How To Overcome Your Social Anxiety Disorder?

Do you feel nervous and anxious when you're socializing? Do you feel uncomfortable, awkward and clumsy in the company of certain people? 

Do blush easily and does the mere thought of socializing, speaking in front of a group, talking to the opposite sex, going to social events, being in the spotlight, ect.

Fill you full of fear, anxiety and feelings of nervousness?

It seems that nearly everybody, struggles and feels uncomfortable in certain social situations and events.

Our overly protective mind seems to run through a safety check and fill us full of fear and dread.

Everytime we have to face a new social situation or a social situation which we find stressful and challenging. 

But for some. There social anxiety can become so out of control it can diminish the whole quality of their life and make it very difficult for them to relax and interact socially.

All it takes is one bad or negative, social experience to affect us for years and years to come.

If you experience unpleasant bodily symptoms and sensations during social situations or events.

Such as:

  • Blushing 
  • Sweating 
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Shallow breathing
  • Tightening of the muscles
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Feelings of discomfort and fear

Then as you already probably know by now. You are suffering from social anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety disorder is linked to:

  • Insecurity 
  • Fear of being embarrassed
  • Fear of being judged
  • Fear of what people think or say
  • Feeling threatened
  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Fear of being made the center of attention put in the spotlight
  • Negative physiology

Anxiety can feel very unpleasant which can cause you to use safety tactics so you can avoid feeling anxious, being embarrassed or being made the center of attention.

The one thing that is incredibly important for anybody who suffers with social anxiety is not to make it a habit or their strategy to avoid or leave any social situations that cause them to feel anxious.

Safety tactics and strategies actually reinforce your anxiety, insecurities and fears and they strengthen the neural associations and pathways.

Safety tactics and measures are the reason why your social anxiety gets worse, another reason why your social anxiety gets worse is because you're always fighting and resisting it.

Social anxiety occurs when you link strong negative emotions like:

  • Shame
  • Embarrassment
  • Ridicule
  • Shyness
  • Fear
  • Insecurity

To your fight, flight freeze response.

How your social fears are formed

Let's say you have experienced a negative social experience where you previously felt embarrassed, shown up or maybe you felt threatened, inferior, afraid, insecure or humiliated.

Your fight, flight, freeze response would have been triggered. 

Causing the release of adrenaline in your body, your breathing would become shallow, your heartbeat would quicken, blood would be pumped to your major muscle groups and your outer extremities and your muscles would tighten.

As your fight, flight, freeze response kicks in those strong negative emotions and feelings intensify making you feel like escaping from the fearful and stressful social situation.

Once strong negative emotions become mixed up and attached to your fight, flight, freeze response. 

Neural pathways and associations will be formed in your mind and body and your emotional brain will attach that negative social situation to your fight, flight, freeze response.

This is what is known as a learned bad memory. Anytime you learn that you have to face that social situation or person/people again or a similar type of social situation.

You will start to experience anxious thoughts and feelings as your emotional brain tries to get you to avoid that social situation, person or people.

These anxious thoughts, feelings and imaginings that you have are your mind's way of trying to alert you and protect you from a perceived threat or danger, before it has a chance to happen.

The way to overcome your social anxiety, is not to avoid or leave a situation that makes you feel anxious or embarrassed.

All that does is strengthen the neural structures, associations and pathways, which fuels more negative emotions, fear and anxiety.

Often our social insecurities are linked to the beliefs we hold about ourselves.

One thing to understand is. You cannot get rid of your anxiety, force it away, think it away.

Telling your mind, not to feel anxious, feel embarrassed or trying to resist or trying to stop your anxious thoughts and feelings.

Has the exact opposite effect, to what you want.

Doesn't it seem the harder you try not to feel anxious the more anxious and tense you feel.

The way to overcome your social anxiety is to break the fight, flight, freeze response and detach the strong emotions away from your social triggers and fears.

Letting go of your anxiety-changing the feelings

Maybe your social anxiety has gotten out of control or maybe you don't feel confident enough to interact socially and do and say the things that you want.

The truth is, you cannot relax and be confident if you feel anxious all the time.

