By Sofia Ponomavera
The heart might beat faster to hear the phrase social anxiety. However, feeling anxious or scared among groups of people is a common experience.
These are perfectly normal for the experiences of social anxiety. One of the first steps in building social confidence is for a person to expand their comfort zone which isn’t as easy as it sounds.
When someone with anxiety enters a room and sees other people being energetic and ecstatic, they can sometimes experience a sinking feeling. The opportunity for social interaction is right in front of them, but the barrier inside their mind is difficult to conquer, which is why it’s important to overcome this.
If a person’s comfort zone at a gathering or even a large classroom is a small one and only includes their self, there are ways for them to expand these small comforts into bigger ones.
Them and the seat next to them in a lecture hall, or another other person at a party that seems approachable, are two small comfort-zone-starters. Find a differentseat or place to stand every day, making friends one by one, until it’s a more comfortable feeling.
The next step, though short and concise, is preparation. Sometimes people will come up with cool questions ahead of time; even search “cool questions” on Google. People love being asked questions because it makes them feel approachable or happy that someone is showing interest in their thoughts.
Although preparation was shorter, making mistakes is all part of the practice step, and the term
“experience” really implies “How many mistakes have you learned from?”
It might be unsettling to make errors, but they provide the feedback that it takes to improve. For example, a person may not know how far they should sit from someone they’re interested in, but they’ll awkwardly switch seats to sit closer.
Well, this indecisiveness can be embarrassing or even noticeable, so for future references, acting casual is the way to go. If that still doesn’t work, then that person shouldn’t give up on overcoming their anxiety because other opportunities will present themself.
Being Mindful means that someone can notice the mistakes their making, and that they aren’t blaming themselves for it. With this step, a person with social anxiety should go over a situation in their head, and image how to do the situation differently. This will give useful feedback. Practicing this thinking approach will give them information to help avoid future mistakes.
But if the person is still blaming themselves for having social anxiety with a certain experience, then they should accept these emotions because it’s “OK” to have these awkward moments. It’s acceptable because these moments pass by, and everyone usually forgets whichever tiny error someone made, even if it seems like a big deal in that person’s head.
When it comes down to one’s emotions, and overcoming the racing thoughts, talking it out is one of the most beneficial steps.
If someone notices a friend’s facial expression change and is feeling insecure about it, talking through these insecurities is a good way to address their thoughts without broadcasting their emotions to the world. This also alleviates the pressure that comes with not knowing, and gives valuable pointers. People listen; and often the reply will be “oh, it’s all okay” and they hug it out.
Millions of people make social errors. There is no written code for socializing, but following these tips, and going forward can really help. Keep in mind that people feel a different level of intensity in different social situations.
Once having gained social skills, share them. There are others going through similar ordeals, and giving advice will help them expand their comfort zones too. Finding a sense of togetherness will further raise a sense of support.