And then she said to herself…
“d’you know, I’ll just start talking and see what happens!”
So she did. And these days she is feeling so much more relaxed, and enjoying her random conversation with strangers.
Just like Harriet did, I know you can too.
You are walking along the street and you see someone walking towards you… even if you’ve never experienced social anxiety before, your first thought could be
“Oh no! There’s someone coming towards me.
What do I do? I’d better cross over – I’d best avoid them.”
Have you ever thought this way?
My lovely client Harriet (she likes to be known as Hattie) decided that this final exit from lockdown is the perfect opportunity for her to get on top of the social anxiety she had been living with for too long.
Hattie worried constantly about putting herself ‘out there’ socially. She would avoid ‘risky’ gatherings – even with people she knew… she felt vulnerable… her thoughts spiralled constantly…
“what if I sound a fool or they think I’m stupid?
What if they judge me?
What if I stumble over my words?
Or I say something wrong?
What if I upset someone?”
We talked it through and she was willing to try an experiment
You see, right now is the best time to confront social anxiety
Because have you noticed how there are a lot of people around you who are seeming nervous with in-person contact?
“Sometimes it is almost as if you could catch Covid with making eye contact, let alone speaking to someone.”
The simple truth is most people are feeling nervous.
This whole Covid situation has created anxiety in so many people who never gave social anxiety a thought before.
Covid has created a fear of people.
Little by little each day, Hattie began to confront her feelings of social anxiety simply by empathising with how anxious another person could be feeling.
On the first day she went out for a walk with her dog. When she met someone, she made sure to give them a wide berth to be respectful, but made a real effort to make eye contact and smile.
The next day she met a different person. She smiled and this time, even though she was nervous, she said hello.
After a few days getting comfortable with a simple hello, Hattie made a short list of some quick things to say…
“Lovely day isn’t it?
Do you have the time please?
Where does this path lead?
Isn’t this a lovely walk?
… anything she could imagine saying, she wrote it down.
She imagined talking about animals, the traffic, the flowers, the tree blossom…
“It’s most likely going to be someone I don’t know, so if it goes a little awry, I’ll probably never see them again anyway!”
Just like Hattie did, if you start now with a small step every day, by the time we are all fully engaging socially again, you’ll be feeling much less anxious and much more relaxed starting conversation.
It will begin to feel natural for you.
This whole Covid situation has brought us all closer together.
So why not use this common bond of us all feeling uneasy with putting yourself ‘out there’ to create connection?
Now is absolutely the best time, because you are not the only one who feels this way.
If it felt like it before, you definitely are not the only one now.
I’d love to hear how you get on.