For you to function confidently in social situations, you will need to learn how to turn your fear into a more positive emotion. Any negative emotion can be turned into a positive one by simply perceiving it differently. Your perception determines your emotional reaction. For example, walking into a dark alley at night might make you afraid, but that is only because you perceive that there may be danger lurking. You react emotionally according to your perception. Even if no danger is actually present, you still react as if it were. In other words, it’s all in your head! Looking at your social anxiety in a different way will allow you to turn your anxiety into excitement, or even calmness. You get to choose. Here’s how you can become the master of your thoughts and emotions…
This simple writing exercise will only require about 10 minutes of your time each day. I suggest doing it right before you go to bed each night. What you learn from it will be absorbed by your mind while you are sleeping, and you will find yourself slowly but surely waking up each morning with a more optimistic outlook.
This is a free-writing exercise. All you need to do is record your thoughts in a journal of some sort. Spend 5 to 10 minutes writing whatever comes to your mind. No matter how crazy or negative the thought may be, just write it down. Do not edit or censor yourself. Write without stopping for about 5 minutes.
Once you are done, re-read everything you wrote. Pay attention to the types of thoughts you wrote down. Do they reflect a negative attitude? Are they hateful, self-defeating, or pessimistic in any way? It’s perfectly okay if they are. We all have negative thoughts. Most of us just aren’t totally aware of them. Writing your thoughts down on paper is an extremely effective method for becoming more aware of your thoughts. Once you are aware, you can begin to consciously shape your thoughts and change your overall attitude and personality. Without awareness, this cannot happen. Even if you don’t notice any negativity in what you have written, choose at least one sentence that you think might be able to be re-written to sound more optimistic. Re-write this sentence at the bottom of the page. Directly below it, write a new version of the sentence that sounds at least slightly more positive. Here is an example:
Original thought: “I really wish I could be more outgoing and confident around people. It’s so hard to make friends with my social anxiety.”
New thought: “My social anxiety may be holding me back, but I am grateful for the friends I do have. I will get better at making friends, I just need to be patient and seek out some solutions to my problem.” Do you see how the second sentence reflects a more optimistic outlook? It focuses on 2 things: gratitude and positive expectation. The first sentence focuses on the problem itself and doesn’t address a possible solution. Although the thoughts are similar, the re-written thought is much more solution-oriented and thus more likely to evoke positive emotion and create some forward momentum.
A simple change in the wording of your thoughts can make a HUGE difference in the quality of your life and greatly increase your chances for overcoming your challenges.
The more you do this writing exercise, the better you will get at turning the negative into positive. You may find yourself feeling socially anxious, but you will stop and think to yourself, “Wait, I can learn from this. I recognize my fearful thoughts, but I don’t need to let them control me. Do I have a good reason to be afraid right now, or is my mind just playing tricks on me? I can choose to see this situation in a more positive light.”
When you get really good at this, you will begin seeing every situation through a positive and optimistic lens. Fear won’t dominate you any longer. You will be aware of it, because you have practiced recognizing your own potentially-destructive thoughts. That awareness is what allows you to respond rather than react. YOU will be in control, not your fear. The solution to your social anxiety doesn’t involve getting rid of fear. Fear is present in even the most confident people. The difference-maker is how you interpret your fear. You can choose to see it as something negative or as something that will help you learn and grow as a person.
Fear will always be there to some degree, but when you create a more positive attitude for yourself, the fear takes on a totally different meaning and becomes much easier to face and overcome. This simple 10 minute writing exercise will transform your life in ways you wouldn’t believe. It will steadily shift your mindset to a more positive one, and you will find your self-esteem steadily rising. You will be more excited and hopeful for the future. You will believe in yourself and your ability to overcome your struggles. A positive attitude will do so much for you. I truly hope that you take advantage of this simple yet incredibly effective strategy for creating positive change in your life.