Admittedly, sometimes it feels like social anxiety is beating me (at least beating me up on the inside, even if I manage to put on a good face). But my battle with this particular type of fear and anxiety is one I win far more frequently than lose. And that’s what I want to focus on.
For those of you who read this post, follow me on Insta where I occasionally mention this struggle, or who happened by this blog post randomly and are drawn in by the subject matter, I am not going to elaborate on the episodes of panic. I’m going to tell you what I do when I am most prone to them - in those moments, days, weeks, months where I feel (here are my triggers, friend) stressed, under pressure, abnormally tired or in upheaval or transition.
Whenever I post something or share about the war in my mind, I have at least one or more people ask how I deal with it. Here are the weapons that work for me.
A specific prayer
It’s not fancy or elaborate. It’s simply exactly what I need from God: “Lord, please make this a confidence-building day.” It’s what I pray daily, or throughout the day if I’ve got a particularly nerve-wracking presentation or interaction on the calendar. With these words, I’m praying not just for that day, but for the continual building of confidence that only consecutive days of wins can bring. Use it! It works!
A commitment to yes, I will
I have a personal commitment to myself to rarely say no to opportunities that will stretch me, even if it means I’ll be fearful, anxious or down right panicky. I say yes a lot even when I know it will make me nervous. If I didn’t, I honestly think I would be light years behind where I am at now in my confidence, self-respect, self-awareness and ability to handle the tough moments. There have been a few rare occasions where I just know I’m completely worn to the bone and saying yes would truly be detrimental, but about 95% of the time, I need to accept the stretch. Quick soapbox: Too many times, we use our fear as an excuse to decline an opportunity that is God’s exact answer to the fear. If you feel stuck, it may be because you keep giving in to the fear and living the same victim cycle. Start saying yes more often. Do it for you, even if you don’t get the best outcomes at first. *stepping off soapbox.
I went to counseling and did a workbook
It’s been quite a few years ago, but I had a cray-zay job in social work right around the time my nerves were first fraying. It was the catalyst for my first panic attacks and bizarre, fear-based thoughts clouding my thinking. My company offered a few counseling sessions (they needed to, it was SUCH an emotionally brutal line of work) and I took them up on it. The lady I met with walked me through some helpful calming exercises, but the best thing she did was encourage me to get a workbook. I did not expect it to be so beneficial. I can’t remember the exact one but it was something like this.
I use humor and interactivity
Two things that happen to help me and inadvertently make me more likable. I’ve become adept at thinking of funny things to say right about the moment everybody puts their attention on me. Starting the conversation or presentation with laughter gives me a moment to collect myself when I feel the fear rising. I also love to teach and educate. I do NOT love to have lots of eyeballs on me. But the silver lining is that I’ve become very good at creating interactive presentations to point eyes away from me to a screen, a paper, anything else, which usually goes over better than if I was standing there rambling on anyway.
I’m proactive with positive thinking
This is the one I’m currently working on. I realized not too long ago that I need to be much better about intentional positivity. We can be so hard on ourselves - not realizing how often we belittle ourselves, put pressure on ourselves, compare, downplay, criticize and beat ourselves up. All in our minds. I replay my failures and bad moments way more often then I do the good ones. I’ve realized I have to be very intentional about bringing positive, encouraging thinking into my day. Two ways I’m doing this is through gratitude practice and meditating on Philippians 4:8. Not as weapons for weak, anxious fears but as constant nurturing of a stronger, grateful, truth-filled mind.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. - Philippians 4:8
Those are a few of the main ways I combat social anxiety. If you can relate, have questions for me, or have your own proven coping tactic, I would love to hear about it! Comment below :)