Steps to Set Goals to Overcome Social Anxiety
How often do you do things that push the boundaries of your social anxiety? While this can be uncomfortable in the moment, the long-term effect will help you to feel reduced anxiety in those situations that you confront. This is the net effect of goal setting for anxiety.
What do you learn, or what are you telling yourself, if you take the easy way out? Instead, try engaging in goal setting for anxiety, and see if it helps you make progress. Below are some ideas to get you started.
Try to Make a Fool of Yourself
If you set limits on what you can or should do based on your anxiety, you are subconsciously telling yourself that your fear is warranted.
What’s the worst that would happen if you spoke up in a meeting at work?
Could you approach situations from the perspective of trying to make a fool of yourself?
What if you allowed yourself to look anxious, made your hands shake on purpose while eating, or tripped over your words just to see how other people would react?
Try it sometime, you might be surprised how little of a reaction you get.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Mistakes are the great teachers in life. Without mistakes along the way, you won’t learn. Why do we learn best from our mistakes? Once you’ve learned what not to do, the chance of repeating the same mistake twice is lessened.
What social mistake have you made lately? Think back on that mistake and what you learned from it. Appreciate it as a teacher rather than a negative aspect of yourself.
Change Your Reputation
You won’t hear this said often about social anxiety, but it does tend to be true. Once you start avoiding people, you will develop a reputation as being standoffish or unapproachable, even though it’s untrue.
This creates a vicious cycle that you can’t escape. People will stop inviting you to events, stop trying to bring you into the conversation, and even stop thinking of you for promotions at work.
It’s movement in a direction that is hard to reverse once it’s started. So start small, and begin to build yourself back into someone you want to be—not someone you’ve become because of who you were afraid to be.
Broaden Your Horizons
Similar to developing a poor reputation, your options will become narrowed the more you try to take the easy way out. While at first you may not notice what you’ve done, eventually you may wake up one day and wonder who you will talk to that day.
Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t bank on friends and family being there when you finally make it out of your shell. While the good ones will stay, your relationship with them will be taxed.
Choose Your Goals
What are some of your goals in life? Take a moment and write down five things you would do if you felt less anxious in social or performance situations.
Imagine that your list looks something like this.
- I would apply for a job that pays better.
- I would have more friends.
- I would speak up more in conversations.
- I would go to more events.
- I would go on dates.
While it may feel less scary, anxiety-provoking, and fear-inducing to “take the easy way out” and ignore goal setting for anxiety, doing so might hold you back from experiences that could help you grow.
While all of this might sound a little harsh, it’s meant to be that way as a motivator. Think of it this way—you don’t have to change overnight.
You don’t have to change in a day.
But you want your trajectory to be “forward.” You want the slope of the line to be positive. For now, just make a commitment that you will try.
So that’s it! Try to make mistakes on purpose, learn from your mistakes, change your reputation, broaden your horizons, and choose some goals, and you’ll be well on your way to doing some goal setting for anxiety.
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