Social anxiety, shyness, and overall fear of talking to others is a real and scary thing some of us face, and if you are reading this you will probably be able to relate throughout this entire post.
I can completely relate to the feeling you get inside just at the simple idea that you might have to talk to someone. Or how about that feeling you get when you are approached by someone you don’t know or aren’t comfortable around.
It sucks, I know. It can damper your school, work, and even home life if you have a serious case of social anxiety. Thankfully, I’ve been there, done that, and still am. But, I’ve collected 24 actionable ways that will help you overcome shyness and help you slowly but surely help you stop being shy. First, let’s see if you even suffer from a social phobia.
Major Symptoms of Social Anxiety
- Wanting to retreat when faced with social situations
- A “strange feeling” within when confronted with social situations or even a phone call
- Avoidance of strangers and people you aren’t fully 100% comfortable with
- Sweating, increased heart rate, or franticness while facing social confrontations
- It can all vary on the person, so much more symptoms are possible!
If you suffer from any of these symptoms, you may be facing an uphill battle of a social phobia. No need to fear though, I’ve put together 24 actionable ways to overcome social anxiety and how to face it straight on. Here is the first one to get you started:
1. Cure social anxiety by seeking out interaction
Although seeking out people and talking to them is probably the least thing you want to do, by seeking out others before they seek you out is a great way to be in more control of a conversation.
By seeking someone out first you are setting the topic, the sense of urgency to get the heck out of there, and even the vibes you give off. You will be able to mentally prepare yourself on what to say, how to say it, and how to close.
Where-as if you wait for people to come to you to deal with your shyness, it will lead to not being prepared and typically just a rush of social anxiety filling your body. With that said I must warn you, start approaching others before they approach you!
2. Gain confidence by going out with friends
Have you ever noticed that you are much more open, fun, and less anxiety filled when you are with friends? I sure have!
Being with friends can highly increase our confidence levels which in turn allows us to interact more with others. By doing this, next time you are by yourself you will have gained social skills while with your friends that you can turn around and continue to use even without your friends around.
So… go text a few friends (or call and face your phone phobia!), make some plans for tonight or the weekend, and see how great you feel when you are out with them.
3. Address your lack of assertiveness
Have you ever noticed that your shyness has gotten in the way of your advocation for yourself?
Being shy can lead to you being pushed around because everyone just thinks you are going with the flow. By developing skills of assertiveness, you will be able to push through your anxiety and advocate for yourself.
If you don’t want to go somewhere, tell them. If you don’t want to do something, speak up! Stop being pushed around just because you are shy and develop your sense of assertiveness. This way, you will start to see how people have been taking over your life simply because you are shy and you will want to take it back!
4. Value your ideas and others will follow
Something you and I both know is this…
Shy people aren’t typically that confident. We think our ideas will be turned down, we think our thoughts are invalid to others, and we simply don’t believe anyone will agree with us. This leads us to being shy about our ideas and never sharing them.
Next time you are at work or even at home and come up with an idea, embrace it. Believe in yourself, value your ideas, and you might be surprised how many people love your idea simply based on your enthusiasm and belief you have in your idea.
5. Confront the same sex at first
Whether you like it or not; we are typically more reserved when it comes to talking with the opposite sex. Before trying to go heads first and approaching someone you think is attractive, you must first be able to comfortably talk to people of the same sex.
Note: Unless of course you are by nature more comfortable talking to the opposite sex then do that first!
Once you’ve got that down, you can then try the opposite sex. Plus, I don’t think you want to look like an idiot in front of someone who you think is attractive! Wait, that brings up another point…
6. Learn to not care… as much
Learning to not care about other peoples thoughts entirely can be tough. But, learning to not care what others think of you as much is totally possible.
Learn to accept other peoples thoughts, but also learn that you shouldn’t really care about them, especially if they are a stranger you will never see again.
I get it, we all want to be viewed as the “perfect person” in the eyes of the world, but face it; it will never happen. People will judge you, they will think you are weird, but maybe they are the weird ones. Maybe they are the ones to be laughed at.
And something to remember that is a HUGE help: most strangers don’t care about you or even have time to care. Most people, believe it or not, aren’t watching your every move and judging you because they are too busy (just like you!). Of course there are the few out there that do judge, but those people aren’t worth your anxiety and you should really learn to ignore those types of people. Because everyone else isn’t watching or caring about what you do.
7. Overcome your phone phobia by calling customer support
Most shy people typically find it not only hard to talk to people in person, but also on the phone. Even though there is no face to face interaction and it is seemingly much easier to talk on the phone, we still get filled with anxiety when the thought of making or taking a call comes up.
