Have you ever been in a public place and felt like everyone was looking at you?
Have you ever had to give a speech, in work or in school, and were overwhelmed by feelings of nervousness and anxiety, so much so that it was hard to speak?
Maybe you were on a date and you knew it was time to take things to the next level sexually…yet it felt like a psychological wall shot up and literally stopped your brain from working properly so you just did nothing, or worse, panicked and messed things up.
It's safe to say we've all experience these at one time or another in our life; it's part of growing up.
For some of us though, these moments of social awkwardness and inhibitions don't leave us so easily.
In fact, for some these experiences only intensify and growing stronger over time – severely limiting our ability to have fun with our friends, succeed in work, and enjoy our life.
How do we escape this debilitating social anxiety?
How do we breakthrough this shyness and social phobia and instead develop relaxed confidence and authentic self-expression in social situations?
How do we let go and have fun?
Through the past 5 years of graduating college, going through lots of personal growth, and mainly working from home, I've come to realize there are specific activities that literally wire our brain for social anxiety (and specific ways to re-wire it for social confidence).
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety is anxiety (emotional discomfort, fear, apprehension, or worry) about social situations, interactions with others, and being evaluated or scrutinized by other people. The difference between social anxiety and normal apprehension of social situations is that social anxiety involves an intense feeling of fear in social situations and especially situations that are unfamiliar or in which you will be watched or evaluated by others.
Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. Put another way, social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being judged and evaluated by other people. If a person usually becomes anxious in social situations, but seems fine when they are alone, then "social anxiety" may be the problem.
I would agree in these definitions of social anxiety, yet I would add to it that social anxiety is being uncomfortable in one's own body.
Anxiety contains the word "any exit", so when we get into social interactions we often look for any exit to get the hell out of there.
What we're really doing in these moments is leaving our self (we disconnect or disassociate from the experience).
We leave our body since we're not comfortable being in it. Social interactions force our awareness into the body; it forces our mind to focus down to a physical level.
Some people don't have any problems focusing on the physical level, in fact, they thrive there.
Other people, especially those of us who are more mentally or spiritually developed don't feel comfortable in the physical.
Instead we hang out in the non-physical realm; reading books, watching tv, playing videogames, writing, contemplating, meditating, imagining.
We spend time alone, and often our consciousness is directed inward (known as introversion).
This leads us to deny or neglect the physical part of us as if it were unimportant or less important that the mental or spiritual part of us.
The result: we develop weak physical boundaries and a weak sense of self.
Our sense of focus becomes very loose – think of the difference between the light from a lightbulb vs the light from a laserbeam. One is diffuse and spread out, the other is focused and pin-pointed in one spot.
For those of us with social anxiety, our awareness is like the lightbulb, diffuse and all over the place. We need to focus ourselves, more like the laserbeam, into our body.
This means we must give the physical world a higher priority, starting with our body.
When we neglect the body, our boundaries disintegrate and fall apart. This leads us to compensate by making our comfort zone inside external structures such as our room, our home, our car, our office, etc.
We interact with more confidence and awareness when we're in one of these safe zones.
As soon as we leave one of these zones, we feel anxiety in our body.
It's as if our brain and nervous system wired itself to the walls of our house or doors of our car…when we leave, all the circuits are cut loose leading to a mis-management of energy within ourselves which we call "anxiety."
The problem is we've made the physical house we live in our "home" instead of our body.
Overcoming social anxiety is SIMPLE.
It just takes a little bit of time and practice to re-wire our brain for social interactions.
We do this by integrating our mind with our body – by focusing our consciousness into the physical.
Here are 15 ways to help replace social phobia with relaxed confidence:
1. Breathe – The fastest and easiest way to reconnect with our body and stop anxiety is to breathe. Breathe deep and slowly. Place your hands below your belly button and breathe in and out, slowly (breathe in for 5 seconds, then breathe out for 5).
This helps to short-circuit the fight or flight response that gets triggered when we leave one of our comfort zones.
2. Take a Walk – Too lazy to breathe deeply? Go for a walk. Walking forces you to breathe and helps you become more focused into your body. It helps you get used to being in your body, and it's even better if you are walking in the sun getting fresh air. Walk at least 10 minutes a day.
If you see another person walking, smile and say "hi." Now you are building confidence since by participating in short little social interactions.
This is especially crucial if we work at home since too much time inside will turn our brain into mush. We need to be around real-life things that are happening to keep our brain stimulated and healthy (and no, tv and computer don't count).