One time, it used to be really difficult for people to overcome their social anxiety and increase their self confidence.

Once you had created a social fear, it was very hard for you to overcome these unpleasant feelings. 

The reason for this was solely down to a lack of understanding and awareness of how the mind and body work.

Fortunately, these days. 

Things have moved on and now you can release a fear and change the negative beliefs behind that fear, in a matter of minutes.

All that is required is a bit of mindfulness.

1) Find somewhere quiet

Go and find somewhere where you can relax without being disturbed and just sit or lay down and focus on your breathing for a while.

Take some deep slow breaths. Breathe all the way in, then release the breath, do not forcefully, push to far out on the outbreath.

Repeat this for five or so minutes and allow think muscles to soften and relax. If any thoughts enter your mind. 

Just detach yourself from them and let them flow straight on through and away, peacefully.

Once you are feeling relaxed. Focus on one of your social fears or dreads. 

Just think about the social situation that makes you feel anxious, uncomfortable, embarrassed or nervous.

Go through one situation at a time. This is all about a process of eradicating, each social fear, one at a time.

As you imagine yourself in the situation for real. Focus on the part of your body where the feeling is at it's most powerfullest.

All fears triggers a physical feeling or sensation in the body. It could be in your stomach, your chest, your muscles or your throat.

2) Feel and observe the feelings and sensations

As you carry on imagining or thinking about the social situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. Just be aware of any tension or feelings of discomfort.

Keep focused on the feelings and sensations. Do not try and resist them or distract yourself from them. Instead be happy for them to carry on.

Observe the feelings, from a place of calm detachment. There is no need to analyse or react to these feelings, just  breathe, smile, relax and stay present as you keep thinking about the social situation.

The idea is to learn yourself, how to react calmly and detached, when you're imagining the scary social situations.

3) Accept and embrace the feelings

As you carry on with this mindfulness exercise. Learn to accept, embrace and feel the feelings, give them no resistance whatsoever.

Just acknowledge them, and let them travel through you and away.

Be happy with the feelings and will them to carry on. Feelings only persist, when you resist them, you won't accept them or you fight them and you try and get rid of them or stop them.

4) Carry on relaxing around your thoughts and feelings

As you carry on observing your fearful feelings. You might feel a bit of resistance and discomfort. Do not let this put you off.

The feelings may spread to other areas of your body. If they do, just observe with a calm detachment and carry on breathing and relaxing around your thoughts, imaginings and feelings.

Stay present and continue what you're doing, until the anxiety begins to dissolve and take its course.

How long it takes for you to learn how to dissolve and release your social anxieties will largely depend on how intense your social fears are.

Once the fear has run its course, your mind and body will return back to a state of inner peace and calm.

Once you are feeling completely relaxed. You can, if you want. Imagine yourself in that social situation, being andd feeling, cool, calm and relaxed.

Sometimes you can release a fear, very quickly. Other times it will take longer or it will require several sessions.

The aim of this exercise is to train your mind to react calmly in all those social situations where before you would react with fear.

5) Use mindfulness in those in moment, social situations

You can also use mindfulness techniques, in everyday stressful and fearful social situations.

If at anytime you notice that you're having some anxious thoughts

Do not react to them. Again, let them continue, unchallenged and practice breathing and relaxing around those thoughts.

Be happy, to have the uncomfortable feelings and anxious thoughts. Let them enter your mind, refuse to react and let them sail right on bye.

The same applies if you start to feel anxious in a specific social situation. 

Just smile, take some slow deep breaths. Relax your shoulders, release any tension. 

Then embrace and feel the feelings, whilst you detach yourself from them, and just focus on what you're doing or what others are saying and carry on working on relaxing your body, again, until the anxiety runs it course.

The key is not to fight or resist your thoughts and feelings. Just embrace them, react with calm and be happy with them and let them dissolve and fade away by themselves.

Remember. Every time you feel tense, anxious or stressed. It is an opportunity, to instantly relax.

If you fight, resist or react badly to your anxious thoughts and feelings. You will only make them worse and the feelings will carry on.

If you struggle with your thoughts and feelings they will esculate and persist. 

