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Focus outwards. Socializing is about focusing on another person, the outward thinking, showing an interest in the things about that person. People love to be noticed, so when you start to take an interest in them they will naturally be warm to you.
You also tend to miss a lot of other things around when focusing too much on yourself and your feelings. That might be something that could become an interesting point of conversation, or some clues about how that situation works.
Self-help manuals are usually intended to supplement therapy, but they can also be helpful if you are trying to overcome social anxiety on your own. Here are some good books that might help you in fighting your social anxiety.
An exposure hierarchy is a list of situations that make you anxious, written in order of severity. First, you perform the situations that are the easiest, and gradually move up the list. Create your own exposure hierarchy by listing 10 anxiety-inducing situations, and rate them on a 100-point scale.
You can find more information insights about this technique in this document.
You might start you list with a situation when you ask a stranger for directions and end it with joining Toastmasters.
Try self-hypnosis. Use your imagination to try out new ideas and rehearse for the real thing in a calm relaxed state of mind. You have probably already experienced self-hypnosis by attending social events in your mind, saying the right things to the right people, and getting the right responses.
Worrying is self-programming. When you worry about future social situations you are linking anxiety to them. And when you actually go into these situations, you get anxious, since you have programmed yourself.
Think about the upcoming gathering while being relaxed – sitting in a chair or taking a warm bath. Imagine yourself in the social situation looking confident and relaxed. Do this repeatedly and your body and mind will create a new automatic association to these situations.
Once we express externally the voices in our head that seem insane, we often see the lack of reason and logic that we have been submerged into. We are forced to confront the mirror of our internal dialogue.
By externalizing our voices we stop holding things in, and start to create a conversational flow and feel more comfortable when we open up to others.
Distinguish between the real and imaginary dangers
In order to cope with the anxiety you need to realize the difference between the real risks that you will face and the ones created by your imagination which aggravate the anxiety. You have to try to control the things you can deal with and accept those you cannot change.
Determine if the problem is real rather than imaginary.
If your concern is imaginary, determine how likely is it to happen. Is it realistic?
Can you prepare for the problem somehow or it cannot be controlled?
This will help in adequate estimation of your resources for coping with stressful situations.
Even if you simply analyze the problem, you get distracted from your emotions and feel like you’re getting something accomplished.