A great way to overcome your phone phobia is to call lots of different customer support centers and just ask for help with a random inquiry. This is a great way to help you overcome phone anxiety because customer support representatives are typically very nice, understanding, and helpful (unlike a lot of other people).
8. Avoid stupid conversations at all costs
Stupid conversations, better known as conversations where we are bound to sound stupid, should be avoided at all costs.
Instead, seek out conversations in which you have knowledge in and are comfortable with. If you talk about golf when in reality you hate it, you’re going to sound stupid. While if you love science you are less likely to sound stupid.
This is a great way to avoid the dread of a conversation, a way to ensure you aren’t going to mess up your facts, and just a great way to meet like minded peoples and explore their opinions too.
9. Understand you are different and stop conforming
Trying to conform yourself so everyone likes you is literally just setting yourself up for disaster. Instead of trying to get everyone to like and understand you, how about you put your foot down and exclude those who don’t fit your way of life.
If you catch yourself trying to act different, pushing yourself to be like them (unless they are a role model of course), or anything similar; cut off or limit that relationship. Be yourself and you will find that you will encounter less awkward and anxiety producing situations.
10. Build up some general confidence
Confidence can play a HUGE role in whether or not we encounter social anxiety within. By building up some general confidence about ourselves including our looks, intelligence, and personality, we can start to see that there isn’t really a reason for people to be judging those types of things while we speak.
Building confidence can be hard, and it will take time. But just remember this; you are different and that makes you beautiful.
11. Find out what you are avoiding and face it (exposure therapy)
You will never, ever, ever, get better if you continue to avoid awkward and anxiety filled situations.
Discovering what you avoid the most is a great way to find out what you need to go do to overcome your fear of it. This is also know as exposure therapy, and this is a seriously actionable way to start exposing yourself to your fears today. Quit avoiding the things you fear, otherwise you won’t see improvements in those areas.
Dislike family get-togethers? Next time there is one, go and be interactive with everyone
Dislike work meetings? Next time be the one with all the ideas and see how many people you amaze.
The list could go on and on, but the main takeaway is this: do what you are avoiding so much that it eventually becomes something that you can either deal with or even start to love.
12. Your opinion matters so stop censoring yourself
Do you ever feel like you are censoring yourself just to avoid confrontation or disagreement?
How about next time you feel like you are about to censor yourself, say what’s on your mind and see what happens. This will allow you to slowly crawl out of your shell and start expressing yourself and your true thoughts more often.
Please note: If you feel like freaking out on someone but typically hold it back, this is probably not the best tip for you. Let them know how you feel, but in a clean and modest way. (Unless of course they deserve it, then have at it!)
13. Goals help, when you stick to them
Creating goals around your social anxiety is a fantastic way to see your own personal progress and growth when it comes to social situations.
By producing goals that are obtainable on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly basis; you can see some serious improvements.
Start by creating your goal for the longest term out (one year). From there, make your months goal. Then your weeks, then your days. By sticking to your goals and fixing them as you see fit, you will surely hit your goal come the end of the year. Just make sure to stick with it!
14. Use Morita therapy to guide you
Morita therapy is a seemingly simple concept, yet complex. Morita therapy in simple terms is doing what your emotions are telling you not to do.
By letting your emotions control you, you will always avoid your fears. By doing the opposite of what your emotions tell you when it comes to social anxiety, Morita therapy is a fantastic way to just get over it. Next time you feel anxious and want to run away from it all; run towards your fear and face it head on.
15. Find and perfect your personal conversation opener
Whether you are on the phone or in person, you need a good way to open a conversation. Whether you are confronting or being confronted, by having a set conversation opener that you know by heart ahead of time will allow you to start off a conversation anxiety-free.
It’s a great way to build momentum believe it or not. Just think… By having an easy way to start talking that doesn’t make you freeze up, you have a great way to build up more conversation without being anxious about running out of things to say.
Find your own personal conversation opener, perfect it, and never again forget what to say when initial contact with someone is made.
16. Practicing non-awkward eye contact
Eye contact is a perfect way to connect during a conversation, and also a great way to build trust with the other person.
Practicing making more eye contact with people you are comfortable with is a great starting point. Start looking at people more while you talk, but don’t go overboard.
Finding the “sweet spot” without being creepy can be tough. But just trying to be natural by looking at them then away is fine. Just be sure not to stare them down otherwise you will be known as the creep in town (probably already are, but that’s a whole other topic). Kidding! :p
17. Admit it, but don’t accept it
Admitting something and non-acceptance are crucial for overcoming your social phobias.
Admit you are shy, awkward, or have a social phobia but do not accept it as the end of your social life. Instead, accept it as a challenge to overcome and that you recognize you have a social phobia that you want to fix it.
