A fear of social situations is one of the most common phobias out there. After all, who doesn’t get nervous at the thought of public speaking? But for some people, even everyday interactions can cause significant anxiety and hold them back from enjoying meaningful relationships with others.
Although it is difficult to overcome social fears, there are many things you can do to help yourself overcome this problem.
Try Doing Something Nice for Others
This may shock you, but studies have shown that one of the best ways to take your mind off of a nerve-racking social situation is to do something nice for another person. It turns out that doing something nice doesn’t just help that person—it can activate a part of your brain associated with reward and motivation and potentially leave you more at ease.
Plus, some researchers think that it can even change how you perceive social situations altogether. After all, if you surprise your neighbor by mowing their lawn, you may find your next meeting is packed with happy feelings. So, the next time you feel nervous about talking with someone, consider doing them a favor.
Replace Negative Associations
Sometimes bad social experiences can leave you reliving those memories in your head over and over again. This can leave you scared of ever being put in the same situations again.
However, if you keep on trying, you can replace those memories with a slew of positive ones. By riding that momentum, you can replace that negative train of thought and will soon find that social fear melts away.
Positive Affirmations to Help Social Fears
It’s common for someone with social fears to have a lot of negative thoughts when engaging in social situations. One simple way to counter your negative thoughts is to summon positive thoughts. If you are thinking about how awkward you will be, think about something you have going for you, such as how friendly you are. Try to think of several positive thoughts for each negative thought to give yourself confidence.
Engage in Social Situations
The only way to get really comfortable in social situations is to go out there and practice. Try to find situations where the people will be understanding. If you feel this will still be too difficult, then social skills training may be a good choice. Social skills training allows you to practice using the social skills you would use in real-world situations. You’ll also be given suggestions about what to do and say in social situations. This training has been really useful for many who aren’t ready to tackle their social fears on their own.
Some people with social fears will get the courage necessary to show up at a social event only to then avoid connecting with the people around them. This is an avoidance strategy called “partial avoidance.” A common way of manifesting this is to sit somewhere and use your phone.
This really defeats the purpose of putting yourself in social situations. You need to fully engage in the situation and experience the anxiety. Then, over time, as you continue to interact socially, the anxiety will subside.
Having social fears is a hardship that can be overcome. Once you try these strategies, you may be surprised at how quickly you stop fearing social situations and instead start to enjoy them.