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Social Fear - An Exercise to Combat Social Anxiety

Aug 14, 2008
Do you feel nervous when you meet new people? Maybe it even makes you feel nervous to be around people whom you've known for a long time. Regardless, if you suffer from anxiety in social situations, then here are a few steps that you can take to help yourself feel better.

First, identify what you are afraid might happen in social situations. For example, are you afraid that you will embarrass yourself? Say something inappropriate? Have nothing to say?

Next, identify a social situation that has very little risk of confirming your identified fears, along with the potentially positive outcomes. For example, you might consider saying "hello" to the grocery store cashier. The worst outcome might be that he/she doesn't return your "hello" or scowls at you. It is very unlikely that anything worse might happen. On the flip side, it might be that the cashier smiles and returns your "hello". In fact, it might even be more likely that the cashier would do this than your feared outcomes.

The next step is to face that situation. You should fill your mind with positive, encouraging words, such as, "I can do this. Many people do this every day. I want to do this." Also remind yourself that there is a high likelihood that you will have a good outcome in the situation (e.g., that the cashier will smile and return your "hello"). When you are in the situation, your only task is to do a few simple things: make eye contact, smile, focus on the other person (rather than on your fears) and push yourself to be successful in the situation (rather than running out of the situation or excusing yourself before you've accomplished your task). These simple rules apply to any social situation.

After the situation has been completed, you should identify what you have learned from the exercise. Likely, you learned that you can make eye contact with somebody and smile, and that nothing bad or terribly wrong has to happen. In fact, you have likely learned that this task was easy enough to do on a regular basis and would be easier with each practice.

Once you have learned that you can have success in a social situation, continue to practice that situation. When you realize that you have mastered a particular situation and you no longer feel much anxiety in it, you should continue to gradually face increasingly more intimidating situations. Always start with the easiest and work your way up.

Finally, if you had a great deal of difficulty doing the above exercise, then there are a couple of things to consider. Did you start with a situation that was so intimidating that you couldn't follow through with it? If so, reconsider starting with an easier task - it should be one in which you feel only a little bit afraid of doing, or at least one that you believe has a relatively good chance for a positive outcome. If, however, you cannot imagine any scenario that might have a chance for a positive outcome, then it would be helpful for you to have a professional who can assist you in overcoming your fears. It is likely that a professional will take similar steps as those outlined above, but it can often be comforting to have another person who is working alongside you through this process.
About the Author
To learn more about anxiety, you can sign up for a free report at this website: http://e-InfoProduct.com/Anxiety/Anxiety1.htm

Tamas Gloetzer is also the publisher of several e-books on the topic of anxiety. To start your journey, sign up here.
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