Anxiety can have a massive impact upon our overall self-esteem, perception of the world and perception of ourselves. People with anxiety, in particular social anxiety struggle not only with anxiety but deep levels of insecurity. So why is this so? Well to understand this we need to understand social anxiety. Most of us at one time or another will experience a lack of confidence in social situations, for example when meeting new people, at parties, on dates etc. The motivation for this is the fear of being judged by others, or more exactly caring about what other people think of you. I felt this very much so when I had to do class presentations. I was enveloped with fear every time I got up to do a class presentation, as I felt so very self-conscious and I really did care about what people thought of me, as you do more so when you are younger.
This intense feeling of being judged by others and caring about what others think of you is compounded further if an individual has had a long history of being rejected socially, and made to feel that they don’t belong or are not interesting enough, such as being bullied or criticised unfairly by a parent. From this people tend to formulate irrational beliefs about themselves as they are over sensitised to how people perceive them. The root of this insecurity is in how you perceive yourself.
So, if the root of the insecurity is how you perceive yourself, then by changing how you perceive yourself then you can reduce if not eliminate your insecurity. So how can we achieve this? There are a few techniques that you can employ to help reduce your inner insecurity. The first is to talk to your inner critic, challenge irrational beliefs about yourself and remind yourself of all your positive qualities. The second method is called social preparation. This is where you can think of things to say beforehand in a social situation, for example a movie that you have seen, interesting hobbies that you have or even your job. The third method is to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Avoiding social situations will just make the situation worse. So, go on a date or to a party even if you are nervous. Anxiety will naturally reduce once you get engaged with others. The fourth method is to set micro objectives. This could be finding out more about somebody that you have just met at a party, for example asking about their hobby or their job. Once you have achieved this goal it will give you a positive psychological boost. The last method which is particularly effective, is to focus the conversation with new people that you meet on other people rather than yourself. When you do this, you are putting the emphasis on other people rather than yourself. This will help you to become comfortable in social situations. At the same time, you can also observe what other people are feeling and doing, and see if there are any similarities or skills that you can learn from them.