You know that perk up feeling when you hear someone say your name?
No matter how loud it is or what’s going on, your name cuts through everything – and suddenly you’re hypnotized.
You try to cover up how urgent it’s become for you to hear every word of that private chat…
And you’re amazing at the whole nonchalant listening thing.
But when you finally manage to get in on the covert conversation, something terrible happens.
You hear yourself get described in a single word you know all too well.
‘Shy’ – you catch one of them say.
And you collapse a bit – wounded by such a brief summary of your personality.
The casual act you had put on to cover up your eavesdropping is gone.
That surface you were only pretending to lean on now holds you up.
And what’s so damn annoying about the whole thing is:
You really aren’t shy.
You’re clever, you carry an excellent conversation, and you’re talkative a lot of the time. Just not ALL the time.
But when your social anxiety gets bad you seem like a completely different person to everyone else…
And that’s a tough pill to swallow, isn’t it?
But maybe you don’t have to swallow that pill.
People should know better, after all.
People should know you can’t just “stop feeling anxious” once you know the worrying and over-analyzing is irrational.
And they should know that you aren’t self-absorbed… you’re just misunderstood.
They should know you have talents and gifts that most will never see because the world labeled you ‘shy’
It’s their fault and their loss for not trying to understand.
That was my own motto, at least. And that kind of belief makes you feel like retreating – waving your white flag.
And maybe you’ve felt that way before or feel that way now but it’s not time for that.
It’s time to prepare yourself and find that real gift you’ve been given.
But be cautious of the easyway…
Since 2015, of all of the articles on social anxiety, three dominated the space and gained over 900,000 social shares.
They had a title almost exactly like the title of this article and pummeled you with the insidious idea that:
“You don’t have to swallow the pill.” And they gave out placebo compliments instead.
From:(Study: Social Anxiety is Associated with Being an Empath) “[Don’t] attempt to overcome it and be more sociable”
We didn’t care the science was crap or that they were exaggerating ruthlessly. We all loved it.
We loved it because it feels good to be told your group has a “rare gift and a special talent.”
But you’re better than that, aren’t you?
You and I get social anxiety at times but it sure as hell doesn’t define us.
So when does coddling cross the line?
This article wasn’t written to tell you that you’re messed up, no good, and not special.
In fact, if you’re out looking for ways to better yourself then you’ve got a lot to be grateful for.
And included in all those things is the intelligence and guts to defy your predisposition!
You’re not going to get trapped into thinking that your social anxiety doesn’t bring unneeded crisis. And no pandering article will cripple you into not trying for more.
Sure, you’ve been around long enough to know anyone saying they cured their social anxiety using a “trick” or “in just a few short weeks” is lying, but at least that doesn’t cause you to just accept it as is.
Freedom from social anxiety is not off-limits to you:
Just don’t look to be coddled and instead look to people that will cheer for your small triumphs.
Your real gift (no exaggeration)
It’s absolute magic when you have that first victory in your journey because you see a ray of hope where there was none for miles before.
You start seeing yourself as fearless in a place that you were once paralyzed by it.
You begin to feel a kind of fulfillment that others couldn’t imagine because you did something amazingly defiant of your own physiology.
No one can take that kind of courage away from you.
This is the true gift you can find in your social anxiety.
You find personal strength through your struggle.
You also find that conquering it little by little instead of coddling yourself is one of the most thrilling things a person can do.
And it’s nothing really super-human, it’s just not easy.
How do you get started?
Skip the denial and the treatments based on someone’s personal opinion.
Instead, focus on science-based approaches that will get you the results and life you deserve.
Your First Steps Towards Recovery
Right now, before your next interaction, scribble down a list of all the situations that set off your social anxiety.
From making a phone call to someone important, to going out on a first date; this list will likely be more than just a few items so take your time.
*Don’t skip this step thinking that you already know what triggers it.*
This step is not about that, it’s about you putting them on a physical piece of paper because it will be easier for you to acknowledge and analyze these situations with an objective frame of mind.
Now that you have completed the acknowledgment process, put the situations into 4 broad categories and make your list neat.
Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4, from least problematic to most problematic.
Put a one word label for the exact emotion you feel beside each situation.
You will definitely reuse the same labels so don’t worry about that. You do this because it’s proven to decrease chaotic thoughts and increase your control over them.
For instance, if you’re worried about that important phone call, then putting the word “intimidated” next to it will make it so the thought doesn’t overwhelm you and you can prepare for it.
To prepare for “being intimidated” you can counteract that feeling with your own effortful thoughts that are within your control.
Imagining a slew of embarrassing things happening to that person before the call helps because you put them on a level with the rest of humanity. [You can picture this person trip in front of a large audience or spill a drink all over themselves and remember it is more than likely that such things have actually happened]
Ordering and labeling your list this way will make it so much easier to take on those small Level 1 tasks and you’ll see how fulfilling it can be.
Next thing you know, you’ll be halfway through Level 2 and thanking yourself for not giving up or only listening to what you wanted to hear – what is easy to hear.
You can handle these small steps…you really can.
P.S. Join over 4,000 readers & get access to my new eBook FREE until December 1st. Click here to grab your FREE download.
If you’ve seen the famous TED Talk on what NOT to do, you won’t wanna miss this book.
Tibi-Elhanany, Y. & Shamay-Tsoory, S. (2011). Social cognition in social anxiety: The first evidence for increased empathic abilities.Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 45, 98-106.
Main photo credit: Paul L Dineen