If you accept them and just relax into your feelings and just smile and let yourself know.

They are just thoughts and feeligs. 

"I am safe in this present moment"

And you just observe and focus on your thoughts and feelings whilst you relax yourself and let them go.

Then those anxiety provoking thoughts and feelings will dissapear in a matter of minutes or less.

Learn to pay attention to your mind.

You can give your mind a few safety messages like.

"Whatever happens, I'll be OK so the anxiety is not needed"

"I can handle it"

  • Accept
  • Observe
  • Feel
  • Let them go

There is a program called the Shyness And Social Anxiety System

That will teach you how to change the way you react, allowing you to feel more calmer and socially confident.

Changing your negative beliefs

Behind your social fears, you will have, some negative and limiting beliefs, that are driving some of your social fears.

Some typical negative beliefs, could be

  1. I am not good enough 
  2. Others are better than me
  3. People don't like me
  4. There must be something wrong with me
  5. I am not a very confident person  

Begin changing any negative or limiting beliefs to ones that will support you

  1. I am more than good enough 
  2. I accept myself for whom I am
  3. I am equal to others
  4. Many people like me
  5. I am perfectly normal and worthy
  6. I am becoming more confident
  7. I am a good communicator
  8. I am a good speaker

Confidence Trigger


Calming those anxious what if thoughts

All those what if thoughts, that rarely ever happen or they're never as bad as you had been thinking.

Are your mind performing a risk assessment.

In the case of social anxiety. There aren't any potential risks or threats, therefore there is no need to pursue or follow your negative what if thoughts.

You can quickly change the negative energy to a calm and positive energy.

By answering to those what if thoughts, with positive or reassuring statements or positive replies like.

  • "What if things go well" 
  • "What if I stay calm and relaxed"
  • "So what"

If you start to feel a bit anxious. Acknowledge how you feel, and then tell your mind, how you would like to feel, like.

" I am feeling anxious right now, how I would like to be, is peaceful and calm"

People who suffer with social anxiety, will also be bombarded by those anxious and fearful thoughts, which evoke feelings of stress and anxiety.

The secret to overcoming your social anxiety, is to learn how to manage and quickly change your state.

Everybody, has moments when they feel a bit uncomfortable. The trick is, to keep those moments of discomfort as quick and brief, as possible.

The video below, which I highly recommend you watch. Will show you a technique, that can quickly change your state, when you're having those anxious thoughts and feelings.


Altering your perceptions

You can begin to, hijack those fearful imaginings, and see yourself being, cool, calm and confident, and feel yourself, feeling calm, cool and comfortable, imagine, everything working out great. 

Imagine yourself, in that stressful situation, enjoying things and having fun. Start to look forwards, to all those, previous, stressful and challenging social situations.

When you feel anxious, it is often because you fear a negative outcome or consequence or you feel that you cannot cope with or handle the feared social situation. 

You feel anxious, when your belief systems are not in alignment, with reality and yourself and a habit of perceiving and responding. 

A belief, is a thought, that you have been thinking. It is important, to try and work on feeling different and try to soften the fearful response.

It can help, to try and chip away and change the logical belief, behind your fear or worry. If others can do it, you can do it.

Ask, yourself, what are the consequence, worse case scenario or logical belief, behind that fear. 

Then try and find a positive alternative.

Anxiety is not all in the mind

The opposite to anxiety and stress are the calm and positive emotions. 

If you focus on feeling happy and relaxed then not only will you notice your anxiety levels decrease, you will also be rewarded with many other great benefits.

Positive emotions and a positive physiology have been linked with better health, longer life, more confidence and greater well-being in many scientific studies.

Although people who suffer with social anxiety, have their own collection of social trigger fears and bad memory associations.

Anxiety is not all in the mind. 

Because of, your mind and body connection, your mind and body work as one whole system that affects each other.

Social anxiety and any other form of anxiety. Can be made worse, if your bodies basic needs and requirements are not being met.

So if you're suffering with social anxiety. Then you may need to try and identify, which of your basic needs are not being met.

