Social anxiety disorder is a pain to live with. See how to get over social anxiety using visualization as a tool. If you suffer from a social anxiety disorder, your enjoyment of life is affected. Every little thing that most people take for granted is made more difficult.
You miss out on so much every day. Your future will be affected because you find it hard to communicate or be part of a social setting. So it is more difficult for you to get a good job.
Sometimes it is not what you know, but who you know. Social anxiety sufferers are at a disadvantage here. Many opportunities are lost because you are not interacting socially and getting to meet people who could help further your career.
But there is a way to help yourself and give you more confidence. The way to do it is by using visualization.
A social anxiety sufferer is very good at visualizing negatively. You see the worst in every situation. You vividly see yourself shaking, sweating, trembling before any social event you have coming up.
You run it over and over in your mind. So that job interview you are going to will become a nightmare for you. You need to give yourself a chance and stop ruining everything for yourself.
Visualization is just a tool you can use to help yourself. Visualization has been with us for a long time. It has been used in many scenarios. It has been efficiently used for managing pain for example. Dentists use VR as a way to manage pain. Your visualizations are your own VR system and are very powerful.
Visualization generally takes two forms. You can imagine you are in another place, somewhere else. You imagine yourself doing something you enjoy, and that gives you pleasure. When you are anxious in a social setting, this technique will help you get out of your own mind and curb the anxiety and negative thoughts you experience.
Another way to use visualization is to visualize in advance how you will handle a social event. Imagine it all in your mind and see the different ways in which you can react. Live the event before it happens. Doing this will help you to prepare and be more aware of what may happen during a particular setting.
So let us look at the first way of using visualization to help yourself. Practice seeing yourself in a different place altogether. Remove yourself visually from the social gathering. No one will know you are doing it. Visualize yourself in your favorite place, being calm and happy. Doing this will help reduce your anxiety and will stop the snowball effect where your fear would just keep increasing.
I am not saying it is easy. You will have to practice and remind yourself, especially when in a stressful situation. This technique has been successfully used by dentists for pain management, and it will work for your specific disorder.
The other way is visualizing the social gathering in advance. This is a better method to use for social anxiety disorder.
Up to now, you have been fantastic at negatively visualizing future events. You may be the best in the world at doing it! And does it work? You bet it does, you are living proof of that.
Now you need to start visualizing more positively. Just like you have been doing up to now. You imagined all the negative results. You did this over and over before the event. And when you finally went to the party or interview, everything you had imagined came through. It became true because you believed it would through your negative conditioning.
But now you know it works. So you know you can change.
- Start visualizing everything in a positive light.
- See yourself smiling, calm and relaxed. Do this over and over.
- Be very careful not to let negative thoughts in.
- Enjoy your visualizing.
- Imagine as visually as you can.
- See colors, hear sounds.
- Hear the laughing, see them smiling in your mind’s eye.
- Don’t stop. Be as good at it as you were at the negative visualizing.
- Soon, you will be the world’s best at it.
Now you may get to the point where you are even looking forward to the interaction or social event. You have practiced and can visualize yourself at the party or whatever. You are giving yourself a fighting chance of a different outcome than you were used to. But of course the inevitable happens. Something causes your anxiety levels to rise. You now panic and revert to your old ways of thinking. You being to think you will never find out how to get over social anxiety ever.
But all is not lost. Now you can break the cycle of your negative thoughts. You now visualize yourself somewhere else. You have been practicing that as well, haven’t you? It is important that you were because now you have a backup plan. You are aware now of what is happening so instead of getting stuck in the negative spiral of thoughts, you imagine yourself in another setting.
Maybe you practiced visualizing yourself playing with your dog in a beautiful meadow. Or on a sunny beach, or in your favorite room or listening to relaxing music. No one will notice what you are doing, but it will help you get back on track.
What you are now doing is running a video in your mind. You are a filmmaker. You get to produce it and make it unique to you. Remember how good you were at producing the negative videos? And you have the proof that they worked very well.
Now you know that with lots of practice the positive videos you visualize will have the same effect. Believe it and produce the best visualizations you can. Make it a part of your daily routine. Over time it will become very natural to do and will happen instinctively.
How To Visualize
When starting out get as relaxed as possible. Do some deep breathing exercises because social anxiety sufferers have a habit of shallow breathing. Close your eyes and become aware of everything around you, particularly sounds. Keep breathing slowly and deeply. Imagine some event like a wedding that you are going to. Visualize it all completely. Start from when you are getting ready for it. You are out choosing clothes. See yourself twirling around in that beautiful dress or feeling the quality of your new suit. Go overboard. Make it very real and vivid in your imagination. Notice everything around you. The colors, the smells, other people in the shop.
Carry on right up to the special day itself. See yourself leaving the house happy and carefree. Imagine yourself at the venue. Again, make sure to use all of your senses in your visualizing. See the people, hear them talking and laughing. Smell the food, the perfume. Hear the music and clatter of plates and cutlery. Visualize everything as vividly as you possibly can. Then make sure you repeat it over and over in your imagination. Every day without fail. It will become natural for you and will remove any doubts or fears you may have by reinforcing the positive outcome.
Visualize what you want to happen.
You are the producer after all. Don’t allow any negative images or thoughts into your production. Be the star of your own show.
- See yourself having a great time. You have no anxiety or fear.
- Imagine yourself mingling with and talking to people.
- Visualize them enjoying your company, talking to you and laughing with you
- Before you would imagine people staring at you.
- You may have thought they were even judging you.
- But all is different now.
- You know better, and people are delighted by your presence.
- See it clearly over and over, and leave no room for doubt in your mind
Visualize a happy social interaction as many times as you can before the occasion. Make sure you do the visualization again right before you attend the function. Also, have your backup visualization prepared– the first method of visualization. You will need to practice the primary way where you can mentally remove yourself from an anxious situation. Repeat this time after time until you are able to visualize yourself somewhere else that you consider safe and stress-free.
Using these two methods of visualization will change your life.
Of course, it will take time and effort. Things may not run smoothly the first time you do it. But don’t despair. Using visualization you will discover how to get over social anxiety in social settings.
Remember how successful you were at the negative visualization? Know that you can be even better at positive visualization. And you do know that it works. You just need to put as much time into it as you did with the negative practice. Negative visualization was a part of every minute of your life. You need to be committed and do the same for the positive imagining. Make it a part of every moment of your life too.
Never give up. Practice is the key here. Don’t doubt it. Look forward to the day when you realize that you are visualizing positively without having to put any effort into it. That day is closer than you think so visualize yourself looking forward to it as vividly as you can imagine! Using visualization for social anxiety will help you get better over time.