and negative memories which also has control of your fight or flight response has become too over sensitive to specific social triggers.
Even though you are perfectly safe socializing your amygdala's will activate your fight, flight, freeze response to any of your social triggers and the longer you leave your social anxiety the more your social fears will grow.
You can trigger a train of anxious thoughts when you learn that you will have to face one of your social fears or triggers.
This is the same response you will have if you were being attacked by a vicious tiger or you knew you knew you were about to be exposed to a vicious tiger.
The sooner you decide to treat your social anxiety the better because the longer you remain in a state of worry, fear, stress and anxiety the more your mind will keep on creating new reasons and situations to be anxious.
The solution is to change those negative beliefs and and work on ways to dissociate your fight or flight response so you can break and close your anxiety loop and associations.
Use the power of positive emotions
Nearly everybody with anxiety thinks that the solution is to somehow defeat it, fight it, numb it out or suppress it.
That is the absolute worse possibly thing that you could ever do and it is the very thing that will cause your anxiety to persist, grow, become more intense and control you and your life.
You probably scream at yourself and think to yourself that your brain is working against you.
But this is simply not true. Your brain is trying to protect you and move you away from pain.
Here's the big problem and where all the confusion lies!
Your brain is always listening and recording, everything that you say, do, experience and think.
If you have had a negative, humiliating or embarrassing social experience, especially if you felt bad afterwards and you dwelled up on it a lot or you beat yourself up.
Then your brain will learn to associate the social situations or people as something that causes you pain or suffering.
Because your brain does not want you to experience the same emotional hurt or suffering again.
It will then try and make sure that you avoid that situation in the future and it will use the emotion that is associated with fear to try and get you to avoid or leave the situation or similar types of situations.
The opposite to fear and anxiety is the calm and positive emotions and the most powerful emotion is LOVE.
You cannot get rid of fear, what you should do is replace it with positive, calm and good feeling emotions and calm ways of responding and feeling.
You feel socially anxious because you have learned to dread, fear or dislike certain social situations or triggers.
Everytime you find yourself worrying or dreading a social situation start to replace those feelings, responses, thoughts and words of fear and worry with feelings of:
- Safe and secure
If you notice that you're having fearful or anxious thoughts and imaginings.
Step in and keep on telling yourself over and over again.
That you would love that or you would love to be in that situation.
If you learn that you have to go to a party and it is making you feel anxious. Immediately tell yourself something like.
"I would love to attend the party and I full intend to look forwards to it and I am going to enjoy it and have great fun"
If you dread the thought of being made the center or focus of attentions, rely with.
"I love being made the center of attention or I am happy to be made the center of attention"
Keep saying firmly and repeatedly until you grow stronger that that fearful voice or scared mind.
Your mind reacts to two things:
- What you tell it or think
- What you focus on or imagine
Always reply with a positive thoughts, words or imaginings.
Because love trumps over fear.
Use words like:
- I will look forwards too
- I like
- That sounds like fun
- I am getting/feel excited
- It is OK for me to feel anxious
- It is OK for me to be the center of attention
Learn to look forwards, enjoy to and love all those social situations that before you would dread, worry about and fear.
Social anxiety and emotional attachment
Wanting to come across well when were you're socializing, trying to approach somebody you would like to form a relationship with or going to a social event.
Can become much harder when you try too hard or you put to much focus on the outcome you don't want.
Because, the more desperate you are too try and impress a potential partner; the more you want to come across perfectly without embarrassing yourself, being judged, being rejected or the more you worry about making a mistake or showing yourself up.
The more anxious, tense, stressed, fearful, tongue tied and nervous you will become and the more likely things will go wrong for you.
The same applies if you're always worried or you're always imagining, how you think others are thinking about you or you're too desperate to be likes by others.
You will feel a lot better, if you can approach a new potential partner; in a similar way you would approach talking to a friend.
Without having any preconceptions about them being a potential partner or without thinking that you need to act and behave in a certain way, just try and be yourself and then see how things go.
The opposite to emotional attachment, is not caring and accepting that things might not go as you want, and be OK with that.
For example; be OK with feeling, embarrassed, feeling a bit uncomfortable, making a mistake or with the thought of things going wrong and try not assume or worry about, whether people are judging you.
Get into the habit of imagining the positive outcome that you want and how you would like to feel and be.