Some of your body's basic requirements are

  • Adequate amount of good quality, restful sleep
  • Around twenty minutes a day, deep relaxation
  • Keeping active
  • The essential amount of vitamins and minerals 
A positive physiology is a must for anybody who wants to reduce their anxiety, feel good and boost their self confidence.

You can use your body to improve your mood, calm your state and increase your self confidence and your self esteem.

A relaxed, balanced and good aligned body can help reduce anxiety and depression.

There are four components of our fight or flight response

  • Fight or defend yourself
  • Run away or escape
  • Avoidance tactics
  • Submissive/surrender
The fight and the submissive options are also linked to our posture.

People who are posturing, as they do when they are confronting each other. 

Lift up their chin, stick out and expand their chests and they pull their shoulders back.

When you submit and surrender. You tend to slouch and shorten in stature.

Because of the mind and body connection. If you tend to slouch or you go into a stiff and rigid posture. 

Then your mind can interpret this as you're either about to have a fight or you're about to be attacked.

Both this postures are linked to insecurity and they can make you feel more anxious.

When our bodies are tense , we tend to have more tense related thoughts and responses.

If you are shy then this can affect your posture.

Often in their bid to feel more confident. Shy and anxious people try to sit and stand too tall and stiff. 

This actually makes them feel less confident and more insecure.

People who feel intimidated and insecure. Often go into a shrinking and shortened stature.

This where your head is pulled down at the back and pushed forwards. Your back becomes too curved, your neck stiffens and contracts and you tense and hunch up your shoulders.

In this startled mode posture, you can freeze, panic and feel emotionally overwhelmed.

After a while. You can habitually and automatically go into a shortened or tense posture. With certain people and social trigger situations.

Tension in the body leads to tension in the mind.

Stress will also make your anxiety much worse.

One of the best ways to reduce stress is through relaxing and breathing techniques.

You can practice anywhere so you can stay calm and release any tension


Letting go of tension

If you find that your social anxiety is causing you muscle stiffness. Then it is a good idea to start to practice, letting go and releasing any tension.

Standing and sitting comfortably, with the least amount of tension is a good place to start. Another thing that you can do. Is to exercise and keep active.

Other things that can help are. Progressive muscle relaxation, reduction techniques.

This is a whole body exercise which will involve the tensing and relaxing of your muscles. To perform this technique. You will tense, hold and then relax, each muscle groups, one at a time.

This can help you let go of any tension in your body as well as training your body to relax on command.

It will take about ten minutes to do this exercise, and the ideal time is to do it, when you're on your own, so no one can disturb you.

It is best to wear loose clothing when you are performing this exercise. The technique can be performed whilst you're sitting or lying down.

If you do perform it whilst you are sitting down. Be sure to be sitting upright, but comfortable and relaxed.

  1. Close your eyes and tighten the muscles in your forehead and face, breathe in deeply, hold the tension for a few seconds, then release the tension slowly, 9Think the word relax and do this on each muscle group), as you take a long slow breath out
  2. Then move down to your shoulders, breathe in, tense all your shoulder and neck muscles, hold and, breathe out and release the tension
  3. Next, concentrate on your arms, with your elbows bent. Breathe in and clench your fists and arm muscles. Again, hold for a few seconds. (Think the word relax) and breathe out slowly as you release the tension
  4. Next, breathe in deeply, tense your stomach muscles, hold for a few seconds and as you breathe out, release the tension
  5. Then, take a deep breath in, tense your legs and lift the back of your feet up, hold and again release the tension slowly, as you breathe out

The excellent video below will demonstrate how, to do the progressive muscle relaxation technique. 

If at any time you notice your muscles tensing, when you're talking to someone or you're in a stressful social situation.

You can discretely, breathe in deeply, tense your fist, hold for a few seconds. (Think the word relax) and then slowly release the tension as you breathe out, and repeat if necessary.

Also, be aware of your body, if you feel anxious.

  • Check your shoulders, if you are holding any tension, and slowly release it and let your neck and shoulders relax
  • Check your arms and legs for any tension, and release any tension you're holding on to
  • Check your breathing. If you are breathing rapidly or slowly, take control of your breathing, and take some slow deep breaths, making sure the out breath is longer than the in one.


