This episode follows Chapter 3, Section 5: “Activate Confidence” of Anxiety… I’m So Done with You! Social anxiety, that feeling of overwhelm in social situations, is rising. It’s partly because we are becoming more sensitive. But how do you calm it? In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How social anxiety is different from other anxieties
- What being an empath or highly sensitive person has to do with social situations
- What confidence is and how to build it
- My 11 suggestions for feeling more comfortable in social situations
Having social anxiety tends to make us want to isolate ourselves. But that makes us lose the companionship and connections we need to thrive. In this episode, you learn how to navigate social anxiety so it is no longer a barrier to a happy life.
Having social anxiety tends to make us want to isolate ourselves. But that makes us lose the companionship and connections we need to thrive. In this episode, you learn how to navigate social anxiety, so it is no longer a barrier to a happy life.
Sensitivity, or being an empath, is feeling other people’s energy and often their negative emotions too. Being sensitive can make you want to avoid groups of people. To help you manage your sensitivity, I teach you the difference between clairsentience and claircognizance. However, social anxiety doesn’t just come from sensitivity, though, it also is a product of comparison culture, and worry that you are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, and on and on.
One of our biggest fears is being judged. But this is not something we need to worry about as much as we do. People are too wrapped up in their own thoughts and worries. Hear more tips like these in this episode, including my 11 suggestions on how to feel more comfortable in social situations.
Having Confidence in Yourself
“Confidence means that you believe in yourself––that you know you’re a good person with skills who can figure things out. When you have robust self-confidence, you’re calmer, more comfortable, and more grounded. That comes across as humble, not stuck up. Humble doesn’t mean that you have a low opinion of yourself. It means you have an accurate one.” – Dr. Jodi Aman
Listen to the episode:
Resources for Activate Confidence
- Energy Shield Training for Empaths and Highly Sensitive People
- The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aaron
- Build Self Confidence and Create Happiness With this One Practice
- How to Build Self-Confidence
- Chapter 2: The Lies of Anxiety | Lie #7: “You Can’t!”
- Chapter 2: The Lies of Anxiety | Lie #3: “You Must Handle it Right!”
- 4 Things Kids Need To Be Happy – Improve the Mental Health of Your Teen
Transcription of the Activate Confidence:
Hey, you’re here with Dr. Jodi, and this is Season 3 of “Anxiety… I’m so Done with You!” This podcast is a teen and young adult guide to ditching toxic stress and hardwiring your brain for happiness. If you’re new here, grab a copy of my book “Anxiety… I’m so Done with You!” because this series goes section by section through the book, going a little bit deeper, giving more examples, and telling more stories. Season 3, which goes along with Chapter 3, expands hope by looking at your skills and abilities.
You are amazing! You have many skills and abilities. However, anxiety does not want you to know that. It tries to block your view of them. But not anymore! In this season, we’ll bring them out into the open, giving you more access to them when you need them the most. As this season progresses, you’re going to envision yourself in a new way––as a person who is able, caring, confident, and determined. Thank you for listening, subscribing, and leaving me five stars on Apple Podcasts. Mental health problems are skyrocketing, especially among young people, and this series will help them cease judging, stop questioning, and start healing!
How are you doing? Welcome to Chapter 3, Section 5, Activate Confidence. In this episode, we will talk about social anxiety to uncover what is different about it than other anxieties. We’ll talk about being an empath or a highly sensitive person, and I’ll share how your sensitivity affects social situations. We’ll also review what confidence is and how to build it in yourself, and then we’ll go over the 11 suggestions that I list in this section on how to feel more comfortable in social situations. Let’s go!
Listen to Activate Confidence on YouTube:
Alright, social anxiety. What is social anxiety? Social anxiety manifests in social situations. So people get irritable or overwhelmed when they’re in scenarios where there are groups of people. It is a growing trend that people are more or more affected by social contacts, making this a really unique category of anxiety because people with it are not necessarily afraid of danger like most other anxieties. A lot is happening here, so there’s a lot to understand why this is rising. One of the reasons is that people are becoming more sensitive in general as our awareness and consciousness expand. That awareness is tapping into the energy of the field around us. We feel other people’s energy and the energy imprint of the spaces that we’re in.
A friend once told me a story about when she was traveling. She told me that she was sitting in a cafe one day and was suddenly overwhelmed emotionally. Nothing was wrong in her life; she was happily traveling, and things were going well, but at this moment, she cried and cried and cried, and she couldn’t stop. She was so overwhelmed with sadness and doom they had to leave. Her friends had to take her out of there and return to the hotel. Later they discovered that there had been a brutal battle in that very location, with a shocking betrayal during World War I.
I also know a woman who is so sensitive that she’s out for days after attending a funeral, even if she doesn’t know the person very well. She cries and cries, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. This level of sensitivity is real, and it is growing. With the publication of the book, The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aaron, many people who have been feeling sensitive for years have finally understood what is wrong with them. If you’ve grown up sensitive, you know exactly what I mean. It feels awful. You assume that the negative emotions you feel are coming from you when it’s not; it’s coming from the people around you.