Always imagine how you want to be and feel and not how you don't want or how you don't want to feel.
We have learned to attach anxiety to something bad or something bad is about to happen, which equals avoidance.
Here's the thing!
Your brain does not know the difference between the feelings of excitement and anxiety.
So wipe out the word anxiety from your vocabulary and replace it with the word excitement and you will start to look forwards to the social situations where before you would dread and want to avoid.
Your brain also tries to give you what you want. When you focus on what you don't want your mind actually thinks it is what you want, even if it makes you feel fearful.
Make it a habit to tell your mind what you want, this even works in negative situations.
If you are feeling anxious because you are worried your about to blush.
Tell your mind repeatedly, silently and firmly.
"I want to blush I love it when I blush"
The same applies if you are dreading the thought of being made the focus of attention.
Again keep on telling yourself.
"I want to be made the center of attention, I love all the attention"
Also tell yourself positive statements.
"I want to feel cool, calm and at ease"
Remember it is fear that is driving your perceptions of how you think other people are judging you and not actual facts.
Can I treat social anxiety at home?
Many people are asking the question.How can I treat social anxiety at home?
Overcoming social anxiety is a process of work in progress where you get better and you make continuous and progressive improvements, through a process of learning, understanding, doing and repeating.
When you're feeling ready for it and you are armed with all the right tools and techniques.
This will mean, you will need to face some of those stressful and challenging situations, so you can grow and teach your mind that the social situations that are causing you to react with are not threatening.
The opposite to anxiety is calm and balanced and this is what your main focus of attention and action steps should be geared around.
Your brain learns through a process of doing, learning and repeating, and it uses a mechanism of emotional associations and learned behavioral patterns and responses.
In the case of fear and anxiety. If you have had a negative emotional social experience, your mind will use your past experiences as a gauge to how you should react.
And it will do those everytime there is a remote possibility of you being in a social situation, which has previously made you feel embarrassed, humiliated or shamed.
This means, if you're about to face the same or a similar type of negative social situation or experience, again.
Your mind will try and make sense of what might happen or what is happening and it will use the emotional response that is associated with fear to grab your attention.
To sum up what is happening to you is; you're getting a fearful response in a social situation where you should feel calm, safe and secure.
If you have a faulty emotional responses that is causing you suffering, for no genuine real reason.
Then those patterns, associations and responses need reducing, changing and reversing.
There is a lot that you can do at home to help you relax and rewire your brain to replace those feelings, reactions and associations of fear, with feelings of calm.
- Self hypnosis for social anxiety and blushing
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Often a combination of all of these can really help you.
Symptoms of social anxiety
Anxiety is not just a mental and emotional condition and every time you start to feel anxious, it will be immediately followed by a chemical and physical symptom or response.
- Pounding heartbeat
- Shallow breathing
- Tightening of the muscles
- Butterflies in your stomach
- Feelings of discomfort and fear
If you suffer with social anxiety, then this suggests, that there are somethings that you are doing wrong and there are somethings that you should be doing differently.
Anxiety is a message coming from your inner self that is trying to tell you. That there is a genuine threat that you need to avoid or escape from or there is somethings that you need to be doing differently.
In the case of social anxiety, there is no real threat or danger, therefore; the option that is left, means that you need to start doing things differently.
The more you begin to understand yourself and learn the reasons why, you feel socially anxious or scared, the more you will begin to start to free yourself of it.
Otherwise, if you carry on doing nothing, then the chances are, you will continue to suffer with your social anxiety, and it is highly likely that your anxiety, will get worse.
When people have social anxiety or low self confidence and self esteem. They will often try and isolate themselves from other people, they will use safety tactics or avoidance tactics or they will drink alcohol to help them to relax and socialize.
One of the first steps along your journey to recovery, is to:
- Accept that you have a problem that you need to address
- Have the faith and belief that you can overcome your social anxiety
- Accept that you need help or advice, even if you want to treat yourself
- Be willing to learn and put into practice what you have learned
There is no quick overnight fix, for your social anxiety, but there is a cure and long term positive outcome, if you're prepared to learn and put in the time and effort, required.
To overcome your social anxiety, it is advisable to create a plan, routine and strategy, that you adhere to.
Doing nothing, is a not a very good strategy.
