Those who suffer from a social phobia disorder have an amplified mind-sight. This means they are constantly thinking about how others view them.
This causes anxiety in a variety of situations, like introducing yourself to strangers, engaging in small talk, attending parties or social gatherings, talking in front of a group, revealing your true self, making small talk, and using the washroom or eating in public.
Do you experience social phobia symptoms, such as trouble breathing, trembling, blushing, a racing heart, shaky voice, negative self-talk and feelings of insecurity, while interacting with others?
If you have a social anxiety phobia, your heightened mind-sight, not only causes you to panic, but also worry that others will notice these symptoms, which will cause you to panic even more. It is a vicious cycle.
You have created an unrealistic expectation that everyone has to like you.
Furthermore, you are prone to misinterpret that people are showing cues that they disapprove of you, when a lot of the time these cues are non-existent.
To start overcoming your social phobia anxiety, you need to tell yourself that it is impossible to be liked by everyone and it is perfectly acceptable to disagree with someone or to make mistakes in social situations.
Consistently adopting this positive self-talk is just the beginning of conquering your fear.
Learning to be Assertive
Many people who struggle with social phobia anxiety disorder attempt never to disagree with others. Can you relate to this?
Is it difficult for you to voice your own opinions and stand up for yourself?
Is it hard to tell a cashier that they haven’t given you enough change or to say no to someone even though you really want to decline?
Chances are you avoid confrontations for the same reason that you have a fear of social situations.
You are scared that you will look ridiculous, that someone won’t like you or that the panic symptoms you are experiencing will be obvious to those you are interacting with.
You probably leave these situations thinking “I should have said that…”
To overcome this shyness social phobia, you need to learn and practice assertiveness. You need to be able to say out loud what you wish you could have said.
To get comfortable with assertiveness, role-play with a friend you trust. Ask him or her to debate over a topic with you, where you each take a different stance.
This is a dress-rehearsal for actual scenarios and you will gain confidence to express your own valuable opinions.
As you interact with friends and then acquaintances in real-life situations, tell yourself ahead of time, and during conversations, that you will say what you actually mean, even if it is an opposing view.
Reaffirm that you will not apologize for disagreeing. The key is not to be emotional or aggressive, but assertive and calm.
Most people that do not have a social phobia disorder will respect you for your genuine dialogue. Debate is a healthy activity and most people will not be offended if you have a dissimilar view.
Keep telling yourself these things and do not back down. The more you expose yourself to these situations, the less anxiety it will be for the next time.
Getting to the Core of Your Fears
Another part of overcoming your social phobia disorder is through understanding your anxiety and getting to the core of your fears.
Think about each type of situation where you experience social phobia symptoms.
One scenario could be making small talk with a stranger at a party, for example. Now ask yourself, why this situation is uncomfortable.
For instance, “Making small talk with a stranger causes me to talk in a shaky voice”. Keep on asking yourself why each step bothers you.
First you might say, “He will notice I am talking in a shaky voice”. Then, you may say, “He will think I am strange or socially incompetent”.
Finally, you may conclude “He or nobody else at the party will want to talk to me and I will never be able to make new friends again.”
If you now, rationally, look at your surface fear, which was being anxious about talking in a shaky voice, it seems to be a far cry from the fear of never meeting new friends ever again.
The conscious part of your brain tells you that your core fear is irrational. It is now time to retrain your subconscious brain not to react to these irrational fears.
Start by changing your core fear beliefs by writing down positive statements, like “I have some fascinating things to say in a conversation; even if I talk in a shaky voice at first, most people will not mind”.
The next time you engage in a small talk conversation, you can also use diversion tactics, like concentrating fully on what the other person is saying, or on asking intriguing questions, rather than on your own anxious thoughts.
Diversion strategies and positive self-talk will help you relax, and ultimately make your voice less shaky.