3. Go to a Coffee Shop – So you want to stay in your mental comfort zone of watching movies, browsing the web, playing videogames, reading, and writing?
Great, go to a coffee shop, bring your laptop or your book, and do it there.
By being outside of the house and out in public, you engage a primal part of your brain – the part that differentiates you from other people.
This part will help you claim a place to sit, keep an eye out for what other people are doing nearby, and a whole bunch of other primal stuff related to basic survival.
This strengthens your boundaries and sense of self.
You also get the added benefit of built-in social interactions with the barista taking your order. Eventually you can chat up the person next to you if you feel like it.
I've met some really interesting people at coffee shops and had some great conversations. Don't force yourself though, just do it when you feel inspired to.
Once you've gone to the same coffee shop enough, it becomes too comfortable so you'll have to find another one to keep building more social experience.
4. Go to Public Places Alone – How often do you go out in public by yourself? Many of us get stuck into the perceptions of high school where being by ourself means we're a loser or a weirdo.
As we mature, being by ourselves means that we're independent, confident, and self-reliant.
I eventually realized how little time I spent by myself. Everywhere I went I was with someone, whether it be friends, family, or acquaintances.
I set out to spend more time alone, to discover who I'd be when there was no one for me to lean on.
I went to buy groceries, shop for clothes, get coffee, see movies, take walks at parks or beaches, explore new areas – anything I could think of where I could experience social independence.
It's been a very interesting experience, learning how much of my personality is affected by who I'm with.
When I meet new people that don't know me, I can essentially be anyone I want to. It's easy take on new roles and identities when there aren't friends or family that carry along all their past perceptions of me.
The great thing about going places by yourself…you meet lots of interesting people. By being along, you create space…space that can be filled with an inner grace and awareness of the moment, or by another person.
Everywhere you go becomes a journey, and soon you meet other wanderers on their journey as well.
5. Participate in Social Activities – Once you get enough social experience from taking walks, going to coffee shops, and being in public, the next step is to find social activities that you enjoy.
It's very easy, just go to Meetup.com and type in your zipcode and click search. In just 5 minutes I searched my area and found a bowling meetup, dance lessons, yoga, a singing group, a psychic development group, a "nordic" mythology group, a christmas party and a bunch more.
Obviously you want to find something you enjoy, that way you can focus on the activity and let the socializing part come naturally.
There are tons of groups out there, you just gotta do some digging. Right now I do yoga and qi gong but plan on adding in dragonboat racing, kung fu, breakdancing, and maybe even holding a Yang Town meetup.
6. Go to Yoga Class – One of the best ways to strengthen your body and focus your mind to the physical level is to attend yoga classes regularly.
The best thing about yoga; it opens up your hips and strengthens your core.
Many of us mental/spiritual people have neglected our physical (and sexual) ability so our vitality and primal intelligence withers away. Yoga strengthens and heals that part of us, reviving our capacity to enjoy life in all it's sensual expressions.
By opening the hips, you release sexual trauma and sexual inhibitions, and by strengthening your core, you build self-confidence and self-esteem.
Not only will you get in great shape on many levels, you'll get good social experience without much talking. You walk in, maybe say hi to a few people, then workout for the next hour without talking to anyone.
As you get to know people and get comfortable with the class, you can start to talk to other people about the poses, ask questions, etc.
You've got to get the body comfortable being around other people; social interactions helps you to re-wire your brain for more social interactions. The more you do it, the better your brain adapts.
7. Focus on the 3 Questions – When you're out in public, it's very easy to be passive and let the mind's old fears and anxieties run the show:
What are people going to think of me? Everyone is looking at me…They're judging me…I'm not ok..there's something wrong with me…Is my hair ok…Maybe I have something in my nose…They're going to make fun of me…what am I doing here…I need to leave..GET ME OUT OF HERE!! AGHH!!
This cycle can repeat itself so often it becomes unconscious; as soon as we step out in public the entire program repeats itself outside of our awareness.
The only thing we feel is anxiety, yet we aren't sure why.
How do we get out of this negative cycle that twists us into a state of shame, embarrassment, and fear?
Easy…to stop all these thoughts we simple start thinking something else:
"The only way to deactivate a thought, or Vibration, is to activate another. The way to avoid repeating unwanted situations is to talk about wanted situations. Talk about what you do want; and discontinue dialogue about any unwanted experiences, situations, or results."