This requires making lifestyle changes, rewiring your brain and creating new positive habits and perceptions.
Some of the things that can help you are:
- Relaxing deeply, using techniques like self hypnosis and meditation can really help
- Movement and activity
- Eating a good healthy diet
- Positive mindset
- Posture and physiology
- Rewiring your brain
- Improving your self confidence and increasing your self esteem
There is always a better way of perceiving yourself, a social situation and other people and there is always a better way to respond when you feel anxious and uncomfortable.
When we are feeling relaxed and at peace, our life force free flowing energy travels around our body, freely and we feel good/
Anxiety starts off with a change of the free flowing energy that travels around you body, which transmits into unpleasant physical feelings and sensations.
Because nobody likes the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that are associated with fear and anxiety.
They try to suppress, battle with them or defeat them, which justs continues the cycle and patterns of feelings and responses.
The important thing to understand is; once an anxious thought or feeling as been activated, you can not deactivated it.
Although you should go at a pace that suits you and is right for you, Because sometimes it's better to work on one situation at a time, rather than just throw yourself straight into really challenging social situations.
If you keep using avoidance or safety tactics, to try and reduce your feelings of anxiety, all you will do is; you will reinforce the anxiety and make it justified.
Having the best overcoming social anxiety tools, information and techniques, at your disposal, will be of great help to you, when you start to face, uncomfortable social situations.
Your goal, should be to work on processing and detaching your fight or flight response, from your fight or flight response and all the thoughts, imagings, triggers and all those intense negative emotions.
Instead of battling with your mind and body. It is a good idea to learn how to manage your anxious thoughts and learn how to process and change your emotional responses.
See, article on how to manage your anxious thoughts.
Learning how to process your feelings and emotions, takes time and practice, but if you persevere, things will get better and better and you anxiety levels will start to come down.
Everytime you begin to feel anxious or uncomfortable, offers you a chance to do things differently.
At the moment, you're probably:
- Battling with your feelings and emotions
- You're stuck in a worried, anxious and nervous state of anticipation, dread and fear
- You've been tricked into acting as if you're in real danger in the absence of danger
Processing your emotions
If people were taught how to manage and process their feelings and emotions, life would be so much better for millions of people around the world.
The trouble is, most people are taught to either try and suppress their feelings and emotions or they are not taught how to process them and release them quickly.
Which causes weeks, months, years and even a lifetime of mental and emotional suffering, worry, anxiety and stress.
Yet, with a bit of understanding and the right techniques, you can reduce those prolonged periods of worry, anxiety and stress, to a few brief minutes of minimal discomfort.
The good news is, you have the power of choice and you have the choice to change the way you think and respond.
Everytime you feel anxious, start to recognise that it is just thoughts and feelings and thoughts and feelings cannot ever harm you; neither can words or what other people say or think.
As we've already mentioned, when you first begin to feel uncomfortable, you want to change your state and turn back to a relaxed and comfortable state as quickly as possible.
Everytime you feel anxious or you go red, it presents you with a chance to do things differently this time and an opportunity to relax and let it go.
Things that you can do differently are:
- Start to accept and be OK with feeling a bit uncomfortable
- Always allow your mind and body to freely experience any anxious thoughts, feelings and imaginings, without any reaction or resistance, so instead of panicking or going bright red
- Observe your mind and feelings, whether you feeling anxious or turning red, relax into it, relax your shoulder and body and let it happen, notice where they are in your body and allow those uncomfortable to continue or travel through your body and away, smile and take a few deep breaths
When you're faced with a stressful situation or event or you're having uncomfortable thoughts and imagings.
How often, do you say to yourself:
- It sounds like fun
- I will look forwards to that
- I am excited about the thought
- I am going to have a great time
Changing your negative beliefs
Behind your social fears, you will have, some negative and limiting beliefs, that are driving some of your social fears.
Some typical negative beliefs, could be
- I am not good enough
- Others are better than me
- People don't like me
- There must be something wrong with me
- I am not a very confident person
Some of other misleading and untrue limiting beliefs that might be preventing you from overcoming your social anxiety, which need changing to a positive statement, are:
- There is something wrong with you
- You're not a confident person
- It is a part of you and you are stuck with it for the rest of your life
- You do not believe that you can overcome it or you think that you don't have the ability to overcome it
If any of the above apply to you, then you need to ask yourself, are they fact or are they just a belief, and the truth is, they are beliefs and not facts, and as they are beliefs they can be changed.
