Living in a world that can revolve around socializing with social fears is a horrible experience. Let’s talk about what it exactly is and how to face them.
Socializing is a massive and major part of our lives. Not a lot of people acknowledge this, or even know it to be true. Regardless of that, we live in a world where socializing can help us greatly. It won’t just affect our social lives, but our professional lives too. Romantic lives, even.
At this point on, you first need to acknowledge how important it is to value our social lives. You probably take your professional life or your career in high regard, you should see your social life the same way. A healthy social life means you can create valuable connections with good people. People whom you can relate with.
These connections can be your sources of inspiration and advice. They will be your companions through good and bad times. Your life as a whole will become so much smoother and happier with good friends around.
However, there are things in life that can prohibit a person from having a good social life. Social fears are perhaps that biggest hurdles you’ll need to go through.
What Are Social Fears
Social fears are negative thoughts that dwell in your head whenever you’re about to enter a socializing situation. These are voices in your head telling you the things that could go wrong if you try to participate in a socializing setting.
They can be irrational, but they are relentless. Sometimes, they become so powerful that they will literally take hold of a person, making them unable to function normally around other people.
Social fears can vary from person to person, but they all have one thing in common: they restrict a person from socializing properly. They can get to a point where they will fear socializing.
Social fears can happen due to many reasons. They can be because of your childhood. A traumatic experience that has made you associate socializing with humiliation, thus causing you to be afraid of it as an adult. You could also just be not used to the idea of it, given how isolated you were growing up. Sometimes, maybe you’re just naturally a shy person and it’s just your mind’s defense mechanism that holds you back in unfamiliar or hostile situations.
Whatever the case, social fears can be overcome. Before we get to that, though, let’s first discuss what kinds of social fears there are.
Examples of social fears
Below are examples of different kinds of social fears. Take note: these are not the only social fears a person can experience, but these are the most common. Take a look and see if you relate to any of them.
1. Making a mistake in front of everybody
The most common and obvious kind of social fear is the fear of making a mistake, surrounded by countless strangers. This is one of the biggest obstacles people face when socializing. They’d rather not socialize at all in fear of making a fool of themselves.
These dreaded mistakes can be very little, almost uneventful. Yet, they will fear for its happening anyway. Just a tiny mistake and their anxiety will skyrocket. If they push yourself forward and socialize, they’ll spend the night being extra careful and mindful just to make sure those mistakes will never happen.
2. Accidentally saying something awful in the middle of a conversation
Another kind of social fear is the fear of saying something wrong in a conversation. Conversations are very personal. In conversations, you know for a fact that the other person is paying attention to you. It’s not the same as you just walking around. Those who live with this fear know that this is a different, more up-close kind of social fear.
They could be afraid of saying something horrible in the middle of a conversation. They could be afraid of offending the person you’re talking to. Maybe they’ll become absent-minded for just one second and miss vital information. They then fear that it makes them unable to converse properly moving forward. These lingering thoughts become so intimidating that it makes them not want to have conversations in the first place.
3. Not being able to say the right thing in a conversation
Aside from being afraid of saying something wrong in a conversation, being afraid of not knowing what to say in a conversation is also a social fear people experience. What if the other person is a conversation master and they’re not? What if the expert speaker will judge those who aren’t capable of handling good conversations?
These kinds of thoughts can be alarming for those who have this social fear. The idea of engaging in a conversation with someone, only to fail in that conversation, is terrifying.
4. Being afraid you may not be wearing the correct outfit at a party
This fear falls under the superficial criteria, but it is founded nonetheless. The world we live in can be very conscious and critical of physical appearances. Those who live with this social fear are aware of that fact. That’s why they also become extremely conscious and critical. Not of others, though, but of themselves.
They get afraid that no matter how hard they try, they’ll never look as good as the rest of the participants at a party. Or they’re afraid that they aren’t trying hard enough. The moment they step into a party, they’ll immediately have thoughts like “What if what I’m wearing is not good enough?” or “They all look so much better than me.”
5. Telling a story nobody’s going to pay attention to or a joke nobody’s going to laugh at
This is the kind of social fear where a person actually makes an attempt at socializing but they fear it’s going to fall short. They’re afraid that if they do try to make conversations, nobody is going to be interested in their stories. If they tell jokes, nobody’s going to laugh.
This is the kind of fear that makes them think “I could try, but what if I fail?”
“I could try telling them a few of my stories, but what if they won’t be interested?”
“What if I try to tell the jokes I know to make them laugh, but I’ll just cause an awkward silence instead?”
6. Being afraid that everyone will notice your anxiety and judge you for it
This kind of fear is almost… meta. It goes beyond their normal fears. It takes what they already fear and amplify it.
With this social fear, they’re afraid that others will see exactly how afraid they are.
The thing with this social fear is it’s the most plausible. Why? Because people can actually take notice when you’re nervous when socializing.
You can make mistakes and people won’t notice. You can say the wrong things in conversation but can brush it off. However, if you’re constantly anxious for the entirety of the night, someone is bound to notice. This is because your social fear and anxiety will manifest itself in how you can in public. If you’re afraid of socializing, your actions and mannerisms will show it.
7. Talking to a stranger
This is admittedly a very common social fear because it can be intimidating and foreign talking to someone you don’t know. It’s a feeling that’s kind of familiar but it’s not. Interacting with people is something you can do but it’s easier when it’s with people you know. You at least know what kind of person the people you know are. With strangers, though, not so much.
You can never know what a stranger is like before interacting with them. The endless possibilities are almost… terrifying.
That’s just the thing with social fears, though. It’s almost the terrifying aspects that gets in the middle. It’s what people will pay attention to when they have social fears. They can’t focus on the fact that the terrifying things can also be beautiful if they are handled properly. Talking to a stranger is scary, yes, but it can also hold potential for an amazing friendship.