-Abraham from The Vortex: Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative Relationships
This is obviously a challenge when we first attempt to think different thoughts, yet it becomes easier as our newer thoughts gain momentum, until eventually they dominate our mind and become our default thoughts.
A helpful way to focus our mind on what we want is to ask ourselves these 3 questions when we're out and about:
- Where am I going?
- What will do there?
- Who do I want to meet?
For example, just the other day I was walking down the street and I started to feel a bit anxious so I asked myself "where am I going?" and the answer was "to this gift shop a few blocks down," then "what am I going to do?" – "Buy Christmas gifts for a few people," then "who do I want to meet?", "anyone in a good mood, that's friendly and upbeat."
Instantly my anxiety went away since I was focused on what I wanted which directs my thoughts, energy, and creation power in that direction – rather than resisting what I don't want (which is from my past or my imagination) and manifesting unpleasant experiences.
To amp up this technique even more, when you arrive at a public place, park your car for a moment and practice imagining what your ideal scenario for the social interaction you're about to jump into. Think up images and mental movies that make you feel better; more relaxed, more confident, more fun.
Spend 1-5 minutes on this process, then let them go and enjoy yourself at the event.
Sometimes old memories or thought patterns are so deeply ingrained in our mind and body that we need to actively clear them from our psyche. The next step does just that.
8. Use EFT & TAT – The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and the Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT) are 2 great techniques to clear away negative emotions and thoughts in the moment they're happening.
The meridian system in our body handles the flow of energy (just like veins handle the flow of blood). As the energy travels through the different channels (the same ones used in acupuncture) it feeds and nourishes the different organs in the body.
When one channel is blocked or reversed, a part of our body suffers, leading to negative emotion and physical breakdown of the organ system associated with it.
In the case of social anxiety, one of the meridians is blocked and needs to be opened. By using EFT and TAT on the past traumas or imagined embarrassing scenarios, we clear the block and re-establish energy flow in our body, thereby clearing the anxiety.
I recently created a quick video demonstrating how to use EFT to clear Social Anxiety & Shyness to give you a good idea how to start. You can also get the step-by-step instructions for both Emotional Freedom Technique and Tapas Acupressure Technique.
9. Get Acupuncture Treatment – While EFT and TAT are great ways to clear energy blocks, nothing beats a thorough acupuncture treatment administered by a professional.
EFT and TAT will do a tremendous amount of good and I highly recommend using those techniques often since, not only will they make you feel better, they'll also contribute to making acupuncture more effective.
When I went in for my first acupuncture, after years of doing EFT/TAT on myself, the results blew me away. The amount of energy that moved in my body, the blocks that I released, the energy and vitality that I re-discovered in the process – it was unbelievable.
It felt like I got my life back – I could enjoy life and especially enjoy people and social interactions. Plus some chronic health problems went away after the treatment. It was incredible.
It may take a few sessions before you feel anything, yet stick with it since it does work.
In cancer studies, Acupuncture has been found to increase white and red blood cell count, possibly better than pharmaceutical drugs (compare cancer-drug Neulasta which runs at $3,000 to $7,000 per injection vs an acupuncture session which runs about $100).
Our body is an electrical system that transports energy. Western medicine uses chemicals to stimulate and move energy (through drugs), whereas Eastern Medicine uses herbs and metal needles (inserted at key electrical points in the body) to move energy.
With drugs, the chemicals are focused to achieve one specific outcome, with less emphasis on the rest of the body (notice all the side effects of most drugs)…
Whereas acunpuncture works on the entire system first and then the specific area second (that's why it may take longer to work; it's rebalancing your entire body not just temporarily masking a symptom).
10. Get Herbal Supplements – While many people turn to drugs to get rid of anxiety, they often don't realize how many useful supplements you can get for less cost (and less negative side-effects).
I recommend finding a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (such as an acupuncturist) and have them read your pulse and make a custom made herbal formula for you.
A good supplement to consider is the natural homeopathic Calms Forte. It's labeled as a sleep aid but it can be taken during the day for anxiety without any side effects or dependency.
11. Get Some Guts (Literally) – We've often heard the phrase "he's got guts" or "that takes guts" to signify people who act with confidence and bravery, yet have we ever stopped to think how the health of our gut (our large intestine/colon) affects our social interactions?
It turns out that anxiety and depression are linked to weakness in the lung and large intestine:
"Patients with anxiety and depression often have bowel symptoms…Our findings are consistent with clinical impressions that anxiety is associated with increased bowel frequency, and depressed patients tend to be constipated."
