How I Beat Social Anxiety

It was shaping up to be a great evening. I had tickets to see a concert with my girlfriend and my best friend, a welcome upgrade from the usual college Saturday of keg parties and greasy latenight pizza. As soon as we got to the crowded venue, though, things began to speed up. Everyone started moshing, the music was unbearably loud, and people were constantly invading my space. Something snapped and I couldn’t be there anymore. I ran out of the club and back to my dorm room, locking myself inside. My friends tried to call me but I turned off my phone and went to sleep. I didn’t leave my room for the rest of the weekend.

It had started during my sophomore year of college. For some reason meeting new people had become terrifying. I had developed irrational fears of calling someone by the wrong name, eating in front of people, not speaking quickly enough in friendly conversation, going grocery shopping, talking on the phone, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them. What was wrong with me?

When I went home for break, I explained the situation to our family doctor and he put me on medication for social anxiety. It was only a low dose of SSRI, but nevertheless I found myself dependent on medication to “even me out.” True, it did prevent the pangs of anxiety that had become a regular occurrence, but it somehow made life’s highs less high. I stayed on the medication or the next two years through the end of college, though not without detriment to other areas of my life. The medicine killed my sex drive. I gained weight because I didn’t have the motivation to work out. And I had to wake up each day knowing that I was somehow “broken” and reliant on Big Pharma to give me a normal life.

After graduation I was able to get a one-in-a-million internship that I knew would be a make-or-break opportunity in a competitive industry. I also knew that forming positive relationships would be the cornerstone of my ability to succeed, and appearing to be an awkward weirdo would kill any chance of achieving my dream. Though my social anxiety was technically being “managed,” the pharmaceuticals regulating my life would prevent me from being the dynamic, creative person I had to be to succeed.

I decided to make a change.

The day before my internship began, I quit my medication and decided to spend the summer combating my anxiety head-on. I was thousands of miles from home with no friends or support network. I barely had any money. I knew that I might fail miserably, but I owed it to myself to fight it head-on before resigning myself to a mediocre life lived in a medicated haze. These are the techniques I used in the intervening three months:

1. Find The One Reason

“General life improvement” isn’t a powerful enough reason to keep you dedicated to this arduous process. Unless you want to lead a lonely existence with a solitary job, you have to come to grips that things are broken, and they will not fix themselves. Do you want to talk to prettier girls? Do you want to excel in a job that involves interacting with people? You must understand at the most basic level that none of those things will happen unless you can overcome your anxiety. Articulate the burning desire that your anxiety is preventing you from achieving. Write it down. Put it in your wallet. Say it to yourself in the mirror every morning. Don’t lose sight of your goal.

2. Eat Better

There is increasing evidence, both circumstantial and scientific, that suggests that a standard high-carb american diet is linked to depression and anxiety. Cut wheat, sugar, dairy, and legumes out of your diet. Eat grass fed meats and get your healthy fats, which are essential for optimum brain functioning.

3. Exercise

Exercise has the dual effect of reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and building up your confidence. If you take up an organized sport, especially a martial art, it can help you deal with the adrenaline surges from talking to new people and other anxiety triggers.

4. Obliterate Your Comfort Zone

Remember the saying that you should do something that scares you every day? That advice sucks. If you have this problem, you must do five things that absolutely terrify you every day. With social anxiety, it may be as simple as walking into your boss’s office for a chat, talking about the weather with the new girl in accounting, or going to the grocery store during peak hours. This is the most painful part of the process, but eventually you will desensitize yourself to the physiological and emotional fight-or-flight response.

5. Visualize Other Peoples’ Thought Process

This step is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy, a common clinical treatment for anxiety. The root feeling of social anxiety is shame for how other people see you or feel about you. If you trip over the sidewalk, people will laugh for five seconds and then go about their day, forgetting about you as quickly as you entered their life. But someone with social anxiety may agonize over this moment for the rest of their day, allowing an isolated incident to bully their consciousness indefinitely.  By attempting to put yourself in someone else’s mind, you can (correctly) convince yourself that nobody really gives a shit about you because they are too busy thinking about themselves and their own problems. In Day Bang, Roosh has an excellent section about visualizing the worst possible scenario to overcome approach anxiety. You must realize that anything that could happen to you is far from your anxiety’s worst case scenario.

That summer away from home was full of pain, joy, hardship, and ultimately victory. It wasn’t easy or pleasant, but applying the strategy outlined above over the long term freed me from slavery to my brain chemistry. Nowadays I have a great job. I am confident enough to approach women during either day or night, have no problem talking with strangers, and feel comfortable in my own skin. Few would describe me as the life of the party, but even as a natural introvert I’m a social guy and can thrive among a variety of crowds.

The anxiety buried deep in the back of my mind will always be a part of me. But the essence of masculinity is taking ownership of situations in your life, and constantly improving at your deficiencies. I have given you the tools. Go out and beat it.

