6 Pointers To Overcome Social Anxiety

Posted on by Sen.

Guy sitting alone

Social anxiety is a big challenge for many people. My definition of social anxiety would be the presence of anxiousness/fear in a human mind when it’s subject to a situation where it has to communicate with other people or be around them.

Social anxiety may cause you to be reserved, shy or introverted out of the fear of interacting with people. It’s important to clarify however that there are some people who like being reserved or introverted, and it’s a part of their personality which they feel aligned with. Such people are not being introverted out of “fear” but out of choice. They wouldn’t feel anxious about interacting with others but they just prefer being introverted as a personal preference.

You need to be honest within yourself to know if you are being introverted as a choice or out of fear.

If you are shying away from human interaction out of anxiousness, or fear of talking to other people or being around them, then it’s a case of having “social anxiety”.

You can overcome it, to allow an inner growth/expansion in you and to live out certain desired experiences that you wish for, by understanding the core issues at the bottom of it and thus releasing it.

What causes social anxiety?

At the root of social anxiety are two “inter-related” issues. They are as follows:

  1. You don’t know who you are as a human being and are thus unaware of your “individuality”.
  2. You are not comfortable accepting yourself the way you are, in other words you are not accepting your “individual” personality the way it is.

Any person who is “aware” of his/her individuality, and is comfortable with it, would never feel anxious in any social situation.

When you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin you will always feel anxious around other people because you will be constantly worried about creating an impression, meeting expectations, trying to act differently, putting on pretenses, judging yourself and seeking approval.

This what social anxiety is all about – a fear of being “put down” by others, and the only reason this fear is ever present is when you are not comfortable with who you are and are thus affected by the opinions of others.

Being comfortable with who you are

Some people talk fast, some people talk slow. Some people are sharp, humorous and witty, while some people are flat and serious. Some people smile/laugh a lot, some people prefer being grim or straight faced. Some people are loud and voluble, some people prefer being mellow and crisp. Some people are good at debates, some prefer to keep away from debates. Some people are very fluent with words, some are less fluent.

These are all different dynamics of human personality and it influences the way you communicate with others. There is no right or wrong way to be.

What’s important is that you “be yourself” and not feel anything negative about being who you are. There are things you can improve about your communication, but nothing is more important than being totally comfortable with who you are, as you are.

The first step to becoming comfortable with yourself, is to start identifying who you really are as a person.

A lot of people move through their lives without ever taking the time to connect with who they really are, and thus they are “undecided” and conflicted about many things in their life. Almost all your indecisions/conflicts stem from not really knowing who you are as person, and thus being “mis-aligned” with yourself.

Social anxiety is just one such “conflict” that you feel because you are not aligned within.

So the one secret to overcoming social anxiety is to become aligned with yourself by knowing/accepting yourself as you are.

Let’s look into this in further details:

Self-knowing and Self-alignment

It doesn’t matter who you were in the past, what matters is who you are “Now”.

What is your “present” personality or your present individuality? That’s the question you need to ask and then connect with yourself, with a deep awareness, to find out who you really are as a person. There are many layers of mis-perceptions, negative conditioning and conflicts that you need to dig through to really “find” yourself.

A few pointers that can help in this process of “self knowing”, and alignment with yourself, are as below:

1.) You define what is right for you

Let go of all judgments about what is the “right” way to be.

All these judgments have been learnt from other people, and they are not your “own”. Don’t accept anyone’s definition of what’s the “right” way to be. Instead allow your own “resonance” to be the criteria for what is right for you. Don’t allow someone to dictate the “commandments” of how you should be.

Let go of trying to be someone you are not just to fit in to someone else’s model of what is right.

2.) Don’t feel guilty for being who you are

Let go of any guilt or shame that you associate with any natural behavior/drive that is present in you.

People have a lot of hang ups about their sexuality, eccentricities, kinks, quirks, passions, drives etc. because they feel there is something “wrong” with them for having these inclinations.

If it’s something that feels natural to you then it’s just the way you are. It’s your “individuality” – stop judging yourself for it and appreciate/accept yourself fully in this aspect.

