You know you’re suffering from social anxiety when you have thoughts of how you’ll appear as a fool to everyone as soon speak your words, or stepped into a room. Soon, that little hint of nervousness grew into crippling fear, that you feel yourself physically trembling and struggled to get the words of your mouth.
I was exactly all that at 28, confined to a job where I spent more time communicating with machines than with humans. At the height of my anxiety, I quit my job and did the unthinkable of starting my own business. One that crashed and burnt by the time I was 33, inviting depression on top of my anxiety issues.
I’m not going to talk about how being a socially anxious entrepreneur affects the operation of my business, but rather how my life changed after surviving depression that came after my business failure and a divorce that follows.
As I recollect how I thrive as a voluntary event host for a few corporate events in 2016, I realized that at the core of my social anxiety is the lack of self-esteem and confidence, which I believe is true for others too.
Having gone through a few self-help programs that, I can summarize the exact steps that I’ve done that help me to build my self-esteem and confidence that eventually plays a part in overcoming my social anxiety. Here’s the list.
If your education as so far been confined to academic or those required by your career, now it’s time to really learn. I was all absorbed into business, IT and electronics until I start learning about life and all that’s other than what I really do for a living.
It’s only when I admitted that I don’t really know, and I need to learn that I realized how uptight have I been about my intellectual knowledge. You would have thought that by humbling ourselves to learning will be a huge blow to our confidence, but that can’t be further from the truth.
I spent countless hours learning from great motivators like Harv Eker, and Tony Robbins. Both are great entrepreneurs who also taught me about life. I start reading into Law Of Attractions, hypnosis and the power of zodiacs, subjects that once I used to scoff in disbelief. In short, I let my mind to be open.
I spent years questioning why I trembled in fear when I speak to strangers while others do not. I tried to brute force my way out of social anxiety. It does work to an extent, but deep inside, I knew that it’s just like pushing a spring within itself, and it will eventually explode.
It wasn’t until I totally accept and explore my emotions that I eventually open myself to the deep transformation from some of the self-help programs I went through. If you keep denying your feelings, you can’t really change. It’s ok to be terrified when you speak up. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging or even accepting it.
When you stop struggling with your emotions, you give yourself a chance to truly rise above social anxiety. It doesn’t stop my trembling or blushing, but at least, I do not feel the need to hide in public. Accepting your own limits is the key to building your confidence and reclaiming your self-esteem.
If you’ve spent all your life trying to love others, and often feel unrequited, you may have neglected in loving yourself. Most of us who struggled with anxiety feel unworthy, and prefer to shower our love to others. Eventually, we’re exhausted, drained and empty. Then we questioned the nature of love.
Stop feeling guilty about taking a couple of hours off to watch your favorite movie. Or pamper yourself with the best spa for your aching body. How long has it been since you last drop everything and head off for a vacation, shutting off your cell phone and stop bothering with email?
You need to start loving yourself if you want to build your self-esteem. Start caring on how you dress up. Get a fashion consultant if you need. Dressing up is not only an act of self-love but a powerful way of giving you the much-needed confidence. Your wardrobe affects your mind and it’s scientifically proven. It’s also the reason why I suit up at every event I hosted.
I always pride myself on being a perfectionist. I can’t afford to be anything else; when I’m in the business of designing electronics that may blow up or cause even more damage in sending erratic data in the hospitals. There’s nothing wrong with being a perfectionist if your job demands so, but once you bring perfectionism to your social life, it’s the perfect ingredient for social anxiety.
I remember while in the middle of an energy healing program, I realized how much perfectionism has hurt my life and others. My quest for perfection ended and my life starts to change. Blogging has been unthinkable as my English was never near perfect, and yet here I am, knowing that this less than perfect blog could invite ridicule from grammars fanatic.
And to give you an idea how much I’ve moved on since the height of my social anxiety, let’s just say that I’ve never posted any opinionated status update on my Facebook before a couple of years ago, for fear of being judged. That’s how low my self-esteem used to be. A blog like this would be unthinkable. Anyway, stop chasing for perfection outside of your work life.
You don’t really need to get the perfect abs, although that could be a great confidence booster. But do not neglect your physical health. If you’re in a bad shape, it will affect your mental health. I was in my early 30s when I have to deal with depression on top of existing anxiety issues with a body that feels twenty years older.
I turned to bringing back martial art practice in my life and lost a few pounds in the process. The positive effects on my mind definitely show as I start to grow a sense of belief that I have lost. If martial arts are not your cup of tea then try other workout options that could interest you.
Not only does exercising improve your sense of well-being, you could also meet some of the like-minded friends who could support you in your struggles. Starting off with a common topic is much easier than breaking the thick ice at social events.
When you’re getting older in life, you’ll want to choose your friends wisely. Not everyone that you associate with will lift you up to be a better version of yourself. In fact, do a quick check on who you’re interacting with daily and if you’re getting the negative vibe that drains your energy.
In the past couple of year, my circle of friends changed drastically. Besides, I tend to be more sensitive to negative energy after I undergo the energy healing program. I keep myself close to friends who are non-judgemental and would never hesitate to uplift each other.
And yes, it is possible for you to have friends, even if you’re struggling with social anxiety. The right people will show up in your life when you start loving yourself. And friendships that are born when you’re in deep struggles often survive the trial of time. These are the people who would not hesitate to make you believe in yourself.
Tell me that I will one day host an official event attended by a thousand audiences 5 years ago and I will think that you’re out of your mind. If there’s one greatest lesson that I’ve learned in battling my depression and anxiety is how I let fake beliefs shaped my life.
Each and every time we tell ourselves that we’ll never be able to speak fluently as our socially outgoing friends, we enforce that particular belief in our subconscious mind. Clearing off limited beliefs is much more complicated than being aware of them intellectually.
When a belief has lodged itself in your subconscious mind for years, it took special methods like CBT, hypnosis and energy clearance to remove such subconscious beliefs. I’ve never tried CBT as it is pretty costly at my local area. Hypnosis and energy clearance works for me in uprooting the beliefs that hurt my self-esteem.
I discovered this unique method of building self-esteem when I participated in one community project that raises funds for leukemia patients. When you stop focusing on yourself and actually contribute in a way that could change the fate of another person, the result is an uplifting and humbling experience.
It is empowering to know that you have the ability to affect another person’s life positively, even when you’re struggling on your own. The grateful smile that you receive is a perfect remedy to build self-esteem and confidence that money couldn’t buy.
And it doesn’t stop at that. Giving back without expectation is a great healing experience to any emotional wound that you have suffered. If you’re thinking of giving some of your time to others, Volunteer Match is a site that you could register your interest. You’ll be amazed how much you can give even when you think you have nothing to offer.
Do you have more tips that work for you in building self-esteem and confidence to add on to this list? Share your thoughts with other readers in the comment below.
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I am an engineer-turned-writer who once struggle with social anxiety. After overcoming problems inflicted by low self-esteem and the fear of interaction, I realize the need for taking a holistic approach in developing our mind. I'm sharing my experience, remedies, and techniques that interest me in my quest to be a better self.
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