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35 thoughts on “How I Beat Social Anxiety”

  1. I dealt with the same thing growing up. It started out when I was young. I couldn’t speak very loudly, it seemed like a had a mental block over making my voice audible. And I was extremely self-conscious: whenever I would say something I would whisper it back to myself to make sure what I said sounded right. At parties or social events I was a wallflower. It lasted all throughout my childhood and teenage years as well as some of my early adult years.
    What helped be was four things:
    1. Getting a job where I interacted with the public. I had to explain things to many customers per day. Sometimes there were so many people I had to shout so everyone could hear me. That and controlling those crowds definitely helped me with those issues.
    2. I took up some hobbies in my early adulthood which lead me to having enlarged social groups. I practiced talking and interacting with them. And they introduced me to more people.
    3. I took up public speaking. So far I’ve spoken in front of audiences as large as 1000 people. This helps you get over any issues you have quickly and every talk gets better no matter how bad you were at the beginning.
    4. I developed skills and traveled around the world. These technical, hard, and physical skills which will serve me for the rest of my life. You become a lot more confident when you know you can handle yourself anywhere in the world, know you can kill a man with a choke-hold, fix almost any type of automotive vehicle, and positively interact with beautiful anywhere, anytime.
    All the people I was intimidated by or thought they had it better than me when I was younger… I know look at them with pity because I have pushed myself further than they will ever go and now I am a greater man than they will ever be.

    1. Learning how to hold a dame in proper dance position also goes a long way towards building your public confidence.

    2. I completely forgot about rehearsing everything I said under my breath, but I used to do that constantly as well.
      This was a great comment and addendum to the post.

  2. Great article black knight. As a person who suffers from social anxiety I want to thank you for the advice. The concept of Day Game still scares the shit out of me though.

    1. Same here, Jay. But this is year I’m determined to make strides in the right direction. Good luck.

    2. Yeah, it scared me a lot too, but if you get past that fear you won’t regret it, in my book it’s by far the most rewarding kind of game.

    3. Thank you. Daygame is probably more nerve-wracking at first, but I have come to prefer it. Once you are able to approach without locking up, you can talk about your interests and have a more natural conversation. You won’t feel like you need to think of the best neg or best line for every situation, which can be a big trigger of anxiety when out at night. Girls also tend to be more friendly and forgiving of nervousness during the day. Best of luck.

  3. Great post. Overcoming one’s own personal foibles and complexes is the mark of a true man, and the author has shown himself to be a man of real character. Instead of taking the easy way out by squirreling himself away and taking refuge in a world of video games, negativity, limiting beliefs, and hooded-sweatshirt dorkishness, he confronted his flaws head-on and grappled with the beast. Motivating story.

  4. Good post. Interesting how you mention martial arts and I agree that martial arts can really help one focus. All martial arts are good. And Akido comes to my mind because it is philosophically geared towards emotional well being.
    What’s also interesting is just how clueless the so-called professionals are today. They are literally dishing out the anti depressants like candy. And how a more effective treatment is found by simply changing a few basic things in one’s life. But both medical doctors and shrinks want their patients to keep returning so the LAST thing they want is that you find a way to be healthy independent of them.
    I should add that today it is quite easy for a man in femerika to have social anxiety due to the fact that he is perceived as an idiot loser by default by both men and women. That plus given today’s system that will throw a man in jail for no reason, really this does not help matters when you feel like you are walking in a landmine.

    1. Very good post yourself Syrus. I want to look more into Akido now more so than Krav Maga. Professionals nowadays really could care less about solving your different types of maladies and would rather perpetuate those maladies so as to “keep you on the bankroll” so to say. I should know as my wife and I directly work with a hospital chain to expand our holistic and natural remedy company to make others realize well being all starts from within, in a Buddhistic sense. So far their reluctance to be accepting of anything other than what’s peddled to them in 100K Med School causes a bit of dismissal of any “treatment” that follows logic unlike their own. It’s very hard to change minds when minds have been programmed to not operate in this way, the way of self-reliance. I myself suffer bouts of social anxiety, naturally, but as someone who was and still is(by way of probation) mixed up in the “system that will throw a man in jail for no reason”, it makes it that much tougher to socially integrate, not to mention find gainful “brick&mortar” employment aside from our small business endeavour as required by my probation. There are so many people going through what I am going through that could use an outlet such as this site and perhaps to a greater extent the sharing of knowledge by visitors here. You seem to be spot on with your observations but what would you really have to say to people who are trying to carve out a niche so small that Big Pharma, Big Government, Big Anything, cast such a grand shadow over our efforts to point others in a better direction? Could you honestly walk the walk by helping out in a grassroots-type effort the people that actually ARE stuck in this downward spiraling toilet flush of a system who are merely looking for better options in this “Solutionism” age we’ve entered?

