Are you struggling with social anxiety?
Part of your struggle may be the way you see yourself and then beat yourself up for your perceived imperfections, problems, or inadequacies.
Think about it. How many times have you’ve said the following, or something like it, after an interaction with someone else?
- “Geez! I can’t believe I said that! I’m so stupid!”
- “Ugh! How boring could I be? How embarrassing!”
- “There’s no way anyone thinks I’m fun or cool after I came off so quiet and awkward!”
- “Well, I guess I just blew my chance to make a good first impression! No way can I ever show my face there again!”
How often do you get caught in a web of your own self-critical thoughts after interacting with people? Can you go on like that for a long time, convinced that how you see yourself must be how others see you too?
You’re not alone, many socially anxious people suffer the same cycle of harsh internal perception. The resulting unkind self-talk and self-defeating rumination then serve to keep anxiety high and make your reasons for avoiding interaction seem valid.
But the truth is, you’re just stuck.
Trapped, if you will, in a mental place that is inaccurate and unproductive. Anxiety researchers note that focus on inaccurate self-perception and ongoing post-event rumination can lead to depression, a perpetual decline in self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as avoidance that can negatively affect your daily functioning.
To deal with your social anxiety, you’ll need help with a basic fallacy you’ve learned to cling to: that you are somehow fundamentally deficient and that other people think so too.
So, What Do You Do to Fix the Inaccurate Self-Perceptions that Fuel Your Social Anxiety?
The key idea is to employ key cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. Working with a therapist and practicing new social tools you can overcome your harsh self-perception and rumination with healthier, more positive self-messaging. Why not consider these ideas and practice these strategies?
Shift Your Negative Self-Perceptions with Self-Praise
If you are like many socially anxious people you tend to see yourself as unable to measure up. Perhaps you feel perceived as less attractive, less desirable, less interesting or less intelligent compared to others. Therefore, you assume you are less able to bring much to a conversation or interaction. You may even feel that you aren’t worthy of attention and relationship, so you choose not to seek them.
But this is a painful way to go through life. And definitely not the way humans, who are hardwired for belonging and connection, want to live indefinitely.
The solution? Challenge those negative comparisons you’ve made. Consider that you may not be lacking as much as you believe and look for evidence of your value, gifts, importance.
How? Give yourself praise. Practice appreciating yourself the way you long for others to see and praise you. Literally, make a practice of affirming and encouraging yourself daily in the following ways:
List your proud moments.
However insignificant you think they are, write down positive actions you took, choices you made, or things you said. Try to write down at least one new thing every day. At the end of each week, look over your list and enjoy your accomplishments.
Journal lessons learned.
Sometimes you make mistakes. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that you are somehow defective because of them, consciously slow down your mental response. Refrain beating yourself up with thoughts like, “I should have done this or that.” Try, instead, to think of and record ways you want to interact or behave differently if you find yourself in the same position later.
Get mentally proactive.
Combat your tendency to ruminate on inaccurate self-perceptions by intentionally and repeatedly refocusing your mind. Tune out the critic in your head. Tune into an activity you like and enjoy. The idea is to distract yourself from negativity, mindfully remain aware of your responses, and feel better about yourself.
Get Comfortable with Being Proud of Yourself
Cultivating self-pride is another good way to correct your self-perceptions. Beyond praising yourself and discontinuing the habit of comparing yourself negatively to others, learning to accurately see what you have to offer without downplaying it or censoring yourself is key.
- Do you feel uncomfortable when you should enjoy your successes?
- Have you waved off your accomplishments or withheld what you know to avoid seeming arrogant?
- Do you think more about seeming arrogant and being judged, than accepting yourself and expecting others to the same?
If so, even positive focus on yourself, your contributions, your value, and your accomplishments likely feels wrong or vain. But consider that this is just another inaccurate perception. You are neither fundamentally flawed or an egomaniac.
Praising yourself unconditionally, regardless of wins and losses can help break down the harsh way you measure yourself against others.
Accepting your right to take pride in your successes graciously can help you see that others will likely accept you as you are.
The takeaway? The best way to fix inaccurate self-perceptions is to build on the idea that you are human and comprised of strengths and weakness, like anyone else. Relax your inner assumptions and challenge the idea that you will be judged no matter what.
Take the Next Step
If you are ready to conquer social anxiety and see yourself clearly, now is the time to seek support. Regular sessions with a trained professional can help solidify healthy new perspectives and improve your connections with others. Please reach out for a consultation soon, I’m here to help.