How to Overcome Social Anxiety as an Introvert
Growing up, I never knew or had never heard of the term introvert. I came to know of it when I joined campus. But I was always the girl in the corner.
The one who never got to talk to anyone. The one who had good ideas but could not speak them out. The one who, aside from her family, did not have a social circle. I dreaded big gatherings.
I still hate them, but not as much as I did back then.
I had that voice; it was so rare, but the chills came whenever the teacher randomly picked me to speak. Even though everyone turned to see the girl with the golden voice, in my mind, I could only hear the negative comments.
After joining campus, I became aware that not only was I an introvert, but I had suffered from social anxiety all of my childhood, teenagehood, and if I did not take the necessary steps, my adulthood.
I could not change my introverted personality, but I could overcome social anxiety.
What is Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is more than shyness. According to clinical psychologists, social anxiety is a chronic mental health disorder that causes fear and anxiety in social interactions.
There is the intense fear of being watched and judged. In turn, such people avoid everyday social interactions or situations that will bring self-consciousness or embarrassment.
After learning of the disorder and how my quality of life could depreciate if I continued in the same manner, I took the necessary steps to overcome it.
Even though social anxiety can be a chronic mental health condition, you can learn coping skills and improve your ability to interact with others.
Though it’s still a work in progress, I took steps to overcome my social anxiety.
3 Ways that Introverts Can Use to Overcome Social Anxiety.
1. Stop overthinking. Instead, adopt an action plan
As the introvert that I am, overthinking is my superpower. But also so is planning my life. I love to have a clear direction of where my life is heading. I tell you, I’m not too fond of surprises.
So, after I realized that social anxiety was taking a toll on my professional and social life, I decided enough was enough. I had to come up with a plan to attack this thing.
I am telling you I had had enough.
Ø I couldn’t get out to hang with my few friends, let alone go on corporate functions.
Ø I never dared to voice my opinions.
Ø Sweating, shivering and going blank whenever someone randomly asked me to speak.
I know some of you can relate to such scenarios, right!
I knew I was going nowhere if I kept the trend. So I wrote an action plan of how I wanted my life to unfold moving forward. And my journey to healing and self-discovery started.
2. Put your Action Plan into Practice Daily
It is not enough to write your action plan and do nothing. You have to act it out daily. For a habit to stick, you have to perform it repeatedly. It’s the same thing with an action plan. After writing down your intentions, you have to act them out daily.
The first item on my plan was to speak up whenever I had something to say. It didn’t matter if I was going to have a mental breakdown. I was going to voice my opinion. And that’s how I slowly started speaking in meetings and attending social gatherings.
I came to realize that it wasn’t that hard. The real problem lies in starting. Once you put the fear aside, everything becomes easier with time.
3. Write Down all your Anxieties
You become self-conscious when you write down a list of everything that gives you anxiety. These issues come to the top of your mind, making it easy for you to conquer them.
So whenever a situation came up that I knew will give me Goosebumps, that’s when I acted.
When I felt uncomfortable approaching someone, that’s when I gathered the courage to speak to that person.
In short, I started doing the opposite of what my mind and body were telling me.
It is easy to remain in the same spot if you’re not looking at the bigger picture. But it is also easy to change and overcome some of our greatest fears. If I had not taken the initiative to start, I would still be that girl who could not even speak in small family gatherings without sweating and stammering.
Even though it’s a process, I can say that I am not the same person I used to be years back.
The same way things are changing for me, they can also for you. But only if you take the initiative today.
Start, and you will overcome your social anxiety.