It’s not unusual to feel nervous or uncomfortable at the thought of meeting new people. However, when you have social anxiety, those feelings can become magnified. In fact, many people with social anxiety disorders worry that they’ll never be able to talk to strangers or develop friendships.
The good news is that anyone who wants to form interpersonal relationships can — even those who have been diagnosed with social anxiety. There are skills you can learn to help make the process less daunting and more rewarding.
Make a Plan to Deal With Your Emotions
Think back to prior social experiences. What were the first emotions and responses you felt? What did your mind tell you? For instance, perhaps your heart raced, and you felt like people were judging your comments. When you know how you tend to react in social situations, you can think of ways to cope with these reactions.
Some people like to view social situations from an objective standpoint. This allows them to play the role of “analyzer,” which helps keep negative self-talk in check. Observe others and join in, but try not to evaluate everything you say and do. Instead, be observant and thoughtful. Listen. This can help you find people who share your interests — and those people might one day become close friends.
Meet People at Smaller Gatherings
Maybe a huge party isn’t the best place for you to meet people, but how about a small dinner get-together hosted by a coworker? Resist the temptation to automatically say “no” to invitations. A smaller gathering gives you the opportunity to mix and mingle in a more comfortable setting. Plus, you can ask the host about the guests to prepare for the experience.
Once at an event, try to concentrate on others’ needs. Offer to help the host, play the role of bartender, or simply be kind and smile. You don’t have to say a lot to make a positive impression. When you feel like you have a role to fill, you may be less likely to think of yourself as an outsider.
Expose Yourself Regularly to Different Situations
If you have social anxiety, you may be naturally tempted to avoid social situations. However, most experts agree that a better solution is to step outside of your comfort zone regularly. This could mean joining clubs so you can be around people who share your hobbies or volunteering for an organization that aligns with your beliefs.
The more often you get around people you don’t know, the less frightening it will seem. You may never feel 100% at ease, but the intensity of your responses should begin to taper off with each new exposure. That way, you can begin meeting friends.
Getting Help for Social Anxiety
If symptoms of social anxiety are keeping you from meeting new people, you may find it helpful to seek treatment from a professional. Speaking with counselors who understand social anxiety disorder can help get you on a healthier mental track — and get you closer to socializing.
Looking for an affordable counselor in the Dallas area? Contact our team today to schedule an appointment.