Lesson 9 of 12
In Progress

Say Goodbye to Social Anxiety

Social anxiety cripples the lives of many people and can make it impossible for them to speak in public or even interact with others in large social settings. While some people experience it to this kind of devastating effect, many more find they have social anxiety to a lesser degree which can make them feel unconfident in the workplace or among friends. It can then prevent them from fulfilling their potential in their careers or in their love lives.

Often social anxiety comes down to a feeling that they are somehow inadequate or that what they say isn’t worth as much as what others say. People opt not to speak because they worry that what they say will be ‘stupid’. At the same time, they worry that they might stutter or stumble over their words and so not get their point across properly. That people will figure out that they’re nervous and get bored waiting for them to t-t-t-t-talk…

One quick and easy way to improve the clarity of your speech as well as your vocabulary is to talk more slowly. The slower you talk the more time you’ll have to think about the next thing you’re about to say. It will also help you to project your voice more and you’ll instantly sound clearer, deeper, and more confident.

Use CBT and Become Socially Bulletproof

However, if you’re in your own head and worrying about stuttering then you’ll find this hard to do as you naturally speak more quickly when you’re nervous. Ironically, it’s worrying about getting a stutter that will give you a stutter. So how do you get out of your own head enough to slow down and speak more confidently?

As we discussed at the start of this book, in cognitive behavioral therapy, patients are told to use what is known as ‘hypothesis testing’. Here you test the results of doing whatever it is you’re anxious about in the hope that you find your concerns are unfounded. Interestingly though, it may actually be more useful if you find that you do say something stupid or stutter outrageously. The reason for that is that you’ll this way test the worst-case scenario and learn in the process that there’s nothing to be worried about. When teaching gymnasts to backflip on a crash mat, teachers get them to purposefully land badly on their neck or back in order to teach them that they will be okay and eliminate the fear (because again, it’s being worried about backflipping that will make you pull out and hurt yourself mid-way).

One way you can test this is with strangers. Strike up a conversation in a shop, bar or a coffee shop, and don’t worry at all about what you say or how you say it. In fact, try talking as strangely as possible about as dull a subject as possible. You’ll never see them again so it doesn’t matter and it’s just an experiment. What you’ll find though, is that they treat you just as anyone else. Politely and without drawing attention to your faults. That’s human nature.

You see everyone is too busy worrying about how others see them to be able to judge everyone else. You see they are worried about how you’ll react to what they say. If you needed any more proof that you’re just as valuable and valid a human being as they are – there it is.