–Study on Intestinal transit in anxiety and depression
"Chinese medicine regards anxiety as a blockage of qi, or vital force, inside the patient's body that is most likely to affect the lung and large intestine meridian flow. The practitioner of Chinese medicine chooses acupuncture point locations and/or herbal therapy to move the qi and re-balance the entire system in relation to the lung and large intestine."
–Medical Dictionary on Anxiety
I've found that anxiety and depression seem to go hand in hand. It's as if, when we're in social situations we feel anxiety because we're around too many people who may judge us, then when we're alone we feel depressed because we're isolated.
We've got to break out of the cycle by addressing the underlying anxiety (worrying about what others think) and depression (unexpressed grief and sadness).
We can do this on a physical level by healing and strengthening our large intestine (aka colon). We must avoid toxic foods such as those made with processed sugars and flours, or meat and vegetables grown with pesticides and hormones.
Instead we've got to eat more organic food and more fiber. That sounds like a lot of work yet here's a simple way to do it: buy everything at Whole Foods.
Yes, some things are more expensive, but their meat and vegetable quality is the best and just buying food there, even if you don't pay attention to anything, will make you healthier.
In addition to better food, here are 3 supplements to boost intestine health:
Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics – It's crucial that we maintain a good balance of good bacteria in our intestine to digest the food and maintain our immune system.
Too many antibiotics, chemicals, or low quality foods can overload our intestine, lowering our immune system, sapping our energy, and making us feel depressed and lacking confidence. Read the reviews to see why this probiotic is a step above the rest.
Triphala – This blend of three Indian herbal fruits, based on ancient Ayurvedic wisdom, supports the membrane lining of the digestive tract, relieving constipation and promoting intestine balance.
(Enter code "REY759" for $5 off iHerb.com).
Chia Seeds – These tiny seeds can be added to yogurt, cereal, salads, sports drinks, or anything else. They are packed with fiber and absorb water like crazy, making anything you eat easier to pass through your intestines. Plus they have a bunch of vitamins, minerals, and omegas.
By strengthening our guts we literally get more "guts" to speak up for ourselves and be confident in social interactions. Our inner army in our gut (aka our immune system) will be strong and healthy, allowing us to use that strength in every conversation and interaction.
12. Pet a Cat or Dog – Now that we've fixed the lower part of our body, what about the upper part (ie our brain)?
Animals, specifically mammals like dogs or cats, can be a great way to keep our brain clear, balanced, and healthy (instead of anxious, hyperactive, and distracted).
By petting a dog or a cat, we engage our mammalian brain (or emotional brain) and create emotional bonds with the animal.
This helps us maintain emotional health and avoid the dips that result from not having a person or animal to bond with (these dips can be experienced as anxiety, depression, or boredom).
Plus, animals help us to get into our body. You can't have intellectual conversations with animals but you can throw the ball around and make them chase it.
For those of us who work on computers for many hours in the day, it's crucial that we have physical contact with other bodies. Petting a dog or cat is a great way to maintain that physical touch that our body craves and needs to stay balanced.
13. Stand on the Earth – As simple as it sounds, just taking our shoes and socks off and standing barefoot on the dirt, grass, or sand, can rapidly calm our body down, boost our energy, reduce pain and inflammation, strengthen our immune system, and balance our hormone system.
A man named Clint Ober discovered incredible health benefits from re-establishing this connection to the earth.
In 1998, a retired cable TV executive named Clint Ober sat on a park bench in Sedona, Arizona. As he watched the passing parade of tourists, it occurred to him that almost everybody — him included — wore synthetic plastic or rubber soled shoes. He wondered if such footwear, which had increasingly replaced leather since the 1960s, could impact health.
The question surfaced because plastic or rubber soles would insulate people from the natural electrical surface charge of the Earth known in the electrical world simply as “ground.” All electrical systems in our homes, businesses, and industries, are stabilized and protected by the Earth’s “ground.”
He wondered if this energy field could also protect the health of the body. Mr. Ober didn’t know it at the time, but that one simple question would set in motion years of investigation — continuing to this day — that have resulted in multiple scientific studies involving biophysicists, electrophysiologists, medical doctors, and exercise physiologists.
The studies have produced a resounding “yes” to his original question and uncovered fascinating evidence demonstrating that direct connection to the Earth’s ground energy has a powerful and positive influence on the delicate balance between health and illness, and the prospect of living longer and better.
