The Main Tasks For Dealing With Shyness, Fears, and Insecurities
Like many others, the site's section on handling shyness, fears, and negative thoughts is pretty big. This article will provide a quick list of the biggest practical tasks that come out of it. The writing in the section itself covers the 'How to' information behind each suggestion. Of course, skip the items you already have a handle on, or which don't apply to you. While the list itself is short, each item may break down in several smaller tasks, and involve a fair amount of time and effort on your part.
Implement lifestyle changes to buoy your overall mood
Making positive lifestyle changes can combat depression and anxiety. I cover them here:
You don't have to put all of the recommendations into effect, since different suggestions fit best for different people, but generally the more the better.
Some lifestyle changes are relatively simple to make, but others, such as exercising more often can take more groundwork to get going.
Read up on ways to identify and take the edge off of insecure or counterproductive thoughts, and then apply them as necessary
This step is a bit different in that it's not a specific task you can go out and do. It's more a set of approaches you learn, which you can then use when counterproductive thoughts pop up as you're working on your other social goals. For example, if you walk by a co-worker and they don't say hi, you can use what you've learned to deal with a thought you may have such as, "She thinks I'm a total loser".
As I mention in the articles that cover this information, dissecting your thoughts alone won't cure all your problems, but dealing with them constructively is better than taking them at face value and giving them free rein to negatively impact your mood and behavior.
I say this step is easy in the sense that you just have to sit down and analyze your thoughts. However, it can sometimes be tricky to break them down. It also takes a while to get to the point where you make self-defeating statements a lot less than you used to (you'll never be able to stop doing it entirely, despite what some self-help books may imply).
Read up on approaches for handling anxiety
A lot of people struggle with anxiety, in general, and around specific social situations. This section has articles that cover various strategies for dealing with it. Some of them involve switching your attitude (e.g., getting to a place where you don't care if someone sees that you're nervous), while others are technique based (e.g., learning to breathe in a calming way). As I've covered, some of the other tasks in this article help anxiety as well (mood boosting lifestyle changes, learning to debate worrisome thoughts).
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Many people who experience anxiety can significantly reduce it. However, it takes time to get good at implementing the relevant strategies.
Identify your obvious and more subtle social fears
If you have a problem with them then you're well aware of what your main social fears are. I'd also encourage you to think about any more subtle ones you have, that may be influencing your choices and behavior without you noticing. These smaller fears can be tricky to identify, especially if you've been going through life on autopilot and haven't considered them until now. One way to root out smaller fears is to think about any social situations you logically know you should be involved with, but which you never seem to get around to taking part in. Also, sometimes we feel like we don't like certain things, when we're really just intimidated by them.
Slowly start facing the social situations that make you uncomfortable
Some people may want to tackle smaller fears first to build up some positive momentum. Other readers may want to start with their bigger and most annoying fears, to get it over with. How to put together a plan to gradually and systematically face your social fears is covered in this article:
You'll likely have to adjust your fear facing plan on the fly once you begin.
Difficulty: Moderate to Very Hard
Although it's worth it in the end, facing your fears, especially if they cause significant symptoms of anxiety, can be quite difficult. I don't want to sugarcoat it. You may never fully eliminate a fear either, but hopefully you can get to a point where it no longer interferes with the kind of social relationships you'd like to have.