Love and approve of yourself

Try not to judge yourself negatively or compare yourself to others, instead work on your weaknesses and build on your strengths.

People with social anxiety tend to feel undervalued and insecure when they are around others.

It is a human flaw to want to be approved of by others or they care a bit too much about what others think about them, we all too easily accept what others say about us to be true, or we even make things up.

However, if you're waiting for the approval of others to feel valued or better about you then you may be waiting a long time, because others are more interested with their own issues than they are about you.

If you're seeking positive feedback from others, then you're asking for trouble, because if other people are going through difficult times or they are experiencing a bad mood.

Because people think and speak with their emotions, then you cannot rely on what they say about you on any given day, so what this means is, you cannot control what people say about you, but you have total control of your own self talk.

Although you should not worry too much about what others think, it might be a better option to try not to judge people or focus all your efforts to train yourself not to care what they think, and instead try not to allow what they think to upset you.

Because you cannot control what they say or how they react, but the more you try, then the more of that side that person's character may be shown to you.

But, if you can put more effort into how you feel and getting yourself into a good feeling place, then you will find that you will see more of the good side of others and they will tend to treat you better.

Try not to get in competition with others, you cannot please others all the time, so focus more on enjoying yourself more, and worry less about others and appreciate yourself and all the good in your life more.

Far too often we are dependant on others for how we feel, when you do this then you give all our powers to everybody else.

When you decide how great, powerful, capable and good you are, and you admire and adore you, then you will, take back control of how you feel, act and what you become, and no one will be able to diminish you.

Accept yourself

Insecurity is linked to social anxiety and one of the root causes of insecurity is when you don't think that you're good enough or you don't accept and love yourself for who you are.

We would all like to have the looks and body of a model. We would all like to be super confident and outgoing.

Attractiveness is not all about having the perfect body and perfect looks. Many people with social tend to put themselves down or they are unhappy with certain aspects of themselves.

Rather than putting yourself down, start to build yourself up and once you begin to get that positive momentum going, keep it going and don't look back.

Sometimes you just have to accept yourself for who you are, and instead of focusing on your perceived weaknesses, start to focus on all the good and positive things about you, and milk them for all there worth.

Only focus and work on the things that you can change and let of or forget about all the things that you cannot change or control.

Instead of worrying about what people say or might say about you. Change the way you react to, your trigger fearful situations.

The more you give your attention to the things that you don't like about yourself or the things that make you feel bad, the worse you will feel.

Use your imagination to work for you instead of against you, imagine yourself in the situations which cause you to react with fear.

Vividly imagine yourself handling the situation calm and composed, imagine yourself, even though you're the center of attention, feeling calm and at peace and feeling safe and insecure.

Reduce the intensity of those fearful responses

The way to cure your social anxiety is to start to reduce the emotional attachment and break the link to the fight or flight physical stressful response.

There are several ways and techniques that you can apply to start to reduce the intensity of your fearful emotional associations and physical reactions.

Thoughts Field Therapy is one technique that will help you to reduce the intensity of the fear away from the situation.

All you have to do is, either.

Return to the bad memory or stressful experience in your mind, and whilst you're focused on the fearful and stressful experience you can apply this technique.

You can also use it if you find yourself worrying about a forthcoming stressful social situation or when you're in or about to face that challenging situation for real.

Focus on what it is you're scared of happening and perform the tapping technique.

The video will demonstrate the Thought Field Therapy Exercise

 

Changing the way you respond

The secret to social confidence is knowing how to manage and control your state. Everybody will feel a bit uncomfortable socially from time to time, the trick is, to know how to stop the emotional arousal from gaining too much momentum.

When you learn how to change your state quickly, then you will begin to feel more relaxed and comfortable in those previous stressful social situations.

Everything has to do with feelings and emotions, and when you learn to become the master of your feelings and emotions you will become a winner in life.

Never create a negative memory

We all make mistakes, feel embarrassed, blush, feel humiliated or show ourselves up. After this type of thing has happened, it is easy to feel sorry for ourselves.

