9

votes

QLTY of life: How do you handle social anxiety?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created September 21, 2012 at 7:12 PM

I'd post it on a social anxiety board, but I kind of assume that some of them can contribute it to their eating habits, so who better to ask than a bunch of life loving healthy paleos?

I struggle with this issue of anxiety and it's very disruptive and frustrating. I know that our end goal is to love and appreciate life, and our bodies, and to be happy; but I am finding myself always nervous around people I dont know well. It's a mental issue, yes, but I wanted to see what some people do to conquer this. Within my circle, my friends refer to me as outgoing, social, and easygoing but around strangers I am quite the opposite. Always worried. Awkward. God, am I awkward!

Any advice or tips would be of great help : )

E15c5c2d17c4a5d723ce7bb4437062e6

(789)

on September 24, 2012
at 05:14 PM

Thank you, Scott. I definitely appreciate it! I do find it fascinating that in front of a room of people, on a stage or giving a speech, I excel. I am really quite good. But if you take me away from the front of the room, I am all of a sudden a wreck. This confuses people quite often, as I appear to be two different people. I understand that I just have to keep going, to keep trying, and doing.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 23, 2012
at 08:17 PM

Seems like everyone on the internet is INTJ, something tells me that those statistics were nothing more than ego-boosters.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 22, 2012
at 05:56 AM

For the record, I'm still a total introvert and prefer a lot of solo time, but I can talk to just about anyone now.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 22, 2012
at 05:52 AM

INTJ here also.. Is there a pattern emerging..?

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:56 AM

I'm an INTJ!...I think paleo is very attractive for us because we like to be able to be in control of how we feel. I will go as far as opening a curtain in a classroom full of students just because I think the natural light will put me in a learning 'mode'.....yeah i'm definitely an oddball and i'm completely fine with it haha.

8425f2fefc608f58a8cc0f2dcaa93341

(381)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:56 AM

I'm an INTJ also. I've slowly gotten over social anxiety by forcing myself into numerous social interactions and also by becoming a teacher. It was hard at first, very hard! But over time it's become second nature to spend time with strangers and not be quite so awkward as before. I think the best thing for me has been to just stop giving a damn what anyone thinks. If someone doesn't like me, oh well, it's their issue not mine. Only when I was able to just be me was I able to feel more relaxed with strangers. With that said, I still feel some trepidation when going into a new situation.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:41 AM

Being around strangers is definitely exhausting!

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on September 21, 2012
at 09:33 PM

I am the exact same way. Around my family and friends I am funny and outgoing, but in public or around people I don't really know, I am awkward and shy. I can't even look people in the face when I am out in public. I walk around with my head down most of the time.

E791387b2829c660292308092dc3ca9b

(831)

on September 21, 2012
at 08:52 PM

I am an INFJ as are a couple of friends of mine. :) I think there are more of us that they think there are out there.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 21, 2012
at 08:03 PM

INFJ here! Just thought I'd say hi. ;-) (Weird, considering my intense introversion, but it's much easier to be social from behind my computer screen!)

De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

(2227)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:19 PM

me too, totally outgoing with friends but standoffish around strangers. good question.

De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

(2227)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:19 PM

me too, totally outgoing with friends but pretty standoffish around strangers. good question.

De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

(2227)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:19 PM

me too, totally outgoing with friends but standoffish around strangers. good question.

De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

(2227)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:18 PM

i am the same, outgoing and social around my friends but pretty standoffish around strangers. good question.

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5 Answers

best answer

4
2f3a02b7ac9e9b566d751e2109da1783

on September 22, 2012
at 12:43 AM

Your problem is actually an issue that many of the perceived, most confident people can run into. I am a sales leader for one of the top ten companies in America. We have 275k employees, and operate in every state. I have sales folks that work for me that are outstanding at what they do, and can walk into a room full of people they do not know, and kill, they own the room. They make into the mid six figures, and are by all accounts confident. HOWEVER, put a few of them in a social situation, they convert to nervous nellies.

I took an interest in the dynamic, because it was such a drastic difference than their day lives. I started watching, asking, learning their ways, as in our culture; we are very tight and spend very much time together.

What I found was really pretty simple. Many of these folks have so much focus on their careers, that their actual identity has become their career. They have no identity outside of their jobs. I can say, I was like this for quite sometime; everyone knew me as the "blank" guy, who was always "on", and did very well, yet if I was in a room of people that were not in my industry, I was uncomfortable, and wanted to leave.

I think that if you walk into a room, walk the exterior, listen to folks, look at folks, and try to zero in on a few folks, or a small group, that either have a conversation going on that you feel comfortable with, or are wearing something that you recognize, or have a passion for (purse, ring, watch, dress, etc.) Start a conversation about that, then walk a path of learning, but be sure to give and ask, don???t just ask. If it does not go the way you want, grab your phone, and say excuse me, and do it all over again. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will be. This will allow you to build your approach comfort level, and chip away at conversation starters, because you will soon figure out what works best for you, and what type of person responds best.

You may also want to target other folks that look to be uncomfortable, and build your room confidence. I could go on for hours.

Good luck, I would love to hear how you made out.

