4 Tips to Help You Avoid the Pain of Regret When You Live with Social Anxiety
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received related to your mental health? One piece of advice that has stuck with me in recent days is something I heard mentioned by Ruth Soukup in her Podcast “Do It Scared.” What she said, in a nutshell, is that the pain of regret is the worst thing you could ever experience.
As I thought about this concept, I could easily see how it applied to social anxiety. Can you imagine a day long in the future when you look back on your life and wonder “What if?”
You might wonder how your life would have gone differently if you’d taken a chance on something that scared you. Or if you’d followed through on a potential friendship. Or just buckled down and done the work it took to get your mind in a better place.
What I’d like to propose is that in the case of social anxiety, there is a very real possibility that you are avoiding the pain of doing something now and trading it off for the pain of regret later. While that may save you in the short term, you are only given so much time on this earth. If you want to avoid the pain of regret, I have some ideas for you.
Find Your Calling
If you have a calling in life, it will be easier to follow through on the actions needed to avoid the pain of regret. You will feel energized by what you are doing and obstacles will seem smaller.
An example of this would be the story of Earla Dunbar. I wrote about Earla and how she overcame social anxiety to go on to motivate others with her story. Anytime she felt herself slipping, she would find a new challenge, such as going on a TV show. Sure she was scared, but her calling to be an inspiration was greater than her fear.
Find something that drives you every day and that you can’t wait to get started on. This will make it easier to overcome your fear and move toward the life you want.
Find an accountability partner, a mentor, or a coach who will be the reason you keep trying when you want to quit. Facebook groups are terrific for finding other people wanting to be accountable for a variety of things.
If you can’t find someone to be accountable to, create a reason to be accountable to yourself. One way to do this is to invest money in what you plan to do. For example, instead of buying a $10 book about how to overcome social anxiety, take a $100 course.
When you invest money, you are more likely to follow through and put in the work. This might seem strange, but it’s true! You can probably think of lots of examples of this in your own life. We value things we have to work harder for, and that holds true in the case of how much things cost as well.
I know myself, I’ve downloaded plenty of free resources off the Internet that I never actually looked at. I didn’t feel compelled because I hadn’t paid any money and I wasn’t invested in the outcome.
Visualize the Pain of Regret
The most classic example of this is the movie “A Christmas Carol.” Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. When Scrooge sees the future of the path that he is on, he vows to change.
Take a moment and write a story about the end of your life based on the trajectory that you are currently on. Take a good hard look at what you’ve written and ask yourself if that is where you want to end up. Ask yourself what regrets you think you might have if that is your story at the end of your life. imagine it in detail
While it may feel painful in the moment to do things that are hard, the pain of regret will be so much worse. Do all the things that scare you without worrying about “success.” I see so much talk about social success or succeeding in terms of your social anxiety.
Self-discipline isn’t about being successful. Sure, it might be a side benefit that you “objectively” do better in social and performance situations. But how do you really judge that? You can never know what other people are thinking, and truthfully if you’re seeking their approval then you’re still stuck in the social anxiety circle.
To avoid the pain of regret, quite simply you need to start to establish some better habits for yourself. That might mean taking medication, going to therapy, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, brushing up on social skills, reading self-help books, meditating, deep breathing…. the list is long and exhaustive and I can’t tell you specifically what you need to do. It’s different for everyone!
But what I can tell you is that none of this will happen unless you make a plan for it to happen. You’re not going to wake up one day with more motivation or a better perspective. You just need to CHOOSE that you want things to be different and then start making a plan to make it happen. It’s really all up to you to live the best life that you can with what you’ve been given. Anything less than that will lead to the pain of regret.
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