Perhaps this has happened to you. If it does, do you dwell on it and beat yourself up, feel frustrated or vow to yourself that it must not happen to you again.

If you have blushed, felt embarrassed or ashamed. Learn to immediately let it go.

Never allow your mind to create a negative neural fearful memory, or you will create a fear of that type of situation, which will cause to worry and feel anxious about it happening again.

Do not try and hide or deny it. If you have been embarrassed, you've gone red, you've made a mistake or you have had a negative emotional experience.

Always, acknowledge it.

Say to yourself something like.

Yes, I did go red.

Then let yourself know something soothing. It is OK. I am happy with the way I handled it, it is no big deal.

Afterwards. Find somewhere quiet and either, use the Thought Field Therapy, technique to run through the memory.

Or you can, change the memory, by imaging the whole event, but this time imaging yourself feeling cool, calm and composed.

Take a look beyond the stressful situation

Anxiety is your mind projecting ahead a situation that it thinks is going to cause you harm, either physically or emotionally.

In the case of social anxiety there is not real threat that can hurt you, so the pain your mind is trying to get you to avoid is emotional pain.

The anxiety only, exist up to the point of the situation or thing that you're worried might happen, the good news is, your mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined.

If you find yourself worrying about a social event or occasion that you know that you have to attend, then there is a visualizing exercise that you can do to bring down your anxiety levels.

Imagine it is ten or more minutes after the social event and you have come through the stressful situation and your safe and secure and it was not as bad as you had been imagining.

Then imagine that you're looking back at the situation and notice how well it went, see yourself looking calm and composed and feeling great, with everything going smoothly and imagine things went just as you would have liked them to go.

If you have had any bad social experiences or you have been through a stressful and challenging social situation where you felt anxious, embarrassed or uncomfortable, then this can create a bad memory and you can attach the fight or flight response to these kind of bad memories.

Once these associations have been formed then they will fire off your fight or flight response automatically every time you have to face that situation or a similar type of social situation.

Because of these neural connections, even if you think about or learn that you have to face that social situation or person/s again, then this will activate your fight or flight response.

Below is an article that is written by Hypnosis Downloads who are the worlds largest online therapists and hypnosis experts.

If you read their article, then you will see them mention the rewind technique which is a highly effective technique that will teach you how to strip away the strong emotion that is attached to your bad social experiences.

Once you detach the emotion, the memory will become neutralized and you will stop the fight or flight response from being activated in that situation.

Once you have got this session, just go through each social situation that causes you to react with fear and anxiety and then use it after any new bad social experience.

Why hypnosis can cure social anxiety

Why do you think we have emotions? Wouldn't live be simpler without them? Do we have emotions to give middle class people something to talk about or to provide soap opera writers with script material?

Of course not. As with everything else in human makeup, emotions exist to keep us safe and alive and able to thrive.

Emotions motivate movement

Embedded in the word "emotion" is another word: "motion". Emotions are there to make us move. Either towards something or away from it.

We all have deep basic needs - for warmth, security, love and connection and, of course, food and shelter. We have needs for status, significance, attention and to feel safe in our lives. We need stimulation, to exercise our creativity to learn and produce in the world. 

Some emotions drive us toward experiences that would help meet these needs and ensure our survival. And other emotions serve to drive us away from experiences or situations which, we feel, would prevent us meeting our essential needs.

But what happens when we get directed the wrong way by our feelings?

You are pulled towards social contact by your needs, and away from it by social anxiety

The "motion" in "emotion" has us moving either towards what we feel we need or away from what we feel we don't want. 

Think lust, love, anger, greed, hunger - all feelings that motivate us towards an experience. And think about feelings that drive us away from something - fear, terror, disgust.

Hopefully, our emotions get it right and drive us toward what is good for us and away from what is bad for us. But sometimes they don't.

The social phobic both wants and doesn't want social contact. They are pulled and pushed in different directions by their feelings. 

If social contact was bad for us, it would be great to be terrified of social events because it would be life saving. 

But a socially anxious person instinctively knows they need social contact at the same time as fearing it; they are pulled and pushed at the same time by their emotions... tricky! And it gets worse.

