When anxiety causes us distress and starts to really impact on how we are able to live our lives, then we need to implement strategies that counteract its effects.
In this article, I will explore 4 simple Rules of Engagement that will help you to beat your Social Anxiety.
4 New Rules for Engagement
Lets start with a couple of strategies to help you become more spontaneous during normal social interaction, then look at a couple of new ways to interpret and respond to issues.
1. Eye Contact
Try to maintain eye contact more during conversations. By this, I don’t mean you should enter into some kind of staring competition! Just try to keep eye contact a bit more than you usually do. This simple technique will work wonders for your confidence.
Conversations don’t always need to be about you talking about yourself. It can be so much more relaxing when you are the person asking questions and listening to others. It’s just as important to be seen as ‘interested’ as it is to be ‘interesting’. Go easy on yourself and think of this as experimenting. Have some fun. It will break up the feeling of being under pressure. Besides, people love to talk about themselves!
Here is how this strategy works. The idea is to pick subject areas that get people to talk about themselves. The most obvious ones are: Occupation, Family, Sports / recreation, Dreams. These subjects are broad enough to ask some vague questions and then follow up with more questions. Eg: Does you family live near here? Have you been watching the …….. teleseries? What ones do you like?
3. Facing Your Fears
For many people the easy course of action is to avoid fearful situations. Although this may seem to work in the short term, avoiding feared situations may also be inhibiting your emotional reactions. Over the long term, the number of situations that you fear grows as your fear becomes more general. A better strategy is to allow a gradual exposure to social situations. You can start small and build up. For example, go to a public event with a trusted friend and commit to stay for a set period of time, and then leave. Repeat this process, but this time stay a little longer. Next time you go, set a goal to have one short conversation. Challenge yourself and each time you will feel stronger and it will to reduce your social anxiety over time. To understand more about what practical steps you can take, check out my article is on this very subject. Understanding and Reducing our Fears.
4. Stop Caring (too much!)
With social anxiety, there is a battle going on inside our heads. We know that we are stressing over things that may not even be real. It’s just that we can’t stop believing it.
This strategy is not about being callous with others or shutting down our emotions. It’s about acknowledging that, in the long run, most of what we get anxious about REALLY DOESN’T MATTER. You need to train yourself to let it go, and quickly.
• Worried what someone will think of you? I DON’T CARE. That person will probably have forgotten about their interaction with you within minutes! So, stop over thinking it.
• Do something embarrassing? I DON’T CARE. You are very likely the only person who will remember and relive that embarrassing experience. Don’t believe me? Think back to something embarrassing that someone else did. Now, tell me how often you think about it?
• Need to meet a person you haven’t met before? I DON’T CARE. Look at the stranger in the eyes. Fake the confidence. Don’t think about yourself. They will forget about you as quickly as you forget about them.
The point of this strategy is to still care about yourself and your actions. BUT, by applying the I DON’T CARE attitude, you can take the edge off any tendency to obsess over your actions.
I hope that you have enjoyed this article and that you have been able to take away some practical strategies to deal with your social anxiety.