Begin changing any negative or limiting beliefs to ones that will support you
- I am more than good enough
- I unconditionally love and accept myself for whom I am
- I am equal to others
- Many people like me
- I am perfectly normal and worthy
- I am becoming more confident
- I am a good communicator
- I am a good speaker
Techniques to help you relax and reprogram your mind
The antidote to fear is calm and relaxed and the more you can relax and bring down the emotional intensity, the less anxious and stressed you will feel.
CBT, emotional freedom techniques, the Alexander Technique, mindfulness, belly breathing and other relaxing techniques, used alongside professional medical treatments, can be very useful in your quest to overcome your social anxiety.
Trying to control your anxiety or breathing incorrectly and forcefully, whilst your feeling anxious, can make it worse.
Therefore, it is a good idea, to breathe naturally or rhythmically and instead of trying to control your rising anxiety, is too embrace it, experience it and let it happen.
Learning deep belly breathing techniques, especially before you have to face a stressful social situation or on the onset of anxiety, can help to calm you and teach your brain to associate the forthcoming event as being safe.
Because when we get anxious, fearful or stressed our body tenses, our face frowns and our breathing becomes more shallow.
Deep breathing techniques, when performed right, can be a great addition and part of your daily relaxing habits or mediation techniques, to help keep you calm and relaxed.
Smiling, eve when you start to feel anxious, is a good way of indicating to your mind, that all is well and you are safe.
Below is a video of a deep belly breathing exercise that can help to relax your whole body and fill it full of oxygen.
Try and keep more externally focused
One of the best ways to feel less anxious is not to focus on feeling anxious, because anxiety can become a self fulfilling prophecy where you expect and wait to feel anxious, so you do.
Anxiety is just a state of mind and body, so the quicker you can change your state the better.
Focusing on your anxiety in any negative way or trying to suppress or defeat your anxiety, is what feeds it, fuels it and prolongs it.
This is why, if you feel anxious, it is best to just let it happen and let it pass by as quickly as possible or do something to distract yourself, you could simply smile and hum or sing a happy tune silently in your head. .
The human brain, is always focusing on something, so don't suppress your anxiety, just focus on relaxing or try and focus on something more positive and worthwhile.
Shy and social anxious people tend to spend more of their time, stuck in their head, living and reacting too, their minds and imaginations perceptions of events, rather than externally focused.
This can cause them to focus too much on their anxiety or they become to trusting on their imaginations version of what might happen to them.
People who suffer with social anxiety, tend to either hold back on what they want to say or if they say it, they say it hurriedly and quickly, to get it over and done with.
If you find yourself speaking to quiet or to fast. Practice, deliberately talking a bit slower and more controlled..
Change those what if thoughts and scenarios
One of the biggest mistakes that so many people make with social anxiety make is; they leave their what if thoughts and imaginations unanswered.
When you feel anxious or your having those anxiety provoking what if thoughts-it is a message coming from your subconscious mind which kind of is like your mind doing a mini risk assessment.
The only flaw is, there is no real danger which means your fight or flight responses is being activated in the absence of any genuine threat.
Here's the thing; even though you logically know that you're in no real danger; your subconscious mind which is the part of your brain that controls your fear responses, has no idea that there are no real threats.
If you leave those what if thoughts unanswered-because your mind does like uncertainty, it will create a vicious loop and cycle of fear and stress that will carry on until the feared social situation has passed.
This can cause you endless anxiety, worry and stress, yet once you know what to do, then you can quickly process those strong emotions and let them pass.
Next time you're creating those what if imaginings and your reacting with fear; just pause for a moment, without engaging, following or reacting to your mind.
Then just take a look at the sounds and images in your mind and let them run freely without offering them any resistance, then as the feelings subside take over your imagination and finish it off with a positive ending.
Or you can turn the pictures that are playing in your mind white and then imagine yourself handling the same situation feeling cool, calm and comfortable.
Or imagine yourself enjoying the situation that is making you feel anxious, imagine yourself having really fun and enjoyment then intensify those positive emotions, by telling yourself how great you feel and good it feels to be enjoying the social situation.