E15c5c2d17c4a5d723ce7bb4437062e6

(789)

on September 24, 2012
at 05:14 PM

Thank you, Scott. I definitely appreciate it! I do find it fascinating that in front of a room of people, on a stage or giving a speech, I excel. I am really quite good. But if you take me away from the front of the room, I am all of a sudden a wreck. This confuses people quite often, as I appear to be two different people. I understand that I just have to keep going, to keep trying, and doing.

4
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:26 PM

I finally got over mine with the "throw yourself to the wolves" method of confronting things head on. I became a barista. I thought I was going to have a heart attack the first week, but I soon realized, when you talk to 300-500 people everyday, it becomes a lot less scary.

Just from the sheer number of interactions, social and employment networking happened without much if any effort on my part. I made a bunch of friends, and found my next 3 jobs from people I met making them their morning cup of coffee.

Meeting new people is weird and awkward without repetition. I was reminded of this the other day when a mom I had never met before asked for my phone number to set up play dates with her kid, and it was a truly awkward moment. Expecting something to come of a single conversation is a breach of the social contract, but if you see the same people over and over again connections will happen on their own, so at the very least become a "regular" at a few places.

Take a bar tending class, and moonlight as bartender, start slinging coffee, start volunteering, be a ticket taker, anything that makes you look hundreds of people in the eye everyday, and soon you'll be desensitized to the whole thing.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 22, 2012
at 05:56 AM

For the record, I'm still a total introvert and prefer a lot of solo time, but I can talk to just about anyone now.

3
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:41 AM

Some times just faking it (ie, being social when you're really freaked out) will help build confidence. Because as you learn to cope with dealing with strangers, at some point you may even begin to enjoy yourself knowing that you can handle that kind of situation. The more you do it, the better you'll be. You may never be a social butterfly, but at least you won't be having panic attacks! Who knows, you may make new friends in the process :)

Ask some friends if they can help you increase your confidence in the way you greet people. Practice approaching them, saying a greeting (not mumbling it), and giving a firm handshake. Look them in the face (the eyebrow, ear or nose is a good place to look if it's too hard to look at someone directly in the eyes), glance away every few seconds (because staring isn't polite and can be seen as too forceful). Keep your hands out of your pockets, and try not to fidget or cross your arms. Square your shoulders back when you talk, and lean in slightly when the other person is talking (to indicate that you're interested in what they're saying--even if you're not lol).

3
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 21, 2012
at 07:25 PM

Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs test? A lot of people call it BS. It actually made sense to me. I'm an INTJ, and you sound like me.

INTJ's tend to be quite and reserved, especially in situations where they are unfamiliar or not in control. INTJ's also tend to be very comfortable around people they trust. INTJ's are also typically found in leadership positions (seems odd right?). About 1% of the population is an INTJ -- So we are odd balls.

What it comes down to is than an INTJ needs to be in control. Control of themselves, Control of their environment. When we are not in control we go into our shells. This might explain why we tend towards positions of leadership, positions of control.

I found that, after learning this, I was at least in a position to know. And when my friends would ask to go out I would force myself out of my comfort box. Force myself to talk to strangers at a party. I also would ensure I found time to be alone and focus on myself. Both are important.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 21, 2012
at 08:03 PM

INFJ here! Just thought I'd say hi. ;-) (Weird, considering my intense introversion, but it's much easier to be social from behind my computer screen!)

E791387b2829c660292308092dc3ca9b

(831)

on September 21, 2012
at 08:52 PM

I am an INFJ as are a couple of friends of mine. :) I think there are more of us that they think there are out there.

8425f2fefc608f58a8cc0f2dcaa93341

(381)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:56 AM

I'm an INTJ also. I've slowly gotten over social anxiety by forcing myself into numerous social interactions and also by becoming a teacher. It was hard at first, very hard! But over time it's become second nature to spend time with strangers and not be quite so awkward as before. I think the best thing for me has been to just stop giving a damn what anyone thinks. If someone doesn't like me, oh well, it's their issue not mine. Only when I was able to just be me was I able to feel more relaxed with strangers. With that said, I still feel some trepidation when going into a new situation.

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:56 AM

I'm an INTJ!...I think paleo is very attractive for us because we like to be able to be in control of how we feel. I will go as far as opening a curtain in a classroom full of students just because I think the natural light will put me in a learning 'mode'.....yeah i'm definitely an oddball and i'm completely fine with it haha.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 22, 2012
at 05:52 AM

INTJ here also.. Is there a pattern emerging..?

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 23, 2012
at 08:17 PM

Seems like everyone on the internet is INTJ, something tells me that those statistics were nothing more than ego-boosters.

2
782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

on September 21, 2012
at 08:35 PM

I know exactly what you are feeling! I am also very introverted but fine around people I know and am comfortable with. I think it has become a little easier with age, though. I find that if I have a role to play (as in a job) it is much easier to connect and communicate with others (read: strangers). But, I find it necessary to limit my time in uncomfortable, for me, situations. It's too tiring and I need time to recharge.

I find it odd, though, that I'm curious about other people and what they do, but it is somewhat draining for me to engage in conversation. I get too antsy. Don't know why.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:41 AM

Being around strangers is definitely exhausting!

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