8. Unintentionally being the center of attention
Another scary aspect that people with social fears go through is being the center of attention… unintentionally. When something happens on accident that makes everyone in the room glue their eyes towards them. No matter what it is that happened, it won’t matter. What matters is that they’re now the center of attention. And they hate it.
Being the center of attention is good if its intentional. If you want to tell a story, if you have a message you want to convey, if you want to be heard, etc. It’s also fine if you’re used to it. But, if you’re someone who has social fears and you don’t want to be the center of attention, this can be one of the scariest things in the world.
How To Face Social Fears
if you relate to any, if not all of the social fears that are mentioned above, then you know how awful it is. As mentioned, we live in a socializing world, and socializing is something that can bring us a whole bunch of good.
If you live with social fears, you must be sick and tired of it by now. You’re tired of having something like fear take hold of your life. You should be the captain of your soul. Fear is just a momentary trouble that you will soon overcome. And you will overcome it. If you’re keen on moving forward, then face and overcome your social fears. Let’s talk about how you can do that.
1. Positive reinforcement
If your own mind is your own fear, turn it around and take hold of your mind again. Every time you think of a negative thought, every time your mind forces you to think of a negative thought, fight it back.
Think of it this way: picture a cheerleader who motivates you to always do the right thing. If you’re doubtful, that cheerleader will convince you that you can achieve what you want. If you’re afraid, your cheerleader will tell you to be brave. Your cheerleader will cheer you on no matter what.
Place that cheerleader in your head. Actively search for that cheerleader. Make that cheerleader stronger. Listen to it.
That cheerleader is and should be the manifestation of your courage and potential. Always listen to it. Whenever you have thoughts of doubt, turn to the cheerleader in your head and seek for positive reinforcement. Know why socializing is good for you. Know why things won’t go wrong.
2. Practice in front of a mirror
If you want to face and overcome your social fears, you’re going to have to practice. A lot.
A lot of this process is just you, alone, either sitting on a chair or standing across a mirror. If you want to make proper conversations, you’ll need to know what to say. If you want to stand confidently, you’ll need to have the body language of a social skill master.
Know what you’re going to talk about with other people. Find topics you’re passionate about. Learn funny jokes to tell. Learn how to tell them. Stand upright, learn how to control your body language and your facial expressions.
Take a look at your body and face in the mirror. Does it scream confidence? No? Then practice more. The more you fake it, the faster and better you’ll make it. Practice until it becomes who you are and until it becomes natural. Before you go out and face other people, face yourself first.
3. Ask help from a friend
There’s no shame in asking help from a friend. If it becomes too tough, too scary, if you start to think you can’t do this by yourself, you don’t have to.
Have someone to lean on. Whoever you’re closest with. A friend, a relative, a coworker, anyone you trust and can confide in. Someone who knows you and wants you to be better. If they do want you to be better, they’ll do their best to be as helpful as they can.
Talk to them about your stories, body language, socializing skills, etc. Ask for their opinion, hurtful or not. It’ll be useful to you.
You can even ask them to attend a few parties with you. Socializing will become much easier if there’s a comfortable and familiar presence around.
4. Learn what it takes to be more empathetic
Every social skill master will tell you how important it is to know how to use your empathy. This is what’ll help you connect with other people better.
For your social fears, this is helpful as well. If you can empathize with other people, if you force yourself to, your focus will be diverted towards them instead of the negative thoughts in your head. You won’t have time to doubt yourself because you’ll be too focused empathizing with other people. This is a good diversion for you and a good way to socialize as a whole.
5. Acknowledge the fact that not everybody will be critical of you
At this point, you’ll need to tell yourself that not everybody will be incredibly critical of the things you do. Believe it or not, most people won’t care if you make a mistake in public. Do you want to know why? Because they mistakes too.
Making mistakes is a human behavior. What makes you better than that is how you pick yourself back up after a mistake. Will you allow it to swallow you whole or will you stand up and leave it behind? That’s what people care about. If you can move past your mistakes, you’ll even be appreciated.
6. Make sure you’re comfortable of the places you’re going to
As a way to make things easier, make sure that the places you’re going to socialize in are places that are comfortable for you. If the party is held in a place you aren’t comfortable with, you’re free to not attend it. You don’t have to force yourself to attend every single social opportunity. You can take it one step at a time.
7. Keep exposing yourself to socializing
The more you socialize, the easier it will get. The more familiar you’ll be with the idea of socializing, the less your social fears will be able to take control of you. Just remember that. Keep exposing yourself to socializing and you’ll be comfortable with it before you know it.
Once you feel comfortable enough with your practice, then go ahead and start applying yourself. If it’s too scary the first time around, that’s fine. That shouldn’t stop you. Keep doing it. The more you do it, the less scary it will become.
8. “All it takes is one connection”
Finally, this is what you’re going to build towards. This is the goal you should eye. If you have an end game, you’ll be motivated to act.
All it takes is one connection. If you can create that first connection, things will go so much smoother moving forward.
Think of it as the barrier that you’re going to have to penetrate before everything becomes natural. That’s the barrier you’ll have to pass through. Practice as much as you can and socialize whenever you can. Aim to make that first connection with a stranger. You’ll know you’ll have succeeded once you make that very first one.
Face Your Social Fears By Improving Your Social Skills
Your social fears are just obstacles. That’s all they are. It shouldn’t control you. You’ll be able to face and overcome your fears. The ultimate way to do that is to improve your social skills.
Consider the articles on this site as your study materials. Refer to them to know more about socializing. Study, practice, apply, and repeat. In time, you’ll be able to overcome your social fears. For now, study. Good luck!
PS: Check the Get The Friends You Want eBook for the most important social skills and how to quickly acquire them.