Another thing that you can do when you're mind is presenting you with those what if risk assessments; let's say that you're worried about having all the attention turned onto you.
Tell yourself something like;
"I am happy to be made the center of attention" or "it's OK for me to be the center of attention"
The idea is to change all those strong fearful responses and associations with positive and calm feelings, associations and responses.
If you have any what if thoughts, quickly defuse them and turn them around to a positive emotion.
An example being; if you're having thoughts like "what if I blush" immediately respond with "so what, I could care less"
If you worry about blushing or going red, if you feel you're about to blush, do not resist it, instead let it happen, just smile, relax your shoulders, take some slow deep breaths, but don't force them and allow yourself to blush.
You can also do the opposite and try and make yourself blush or go red or tell yourself silently that "I want to blush"
Why people cannot overcome their anxiety is because they try and fight it and control it, instead of allowing it to happen and focusing on relaxing.
Don't fight or resist your bodies feelings and responses, go with them and let them happen, and those feelings will quickly subside.
Below is a very good video that will show you a simple technique that you can use to neutralize those persistent anxiety provoking, negative thoughts and emotions.
Poor or tense postures, such as tension in the body can make you feel less confident and more anxious and insecure.
Teaching yourself how to sit and stand with the least amount of tension can increase your confidence, improve your charisma and make you feel happier.
The feelings that you're looking for are calm, positive and free flowing energy, you cannot be and feel confident and calm if your body is tense or stressed, because they are completely opposite states.
Do everything that you can to release any tension and reduce your stress.
Learning progressive muscle relaxation techniques as demonstrated in the video below, can help you to relax and release any tension.
Thought Field Therapy is a fantastic, quick and fantastic technique that can free your from negative emotions, anxiety and fear and bring down your levels of anxiety.
All you have to do, is tune into the memory, imagination, situation, fear or worry and then perform this simple tapping exercise as shown in the excellent video below.
Just tune into the exact social situations where you have felt anxious, embarrassed or fearful and imagine that you're in those stressful and fearful sensations and perform this very effective tapping routine or think about what it is that is making you fearful.
The more discomfort that you can experience whilst tuning into and thinking about those fearful social situations the better.
The video below will show you how to perform the tapping exercise.
Take a look beyond the stressful situation
Anxiety is your mind projecting ahead a situation that it thinks is going to cause you harm, either physically or emotionally.
In the case of social anxiety there is not real threat that can hurt you, so the pain your mind is trying to get you to avoid is emotional pain.
The anxiety only, exist up to the point of the situation or thing that you're worried might happen, the good news is, your mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined.
If you find yourself worrying about a social event or occasion that you know that you have to attend, then there is a visualization exercise that you can do to bring down your anxiety levels.
Imagine it is ten or more minutes after the social event and you have come through the stressful situation and your safe and secure and it was not as bad as you had been imagining.
Then imagine that you're looking back at the situation and notice how well it went, see yourself looking calm and composed and feeling great, with everything going smoothly and imagine things went just as you would have liked them to go.
Rewiring your brain to feel more socially confident
The latest scientific research on neural plasticity, has discovered that the brain is plastic, which means that you are capable of rewiring your brain.
This is good news for people who suffer with social anxiety, especially if you feel anxious in certain social situations where you're not really used to and you feel as if you could do with a bit more confidence, such as:
- Family gatherings
- First dates
Techniques like self hypnosis or visualization are ways that can help you to rewire your brain so you feel more comfortable and confident in these types of social situations; as they can rapidly increase the time it takes to rewire your brain.
You can either do this yourself or you can use the help of a professional hypnotherapist to help you to build your self confidence.
To make your visualization more powerful. Imagine yourself in those stressful or challenging social situations as if you're already confident and as if you already feel cool, calm and comfortable.
Then focus on how good it feels to feel calm, cool and confident in those situations.
To make it even more effective. Go to Youtube and load up a relaxing music audio and then play it whilst you do your guided visualization, and keep doing it until you start to feel better in those social situations.
Self hypnosis, is even more powerful when you have the assistance of a professional.
(See article below)
Why hypnosis can cure social anxiety
Why do you think we have emotions? Wouldn't live be simpler without them? Do we have emotions to give middle class people something to talk about or to provide soap opera writers with script material?