By placing our feet in direct contact with the earth (grass, sand, dirt, etc.), we draw up energy from the earth, into our body, and “re-fuel” our physical energy tank.
Through scientific studies Clint and his team found that by sitting outside for 20-30 minutes with bare feet directly touching the earth, a healing response occurs in the body – balancing hormones, lowering blood pressure, improving circulation, reducing inflammation, and boosting immune function.
Think that will help anxiety??
The longer one sits or walks on the earth, the more time this healing response can positively effect the body.
The earthing.com website also features "grounded" products that allow you to create to same type of connection to the earth while you're working on your computer or watching tv.
When working at home, I have to leave my apartment and walk down to the beach for at least 30 minutes each day otherwise I start to go crazy from being in the house all day.
Our bodies are meant to be in nature; when they lose touch with the earth, we get lost in our heads and all kinds of illnesses crop up from stress that we can't handle.
14. Clean Your Teeth & Gums – When was the last time you had your teeth cleaned at the dentist?
Most people, myself included, don't like visiting the dentist. They find scrape and poke around until your mouth bleeds, find a bunch of cavities, then tell you about flossing and brushing more often.
I avoided going to the dentist for a couple years for those reasons yet eventually I found a holistic dentist in my area, longbeachholisticdentist.com, and that changed everything.
They spend the time to explain to you how to take care of your mouth instead of just jumping in there, fixing everything then moving on to the next patient.
They use better ingredients, are gentler on your mouth, and show you how the health of your mouth affects the rest of your body.
After my first cleaning there, I felt amazing. I could talk so much better in social situations and had more confidence when I spoke – what I was trying to say actually came out right.
15. Wear a Phiten Necklace – Professional baseball and other athelete's around the world wear Phiten products to help them perform better in-game.
I originally purchased a Phiten necklace for the same reason; to play better baseball.
I decided to wear it off the field to see if it made any difference, and I noticed that it DID make a difference when it came to social interactions.
Wearing the necklace helped me to communicate with others easier and be less nervous and self-conscious. I especially noticed a difference when I was recording videos for my blog; with the necklace I spoke more clearly, more confidently, and put together my sentences better.
Each Phiten product is made of liquid titanium which helps your muscles relax and increases blood flow to the area where the liquid titanium is near.
It's a subtle shift and most people don't notice it, yet in sports it's easier to notice since the pressure is so much greater – that's why so many atheletes use it.
If you buy, I recommend getting an X30, X50, or X100 necklace since they have 30, 50, or 100 times the concentrations of titanium in the necklace.
Also, DO NOT BUY OFF EBAY OR AMAZON. There are many fake knock-offs out there that don't work. Buy it off www.PhitenUSA.com or get them out at your local sporting good store to ensure you get an authetic Phiten one.
Conclusion: Overcoming social anxiety is easy when you develop these new habits…however IT IS A PROCESS.
Be patient with yourself as you go back and forth between social confidence and social anxiety.
It takes time for your brain to develop new neural pathways for social interactions, that's why it's the hardest when you first start.
These techniques and mindsets are the best tools that I've used to clear away social anxiety.
In fact, now I enjoy social interactions, I crave them. I love being around fun people, joining in on the conversation, and doing physical activities.
I'm become more confident in my work, with my friends, and when I'm out in public talking to strangers.
Practice these techniques and soon YOU WILL EXPERIENCE BREAKTHROUGHS, just stick with it.
My questions for you:
Now that you've heard my challenges and successes, I'd love to hear yours:
1. What is your biggest challenge with social anxiety?
When do you experience it? Is it around certain people or situations? What kinds of problems does it cause in your life?
2. What's worked best for you in overcoming social anxiety?
Do you have a special meditation technique or a certain supplement that you use to clear shyness and anxiety? Maybe it's a type of clothing, or a mental game that to guide your thoughts.
Whatever it is – write your comments below, I really want to hear them.
The more we can share about this, the more we can help eachother out and find the most effective ways to develop social confidence.
P.S. Many guys develop "porn-induced social anxiety" from constant exposure to porn and it's negative effect on the brain.
One of the most powerful ways to develop confidence is to simply STOP using porn and replace it with a set of different techniques and mindsets…Check out my Sexual Mind Mastery program for some free videos to re-wire your brain for authentic sexual confidence that attracts women and improves your performance in the bedroom.