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How I Overcame Social Anxiety?

You know that feeling you get when a stranger turns to you with a question, and your first response is to freeze up before you automatically blurt out a reply?  And then later you can’t even recall much of the conversation? It’s like time stops at that moment, a haze falls over you, and the only thing you are aware of is your heart pounding in your ears. Sound familiar? Yeah, for me, too.


What did I do to beat social anxiety

Living with social anxiety is literally living in the shadows. In my own past I missed out on so many opportunities because I was terrified to take action in the moment.  Instead, I froze, and then crawled back home to roll in self-pity and self-hatred like a hot sulfur spring. “What a loser I am! I can’t get anything done!”  My social anxiety had gotten bad enough that I was even afraid of looking for a job, not to mention taking part in any other social activities. 

 

Now don't get me wrong, on those rare occasions I got to know someone and got comfortable with them, I became very outgoing and fun. It was the new situations and the new people that used to scare the crap out of me.

 

Then, one day, I decided it had to stop. I made the conscious decision to find a path that would lead me to a life I actually enjoyed more than I feared. It wasn’t easy then and is still a challenge at times, but like they say: practice makes perfect. 

 

I play Padel – a sport very similar to pickleball and equally as social.  At first, I took some private lessons to get familiar with the game and its techniques. As time went on, my coach told me I was ready to start practicing with others.

 

“What? You mean I have to come to the weekly Pay & Play session to meet 20-30 NEW people and play matches with each and every one of them?!” Yeah, I almost fainted.  But it had been my club for over a month, and since I knew the coaches and felt comfortable with the surroundings, I decided I’ll give it a shot.  And then the dreadful day was there.

 

As I got ready to head to the club that morning, a certain saying was making noise in my head: Taking an uncomfortable action is the only way to get over the fear. This was the moment when I decided I’m going to face this fear intentionally, and the key here is the intention. Why are we doing what we’re doing? The "why" needs to be clear and focused. 

 

The thing with this Pay & Play is that people who sign up there change all the time. Some familiar faces and acquaintances, but mostly it’s a new environment every time.  And there’s no better way to try something with lots of changing variables than to do it in a place you already feel at ease.


As time passed, I found myself getting very comfortable with the Pay & Play sessions at the club.  So, I gathered up all the courage I had banked there and decided to try out a new club. I had never been anywhere else, and I guess the unknown is always the scariest part. I remember I almost cried at home before leaving the house the day I went to the new club.

 

Recently, I read that while facing your fears, you need to stay in the moment until the peak of the anxiety has passed and you start coming down. So that’s what I did. I got comfortable at my second club, and as soon as that feeling fully set in, I went to a third one! That jump was already so much easier, and made it feel almost natural to change to the fourth club when #3 started to feel “too comfortable”. 

 

Let me tell you, this process took me almost a year. By the time I marched into that fourth club, I was the Queen of the Castle! 

 

Instead of crying at home and thinking what a loser I was, I changed my mindset. I DECIDED to overcome my fear. I DECIDED that I’m not going to miss out on life simply because I had believed a lie that kept me stuck. I changed the voice in my head from saying “I can’t do this” to “I CAN do this”, and I repeated my new mantra to myself whenever I needed to leave the house but felt anxiety kicking in. And I still do! I use it in any situation now, and it has become one of the most powerful affirmations in my arsenal.

 

Living is not just about keeping your head above water.  It’s also about bursting through the waves and challenging yourself to see what’s on the other side. It’s meant to be fun. It’s meant to be a rollercoaster with its ups and downs. And through all of this, the most important thing is that you stay true to yourself.

 

Does this resonate with you?  Actions speak louder than words, so I’m here and happy to help you put those “I CAN do this” words into actions, and get you back in the game.

 


Take care and much love,

Tene




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