I’ve been getting a lot of requests for social anxiety coaching lately. Luckily, I am often filled with social anxiety, so it’s a good fit.
Yes, I know that coaches and counselors are supposed to be beyond the problems they help others with. And luckily, that’s a huge fallacy. Most coaches and counselors are struggling through the mixed bag of life just like everyone else. Don’t be fooled.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking lately that when they were passing out the human race membership cards, I was taking a nap. Now, I watch all the legitimate members of society and wonder what I missed and why I don’t fit in. Obviously, I belong on an island of misfits somewhere – and would be happier there because at least I’d be among peers.
That’s among the most common feedback I get. “Wow, and I thought I was the only one. I’ve always felt so alone. What a relief.”
It’s a core issue in social anxiety – the belief or feeling that you have no right to exist; that you don’t belong. So, you’d better keep yourself and your problems hidden. Then, you feel like you’re about to be discovered, exposed as an impostor and shunned at any moment. You walk through rooms of people, trying to avoid connection, and fearing every encounter.
There are lots of social anxiety management techniques. I’ve become quite an expert at them – and some of them work surprisingly well some of the time. However, I’ve never felt more comfortable socially than when I’ve let me guard down and just been myself. Most often, this is possible among people with similar struggles.
Oh – you didn’t get the human race membership card either? And now you have someone to connect with.
People with social anxiety would do well to connect with others who feel like misfits. Maybe we could create our own membership card. It would be just as legit as any membership – because it’s all made up anyway.
Read my other recent PsychCentral article on social anxiety, which is about the possibility of transforming your relationship to it, so you don’t add unnecessarily to your own struggle. It also offers a free mini-course that may give you a different and helpful perspective.
Most of all, realize you are not alone – and reach out to others who are capable of understanding what you’re going through. It’s worth the effort. It’s possible to live a full, prosperous, meaningful and rewarding life even if you have social anxiety. I am living proof.