I went to a concert last week and had to leave at intermission.
My social anxiety got the best of me.
I’ve spent the rest of the week thinking about how I could have better handled it and there are 6 core ideas that have come to mind:
1) First, set your intent.
Before you go into a social setting, decide who you are going to be in that environment.
Are you going to be a curious observer? A cheerleader? The funny one? The charismatic one?
By making that decision for yourself, it gives you something to hold onto rather than being in a state of reacting to everyone else.
Know before you go!
2) Control your immediate environment as much as possible.
When I went to the concert last week, I sat in an area where there were a lot of empty seats around me. That was a bad idea.
As people started coming in, my anxiety grew as I worried about who would sit next to me. Ultimately my frustration grew when the person who plopped down next to me was not someone I would have chosen to sit near.
I should have chosen to sit by someone I would be most comfortable sitting next to from the beginning. This would have given me as much control over my immediate environment as possible – diminishing the anxiety of the unknown.
3) Take a friend.
A wing-man can help distract you and get you out of your head.
Take a friend whose courage and calm you can borrow when yours is running low.
If you can go with a friend – go with a friend.
4) Plan your escape line.
It’s always good to have a line that allows you to excuse yourself from small talk situations.
You might ask where the restrooms are and then excuse yourself.
Or step away to make a phone call.
5) Don’t allow for “crazy-crawl.”
As I was driving home from the concert, I realized that I was allowing myself to catastrophize the situation.
It was one bad situation – my whole like isn’t bad.
It was one bad social situation – not all social situations for the rest of my life will be bad.
Remember that an uncomfortable social situation is just that – it’s not permanent and it’s not pervasive – it’s not your whole life.
6) It’s ok to leave.
You are in complete control – if you want to leave then leave.
It’s always best-practice to take care of yourself and do what it necessary to make that so.
If you’re someone who experiences social anxiety, I hope these tips help you create a better way of showing up.
You’re amazing, others deserve the opportunity to see that part of you!