Keyword there is want, you must want to change. If you don’t want to change and like having social anxiety, then you will never follow any of these actionable tips and you will remain shy.
But, if you want it and truly want it is when you will overcome it. Want it, make the changes in your life to fix it, and reap the benefits of when you finally do overcome it.
18. Don’t fit in? You don’t want to anyways
Sometimes we have to realize that we might just not fit in. Whether it be a group, situation, or even a location; we don’t fit in everywhere.
This can make our social anxiety freak out in fear that we won’t fit in and people won’t accept us. The best way to avoid and overcome this is to simply stop going to such places where you don’t fit in.
If you don’t fit in and really don’t want to be there, why do you go anyways? It’s not you, and probably never will be.
Go where you fit in, where others like and accept you, and stop trying to fit in with people that you shouldn’t want to be around anyways!
19. Body language will help in multiple ways
Body language can help in multiple ways when it comes to social situations.
For starters, it will make you more friendly looking and more approachable. This is a great way to interact with others and overall look more appealing to converse with.
Secondly, by having a confident (but not cocky, please no cockiness), you will feel better internally. You will feel confident and ready to tackle any social situation that you may face.
Give it a try, next time you are out instead of slumping your shoulders and crossing your arms, open yourself up. You will really be amazed at how good you feel and how much friendlier people seem.
20. Stop comparing incomparable things
You, me, and then next, are all different. I might write different than you do, and you might talk different than I.
But there is one thing that you must understand and it is this:
These are all incomparable things that vary from person to person. The reason they are incomparable is because everyone is suppose to be different and not to be compared with eachother. It’s human nature to be different, even from those you have grown up with. Otherwise we’d all talk, look, and act the same and to be honest; I don’t want 7+ billion other me’s around (no offense me).
Stop comparing your social skills to others. Instead, compare yourself to where you’d like to be and strive to get to the “perfect” you (if that’s even possible).
21. Be the outgoing one for just a day
Try being the “outgoing one” for just a day and see how it goes. You might realize that at the end of the day it isn’t truly who you want to become. It might drain you out, and it probably will since you suffer from shyness, but going all in and “faking it ’till you make it” is a great way to get a grasp of the bigger picture.
You might realize that it’s easier than you thought, or you might want to give up 20 minutes in because it’s too much for you. But trust me, fight through the day no matter what and at the end of the day pat yourself on the back and analyze what your next steps are going to be.
Are you going to repeat it again and again until it doesn’t bother you anymore and becomes a part of you?
Or are you going to stop, slow it down a bit, and slowly (day by day) start increasing your social activity until you reach your goal?
Either way will work, just do you and what best fits your needs and wants!
22. Gain relief by stopping your need to impress
Stop trying to impress everyone you meet, most people don’t really care to be honest. If you feel like you need to impress someone, do the exact opposite. Try to control the urge to impress and treat them just as if they were someone else you wouldn’t want to impress.
By relieving your need to impress, you can now focus on just having a simple yet interesting conversation instead of trying to make it about you. Just be normal and treat everyone the same, you might just be surprised at how people respond when you try to have a genuine conversation with them.
23. Take on a socially interactive position
Whether it be at a new job, volunteering, or even a club at school: taking on a highly social demanding position can prove to be a tremendous way to gain social skills.
You will literally be forced to be social and face your shyness, all while meeting new people and gaining some new experience (both in social skills and whatever you join). Force yourself to be social and go take on a new responsibility that will require your precious social skills that you so very lack!
24. Put the attention on them, not you
Everyone says to face your social anxiety you need to always make everything about you, and while it’s true in the sense of a type of exposure therapy, it’s not a great long-term solution.
Think about this; what if you could put all the hard work on someone else and make them do 75% of the talking? You can!
Just by asking them questions and listening is a great way to reduce your “talk time” and allow them to talk. Of course you will need to respond and ask more questions, but you will avoid being the one who is talking 75% of the time. On top of that, you will be in control of the conversation all while the other person will see that you truly care about their thoughts.
Getting rid of shyness, social anxiety, or whatever you want to label it as can be tough. I seriously and 100% known where you are coming from and what you are facing right now.
But trust me when I say this: take just a few of these simple yet actionable ways to get rid of social anxiety and I assure you that you will make progress. Make sure to pick a few that best suit your needs. If you like jumping into things all in, take a few of the more aggressive approaches. If you like to slowly build your skills up, take a more subtle approach.
Whatever you do, don’t do nothing. Do something, even if it’s just one small tip from this list. Just do something! I promise you will be so glad that you did!
Have any other tips on how to overcome social anxiety? Share them down below, I’m sure of it that there are even more tips that we could all gain insight from.