Any guilt or shame that you feel within yourself will stand out in your vibration when you talk to other people, and they will catch upon it as a negative vibration in you.

3.) Be comfortable with the way you look

Align with your physical appearance fully. Let go of associating hatred/resentment about how you look.

So many people have deep inferiority complexes about how they look, and thus feel “anger” towards themselves and keep distance from others from the fear of being judged.

Always remember that beauty always lies in the eyes of the beholder, and there is no real “standard” of beauty out there. When you are aligned with the way you look, you will notice that people are automatically attracted to you just the way you are.

4.) Let go of the need to “pretend” in front of people

It’s common that as a kid you were asked to behave in a certain way around people and were reprimanded whenever you choose to just be yourself. This caused you to develop the pattern of “acting” out in a certain way in front of people.

May be you smile a lot when you don’t feel like smiling, you keep nodding your head to be polite, you go out of the way to try to please someone, or try to put on a “nice guy” act. All these are just pretenses because you are making an “effort” to do this to seek approval.

Be who you are – if you are naturally a smiling person then be smiling, but if you are naturally a “grim” person then just be grim. Don’t try to “act” for others approval. When you are being yourself, if someone takes offence, it’s purely their problem/hang-up not yours.

5.) Learn from what offends you

If you feel offended by something someone said about you, it just means that you already felt critical about that aspect in you.

A simple truth is that you cannot feel offended about something you don’t feel critical about in yourself.

For example, a tall guy would never feel insulted if he was called a “shorty” because he knows he is tall. Only a short guy, who feels “self critical” about being short, would feel offended if someone insinuated a negative comment about his height.

The issue is not that someone made a negative comment, the issue is that you are not comfortable with an aspect of you and thus took offence. When you are comfortable about all aspects of who you are, you would never feel offended by what others say about you.

6.) Take the time to connect with yourself

We surround ourselves with so many distractions that we hardly ever allow the time to introspect, or go within, to really connect with who we are as a person.

One needs to develop the power of “awareness” to really go within and understand one’s inner space of being.

When you start connecting with yourself, you will automatically start dis-identifying with all the patterns/beliefs in your mind that are not congruent with who you are. This clears up the presence of “conflicts” within you, and you become more alignment with your “individuality”. This allows for the manifestation of realities that feel congruent with who you are – this is what success is all about.

Concluding words

When you are aligned with yourself, you will not feel fear of the opinions/judgments of other people and hence there will be no anxiety in you towards social interaction.

People have the right to their opinions/perspectives, behaviors, and points of view, and it’s up to you (your responsibility) to align with yourself and not expect someone else to behave differently for you to feel good.

When you are aligned with yourself, you are deeply comfortable being who you are, and thus feel no negative judgment about yourself – this state of being allows you to be comfortable in any social situation and thus causes you to overcome social anxiety fully.

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  1. Nomind

    Your articles seem to flow. I don’t think mind can think and write this good. I have been feeling much better by staying in NOW.

  2. Andy j

    another question sen. What is the best way to connect with yourself? Is it through meditation, sitting and watching your thoughts?

    1. Sen Post author

      Connecting with yourself is about shifting your “focus” from the outside to the inside. Our senses cause us to focus on the outside mostly because of the various phenomenons that attract our attention. There is a tendency to almost become lost in the pull of the external reality and be totally disconnected with your inner space. The practice of shifting attention within and focusing on your inner space is a way to start knowing yourself more deeply as the “person” you are. When you shift your focus within, you will notice the momentum of thoughts in your mind, the various thought patterns that come up, the various conditioned responses happening in you, the preferences arising in the mind, its desires/likes/inclinations, its sensitivities/fears, patterns of past memories that are being held onto – it’s a journey of revelation. As you keep bringing more and more awareness to your inner space, you will notice how many thought patterns were running subconsciously in you and were influencing your reality. This awareness helps you release association with negative patterns of thought (fear/lack based thoughts) and also causes you to understand the natural make-up of your mind and personality structure. Connecting with yourself this way brings forth an alignment in you and causes a lot of inner conflicts to be dissolved through the sheer power of awareness.

