The Ten Commandments of the Socially Anxious

This one is for those of you who feel supremely awkward and anxious in social situations. Let’s just say it’s the culmination of a decade of personal social experimentation. 

1. Say ‘Yes’! 
When invited to an event, we ask ‘what would I do if I were brave?’. If your gut, or heart, or whatever it is that talks to you, even whispers ‘yes’ (before the fear and doubt kicks in) commit and say ‘yes!’.

2. Offer to help 
When nervous focus on service. Offer to come early and help set up.

3. Get intentional 
Stop and take a minute to get intentional. Ask yourself ‘how do I want to feel?’ and ‘what would be a great outcome?’.

4. Show up 
Honour that part of you that said ‘yes’ before the fear and doubt kicked in. Show up, not just for the host, but for yourself. It’s important to keep your word to yourself. Recognise that voice telling you you can’t be bothered as exactly what it is: fear. And go anyway.

5. Play music 
Crank music that makes you feel good. Sing or dance and shake the nerves away.

6. Balloon breaths 
Remain connected to your breath through deep belly breaths. Imagine your belly filling from the bottom to the top, just like a balloon, and slowly release from the top down.

7. Arrive early 
Show up 5 minutes early, before the masses arrive, so you can connect to a couple of people while it’s still quiet and avoid complete overwhelm.

8. Be with discomfort
Recognise that feeling anxious, or awkward, or alone, is not going to kill you. And instead of avoiding those feelings, simply allow them, without attaching to them. Know it’s okay to stand alone and not know what to do with your hands. 

9. Set a challenge 
Set a small achievable challenge for the event. Knowing that once it’s been ticked off, you are free to leave if you desire.

10. Be kind and go gently 
Remember that no-one else is judging you as harshly as you are judging yourself. It’s quite likely no-one has even noticed how anxious and awkward you are because they are consumed by their own feelings of anxiety and awkwardness.

Next time you get that invite to something you’d like to go to, if you weren’t so anxious, say ‘yes’ and test out the commandments. Happy socialising. 

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