Goodbye Social Anxiety

I know you want to say goodbye to your social anxiety. Well, I’m here to help you. What follows are techniques that social anxiety hates because they work so well. While some of the techniques are very calculated to get you through a particular event, others are more generalized.

I call the first technique ‘People Are People.’ Your fears tell you that the people you will encounter at some social event are somehow better than you. And maybe some of them do have something on you. But the liklihood is that a lot of them are much like you and some of them can’t hold a metaphorical candle to you. All people have pitfalls. We all have fat somewhere. We all sweat. And poop. And drool. We all have bad breath sometimes. And we all look dumb in the dentist’s chair with our mouths wide open. Next time you are at a social engagement, imagine that the person standing next to you is drooling. See if that evens the playing field.

O.k. You’re on your way. Almost to ‘Goodbye social anxiety.’ But first we need to look at some more techniques for fighting this disorder.

I call the next technique ‘Preparation-Your Best Defense.’ Many people are terrified that they won’t know what to say or how to respond when talking with a group of people at a social event. They worry that someone in the group will bring up politics or a recent current happening and they won’t have the slightest idea what the person is talking about. They imagine themselves standing there, clueless and mortified. But there is answer for this. It’s called preparation. For several days leading up to the event, I suggest you spend time reading the newspaper or watching the news. The reason for this is simple. The more you know, the more you will have to talk about and the more comfortable you will be in your own skin. Imagine how awesome it will feel if you can ask the group their opinions on the upcoming troop withdrawl.

The next technique is called ‘It’s All About You.’ If you don’t know what to say to someone, ask the person about herself. Talking about ourselves is everyone’s favorite subject. Internalize this and you will never have to feel socially uneasy again. Find a way to turn conversations with different folks into questions about them and you’ll soon realize that once you get things started, you can go on autodrive. The conversations will take care of themselves.

Another tool to use is ‘Believing in Yourself.’ Many people with social anxiety feel they have nothing to offer. Get rid of this thought now. We all have something to offer. Spend ten minutes writing down your strengths and your abilities. What are you really good at? Don’t say ‘nothing.’ We all have things we are good at. After you make your list, read it aloud to yourself several times. Believe what you read. Realize you have something to offer.

O.k. One more. The next technique is called ‘Everybody Loves a Compliment.’ Start your conversation with someone by saying something positive about her. “Your dress is so pretty,” or “You seem so comfortable here.” Things usually go in a pretty awesome direction from here.

One suggestion. Keep subjects neutral. A social gathering is not the place to let loose on religion or politics. At least, not if you have strong opinions and want to leave on the same two feet on which you entered. And oh, by the way, if you live in Boston, don’t go sweet on the Yankees.