Overcome Your Social Anxiety For Good.

Using this behavioral technique you can overcome your social anxiety and start leading the life you want without fear getting in the way.

If you suffer from social anxiety, you most likely face situations that fill you with fear and dread to the point where you avoid these parts of your life completely. Maybe you find yourself anxious when you meet new people, or you feel incapable of simple activities like eating out or driving a car?

Watch this video and if you find yourself relating to it, you may have social anxiety.

Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those articles that just tells you to “take a breath” or “wait it out” next time you have a anxiety attack. Instead, I want to share with you a technique that I have personally used that will not only alleviate your stress in the short term, but also teach you how to handle your anxiety triggers for the long haul.

Where to start

So if you are one of the thousands of people that suffer from social anxiety, I’m here to help you beat it for good using a technique called “exposure hierarchy”. This form of therapy begins with you writing down a list of 10 anxiety-provoking situations and putting them in order of severity. It helps to rate them on a 100-point scale (zero being no anxiety; 100 being severe anxiety). Your list might start with talking on the phone and end with going out by yourself.

The ideal scenario is to gradually introduce yourself to increasingly more difficult situations and stay in those situations until your fear subsides on its own. This type of exposure training can be done in real life or in your imagination. Personally, I ended up doing a mixture of both.

It sounds simple enough, but there’s a lot of mental power involved. You’re not going to cure yourself overnight, but each day you use this method you’re one day closer to a more confident you. It’s important to note that I’m not a therapist or doctor, but I can attest to the fact that this type of treatment has helped me tremendously.

How I overcame my own anxieties

I’ve had issues with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been the odd one out growing up, and although my “weirdness” made me a better artist it didn’t really help me be more social. If anything, it made it ok to be an outcast.

I’ve shared a little about myself and my personal struggles in my past with social anxiety. Since then, I’ve experienced drastic improvements in the way I feel and act when I’m in my usual anxiety-filled situations like going out, talking to clients and being in crowded places.

The first step is always realizing you have a problem. And after living in new city for over a year and still not going out or making new friends, I knew something was wrong. So I did some research and stumbled across this article on Psychology Today and started on my own exposure hierarchy therapy.

Here are my top 10 anxiety moments rated on a scale 1–100:

  1. Talking on the phone with clients = 10
  2. Eating in public alone = 15
  3. Being in crowded places = 20
  4. Talking to strangers in social settings = 25
  5. Clothing shopping with friends = 30
  6. Public speaking = 40
  7. Going to parties or clubs = 50
  8. Driving on the highway = 70
  9. Working out in front of people = 80
  10. Going out alone = 90

First I began with the easiest thing on my list, talking on the phone. This isn’t something that I get too worried about, but I still get a little shaky when I’m talking to new prospective clients for the first time.

So to properly prepare my mind to overcome my phone anxiety, I envisioned different conversations I would have with a new client. I thought about things like “How would I introduce myself?” and “How would I describe my services?” I ran this mock conversation over and over in my head until I felt completely prepared to make a great impression on my next phone call.

Then, after I was done doing my mental homework, I simply started making more phone calls. Don’t get me wrong, making these phone calls still sucked and I was still anxious at this point, but this time I had the tools to push through it.

Meditate and mentally prepare to conquer your fears, only then will you have the tools to overcome them.

So I made some phone calls. A lot of phone calls. I cold called local businesses and agencies. I called previous clients. I called so many people in a matter of a few days that my social anxiety around talking to clients on the phone had completely vanished, and I was able to gain a bunch of new business because of it. I found a new sense of confidence in overcoming my anxiety that I felt secure in tackling the next phobia on my list. So far I’ve overcome 4 out of my top 10 anxieties in just a few months. This time next year I hope to be through all 10 and live closer to an anxiety free lifestyle.

Spread the word

I hope this article was helpful and that you will join me in washing away your fears and removing the stress from your life that’s preventing you from being happy. Please share this article if you think it may help someone you know that’s currently struggling with social anxiety.

Originally published at lettershoppe.com on March 24, 2015.

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