(650) 965-7332 dr.nwesson@sbcglobal.net

The following information and exercises are designed to assist you with overcoming social anxiety and are taken from the Overcoming Social AnxietyWorkshop. I would recommend that you use them along with the help of a counselor/psychotherapist.

MANAGING YOUR ANXIETY IN SOCIAL SITUATIONS
EXERCISES AND STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU
© Nancy Wesson, Ph.D.

Negative self-talk/self-criticism and tension make an already anxiety provoking situation that much more difficult. In fact, we know that negative thinking creates anxiety, and interferes with attention and concentration. Try having a conversation and being friendly when all of that is going on!

Exercise:
Think of a Social Situation that Caused You Difficulty Recently
Think about how you felt.

Think about the event itself.

Identify what you said to yourself — the negative message you told yourself
Did you put yourself down? Did you make a “should have” or “I’ll never statement”?
How were you feeling? Did you feel down, angry, sorry for yourself, guilty, shame? What was it?
What was the negative message you told yourself?

My Self-Critical Thoughts
1.__________________________________________________________
2.__________________________________________________________
3.__________________________________________________________

Knowing What BELIEFS Are Helps
It’s also important to replace these thoughts with more with positive thoughts and Positive beliefs/statements about yourself are called affirmations.

Examples of Positive Beliefs/Affirmations:
“I can learn to overcome my social anxiety.”
“I can make mistakes when talking to new people and still pursue a relationship,”
“I can become comfortable talking in meetings.”
“I am capable of bringing new people into my life.”

Some New Positive Self Statements for You:
1. _____________________________________________________
2. _____________________________________________________
3. _____________________________________________________

Relaxation Techniques:
It is very difficult to feel nervous when you are relaxed. Therefore learning relaxation techniques is a key component in becoming more comfortable in social situations if you have social anxiety..

You can learn breathing/relaxation exercises that will help you relax around other people. One of the easiest but most powerful relaxation techniques involves taking deep breath and then releasing the breath very slowly. You can take a deep breath and let it out to a count of four. This is quite relaxing. You can use this technique even in the presence of other people but it is best to practice it first when you are alone.
If you need help with this, you can purchase a relaxation CD at any large bookstore. The CD will teach you some additional relaxation techniques.

Visualizations:
You can use the relaxation techniques while you visualize in a positive relaxed way, the experience you wish to have or the exact situation you wish to take place in a relaxing way. If you do this often it is very effective. Another visualization strategy is to sit quietly and imagine in your mind going some place that you find especially relaxing. Imagine all of the sights, sounds, smells, etc. of this place while taking deep breaths and relaxing the tense parts of your body. You can use this technique before meeting a new person, going out on a date, attending a meeting etc. or any situation that typically causes you to feel nervous.

Common Mistaken Beliefs for Shy People and their Counterarguments

“If I talk to someone new I will say the wrong thing and embarrass myself, it is better not say anything at all.”

Counterargument to this belief is that you absolutely have no way to know what will happen if you talk to someone new- this would be foretelling the future. Also it is certainly not better to avoid saying anything at all. The more practice that you get speaking to others, the better you will get at speaking to others.

“I just do not know what to say most of the time.”

Counterargument: This belief is based on the mistaken assumption that you have to say the “right thing” most of the time and this is not true. There is often not a “right” thing to say.

“Other people are just not that interested in me.”

Counterargument: Can you read minds ? This is a generalization.

“Other people will reject me and I just will not be able to handle this.”

Counterargument: Thinking that you cannot handle rejection is a mistaken belief. You can learn with practice to handle rejection and interpret is as a step along the way to success.

Think of a Social Situation that Caused You Difficulty Recently

Think about how you felt.
Thank about the event itself.
Identify what you said to yourself — the negative message you told yourself Did you put yourself down? Did you make a “should have” or “I’ll never statement”?
How were you feeling? Did you feel down, angry, sorry for yourself, guilty, shame? What was it?
What was the negative message you told yourself?

My Self-Critical Thoughts

__________________________________________________________

COUNTERARGUMENT:
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

COUNTERARGUMENT:
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

COUNTERARGUMENT:
__________________________________________________________

Knowing What BELIEFS Are Helps

It’s also important to replace these beliefs with more with positive thoughts and beliefs about yourself. Positive beliefs/statements about yourself are called affirmations.

Examples of Positive Beliefs/Affirmations:
“I can learn to overcome my shyness.”
“I can make mistakes when talking to new people and still pursue a relationship,”
“I can become comfortable talking in meetings.”
“I am capable of bringing new people into my life.”

Some New Positive Beliefs or Self Statements for You:

1. _____________________________________________________

2. _____________________________________________________

3. _____________________________________________________

EXERCISES AND STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU
© Nancy Wesson, Ph.D.

Negative self-talk/self-criticism and tension make an already anxiety provoking situation that much more difficult. In fact, we know that negative thinking creates anxiety, and interferes with attention and concentration.
Try having a conversation and being friendly when all of that is going on!

Exercise:
Think of a Social Situation that Caused You Difficulty Recently
Think about how you felt.

Think about the event itself.

Identify what you said to yourself — the negative message you told yourself Did you put yourself down? Did you make a “should have” or “I’ll never statement”?
How were you feeling? Did you feel down, angry, sorry for yourself, guilty, shame? What was it?
What was the negative message you told yourself?

My Self-Critical Thoughts
1.__________________________________________________________
2.__________________________________________________________ 3.__________________________________________________________

Knowing What BELIEFS Are Helps
It’s also important to replace these thoughts with more with positive thoughts and Positive beliefs/statements about yourself are called affirmations.

Examples of Positive Beliefs/Affirmations:
“I can learn to overcome my social anxiety.”
“I can make mistakes when talking to new people and still pursue a relationship,”
“I can become comfortable talking in meetings.”
“I am capable of bringing new people into my life.”

Some New Positive Self Statements for You:
1. _____________________________________________________
2. _____________________________________________________
3. _____________________________________________________

Rafting – Anxiety in Social Situations

Relaxation Techniques:

It is very difficult to feel nervous when you are relaxed. Therefore learning relaxation techniques is a key component in becoming more comfortable in social situations if you have social anxiety..

You can learn breathing/relaxation exercises that will help you relax around other people. One of the easiest but most powerful relaxation techniques involves taking deep breath and then releasing the breath very slowly. You can take a deep breath and let it out to a count of four. This is quite relaxing. You can use this technique even in the presence of other people but it is best to practice it first when you are alone.
If you need help with this, you can purchase a relaxation CD at any large bookstore. The CD will teach you some additional relaxation techniques.

Visualizations:
You can use the relaxation techniques while you visualize in a positive relaxed way, the experience you wish to have or the exact situation you wish to take place in a relaxing way. If you do this often it is very effective.
Another visualization strategy is to sit quietly and imagine in your mind going some place that you find especially relaxing. Imagine all of the sights, sounds, smells, etc. of this place while taking deep breaths and relaxing the tense parts of your body. You can use this technique before meeting a new person, going out on a date, attending a meeting etc. or any situation that typically causes you to feel nervous.