  3. Jenny

    Hi Sen –
    How does one align with their physical appearance? (i know – i just need to let go … haha!) I know that i shouldn’t be concerned about the way i look and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – but a part of me just refuses to believe that! And that part of me gets a bit concerned about the way I look, what needs to change, etc. So do I just accept that my mind tells me those things, but try not to take those thoughts personally?? Will these thoughts eventually go away??? Or will a small part of me always be dissatisfied with the way i look…???
    Thanks so much 🙂

    1. Sen Post author

      Jenny, this process is not about denial of what the mind thinks, neither is it about ignoring the mind, rather its about letting go of your resistance to it, and allowing it a free expression. It’s about getting out of the way of your mind and life (your space of being), so that these two intelligence can interact flawlessly, and thus bring forth the manifestation of realities that are aligned with you – a balance establishes itself when you are no longer standing in the way of your mind’s interaction with your space of being. When the mind desires to look good, it’s a valid desire, and if you align with this desire it can lead to you feeling inspired towards taking actions that allow for the manifestation of a reality where your looks feel more in alignment with the image you desire for your body. Can you notice that you are trying to resist this desire in the mind, because you may feel that trying to look good is “vain” or some other reason like that. Of course, it’s about a balance, it’s not about becoming vain, but it’s also not about trying to ignore the mind’s desire to look good either – the ego force in you can only go to extremes, it will either become obsessed with looks or it will try to shun the looks (by calling it superficial or materialistic). Whereas, when you let go of the ego force, and just stay open to allowing the desires in the mind, while simply resting as a space of being, you just start feeling the right inspiration needed for you live an aligned life, which includes the inspiration to maintain good health, a fitter body, a dressing style that suits you etc.

      What you are doing now, looks as if you are trying to ignore the mind’s desire, because you have some judgment about it, rather if you align with it from a place of awareness, you can start getting inspired towards the right actions needs for the realization of this desire. It’s always about a balance, and the ego really know nothing about how to maintain this balance, that’s the very reason why it’s important to connect with your space of being.

  4. Jenny

    You’re so right…makes perfect sense 🙂 Thank you Sen!

  5. Anu

    Dear Sen ji,

    How do you distinguish between egoic desire and
    natural desire of the mind. Say Looking good that Jenny questioned?

    Is the natural desire of the mind same as desire of the heart ?


  6. Willy

    Sen i have this strong social anxiety in me that makes me feel bad… As i was growing (during my teenage), i thought i will out grow it but i feel so suprise/bad seeing it still lingering in me. I cant even expres myself well when am with my family members let alone in the outside… I know am comfortable with who i am, when it comes to physical looks – i gat that- am inteligent and talented. But i still don’t know why i cant do anything whenever am in a midst of people… Sen what do i do? How do i overcome it? I’v tried to bring my awareness to it whenever am having social anxiety, but it looks imposible. How do i do it? Please i need your help…

  7. Alex

    Hi Sen, I have suffered from anxiety throughout most of my life. Since even as early as grade 3 or 4, I was always very hard on myself and darkness could descend over me quite easily. When I was a teenager, anxiety worsened, I sunk into depression, and I felt very bad about myself. This wasn’t the case all the time, but it happened enough that it affected my life. Now, I am 18, and I find it very hard to be happy. I find it very hard to be myself. I do believe I have some form of social anxiety, but it is strange. I want to connect with people, have a very deep open connection of love with others. I am looking for relationships that feel REAL to ME, and when I look around at my friends and family, it doesn’t feel real most of the time. I crave something very deep, very real, very liberating and I want to share it. My social anxiety I think comes from the fact that I want to be and share the most honest version of myself, and yet I can’t around others because the everyday normal social interaction prohibits this. In other words, normal social interaction doesn’t allow me to be myself. I am very hard on myself though, and one little thing about my appearance (i.e. imperfections if you want to call them that, of the skin) can make me fall into despair and anxiety.
    I am a very honest person with myself and others, and I love those moments when the people you are with see you, and you see them, our essence. I think I am a deeply sensitive person too, but I was just wondering how I can learn to just be myself, love myself, in a world that seems too hung up. And I am a product of that world, too hung up myself on things and I just want to learn how to let go, and be myself without caring and instead celebrating imperfections.