We avoid what we fear - but also fear what we avoid

One problem is that the more you avoid something, the more the fear around it increases. It's as if your "emotional brain" draws conclusions from your behaviour:

"She's avoiding this situation all the time, so it must be genuinely dangerous. So I'll ramp up her fear of this situation even more to make sure she won't go near it."

On the other hand, people can switch off their fear around stuff they should fear simply because they have made themselves go towards it. 

I'm thinking of the old-time circus lion-tamer calmly putting his head in a lion's mouth, and of those perennial favourites, the human cannonballs, getting themselves fired from a cannon. 

Not hobbies I'd recommend. The point is that even dangerous acts like these can start to feel "normal" to your emotional brain if you voluntarily and repeatedly do them (the "emotional brain" concludes "This must be safe, else why are we doing it?").

So yes, we avoid what we fear, but we can also come to fear something just because we avoid it so much.

A number of approaches have been tried over the centuries to overcome the difficulties this presents. 

None are as successful as hypnotic therapy. Consider, for instance, what happens with "exposure therapy" and "cognitive therapy" in the context of dealing with fears like shyness and social anxiety.

Exposure therapy: A step too far?

The understanding that emotions are physical drivers away from or towards something is extensively used in exposure therapy. 

(1) This approach typically has you gradually having more and more contact with what scares you.

 So the spider phobic might on week one see a drawing of a spider, on week two see a photo of a spider, on week three, see a toy spider, on week four touch the toy spider, week five has them seeing a movie of a spider and week six an actual live spider.

This can be very effective if the person can be induced to remain calm through the gradual exposure (sometimes known as "systematic desensitisation"). (It would be easier and faster to use hypnosis and the rewind technique.)

The idea is that spiders need to start to feel a "normal" part of experience, and this is done through forcing oneself to go towards rather than away from; classic behavioural therapy, and probably what the lion-tamer did to get the nerve he needed.

Another kind of exposure therapy takes a less gradual approach and is known as "flooding". Yikes! 

This might see the spider phobic being put straight in a room full of spiders, with the idea that fully experiencing your worst fear - and surviving it - will put an end to that fear.

So does it work?

Therapy for the therapy

Yes, it can work - provided the person undergoing the therapy is taught to relax deeply. But (you knew there was a "but") I can't tell you how many clients I've had to treat to help them recover from the effects of this kind of therapy when it's gone wrong. 

These are the ones who didn't get better, the ones who couldn't get past the photo of the spider on week two, the ones who were deeply traumatised by being thrown in at the deep end of having to speak in front of a hundred people when they were still chronically shy.

There has to be, and fortunately is, another way.

The beauty of hypnosis when treating fears

Hypnosis, used sensibly, is the perfect way to expose someone in a safe and relaxed way to a situation they had been avoiding. 

As far as your emotional brain is concerned, if you have relaxed deeply and felt spontaneous at a party a few times while in hypnosis, this is a sufficiently strong indication that this situation is not dangerous, and that this kind of social event can now be "retagged" as something you can potentially go safely towards - before you've even been to an actual party. 

Someone who hasn't left the house for years can "leave their house" in hypnosis and "experience it" before they go out the door in real life. The exposure therapy is fully within their own control, in sync with a relaxed mind and body.

When they then "do it for real", it will already feel more familiar and therefore not as threatening. The previously dreaded social event may even, dare I say it, turn out to be relaxing and fun.

It's important to understand here that we are talking about more than just what a person believes.

Feelings and thoughts can be at odds

You can fully believe something is good for you and still fearfully flee from it. You can fully believe something (or someone) is bad for you but still be emotionally driven towards it (or them). 

Cognitive approaches to dealing with fears often come unstuck over this, as fears aren't driven so much by "faulty thinking" as by more primitive emotional conditioning geared towards survival. It is much easier to access, and modify, these primitive drivers through the use of hypnosis than through reasoning.

When we help someone with social phobia, it's generally obvious the phobia has gone the moment they open their eyes, because calm, disassociated hypnotic exposure to the previously feared trigger while feeling completely relaxed has transformed their response. 

