Hayley's Blog

How to Step Out of Social Anxiety and into Joy

6/12/2017

Are you an introvert? Me too!

Earlier in life, if someone had told me I would be creating videos, teaching webinars, and speaking on a stage in front of live audiences of thousands of people, I NEVER would have believed them. I could never even have imagined it. OMG, just speaking to one person freaked me out!

And here is why: I never thought I had anything important to say. So of course, with that kind of thought process, I’d feel nervous or stressed out just having to talk.

These days when I have to speak, I have a moment, but it’s more like adrenaline now. My new thoughts are that people like me and like what I have to say. And those thoughts make me feel WAY more confident.

People who know me are shocked to hear that when I was a child I was super insecure and gawky. So, I wasn’t just shy, I was petrified; literally unable to hold a conversation.

In high school and college I was terrified, and as an adult I used to have to hold a drink in my hand just to relax. My insecurity was so serious that at one point drinking became an issue for me. I wouldn’t go out without heading straight to the bar first. Not any more!

I no longer need a drink to feel comfortable in social settings. The irony is this: by teaching other people that what they have to share matters, I’ve learned the importance of stepping forward in my own life.

Does that mean I’m not shy anymore? No, I’ve just learned how to get past it.

It’s not always easy for me to go up to people, shake hands and introduce myself. I have had to figure out other ways to meet people and make friends.

I’m still the person who would rather stay home in front of my computer or TV rather than hang out in a vibrant social setting. But you know what? When I do finally head out and get all that chatter out of my brain, and then focus on getting to know other people, I DO actually have fun.

If you’re also shy or feel anxious around people, you might be interested to know you and I are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, social anxiety (and anxiety disorders in general) plagues at least 18% of the US population.

What Causes Social Anxiety and Shyness?

Sometimes a fear of being judged contributes to social anxiety and shyness. My suggestion? Be vulnerable. The first time is the hardest, but keep practicing. It get’s easier.

And personally, I find those who are more vulnerable, way easier to connect with and to love. I find beauty in vulnerability. Don’t you?

XO,

Hayley



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