There are many reasons people begin to experience social anxiety, however nearly all of those reasons stem from the desire of the individual to avoid an emotional response that might arise from a social situation. Examples of these responses include nervousness, awkwardness, insecurity, fear, rejection, and a host of other uncomfortable feelings. If you experience this type of anxiety, you need to ask yourself: ‘Would I have this problem if it weren’t for these feelings’? Do you think that a shy person would remain shy for long in the absence of the emotional responses they feel when interacting with other people? Ironically, the best way to really resolve your discomfort associated with social anxiety is to learn how to embrace it internally. Invite, embrace, and even love that feeling of awkwardness that arises while interacting with others.
Any time you feel yourself avoiding a social situation because you feel anxious, use it as an opportunity to practice being OK with your sensations. It may seem like I am making this sound a lot easier than it really is, but once you start practicing this method you will begin to see each social situation as a challenge within yourself. For example, if you have to give a presentation at school or work, your focus won’t just be on the speech it will also be on feeling OK with the anxiety during the speech. Regardless of how your presentation goes, you will be successful because you felt those anxious sensations and were able to work through them. Remind yourself afterwards that even if you felt like you were going to mess up or lose control that you didn’t. Your fears did not come true, and you did your presentation without anyone realizing how anxious you were. As you continue to do this, social situations will become easier until your anxieties completely disappear.
Acceptance of your internal sensations and, in reality, yourself gives you the freedom to make mistakes without emotional consequences. This has profound implications for anxiety sufferers. Imagine, would you be afraid of saying something stupid or embarrassing if it didn’t matter to you what others thought? You will no longer feel the need to appear perfect to others once you are perfectly okay with yourself. Would you fear rejection if you were already so supportive and loving of yourself that no one’s negative criticism could affect you? Imagine if no one’s judgment could emotionally touch you because your sense of self-worth and internal acceptance were already so rock solid. You’d be able to easily relax around others and just be yourself. With that you’d be able to freely tell people what you think and feel, let them know who you really are, and start to make real connections. When you are OK with what is inside of you, you don’t try to hide it from others. In that mindset you will be free of social fears and it will be so much easier to act and feel authentic, and interact with ease and comfort. That is your objective.