Did you know that approximately 15 million Americans are estimated to meet the criteria for a social anxiety disorder?
Millions more suffer from related phobias that are less severe. But there are several successful strategies to, fortunately, conquer shyness and social anxiety and to build trust.
Building confidence takes work, but it can be done.
For example, many people with low confidence have a hard time looking someone in the eye in a conversation. Being able to hold steady eye contact is generally considered an act of self-confidence.
But this is one of the scariest things for the truly shy. By taking small steps and practicing eye contact with people you trust, this can be overcome.
Start small. Practice holding eye contact for 2 seconds, then increase to 4 seconds, and so on, until you feel better about it. After practicing this on a few more occasions, you'll have no problem making eye contact.
Mastering confidence comes from understanding and work. Remember that feeling when you first learned to ride a bicycle? At first, it was intimidating. But after you just went to get it and tried it, you got it, and you felt positive. Social trust works the same way.
Feeling nervous is not the issue; the issue is preventing social experiences. Get rid of fear, and nervousness can be resolved.
This includes taking part in small conversations at a checkout line and chatting at pubs, restaurants, malls, and the gym with a stranger or someone you find attractive.
You can engage in small talk and ask them open-ended questions. However, don’t forget to take a moment to observe them or your surroundings before approaching them. This is a great way to prepare yourself and give you a hint on how to strike up a conversation. It's easier to connect with other people when you can offer them a compliment first or ask for their name.
Don’t be afraid to engage in casual talk and find something you have in common with people you find interesting. Engaging with others can open up avenues to rich experiences and strengthen your connections.
Also, remember to be polite and show your enthusiasm in hearing what they have to say; most people wouldn’t mind answering a few questions from you or talking about themselves.
Join a club, an acting class, or a sports team. Select a new assignment, take on a tough job at work, or learn a new talent even if it makes you nervous. To get out of your comfort zone, you have to take that first small step and take that leap of faith.
In some aspects of your life, part of overcoming shyness is about building trust and not letting anxiety, fear of disappointment, fear of rejection, or fear of embarrassment get in your way. You face the fear of the unknown by practicing new behaviors and trying new things that are way out of your comfort zone.
Start making presentations or speeches and sharing jokes or stories at any opportunity. Try to be more talkative, articulate, and engaging in all aspects of your life. You should practice communicating more freely; at work, with colleagues, strangers, or even walking down the street.
Let your voice and thoughts be heard. If you know the answer to a question during class or a group meeting, don’t hesitate to raise your hand and say what’s on your mind or share your opinion about something related to the topic you are talking about.
Confident individuals are not worried about whether or not anyone would appreciate what they have to say. Since they want to communicate, interact, and connect with others, they speak their minds to understand and get things off their chest.
This can be achieved if you don’t hold yourself back from expressing yourself out of fear and shyness.
Being open helps. If you’re not used to this, practice doing this for those you can trust and are close to - like your mom or your best friend. Start with people already in your circle.
Open yourself and let others see the real you. Be proud of who it is that you are and celebrate your scars and flaws. The more you do so, the closer you feel to someone, and the more satisfaction and significance you get out of those relationships.
This will contribute to greater confidence in yourself and social skills as you go along.
When listening to someone, make eye contact. When you enter a room, keep your head up and greet people with a smile. Body language is a powerful form of nonverbal communication; understanding it will help improve your daily interactions.
If you're not exercising enough, start preparing a schedule today for yourself. Exercise not only increases feelings of wellbeing and lowers anxiety, but it provides the ability to build up your social skills in a comparatively non threatening atmosphere if performed in the company of others.
You may not be a strong public speaker, but there are plenty of things to be proud of in your life, like your time management skills or your innate creativity to make something out of nothing.
Remember that you're facing struggles just like everyone else and that the little successes of your life can help you feel good. You may also feel proud some days that you've made it out of the door or your ability to wake up before your alarm clock. Make room for self-love and recognize little milestones to feel better about yourself.
You should always come first, because no one else will look out for you in the manner that you will look out for yourself. So, don’t be hard on yourself if you’re having a bad day and things don’t go your way.
If you're down in the dumps, you can say positive self-love affirmations. Some people do it in front of a mirror, but any quiet place will do just fine.
Under some circumstances and emergencies, social anxiety may go out of hand. You may feel extremely cornered or disconnected. Such situations are hard, but definitely not something to bear with. There is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of; you can and should get help when you need it.
Don't wait until you're in a crisis tomorrow, or next week, or the next time. Please make an appointment to meet someone today. You deserve the attention and care only compassionate, trained personnel can give you. You can ask a close friend or family member to accompany you or fix an appointment.
If you are not sure about calling a doctor, try contacting a mental health helpline in your country. Figure out what would be less daunting for you – speaking to someone you don’t know at all or getting help from someone you know well. Find out what might work for you.
Simply take the first step.
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