When you think it’s you, you try to figure out why you feel this bad, but you can’t because there’s no answer to that. It’s not about you. And so you have to guess why you feel that bad. Unfortunately, the guesses end up being something like, “I must be a depressed person,” “I just have depression,” “I’m different,” “Something’s wrong with me,” and “I just can’t be happy.”
Crowds often feel overwhelming to sensitive people,
so they sometimes choose to stay home and not go out. That would be okay if they had a small group of good people at home and felt a sense of belonging. But all too often, staying away from people (crowds) make sensitive people isolate in an effort to protect themselves. And hopefully, you all now know how isolation affects a person: it’s not good.
I’m happy to say that there is some good news here: people who are sensitive can learn how to tell the difference between what is theirs and what is not theirs, and they can learn how to get rid of what is not theirs. They can also hone skills in blocking unwanted energy from coming in the first place. I cover how to do this in my Energy Shield Training video for empaths and highly sensitive people. That link is in the blog post that goes along with this episode. In it, I also show people how to transform their clairsentience to claircognizance. Clairsentience is another word for empathy. It means you feel feelings that are not yours. Claircognizance is clear knowing, meaning you have knowledge of something that you wouldn’t know from ordinary means.
Claircognizance gives you information from the energy. Having the information come to you through claircognizance instead of clairsentience gives you the information without you being bowled over by the feeling of it. And from there, instead of struggling to right yourself and recover, you can decide if there’s some action you want to take to help the situation. Sometimes you get information from someone, and there’s nothing you can do. Other times, for example, if it’s a friend having a problem, you could check on them, which you now have the bandwidth to do since you’re not being benched by those feelings of overwhelm. You can grab my online course about how to do this. I’ll link to it in a blog post. (Just knowing that it’s possible for you to learn will help you have hope.)
Back to social anxiety: another reason why social anxiety is on the rise is that comparison culture is on the rise. With the constant use of social media, cultural expectations to be good enough, smart enough, cool enough, skinny enough, etc., etc., are in your face more and more. Feelings of inadequacy are also in your face more and more. Then, you isolate yourself, which makes you more sensitive when people are mean and negative around you.
There are two adages here that I repeat to myself when this happens to remind myself that it is not me. I offer them to you in case they’ll help you too. The first is, “Hurt people, hurt people.” So people who are hurt, hurt other people. The second one is, “People aren’t mean because they don’t like you; they are mean because they don’t like themselves.”
This is the thing: when you’ve been hurt a lot, you tend to think that you are the most common denominator, “I get hurt a lot. Maybe it’s me that attracts it to me?” For sure, when a lot of people hurt you, you feel the unworthiness thick and heavy in your body and mind. I understand why you feel that way and why you think it’s you because I have felt that way so many times in my life. But then, I witnessed client after client expressed feeling that way too. This made me wonder about it. We can’t all be causing this! I realized that many people hurt you because most people (in Western society) don’t actually like themselves. Let me say that again, “People aren’t mean to you because they don’t like you; they are mean to you because they don’t like themselves.”
Again, back to social anxiety: Whatever the causes of your social anxiety, you need to build confidence and strength in yourself to overcome it. This doesn’t mean that you need to go out all the time or that you should go out all the time. It means that you’ll be free to choose what you want to do without the social anxiety influencing you.
What is confidence?
Sometimes confidence has a negative connotation. You might think of it as someone with a big head. If you think about it like that, you’d want to avoid having confidence. That negative connotation of confidence comes from anxiety and self-doubt, trying to use anything it can to make you feel bad about yourself. Having a big head is overconfidence. And overconfidence is usually an overcompensation for not feeling confident at all. When you don’t think you’re great, you have to constantly prove it, and this can keep a person really self-focused.
Real confidence is a good thing. Confidence means that you believe in yourself––that you’re a good, skilled, and adaptable person. You’re calmer, more comfortable, and more grounded when you have robust self-confidence. To other people, that comes across as humble, not stuck up. Humble doesn’t mean that you have a low opinion of yourself. It means you have an accurate one. Also, being humble means that you have the ability to be others-focused because you’re not as obsessed with trying to prove that you’re great.
In the book section discussed in this episode, I make 11 suggestions on how to feel more comfortable in social situations.
11 Ways to Feel More Comfortable in Social Situations
Hone Skills In Noticing
The first one is to hone your skills in noticing. I already spoke about this in a different episode, but your noticing skills come in handy here, too. Comparison culture causes social anxiety because it makes you think everyone is looking at and judging you. However, if you went to a public place and watched people for a few minutes, you’d notice that they could not be looking at or thinking of you. You’d noticed that they are obviously in their own heads with their own worries. Realizing this can be really freeing.
The second and the third go together with the first suggestion. The second is understanding that people are just as afraid as you are or worse.
People are in Their Own Heads
The third is realizing that people are in their own heads. Think about it this way: a huge portion of the crowd is struggling too. They are worried about things like people looking at them! You’ll witness that some people have more anxiety than you do. So many other people are around to look at, so why would everybody focus on you? (And your particular inadequacies?) Remember, if someone judges you, it’s a testimony of their own feelings of fear of their own inadequacies. It’s rarely ever about you. People judge because they’re worried about themselves. Again, “People aren’t mean because they don’t like you; they’re mean because they don’t like themselves!”