    1. Sen Post author

      Alex, as long as you look the outside for you sense of connection and wholeness, it will be a never ending search in many ways. The connection you are looking for starts within you, not just by accepting yourself or loving yourself, but by allow all facets of your mind including the dark natured facets like hatred and fear. What you may be lacking right now is a balance towards your dark nature, and you may be trying too hard to be light natured and what happens is that you come across as a meek/docile person who lacks an inner conviction/confidence, and hence is not very attractive in many ways. The attraction you desire can only come through when you balance out towards your dark and light nature, instead of suppressing one over the other. You can read this post – http://www.calmdownmind.com/a-deeper-understanding-of-wholeness/ for more insight.

  8. Tia

    Hi Sen, I have been suffering from social anxiety now for about 15 years, I am now 42 and it is ruining my life. I stay locked up in my house for days if I could But I know it’s not practical because I have to go to the store and stuff but everytime I go out, I am always feeling judged and so I try so so so hard to think about something else and there it goes those stares are piercing my soul and I can’t seem to shake it. Then I try to meditate on God or say the psalms chanting in a low undertone and then I get freaked out that people think I’m crazy because I’m talking to myself. I don’t know why I am going through this. I have a patient I live in with and I dread when I have to go around her family members to draw her blood and take her vitals because I can sense the stares and the dislike they have for me because they are probably picking up the negative vibes from me and dislike me well this is just my opinion based on the way the look at me what other conclusions could I come to. So now it is 7:01pm and at 8:30pm I have to walk with fear to my patients sons house where the whole family and friends will be there and they will be celebrating the jewish holiday Rosh Hoshanna. And I fear everytime I have to do this. I am livid with myself and don’t know what to do it is ruining my life not that I have one but still. I heard what you said try to accept how you look and stuff who knows maybe the fact that I was teased about my fat face all my life from family and friends is what probably started me on this dreadful social anxiety journey but until I get my plastic surgery, I am desperately trying to accept not only my outward appearance but my awkward weird behavior and personality which seems so different from everybody else. Please help me what to do thanks

    1. Sen Post author

      Tia, if you notice your underlying hang-up seems to be about wanting to be “nice” to people, or wanting to feel good around people. There are people who you will effortlessly feel comfortable around, but it’s just that you don’t attract them in your reality because you are not aligned with yourself as you are, rather you have a constant feeling that there is something wrong with you for not being “as social” as the others. You may notice that you developed this pattern since your childhood where you keep looking for approval from the outside, to the point where you stopped trusting your own instinct on the personality that you are. It’s not just the personality of your being/soul, but also the personality of your brain and heart that matter in this lifetime as this human being. You need to understand the personality of your brain, and instead of opposing it or finding it to be something “wrong”, you need to bring a conscious alignment with it. If you don’t like the presence of some people, why do you have to feel bad about it? If some people judge you as being negative, why does that make you feel bad about yourself? It’s because your ego has developed this way of thinking that you are always “wrong”, and that you have to “fit in”, and that you have to be a certain way (to please people and get their approval). Instead of labeling your personality as “weird” or awkward, and thus seeing yourself as being in the “wrong”, you need to start aligning with yourself as you are – you don’t have to fit in with a majority, but when you align with yourself you will find your own circle of connection. In fact, when you don’t have a problem being yourself (however awkward you think you are), you will not have a problem with anyone judging you and hence will be more easy in your interactions. You can read this post – Be yourself – to attract a reality that suits you

  9. Wynone

    I have a question regarding ‘what’s natural’.
    You say that whenever something feels natural, that’s the way we are and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it.
    I have an example- at lectures, when the lecturer asks an open question, I usually want to present an opinion, but I rarely do, because my heart will literally pop out- one part of me wants to contribute, but for my being it seems I prefer listening than talking in front of everybody.
    My question is, how do I determine whether I’m shying from talking because of fear, which doesn’t mean it’s not natural for me- just means I fear it in the exact moment, and how do I determine whether it’s actually right for me not to participate, or ‘natural’, as you call it?

