Though social anxiety affects us all, it has more impact on some than others. And for those who strongly feel its effects, it can be difficult to build relationships and to feel that they are truly doing for themselves everything that they can. This is a difficult situation, but fortunately, there are ways through social anxiety. Keep reading for several strategies that may help you overcome social anxiety and shyness.
Tell that person you walk past every day that you like that flower in her hair or tell your friend’s bay mate down the hall that the poster hanging near his desk is actually really funny. If a thought strikes you when you’re near people, you’re not comfortable with yet, and it’s unlikely to offend anyone, share it with a smile.
Often, we can persuade ourselves that the coldness we feel from our neighbors stems from their dislike of us when in reality it is a result of unfamiliarity. These neighbors are usually more similar to us than we realize, so remember that they may feel the same inhibition you are trying to overcome. Always remember that the key is to keep it positive and authentic.
Remember that not everyone will like you, and that’s okay
Even those who are well-liked harbor resentment for being so well liked. Social success and feelings of acceptance into a group rely not only on the cultivation of social skills but also on each person’s quest to find the right people. Though there are billions of individuals in the world, there are probably only millions who would build mutually fulfilling relationships with a given individual– But that’s good news because there are millions of people out there for any given person.
It is also important to remember when meeting new people that whether you like these new people is just as important as the inverse. Additionally, those who are popular might not be to your taste. You can’t choose whether people will like you, but you can choose whether to stick it out and hope their minds will suddenly change, or to keep searching for people who will genuinely connect with you. One of the finest ways to connect with new people is to meet the friends of people you are already close with, as they will be more likely to share some of your values.
Brush up on social skills
Sometimes if we put others off, those we interact with will drift off rather than telling us about it. While this approach avoids confrontation, it is not particularly helpful. But thankfully, the modern sufferer of social anxiety has a wealth of resources at his fingertips via the Internet. Avoid macho or pickup-style dating advice, which often only serves to alienate women, and search instead for more generalized advice regarding relationship building and personal pleasantness.
These resources may illustrate, for example, that negativity tends to drain others’ energy and drive them away, while moderate positivity tends to do the opposite. Reading up on social skills, as silly as it may sound, can provide you with the tools you need to feel more secure and prepared when confronted with uncomfortable social situations.
Relationships cannot be forced (Not the good ones, anyway)
It is a common pitfall when venturing into social situations, to want everything to happen right now. The issue with this is that relationships take time. If someone walks into a social situation, layers everyone with compliments up to their eyes, and then ask for contact information, people will not trust that person. In other words, they can see through flattery. Building up connections verbally to be more than they are right away turns them off. Instead, have short conversations with a variety of people, remembering the social skills that will objectively make you more compelling, and only return to those with whom you felt a connection.
Listen more than you talk
Sometimes we forget to listen for connection because we are so busy thinking of what to say next. We panic, and this leads us to stutter, to spit out inappropriate or awkward sentiments, and to douse any connection that may have been kindling. Luckily for you, people love to talk about themselves. This means that all you have to do in a majority of situations is smile an appropriate amount, make momentary eye contact, and ask questions.
Avoid creepy questions, including questions about where someone lives, physical appearance, potential insecurities, and overly personal matters, focusing instead on topics that make your conversation partner’s eyes light up. Ask them what they do for fun, how they got into that activity if they’ve seen anything good on Netflix lately. Build from there. If you receive only one-word answers, even when asking follow-up questions, it may be time to seek a connection elsewhere.
One of the most underrated cures for feelings of being lost or without a safety net is returning to nature, according to Ayurvedic tradition, Enneagram guides for type 6, and a host of other resources. The realization that humans came from nature are surrounded by it, and will eventually return to it, helps put things into context. In order to diffuse some anxiety, take a walk, look at the trees, listen to the birds, and stop to appreciate the flowers. Doing this before approaching situations that cause anxiety can help ensure a sense of groundedness. What’s more, nature will never judge you.
Pretend to feel confident
Or in other words, fake it until you make it, as cliché as that sounds. Studies show that intentionally smiling more often can instigate greater levels of happiness, even if this order is the opposite of what we might expect. Furthermore, no one will be able to practice making social connections and overcoming the inhibitions of shyness if he purposely avoids every opportunity to do so.
Go to your friend’s party, even if you won’t know most of the people there and ask people about themselves. Smile and look people in the eye even if you would rather slump and stare at the floor. Relationships, romantic or otherwise, will not fall into your lap as you watch Netflix.