They know it wasn't "real" - but nonetheless a new positive blueprint for responding with calm and being in flow when in social situations has become established in their subconscious. Being socially relaxed is the new "normal".

The new 10 steps to overcome social anxiety course, like all the ten steps courses, has a hypnotic download for each step of the way. 

This is partly because social skills can be developed and honed during hypnotic rehearsal, but also because we want people to experience hypnotic "safe" social experiences before they go into these situations for real. 

In this way the horrible away from feelings of fear can gently be replaced with the happier toward feelings of pleasure and positive expectation when it comes to socializing and meeting new people.

Notes

  1. See: Wikipedia entry: Exposure therapy
  2. See: Wikipedia entry: Flooding

Nutritional deficiency 

If you have been experiencing long periods of worry, stress and anxiety as most social anxiety sufferers do.

Then this can deplete your body of the natural vitamins and nutrients that it requires to keep your mind and body in its peak and most optimum balance and performance efficiency.

A deficiency in the key important nutrients nutrients can affect your mood and emotions including anxiety and depression.

A balanced diet of healthy foods and nutrients can help to relax you, improve your mood and help you feel less anxious. 

Consult your doctor or nutritionist to determine your nutritional needs and daily dosage requirements.

One of the most powerful nutrients that can help reduce stress and anxiety is magnesium, which is often described as the calming mineral, because of its natural power to calm you.


Other studies have shown that there is a link between moods and the B vitamin range, again if you're thinking about taking supplements, it may pay you to check with your doctor or dietician about the correct daily dosage.

Vitamin D has also been linked with being able to help with anxiety and stress.

Fear of being rejected

There may be many root causes of people's social anxiety, but one of these can be the fear of being rejected.

During early evolutionary times, because our environment was full of dangers, it was important for us humans to be a part of a group.

This is why it can be important for us to be accepted by a group, because if you were rejected from the group back then, there was a chance that you would have to face your dangerous environment all by yourself.

On top of all this, the food was not so plentiful, so if you did not work with a group or have the added protection of the group, then your chances of surviving alone, were quite slim.

This can leave you feeling insecure if you feel like you have been rejected or you don't fit in, and again, feeling as if you're not good enough can leave you feeling as if you're being rejected.


Some of the limiting beliefs that might be preventing you from overcoming your social anxiety are

  • There is something wrong with you 
  • You're not good enough 
  • You're not a confident person
  • It is a part of you and you are stuck with it for the rest of your life 
  • You do not believe that you can overcome it or you think that you don't have the ability to overcome it

If any of the above apply to you, then you need to ask yourself, are they fact or are they just a belief, and the truth is, they are beliefs and not facts, and as they are beliefs they can be changed.

The biggest thing that will stop you from overcoming your social anxiety is, playing the victim role, because when you label yourself as the victim or you are somehow different to everybody else, then you are throwing away all your true powers and capabilities.

Develop your social skills

Improving your social skills can also help with your confidence building.

If you're quiet and shy, make it a habit to join in more.

Many people who suffer with social anxiety, lack social skills, this does not mean that they are not confident, it just means that you sometimes have to force yourself through the uncomfortable barrier to grow and better your social skills.

This will require you to step outside of your comfort zone, because sometimes you have to go through it to get to the other side.

There will be times when your feelings and emotions will try to get the better of you, so again, you have to just bite the bullet and do it, despite how you feel, otherwise you will always be at the mercy of your fear.

So embrace the fear, let you know that it is not going to prevent you from saying or doing what you want, take a deep breath, relax your body and go for it.

If you want to break the silence when you're with people, practice the art of small talk.

Ask them questions, and take your attention off how your feeling and put it on what they are saying and what you're saying.

Read and learn more about many subjects so you will have plenty to say, and learn more about the interests of the people you socialize with as again this will give you something to talk about.

Sometimes you have to do more of the things that scare you, if you want to expand and grow in social confidence.

Another cause of social anxiety and social awkwardness, is feeling as if you're inferior to others or allowing others to intimidate you.

This can leave you feeling clumsy, embarrassed and uncomfortable, you may also feel like you have to please and do what they person wants you to do.

Learn to face the people and situations that you used to fear.



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