Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. All of what is written here is my experience with social anxiety and my suggestions to overcome the condition. None of it is to be taken as professional advice.
Social anxiety isn’t something to be taken lightly.
Roughly 15 million Americans have Social Anxiety or Social Phobia. Most people first experience it around the age of 13.
I was one of those people. Though I was never officially diagnosed, I certainly had some mild social anxiety at two different periods in my life.
Keep in mind, having full blown social anxiety disorder vs. being a little nervous to talk to people, are two different things. People with social anxiety disorder have an intense fear of talking to people and being in most social situations. Being a little nervous by itself does not count as social phobia.
I truly believe this disorder is caused by two main experiences, or the combination of the two:
- You isolated yourself from people. And over a long period of not socializing, you lost your social skills and developed anxiety about socializing because you’re stuck in your head all day. You start overthinking and overanalyzing everything, and eventually develop this disorder. In general, if you haven’t done something in a long time, you will be unsure of yourself when it’s actually time to do that specific thing. If you never practice socializing, you will be unsure of yourself and anxious about actually talking to people.
- You were bullied, made fun of, or ridiculed by your friends, classmates, parents, etc. As a response, you believed what these people were saying was true and you developed very low self esteem. You didn’t believe that you deserved to be around people, and you developed anxiety and fear that new people would think the same as others did. You’d rather hide in your house than face the judgement of others, so you avoid social situations all together.
The first time I experienced Social Anxiety is actually pretty funny.
I was probably about 12 years old, and I developed anxiety around girls in my school. You might say that there is no way that’s social anxiety disorder, that’s normal. But I actually had physical symptoms of anxiety that people with social phobia experience. I would start sweating around girls, my heart would beat fast, and I would stumble my words together. Not only around girls that I had a crush on, but all girls in general. I was very nervous around the opposite sex in middle school and it’s pretty funny to look back on. I was so anxious that I wouldn’t initiate any conversations with women.
Once I was 14 or 15 years old, all of the sweating and stumbling of words were gone. I had to go outside of my comfort zone and actually talk to these girls to make the anxiety go away.
A few years later at 17 years old, there was a period of time where I didn’t have much social contact. It was over the summer and I had no job. I would only socialize with the friends I had maybe once every two weeks. The rest of my time was spent in my house doing nothing but Playing Video Games. The only time I would leave my house other than that was to hit the gym. When it was time for me to go out and meet people I was nervous. I developed anxiety and low self esteem. I was actually anxious about going to places like the grocery store, and I even avoided talking to my neighbors because I believe they were somehow judging me.
How Did I Beat Social Anxiety?
Not necessarily exposure therapy you get from going to an actual therapist.
But instead, exposing myself to what I feared and eventually fearing that stimulus less and less.
It may seem like it’s trivial and you might believe that there is no way that’s the “cure” to the social anxiety
Though I am not a licensed professional, I will tell you try exposure therapy before you start asking for addictive and potentially harmful anxiety medication.
Exposure Therapy works plain and simple.
Here’s a basic example,
If someone is irrationally scared of Spiders, there is only one way to get over that.
Expose them to Spiders.
You might start off by showing them a few pictures of spiders.
Then after they get more comfortable, bring a live spider into the same room as them but keep it in a container.
The next session maybe a week later, bring that spider out of the container and closer to the person.
Etc, etc. Eventually work up to the point where the patient is comfortable holding a spider in their hand.
This is called Exposure Therapy. It’s done by licensed professionals who work with patients that have a certain fear. You slowly but surely expose them to more and more of the stimulus that they fear. Overtime they will become comfortable and much less frightened by the same thing that used to scare them so much.
This is the same case with Social Anxiety.
You’ve got to expose yourself to social situations to actually overcome that fear.
You need to place yourself in uncomfortable situations to feel comfortable in those situations.
It’s not easy. That’s why there are supplements out there that can help anxiety. And help put you into those situations without that initial fear.
I’ve talked about Kratom, which can enhance your mood, lower anxiety and even help depression.
I’ve recently tried L-Theanine, which drastically reduced my anxiety and made me extremely calm.
Either supplement might work well for you.
But there’s always a chance that you don’t need any supplement at all.
Kratom or L-Theanine can give you a great boost, but they don’t solve your problems by themselves.
You are the one who can solve your problems.
If your social anxiety is serious, start off with something small. Head to the grocery store and don’t say anything to anyone but the cashier. Force yourself to say “Hey, how it’s going?” It’s not that hard. And most cashiers aren’t there to have long conversations, it’s simply being polite.
After that, slowly work yourself into other social situations. Each one should be more “anxiety provoking” than the one before.
You will feel uneasy at the beginning, but the results you get will change your life. But only if you really work hard at it.
You are the only one who can beat this.
My life wouldn’t even be close to where it is today if I still suffered from social anxiety. I wouldn’t have had the life experience to start a website like this. I wouldn’t be able to write an article about flirting with women or hitting the gym because I would’ve been too nervous to do either. I wouldn’t be able to write this post because I would’ve never beaten my anxiety.
I’m telling you this because I know social anxiety can be beaten.
Now you know how.
Expose yourself to your fear of talking to people, eventually that irrational fear will go away.
It could take a few weeks or even a few months to really overcome. If you keep pushing, it will not only be worth it, but you’ll be able to talk to anyone.