    1. Sen Post author

      Wynone, you would need to realize that the fact that you are confused about what’s really natural for you understand a certain situation, points to a lack of clarity about yourself. The truth is, you can’t have a real clarity unless you first have an sense of inner freedom. Right now you may be too lost in the mind’s conditioning and its pull of fear, and hence lack an inner freedom to have any real clarity on what is really natural to you. Of course this state of inner freedom does not develop over-night, it’s a journey. You can read the below posts for more insight on what it entails to find inner freedom.


    2. Alias

      Wynone, someone judged you in the past, and that is where the imprint took place. You are since keeping it with you, inside your mind, like a pattern; and this pattern manifests itself in your life over and over again, as your fear. The anxiety you mention in your example is lack of confidence, as is the difficulty of seeing and then understanding what is “natural”. But all this is merely a “result”. Even the experience that caused the primal manifestation of the so called “problem”, it is still a result. Your inner self simply takes the opportunity to point it out, so that you take notice.

      Your confusion begins when you “think “ and then “want” to “do” something (these are 3 steps), but that action is throttled, blocked and your heartbeat increases. When you “think”: this is a re-action to the outer environment (it processes outer data from your perceptual organs, brings it inside and “compares” it with past experiences). Then when you “want”: this is desire and it is a re-action to the thought process, and it wants to manifest in the outer. And so when the “action”, the “doing”, begins to come closer to becoming an outer reality, you become stressed out. You have doubts you see, as all of us have. You want to “do” something, but you have doubts. You are pre-judging yourself before the action takes place. Doubt arises through comparison. If you compare yourself to others, or if you compare your thoughts to past thoughts, you are then trying to define your reality (and hence your nature), through measurement; I am like this, but I should become like that. Or perhaps you are comparing your present self, with an older self (an image you have of yourself from the past).
      In any case, doubt, confusion, conflict, all arise within oneself. There may be something that triggers it from the outer environment, but conflict always arises inside you. Your thought propels, or fuels what seems natural to you, for example to express yourself in some particular way. Then you prepare yourself for the actualization of that thought; you dress up the thought with a certain amount of desire. And then your body begins to manifest the necessary biochemical reactions in order for your organs to respond accordingly. If you think that your problem is in its final expression, you are wrong.
      The conflict arises at the very beginning, when your mind, the “Ι”, doubts your very thoughts; and it does that by comparing them with an illusionary “something”. The lack of confidence is because a huge amount of your energy, flows (is dissipated) towards that illusion. You are subconsciously facing some “inner battle” between what you FEEL right “now in this very present” and what you THINK is right, due to some comparison with the past.

      In any case, nobody can tell you what to do, what to desire, or how to think. Perhaps all the above analysis makes you realize that it’s up to you to get out of the labyrinth, and you have to light your own way out of this.

      I think that Sen’s articles are incredibly truthful, inspiring and cleared from any selfness. They may guide you up to a certain point, so that you can light up that “light” of yours. But the action of lighting up the inner flame, as well as finding the balance point, the exit from the labyrinth, are up to you. Perhaps you should smoothly read through all of the articles, without formulating any opinion, without accepting or rejecting as you go along. In this silent awareness, where comparison of any kind has ceased, you may begin to see your inner reactions to all this and that is the place to begin your journey – that really has no end.

  10. Wynone

    Great, Sen, I’ll check them out! Thanks! 🙂

  11. Wynone

    Alias, your response resonated deeply within me- thank you for this!
    Mine is a projection of past experience and I am aware of it, but what stops me is actually the fear of failing or saying something ‘stupid’, that’s been labeled as such before, for example.
    So, when I allow the fears and I stop judging myself because of them, in time they will dissolve, so that I can actually sense the inner stability which has a ‘mind’ of its own (and a courage of its own).
    Thanks once again. I read all the articles of Sen, actually, so that I get a holistic sense of them… and they resonate like nothing other I’ve read.
    At the same time, I am aware my own truth is inside of me, and it stems from my inner stability, hence cannot be instilled by an outer influence/authority, unless I’ve reached out to it first.