    2. “Professionals” are out to make a living. Just like anyone else. If they do that with less effort selling pills rather than grassfed beef and gym memberships, why shouldn’t they?
      The truly great idiocy of the progressive age, is that enough once-was people, have become so thoroughly indoctrinated, they sit there haplessly believing someone totally unrelated somehow gives a toot about them, just because those someone say so on TV and in indoctrination institution classrooms.

    1. A B-100 complex pill a few times a week and occasional extra nicotimide was like flicking a switch for me. Both my mood and skin improved rapidly.
      Also, phenibut is fantastic as an occasional crutch to get through being overly wound up. A half gram maybe a couple times a week when you’re feeling too much stress/anxiety really levels you out.

  5. Having an overarching purpose / theme / goal for your life is great advice.
    Think of all the best movie characters. Most of them have one goal that drives them. You can be just as motivated, without the pesky side note of some mad man killing your family.

    1. I’ve thought about this too, great people do one thing and one thing only, it sounds boring but movies are based on this (man does something hard, feels pain and gets success). “I drive it’s what I do it’s all I do” – Drive (the book)

      1. Great article, thanks for sharing your story. It strikes a long-resonant chord in me. Born extrovert but became painfully introverted after some challenging circumstances before I turned 5. Long, slow, hard process to work through fears to reconnect in social situations. Many people I meet now can’t believe when I say I used to stutter but it’s true. So I have a lot of empathy for both extro and introverts.
        I’m really not good with standard game, prefering to be the ‘confident nice guy’ as Roosh says. My hobbies and interests get me excited about life and fortunately I can excel in them which builds confidence. I am fine with being quieter if others need to share, but if conversation touches on an area I’m curious or know about I perk up (but not quiet as nerdy!). These days I feel more comfortable relating to people without as much anxiety and ironically my job has me interacting with people far more than I would have ‘planned’ but it’s in an area I utterly love so it’s FUN!
        My #1 obsession (improving things) has taken me from buried in books to sharing with and helping the world which makes me feel more comfortable with people. Susan Cain (IIRC) has a great TED talk on the power of introverts. I hope this encourages anyone who feels awkward, anxious or different to embrace your unique talents AND push your comfort zones! Fear = False evidence appearing real. What an awesome forum we have to lovingly kick each other in the ass and reconnect with our innate manhood!

  6. One of the best articles I have seen on this website. Most people can relate in part to this post and even if we have overcome any anxiety and what not, you offer tips to continue to better ourselves. I cannot emphasize enough how a good diet and exercise can improve your quality of life. Before interviews, exams, or any major event I must exercise, it clears my thoughts and makes me focus.
    Also, Visualizing thought proces was a key point. Whenever I see someone do something embarassing, I literally think about it for a second and then continue my conversation with whoever or think about whatever I was thinking. We psych ourrselves out too much and that ultimately kills us. I had this prestigous interview oppertunity once, and I bombed one of the questions. It got to me and I was sweating for the rest of the interview. I have learned now that one bad answer wont kill you, you can recover. What killed me was that murdered my confidence for the rest of the interview and it started going downhill. Taking control is critical, and a lesson I learned the hard way when I didn’t get my dream job.

  7. Masculinity is not self improvement, it’s your ability to keep a bitch in check. Full stop. Self improvement is a natural side effect of having authority over your bitch. Full stop. Erase this pc notion that masculinity and manhood is about bettering yourself, it’s not. It’s about your ability to keep your females in line. Full stop.

    1. By “bitch” I think that would mostly apply to one’s own internal bitch.

      1. Think again bro, this ain’t some abstract thought experiment shit, masculinity is about keeping bitches in check straight up

        1. I agree with what you are saying but I think for a lot of people self improvement is the path to gaining masculinity.

  8. I would also add getting enough sleep is good for your mental health and cortisol levels.

  9. Wow. Apart from using medications, this eerily tracks my own experiences in symptoms, timing and resolution.
    I strongly recommend giving up wheat (social anxiety or no) – that may have been the problem all along. Stopped eating all grains about a year ago and it’s a night-and-day difference in my mood and confidence. Even if you don’t have an SA problem (or don’t think that you do), give up grains for 1-2 weeks as an experiment and see how you feel.

  10. Great article Black Knight… Meds are not the answer. You proved it. Diet, exercise and WILL POWER. Good on ya mate…
    p.s. Vitamin D may help mood and a whole host of things…..

  11. Really great post Black Knight. Post university high and moving back to my home town ive felt the sting of a complete drying up of social interactions, like half the energy in my life is gone. I’ll be implementing both your tips and Abdesatars on how to get back into the game

  12. Another thing that might be causing social anxiety is watching too much porn. Dont believe me? Search for ‘the great porn experiment’ on youtube. I used to watch porn quite regularly and i stopped a few months ago and many things have changed, including an increase in confidence.

  13. Be yourself. Anxiety is trying to tell u something. Accept who you are champions the world needs you to saty intact with your true self.

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