Of course not. As with everything else in human makeup, emotions exist to keep us safe and alive and able to thrive.
Emotions motivate movement
Embedded in the word "emotion" is another word: "motion". Emotions are there to make us move. Either towards something or away from it.
We all have deep basic needs - for warmth, security, love and connection and, of course, food and shelter. We have needs for status, significance, attention and to feel safe in our lives. We need stimulation, to exercise our creativity to learn and produce in the world.
Some emotions drive us toward experiences that would help meet these needs and ensure our survival. And other emotions serve to drive us away from experiences or situations which, we feel, would prevent us meeting our essential needs.
But what happens when we get directed the wrong way by our feelings?
You are pulled towards social contact by your needs, and away from it by social anxiety
The "motion" in "emotion" has us moving either towards what we feel we need or away from what we feel we don't want.
Think lust, love, anger, greed, hunger - all feelings that motivate us towards an experience. And think about feelings that drive us away from something - fear, terror, disgust.
Hopefully, our emotions get it right and drive us toward what is good for us and away from what is bad for us. But sometimes they don't.
The social phobic both wants and doesn't want social contact. They are pulled and pushed in different directions by their feelings.
If social contact was bad for us, it would be great to be terrified of social events because it would be life saving.
But a socially anxious person instinctively knows they need social contact at the same time as fearing it; they are pulled and pushed at the same time by their emotions... tricky! And it gets worse.
We avoid what we fear - but also fear what we avoid
One problem is that the more you avoid something, the more the fear around it increases. It's as if your "emotional brain" draws conclusions from your behaviour:
"She's avoiding this situation all the time, so it must be genuinely dangerous. So I'll ramp up her fear of this situation even more to make sure she won't go near it."
On the other hand, people can switch off their fear around stuff they should fear simply because they have made themselves go towards it.
I'm thinking of the old-time circus lion-tamer calmly putting his head in a lion's mouth, and of those perennial favourites, the human cannonballs, getting themselves fired from a cannon.
Not hobbies I'd recommend. The point is that even dangerous acts like these can start to feel "normal" to your emotional brain if you voluntarily and repeatedly do them (the "emotional brain" concludes "This must be safe, else why are we doing it?").
So yes, we avoid what we fear, but we can also come to fear something just because we avoid it so much.
A number of approaches have been tried over the centuries to overcome the difficulties this presents.
None are as successful as hypnotic therapy. Consider, for instance, what happens with "exposure therapy" and "cognitive therapy" in the context of dealing with fears like shyness and social anxiety.
Exposure therapy: A step too far?
The understanding that emotions are physical drivers away from or towards something is extensively used in exposure therapy.
(1) This approach typically has you gradually having more and more contact with what scares you.
So the spider phobic might on week one see a drawing of a spider, on week two see a photo of a spider, on week three, see a toy spider, on week four touch the toy spider, week five has them seeing a movie of a spider and week six an actual live spider.
This can be very effective if the person can be induced to remain calm through the gradual exposure (sometimes known as "systematic desensitisation").
(It would be easier and faster to use hypnosis and the rewind technique.)
The idea is that spiders need to start to feel a "normal" part of experience, and this is done through forcing oneself to go towards rather than away from; classic behavioural therapy, and probably what the lion-tamer did to get the nerve he needed.
Another kind of exposure therapy takes a less gradual approach and is known as "flooding". Yikes!
This might see the spider phobic being put straight in a room full of spiders, with the idea that fully experiencing your worst fear - and surviving it - will put an end to that fear.
So does it work?
Therapy for the therapy
Yes, it can work - provided the person undergoing the therapy is taught to relax deeply. But (you knew there was a "but") I can't tell you how many clients I've had to treat to help them recover from the effects of this kind of therapy when it's gone wrong.
These are the ones who didn't get better, the ones who couldn't get past the photo of the spider on week two, the ones who were deeply traumatised by being thrown in at the deep end of having to speak in front of a hundred people when they were still chronically shy.
There has to be, and fortunately is, another way.
The beauty of hypnosis when treating fears
Hypnosis, used sensibly, is the perfect way to expose someone in a safe and relaxed way to a situation they had been avoiding.
As far as your emotional brain is concerned, if you have relaxed deeply and felt spontaneous at a party a few times while in hypnosis, this is a sufficiently strong indication that this situation is not dangerous, and that this kind of social event can now be "retagged" as something you can potentially go safely towards - before you've even been to an actual party.
