Updated: Jan 13
Shyness is a common reaction when being exposed to unfamiliar situations or new people. When you are shy, you may have feelings of apprehension or awkwardness when you are around others, and will often find it uncomfortable when you need to talk to people. When shyness becomes debilitating, and impacts heavily on your life and life choices, you may be suffering from a form of anxiety known as social anxiety disorder (SAD), or social phobia. If you find it very difficult to be involved in social situations, or situations where you will be around other people, and you are ready to live a happier life, free from anxiety, then do read on.
SAD is estimated to affect around 12% of the population at some point in their lives. People with SAD suffer in all areas of their lives; they have trouble making friends and maintaining friendships, finding life partners, finding work and building a career, and even getting through the mundane aspects of daily life. Although SAD can be seriously debilitating, and the best treatment approach involves combining Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and/or medication (such as SSRIs), the good news is, there is much that can be done through self-help to overcome social anxiety which I will share with you here.
Learning through video is more your thing? No problem. Then check out the video below.
HOW SOCIAL ANXIETY ROBBED ME OF JOY
During my preadolescence and teenage years, for about 10 years of my life, I suffered from severe low self-esteem and social anxiety. This was caused by being harshly judged with racist comments from other unkind kids over the years, being ridiculed time and again about my slightly tanner skin colour than other fair skinned children, and also due to my back-then physically abusive brother.
I slouched when I walked.
I had trouble looking people in the eye.
I was constantly insecure about my looks and my body.
I hated all that I was - my skin, my looks, my family ethnicity, my whole life basically.
I felt inferior, ugly, and useless.
Every day felt like a living hell. Quite often, I wish I could just disappear into thin air and end the pain and torture I felt inside.
Looking back, I believe I felt the way I did was because of being constantly laughed at by other cruel kids for looking "different", plus not to mention the heap loads of racist comments they loved to throw at me. Apart from that, it was also due to my back-then physically abusive brother who bruised my self esteem quite a lot (which thank God, he has turned over a new leaf now).
THE UGLY WAKE UP CALL
When I was about 18 years old, I caught myself in the mirror and thought to myself - who was that?
Boy did I look really grumpy.
I asked myself, was this how I wanted to live my life? Was this how I wanted to waste my life away? By being so sour, angry, and pitiful at life?
It was a real wake up call for me. I wanted to change. And I did.
After lots of inner reflection, learning more about self-acceptance, and how I wanted to live my life, my life changed for the better.
Once my perspective of myself changed, the way people viewed me changed.
To read more about my journey of how I learned to love and accept myself, click here.
SOCIAL ANXIETY TO SOCIAL BUTTERFLY
Recently a gentleman wrote to me, telling me that his social anxiety is slowly destroying his life, his happiness, and he wants to make a change.
If this sounds like you, then let's dive into some tips to help you conquer your social anxiety right away.
#1 SPOT AND TWEAK
if you feel there is a certain something about yourself that makes you feel uncomfortable and impacts your confidence, spot it and tweak it.
For example, I used to feel my hairstyle was not complimentary, so I changed it. I tried different hairstyles until I found one that suited me.
I felt my butt was a little flat and I was a little overweight, so I took steps to eat healthier and worked out to feel confident in my body.
Once I started feeling confident in my own body, that confidence shined through.
This applies to knowledge as well. If you feel uncertain and nervous whenever your colleagues talk to you about a certain topic, then put in the effort and time to research, read up, learn, and strengthen your knowledge. By doing so, you will be fully capable to debate and share ideas about a certain topic with total confidence anytime, anywhere.
#2 TRUTH OR LIES?
Whenever the wild devil inside your mind (hello negative self-talk!) starts to talk badly about yourself and start making you feel anxious, slow your breathing down by inhaling for 3-4 seconds and exhaling for 3-4 secs. Do this a few times until you feel your heart beat slow down.
Once your mind is in a calmer state, identity the truth from the lies. Which thoughts you’re thinking about yourself is real and true, and which are just pure poison and and utter lies?
Hold fast to the truth and let go of the lies.
#3 SHIFT THE SPOTLIGHT ONTO OTHERS
Social anxiety partly stems from worrying a little too much what others might think about you. This adds unnecessary pressure onto you, like a volcano waiting to erupt.
To release the pressure, how about shift the focus onto others? Get to know others. Their likes, dislikes, their life, job, etc. Not only will this help reduce the pressure you feel on the inside, it’ll also give you joy on the inside once you realise how much joy you are capable of giving others, simply by showing you sincerely care about them and their lives.
#4 IT'S OK NOT TO BE EVERYONE'S CUP OF TEA
This is something you have to open your eyes to realise and remember: Everyone has their own perspective of what is likeable and what is not.
Even the highly loved and respectable Oprah has her own haters. Hard to believe, but it’s true.
Realistically speaking, no one will ever be fully loved and praised by every single person in this world. It’s simply not impossible. You being you, and me being me, we will attract different clicks of people. We’re just born special and unique that way.
Not everyone will like you or get your jokes and that’s ok. There will be people who will love and treasure you, and think you are awesome (I think you're super awesome!) and that’s what really matters.
#5 OPINIONS ARE PURELY THOUGHTS NOT FACTS
Back when I was dealing with social anxiety, I thought I didn’t want others to notice me or make me the center of attention. In reality, now looking back, it’s not the case.
I wanted people to see me. I was just too damn scared what they’d think about me. Worried and fearful that I would be judged.
I realised, the more I fight opinions, the more these people believe they’ve won because they got a reaction out of me. And so they kept throwing negative comments at me. The moment I told them "thank you but no thank you for the baseless and stupid opinions", and even laughed with them. They were stupefied. They didn’t know what to do. How to react. They couldn't believe I was strong on the inside, nothing could bring me down, and I could laugh at myself.
What happened next?
They then gave up and went on to hunt for other people to bully. They no longer had a hold on me because I knew my worth and nothing or no one was gonna tell me otherwise.
Nowadays, I'm a totally different person. I sing whenever I want, dance whenever I want (Wanna see my singing and dancing skills? Watch the video above), and just be happy being myself.
Plus, I want to share this really great quote by the famous psychologist Dr. Philip C. McGraw:
You wouldn't care so much about what people think about you if you knew how little they did
LIVE TO EXPRESS AND BE HAPPY, NOT TO IMPRESS
Remember, it’s ok not to know everything and don’t ever aim to please. If you do want to please someone, please yourself. Not others.
You can live a happier life free from social anxiety.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, but you can’t there unless you open your heart to change the way you see yourself.
Once you’ve watched or read through this article, I’d love to hear from you.
How has social anxiety impacted your life and what steps did you take to overcome it? Do share your knowledge and experience in the comments below.
Share as much detail as you can. Many lovely souls come here for insight and inspiration. Your story may be just what someone else needs to have a major breakthrough.
I really hope this helps. All the best in building up your courage to stop holding yourself back from living and start believing in your own magic 😘
Thank you so much for watching, sharing, and adding your thoughts. Now let go of your fears and know that there is always a choice.
Live strong, and have courage to create a life you love because your happiness matters.
With SO much 💖,
P.S. Have a question you’d love to ask me? Do give me your Q on my page Ask Trish Anything and I'll personally get back to you with some empowering steps to help guide you through your challenges. I look forward to serve and help you towards a brighter future, a future you've always dreamt of. Do give me your Q here.
Knowing when to ask for help and guidance is not weakness. If anything, it's a strength.
P.P.S. **BOOKS I RECOMMEND TO HELP YOU CONQUER SOCIAL ANXIETY**
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