I started my journey to overcome social anxiety with this 5 step action plan
When I was six years old, I asked the girl sitting next to me to be my friend in class.
Her quick reply of “I already have friends” tore into me like a knife. A scar I internally carry to this day.
I realize I’m still holding on to her retort as I go down memory lane to pinpoint moments conducive to my social anxiety.
Now that I think about it, the academic environment is where the most significant shifts occurred—being homeschooled from 13 to 19 probably aggravated my state of mind. I was already tethering on the edge of being anti-social because my parents uprooted me from Canada to the United States that same year. Homeschooling was the last drop.
It would be another eight years to find myself again in a classroom, but by then, I couldn’t even bring myself to ask a question in class.
I couldn’t make a move without over-analyzing every thought I had and how it’d come off.
It didn’t help either that I ended up in a quite emotionally volatile relationship for two years. I was consistently told that I wasn’t good enough for the dreams I envisioned. I was voraciously torn into pieces should I dare speak to anyone of the opposite sex.
That relationship further exacerbated my lack of self-worth and made me question myself even more in every possible situation I found myself in.
I’ve experienced countless moments, such as those that accumulated over time and turned me into a socially anxious introvert.
I became acutely aware of it as I went through college and my first entry-level position as a financial analyst. I was thankful to land a job that didn’t require much contact with the external world.
It was just me and spreadsheets for the better part of two years.
Enough of not having the courage to speak up or to lean in. Enough of caring about what everyone else thought of me.
No matter how many self-help books I read, I wasn’t progressing with my mental state. I made myself feel so small for so many years that I created such a mysterious box around myself.
I had to find a way out for my sanity since I didn’t know how to make friends, have healthy relationships, properly communicate, or handle my insecurities.
An action plan to stop letting things hold me back.
Specifically, to stop letting what others think about me hold me back. Or what I believe they think about me. Once I started putting pen to paper, a skill I had honed during my years of solitude, I found the confidence I lost at 6.
You can experiment, tweak, and polish it to reflect your needs and be on your way. This is your action plan. Use the template and create your actionable steps toward a goal. Oh and it’s free!
What’s the result you’re hoping for?
Mine was to not care about what anyone else thought of me, regardless of the circumstances—a lofty goal. But I wanted to be free of all the baggage and reservations I carried around with every word I said.
Maybe your ultimate goal is to find one genuine friend. To get promoted. To speak publicly. Whatever the case, achieving your goal will improve your well-being significantly.
The goal has to be directly connected with social anxiety. How is social anxiety holding you back in this area of your life?
This is a crucial step that you should NOT skip.
I get the resistance of wanting to put anything on paper, but that’s how you’ll have high visibility of what needs to happen. Think of yourself as a business that needs a business plan; otherwise, you’ll go in any direction the market goes. You want to steer the market.
Each action step highlighted in step #2 above is still too broad and high-level to do anything with. I wanted to say “no” more often doesn’t exactly tell me HOW to do that. This is where step #3 comes in.
Steps to complete Action 1: Ask questions in meetings
Steps to complete Action 2: Give others the benefit of the doubt
Steps to complete Action 3: Say “no” more often
The more baby steps you can write down, the better. You can download my original action plan here to get the full details on each one of these action steps.
Could you come up with a mantra for each action written? This will help you calm down at the moment should things go awry. Remember that a mantra should give you energy and motivate you.
Still using my goal as an example, here at the mantras I associated with each high-level action.
This step looks at if you’ve completed the actions and steps you laid out in your plan. But more so than that, it’s about taking the time to dig deep and think about how you felt throughout the process.
Also, could you write down what else you need to do to get where you want to go?
It motivated me to help others with similar emotions and challenges.
Now, I’d love to tell you that all you need to do is follow this action plan to overcome your social anxiety, but unfortunately, this is only the first step in your journey. It took me a decade to free myself from its grasp, and even now, I’m still triggered by it.
Now, there is a real possibility you can overcome social anxiety just by using this template, but you’d have to go through many iterations and goals, until you feel comfortable with yourself.
It’s an ongoing process with many ups and downs, and just like anything else in life, it requires constant practice and dedication. I want to help you on your journey as you challenge your social anxiety.
This is my original action plan that kickstarted my entire journey to overcome social anxiety. I’m giving you my exact steps.
Here’s the 5-step action plan:
Go back and read why each step is essential in the action plan.
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.