  12. Roger Porter

    Hi Sen,

    Thank you for your article. I think I suffer from social anxiety because I get nervous around people. I have picked up two weird scenarios. One is I start to get anxius when carrying something full like a cup. I worry I will start to shake and spill it. The other which I have suffered with now for over 8 years is driving. I start to tense up on motorways and dual carriageways mainly when busy so I now avoid them. I have had a lot of private therapy but nothing seems to work. When I drive if I look in my rear mirror and see nothing I feel relaxed but when its busy I start to tense up. Almost as if I feel everyone is focusing on me. Don’t know if the two are related.

    My therapist thinks there is still something in the subcontuios but I can’t continue to keep paying privately. I guess it’s something I will have to live with.

    Thanks again for your article.



  13. nina

    very nice article it has really relaxed me.I am grateful to author for such a helpful article.

  14. Jorge

    This is the best advice I have found, very deep, and has helpmed me a lot

    I will start to be more sociable, and I feel a little anxious about this me, but now I really desire to be out there in the world, instead of being shut in my home

    Thank you

  15. Brandon

    Sen, How can I better incorporate my awareness and wisdom in social interactions? I find myself trying to do too much or being to relaxed instead of just like flowing, it’s like I have a preoccupation about what others are thinking, at the same time attempting to observe my thoughts and maintain this image

  16. Anonymous

    This is such spot on, clear and precisely accurate advice it should be in every high school psychology or health textbook just in case people experience it growing up. It’s exactly what I needed because no matter how much “work” I do on myself the debilitating social anxiety hasn’t gotten better at all and it can really ruin one’s life.

  17. Nithya

    excellent article..i already feel the change within me after reading tis.. thanks for this 🙂

  18. Melany

    This helped me so much:) thank you

  19. Veronica

    God I feel like I need so much help. I really don’t know who I am at all. I don’t even know what I subconsciously think is right. I feel so fluid, like I can be anyone I try to be and be them naturally, yet it depresses me cuz I never feel “true”. I feel incredibly lost. And I have so much self-blame. I don;t know where to start….

    1. Shiv


      You do know who you are but you are struggling with ‘defining’ it. That’s a good thing. Your mind has the ability to adapt to various roles and play them well and yet there is still a space which prevents you from buying into a solidified sense of identity. This fluidity you feel is your greatest strength even though you may perceive it as a weakness at the moment.

      You have a tendency to evaluate yourself in comparison to others, to the images they portray of themselves. Our world values static identities, people who are either one way or another. We make no room for contradictions. paradoxes and ironies, because the mind is uncomfortable with them. And we are a primarily mind-driven culture. Yet contradictions, paradoxes and ironies are a very real and necessary aspect of life. And the part of us which can intuitively understand and grasp this is the heart.

      Trust in your own heart a little more and allow it to guide you. All self blame emerges from the mind. It is the mind’s fear of not understanding what’s going on. It is its way of chastising you for not “coloring within the lines”. But the lines are blurry, and that is what it is desperately trying to define. This is the “you” your mind is attempting to define.

      Its all made up. You already know who you are. Trust in that and move forward with intuition.

  20. Williams

    you said “trust in your HEART” but how does one know that a particular thought running in his mind is from the heart? How can one differentiate between a “MIND THOUGHT” & “BEING THOUGHT”?

    1. Shiv

      Intuition is not thought although it may manifest as one. Intuition is felt – as an inner knowing which doesn’t need words and rationalizations to confirm it. It is the undercurrent that flows beneath the currents of your mind and its thoughts.

      For those who have become disconnected from their own intuition, I would recommend spending time alone in silence for short periods of time everyday. Reconnecting with the being that exists beyond the mind is necessary. The mind will continue its chatter, but when your attention is allowed to rest in the present and that felt sense of existence, you will naturally begin to reforge that bond once again.

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