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How to Overcome Social Anxiety

How to Cope With Social Anxiety Disorder

Can you relate to any of the following statements?

  • “I'm terrified of being judged by other people.”
  • “I avoid doing things that mean I need to talk to anyone.”
  • “I analyze everything I say in conversation, and beat myself up for saying the wrong things.”
  • “When faced with social situations, I feel physically ill or uncomfortable.”

Each of these statements suggests an underlying social anxiety disorder that goes beyond shyness . It's normal to feel nervous or self-conscious, but when these feelings continuously disrupt your life in a negative way it's time to act.

If you have social anxiety disorder, the thought of feeling comfortable in social settings might sound like a pipe dream. But, my experience counseling hundreds of people has shown that it IS possible to reduce, and eventually overcome, social anxiety. Read on for some of the most effective tips and tricks Foundations Counseling patients have used to build their toolbox of social anxiety coping skills.

Start challenging your negative thoughts

If you suffer from social anxiety, you likely have a library of negative thoughts and beliefs that strengthen your fears. To start overcoming your social phobia, challenge those thoughts each time they pop up in your mind.

Here are two examples of this strategy in action:

“People will think I'm stupid if I participate in a conversation”

Never assume what other people will think, because you can't read anyone's mind. Instead, prepare yourself to participate by thinking about interesting things to talk about. You could also set a small goal, like adding one or two new points to the conversation. Over time, you'll become more comfortable speaking up.

“I'll be so nervous during the presentation it will ruin everything at my job.”

Speaking in front of a crowd is nerve-wracking for most people, so why would being nervous or making a mistake ruin everything? Evaluate your thoughts logically, not emotionally, and watch your social anxiety lessen.

Learn how to stop catastrophizing

Catastrophizing has two components : you assume the outcome will be negative and a catastrophe. It's a type of cognitive dissonance that can quickly become damaging, because constantly worrying about the worst-case scenario is stressful and exhausting.

To combat catastrophizing, use the same technique shared above. It might seem futile, but the key is to make questioning and replacing negative thoughts a habit. Habits aren't created overnight, so don't be surprised if it takes a while to “rewire” your brain.

Seek therapy for your social anxiety

It's possible to overcome social anxiety on your own, but intense anxiety is most effectively treated with therapy , medication or a combination of both.

If you live in or near Fort Collins, Loveland or Windsor, Colorado, and would like to explore how therapy can help you feel more comfortable socially, get in touch today to schedule a free consultation with a Foundations Counseling therapist.