There are 4 steps you can take to get out of social anxiety hell’s loop
I’ve written extensively about social anxiety because I have a wealth of knowledge to share. You might not know that while it’s taken a lot from me (hence my mission to help others with it), it’s also given me a lot.
But I could see the gains and losses only once I was out of social anxiety hell. And it recently dawned on me that not everyone knows they’re stuck in social anxiety hell. Maybe that’s you. Because once upon a time, I didn’t know.
I used to think social anxiety was a fact of life.
A collective motion we all went through, with some of us better suited to handle it than others. But the more time passed, the more I realized such was not the case. While a common experience for many introverts, it’s not a universal plight.
Suddenly, my perspective changed, and it became uncomfortably clear that my reactions were indeed based upon my self-imposed internal limitations. As it turned out, I was the root cause of my symptoms. It was like putting on glasses after living in a haze.
Something shifted within me.
As I made my way to the other side, I realized the grass was greener. And that all this time, I was standing on decaying ground.
If you’re the type of person that piles on the negativity throughout the day and you have a mean insecure inner critic, then you need to do this exercise to balance the thoughts out.
My brain tricked me into believing that I was less than. After many years of falling below everyone’s expectations, including my own, I concocted an alternative version of myself. One that wasn’t deserving of anyone’s attention. One that was better off sitting quietly in a corner, avoiding any conflict, interaction, or judgmental eyes. I allowed this version to take over the reins and inflict extensive damage on my true self.
And it’s recently come to my attention that the perfect analogy for this illusion is told by none other than the show Lucifer. The biggest takeaway is that we’re all creating our hell (without discussing the show’s premise in too much detail). A nightmare that places us in a constant loop. One that we find ourselves in, day in and day out.
Like a broken record player, playing the same old annoying verse repeatedly.
Those who end up in hell have their room (in the show). Their cell, where they get to relive the one thing they’re the most guilty of—a thing of their choosing.
Should they choose to, they can walk away from their hell. Yet, none do because they’re too focused on their guilt, unaware of anything else around them. They don’t know they’re in hell.
And that’s exactly what my life was like when I lived with social anxiety.
It was only when I started to pay close attention to what held me back and put me in that constant loop in hell that I could tear myself away from it. Whenever I swallowed my words for fear of retribution, hid under my desk for fear of socializing, or clammed up at the idea of presenting, I pushed back against those feelings and made myself walk out of hell’s door.
I’m writing this post because if you live in social anxiety hell, I want to help.
Like me, maybe you don’t even realize the extent of your anxiety, and you’re just living with these dreadful symptoms. Or maybe you know you have it, but you’re unsure how to rid yourself of it. One thing’s for sure — healing is possible.
You have to believe it’s in your power to break the loop.
Keep a journal handy and jot down the instant you feel that knot in your throat. The one that keeps you from sharing your opinion, giving advice, or speaking up.
These are all reactions to social anxiety. Be your expert at picking up on its cues. You don’t have to do anything about them except acknowledge that they’re there. That’s the first step. Become so good at observing yourself from the outside that you can pick up precisely when it will strike next.
Once you journal for a few weeks or a few months, go through the pages, and count how many instances of social anxiety you experience every day.
Bring the loop to light by counting the frequency of socially anxious experiences.
You want to know how frequently you fall into social anxiety’s trap. You might have heard of time tracking – which is all about knowing where your time goes so that you can reappropriate it accordingly. This is similar because if you don’t see that you have a problem, you won’t know how to correct it.
In the show, the nightmare of hell keeps repeating itself repeatedly. The character probably feels and knows he’s stuck, replaying the same scene. It doesn’t help that the hell he’s stuck in is the one that comes with the most guilt (from his life).
Could you highlight every moment in time that made you feel socially anxious?
Now that you’re aware of your social anxiety and when it kicks in, it’s time to analyze it as it happens.
The moment you feel social anxiety creeping in, ask yourself the tough questions.
Dig deep and self-assess your feelings. Try to pinpoint the root cause of your reaction. It helps to ask yourself, “why?” The more you do this, the more self-aware you’ll become of why your brain reacts in such a way. Once you have that knowledge, you can quickly move on to the next step.
Once you have all the data and studied it, you’ll be prepared to act upon an arising symptom. The moment you recognize that it’s starting, instead of going through the usual loop, break free of it immediately by resisting it.
This means that you must act the opposite of how you usually would.
If you’re freaking out in class or a meeting that your name will be called out, prepare yourself in advance by acting as if it will happen 100%.
Be proactive to lessen your reaction. Don’t wait for the situation to happen to you; instead, be ready to answer it. Don’t let the loop begin if the opportunity presents itself to speak up. Speak up without reservations, as if there’s no other option.
Who knew? But since you’re the person that put yourself in, you’re the person to take yourself out of it. I may have simplified the steps, but I purposefully did to help you see the big picture. The most important thing you can do for your mental being is to understand that you are (or aren’t) in this loop.
Once that’s revealed, you’ll know what actions to take. If you are (as I once was), try and go through these steps as much as possible.
I’m sharing my personal experience of being stuck in a loop where I believed that social anxiety was just my way of moving through life.
Here are the top 4 tips to break out of social anxiety hell’s loop.
Go back up and read why each step is important if you want to get out of social anxiety hell.
I went from being scared to ask a question out loud to hosting summits online. I love coffee, french crepes, and working from home. My mission? Help others build their social confidence to make friends, have conversations, and be comfortable around people!
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I’m obsessed with social anxiety. In a healthy way! After a decade of being debilitated by it, I finally have the tools I need to manage it (the journey itself is no joke). I now use my experience to help others.
Coach. Content Creator. Introvert. Mom. Lifelong learner. Psychology lover. Awkward human. Welcome.