Number four is don’t expect perfection. Perfection does not exist, yet we keep trying to achieve it. Let’s let that go. Perfection is the most energy-consuming waste of time that negatively affects your mental health that there is. Get off that hamster wheel of trying to be perfect because you’ll never get anywhere (you’re on a hamster wheel!) Think about the concept of “diminishing returns.” An example of diminishing returns is someone studying three hours for a test and getting 95 %, but if they were to study three more hours, they’d only get a 97 percent. The first three hours get them 95 % there; the next three hours only receive 2%. You have diminishing returns on the amount of effort you put in.
That is how perfection works. When you try to achieve the last few percentage points to get to 100, you have diminishing returns on your time and effort past a certain point. Perfection is exhausting! You’re putting a lot of energy in (high-risk) and receiving little benefits (rewards) for that energy, effort, and risk.
Find and Anchor
The fifth suggestion is to find an anchor. This means planning to text with a friend throughout the event. If there is someone who knows how you feel on the other end of the phone, it can feel like an anchor tethering you to stay grounded. Your friend can send you sweet affirmations. They can tell you how great and courageous you are and also can serve as a witness to the efforts you’re making. That’ll help you feel good and sustain the energy you need to get through that event.
Have a Social Mission
Number six is to focus on others. A great way to transform social anxiety is to have a social mission. Make a goal that helps someone. Decide something like, “I’m going to compliment three people tonight.” Or, “I will talk to two people there who look lonely.” Sometimes our anxiety wants us to think that we can’t put anything else on our plates because we need to take all of our concentration to put down the anxiety, but that actually does the opposite because it gives your attention to the anxiety.
A social mission gives something for your problem-solving brain to do. It takes up your brain space so your anxiety doesn’t have any. Plus, the conversations and camaraderie of these conversations will help you feel connected. They’ll make you feel like you matter and help you let others know that they matter. There are so many good things about having a social mission!
Have an Exit Strategy
Number seven is having an exit strategy. Having an exit strategy allows you to go somewhere when you have social anxiety. Anxiety has you picturing the event and conjures a feeling of you being trapped there with anxiety. This imagery and worry make you want to stay home. You need to outwit anxiety by reminding yourself that you can leave if you want to. Make a plan of how you can leave, like by having your own car or having a friend ready to pick you up. Keep in mind, though, that anxiety is sneaky about exit plans. It makes you think that you will fail if you use them.
It’s ridiculous, but it sounds true, especially when you are used to believing what the anxiety says. As long as you decide to go, and go even for a moment before leaving, that is a success! Anxiety did not win. Anxiety doesn’t win if you use the exit plan. You win because you made a plan, and it worked, so next time; you’ll know that your exit plan will work, and you’ll be able to go again. (IMO, if you’re not allowing yourself to use the exit strategy, you don’t have an exit strategy.)
Celebrate your wins.
Seriously, celebrate your wins.
Remember to celebrate the steps you took separately from the results. I’ve heard too many stories of people going outside their comfort zone to do something which is huge, courageous, and amazing, for example, pledging their love to someone. Then, if it is not reciprocated, they see the whole thing as a failure. It’s not! They still did the amazing, courageous thing. That’s what needs to be celebrated. Any small step outside your comfort zone should be celebrated, even if it’s just acknowledging it to yourself. That’s all. I want you to tell yourself that you are all that for doing what you’re doing. Celebrating your wins makes a huge difference.
After all of that: going outside your comfort zone, doing all the things, and going to the events, number 10 is to schedule some downtime to recalibrate and recover. You especially need this if you’re not used to being out and about with people. Ease into it slowly and build in recovery time. We’ll go over downtime and “me time” when we talk about self-care practices in Chapter 5, but for now, know that “me time” is part of the plan.
Hone Your Intuition
And finally, number 11 is to hone your intuition. Check out my Developing Your Intuition Course for Teenagers which includes transforming clairsentience to claircognizance.
What did I forget? I’m sure all of you have some great tips on what else you could do to make yourself more comfortable in social situations. I want to hear your ideas that are missing from this list. Come on over to the blog post that goes with this episode, and leave me a comment with your ideas. Or, visit me at TikTok at Dr. Jodi and leave me a comment there.
I’m so touched that you spent this time with me today. I hope you got so much out of this episode! We looked at social anxiety, being empathic, and being sensitive in social situations. We reviewed self-confidence and went over the 11 suggestions on how to feel more comfortable in social situations.
Big giant hugs to you for listening, commenting, and leaving me a five-star review on Apple Podcasts! Remember, if I’ve helped you at all, share this book and this podcast series because you never know who is struggling around you; you may make a big difference in their lives! This whole episode has been a really great segue to the next episode, where we’ll go into Chapter 3, Section 6, “Activate Courage.” Read that section or listen to it, and I will meet you there!