4 (more) Tips for Social Anxiety
Four helpful mindset shifts to get you more comfortable with difficult social situations (like what to do if someone doesn't like you).
If you haven't already go ahead and read 4 Universal Truths to Ease Anxiety. It embodies the first few realizations that set me on my personal growth path, and I wrote from a place of vulnerability and deep reflection. I'd recommend it to anyone! Here are four more tips that have been really helpful for my social anxiety.
What other people think of you is none of your business
This is a hard idea to adopt but it's true! People's opinions and personal preferences are entirely their own business and no one else's. No one owes it to you to like you or to divulge their feelings towards you. I know it's an uncomfortable feeling, but if you know someone who doesn't like you or has an unsavory opinion of you, try to carry on with your life as normal. Think about it. What about your life does their opinion change? Nothing! People's perceptions of you could be a whole range of things. But you know who you truly are, and as long as you like that person, that's all that matters.
Not everyone is for you
Unfortunately, grade school conditioned us to force relationships with peers because whether you liked someone or not, you were going to have to see them every day. Thankfully, if you don't like someone you can avoid them like hell in the real world. It's just not worth the negativity or the anxiety.
But also learn to let go of the anxiety that comes with knowing someone else doesn't like you! It's simply not something that has to occupy your mind, it's not your burden to bear! There are plenty of friendships in the sea, just let the bad ones go.
There is only try or don't try
Simplify your options to "I will try" or "I won't try" when you want to achieve something. That's it. Either you're going to try to get better at social situations or you won't. Any other factors are irrelevant. If you really do want to face your social fears and try to beat your anxiety by getting better at social situations, then commit to trying. That means learning to adopt the mindset that the only failure is not trying. You must promise yourself that you'll keep trying until you've achieved your goal, and you don't feel that social anxiety bothers you anymore. Perfection is not guaranteed, the path may be long and winding, and you may come across embarrassing moments every now and then, but you'll learn to live with that too.
Learn to sit with unpleasant feelings
Your feelings are not inherently "good" or "bad." Of course, some feelings are harder to experience. Embarrassment, awkwardness, and uncertainty are understandably uncomfortable and difficult to process. But instead of turning to drugs, alcohol, isolation, or any other crutch to get through these difficult emotions, learn to simply sit with them.
The best way to go about this is to first ask yourself, "should I be feeling this way, to this magnitude?" For example, if I've really offended someone, and I feel guilty about it, I'd say that feeling is adequate. It makes sense to sit with that guilty feeling if I've also caused someone else to feel uncomfortable.
But if you suffer from anxiety, you may be prone to experiencing feelings to a magnitude that is more than the situation calls for. Remember to take it easy on yourself! At the end of the day, there's not much in life that's meant to be serious. If you've done wrong by someone, be sure to apologize. Beyond that, you can probably safely laugh it off, and say "c'est la vie."
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