Someone who hasn't left the house for years can "leave their house" in hypnosis and "experience it" before they go out the door in real life. The exposure therapy is fully within their own control, in sync with a relaxed mind and body.
When they then "do it for real", it will already feel more familiar and therefore not as threatening. The previously dreaded social event may even, dare I say it, turn out to be relaxing and fun.
It's important to understand here that we are talking about more than just what a person believes.
Feelings and thoughts can be at odds
You can fully believe something is good for you and still fearfully flee from it. You can fully believe something (or someone) is bad for you but still be emotionally driven towards it (or them).
Cognitive approaches to dealing with fears often come unstuck over this, as fears aren't driven so much by "faulty thinking" as by more primitive emotional conditioning geared towards survival. It is much easier to access, and modify, these primitive drivers through the use of hypnosis than through reasoning.
When we help someone with social phobia, it's generally obvious the phobia has gone the moment they open their eyes, because calm, disassociated hypnotic exposure to the previously feared trigger while feeling completely relaxed has transformed their response.
They know it wasn't "real" - but nonetheless a new positive blueprint for responding with calm and being in flow when in social situations has become established in their subconscious. Being socially relaxed is the new "normal".
The new 10 steps to overcome social anxiety course, like all the ten steps courses, has a hypnotic download for each step of the way.
This is partly because social skills can be developed and honed during hypnotic rehearsal, but also because we want people to experience hypnotic "safe" social experiences before they go into these situations for real.
In this way the horrible away from feelings of fear can gently be replaced with the happier toward feelings of pleasure and positive expectation when it comes to socializing and meeting new people.
Looking after yourself
It is important to feel those good and calm feelings and emotions. To treat social anxiety or any other form of anxiety it is important to try and develop a positive psychology as well as making sure that you take great care of your body.
Eating a healthy and well balanced diet, so you get the daily requirement of essential vitamins and minerals is important to help you feel good.
All of daily recommended required vitamins and minerals are important, especially magnesium, which has been described as the relaxing mineral.
The B vitamins have been linked to moods and it is believed that iron is important for good emotional health.
We can also feel more anxious if we are dehydrated.
Fear of being rejected
There may be many root causes of people's social anxiety, but one of these can be the fear of being rejected.
During early evolutionary times, because our environment was full of dangers, it was important for us humans to be a part of a group.
This is why it can be important for us to be accepted by a group, because if you were rejected from the group back then, there was a chance that you would have to face your dangerous environment all by yourself.
On top of all this, the food was not so plentiful, so if you did not work with a group or have the added protection of the group, then your chances of surviving alone, were quite slim.
This can leave you feeling insecure if you feel like you have been rejected or you don't fit in, and again, feeling as if you're not good enough can leave you feeling as if you're being rejected.
If any of the above apply to you, then you need to ask yourself, are they fact or are they just a belief, and the truth is, they are beliefs and not facts, and as they are beliefs they can be changed.
Develop your social skills
Improving your social skills can also help with your confidence building.
If you're quiet and shy, make it a habit to join in more.
Many people who suffer with social anxiety, lack social skills, this does not mean that they are not confident, it just means that you sometimes have to force yourself through the uncomfortable barrier to grow and better your social skills.
This will require you to step outside of your comfort zone, because sometimes you have to go through it to get to the other side.
There will be times when your feelings and emotions will try to get the better of you, so again, you have to just bite the bullet and do it, despite how you feel, otherwise you will always be at the mercy of your fear.
So embrace the fear, let you know that it is not going to prevent you from saying or doing what you want, take a deep breath, relax your body and go for it.
If you want to break the silence when you're with people, practice the art of small talk.
Ask them questions, and take your attention off how your feeling and put it on what they are saying and what you're saying.
Read and learn more about many subjects so you will have plenty to say, and learn more about the interests of the people you socialize with as again this will give you something to talk about.
Sometimes you have to do more of the things that scare you, if you want to expand and grow in social confidence.
Another cause of social anxiety and social awkwardness, is feeling as if you're inferior to others or allowing others to intimidate you.
This can leave you feeling clumsy, embarrassed and uncomfortable, you may also feel like you have to please and do what they person wants you to do.
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