5 Ways You Can Make Life Easier for Peeps with Social Anxiety

I asked the babies, “What should I do if I say something very embarrassing in front of everyone?”

“Run away,” declared the 8-year-old.

“Cry,” from the 6-year-old, with empathy.

“Get very mad and stomp my feet,” stated the 4-year-old, calmly, as if there was no other option.

Hi, my name is Kara, and I have tried all of these response methods during the 15 years I shared my life with social anxiety. None of these have helped me.

What is social anxiety?

“Social anxiety is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, self-consciousness, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression. If a person usually becomes (irrationally) anxious in social situations, but seems better when they are alone, then “social anxiety” may be the problem.” Thomas A Richards Ph.D.

I was 23 when I finally diagnosed the stronghold in my heart that birthed social anxiety–this petrifying disease. At age 23, Jesus showed me that anxiety was an attack on my destiny, strategically planted in my 8-year-old heart by my enemy, the father of lies. 

I’ve spent years of fierce fighting to win the prize of freedom. Here is what I learned.

Destroying a lie planted in childhood is like trying to excavate an age-old wisteria vine out of your grandmother’s flowerbed. It’s confusing to know where to start. It’s HARD, sweaty work! Your muscles will complain after each go-round.

Every bit of root left in the dirt sprouts a new vine and makes you wonder if you’ll ever get a chance to put the shovel down.

Until one day, you realize it’s been so long since you had to excavate a sneaky sprout, and there are so many other flowers blooming in your grandmother’s flowerbed, that you’ve forgotten there ever was a wisteria vine ruling this area at all.

Social anxiety CAN be 100% overcome. While the battle is ongoing, here are five ways you can help your socially anxious friends feel known.

1. Keep Social Events Chill

Understand that folks who are anxious become more so at fixed events such as meetings or formal dinners where the entire group does the same thing for a space of time determined by the host. It’s not that the event is unpleasant, it’s just the feeling of being ‘trapped’ and/or conspicuous that raises the anxiety trigger. One of my instructors handled this scenario in a classroom setting by inviting the students to get up and walk around the room during class as needed, step outside for a breath of air, or change it up by sitting elsewhere in the room from time to time. Help your socially anxious friends feel comfortable at fixed events by lightening the mood, inviting guests to move about, dimming the lights a bit, or holding the event in a less formal area.

Events that are dimly lit or where the main focus is not on the guests are usually spaces where shy folks feel more relaxed, such as movie night, concerts or a campfire.

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2. Create/Offer Inconspicuous Spaces

It always helps people feel safer when they can choose how ‘seen’ they want to be. If you are a host and know of a guest who is anxious or shy, place them in a less conspicuous area, beside someone they already know well. When possible, try to have more seats available than the number of guests.

If you attending an event with your socially anxious friend, save them a seat beside you or someone else they feel at ease with.

3. Offer A Way Out

Don’t force your friends to participate in speeches or games–designate a less conspicuous role for them if they want it, such as photographer or point-keeper.

4. Intervene

When you are at an event with your socially anxious friend, pay close attention to their body language. Be ready to quickly change the subject if your friend is being bombarded in an uncomfortable conversation. Suggest ‘safe’ topics that you know they are at ease discussing. Lead your friend to interactions with those who have a calm demeanor and/or share similar interests.

5. Speak Life

Encourage your friends by speaking words of blessing over them. Those who struggle with self-worth value words of hope highly, even if it is hard for them to believe the words. Mention obvious realities to help your blessing take root, such as, “I noticed the way you held the door for my grandmother tonight. You really have class!” No one can argue with a real-life event .

BONUS ROUND!

Hey there, possibly-socially-anxious-fellow-human. No matter where you fall on the social continuum, here are a few ways you can help your friends understand you.

Practice Naming Your Emotions/Stress Responses

For example, if you hate a certain activity, try to figure out why you dislike it. Maybe someone close to you can help with this. When you have named the root sources of your fear, write it down. Naming triggers and responses is a big step towards breaking free!

Be Honest With Your Friends

Educate your close friends about what social anxiety feels like. You can just say something simple to start with, such as, “I can’t relax in large groups.” As you learn to name your feelings, you’ll be able to share more specific things with your friends, such as, “When people look at me, it feels like they are taking something I can’t control and can’t get back.” or “I place a high value on people’s words about me, and find it nearly impossible to risk being laughed at.”

Speak honestly about what activities you truly do enjoy.

Hold on to What is More Deeply True Than Feelings

The world is built on the unchangeable, because our Creator is unchangeable. Study the voice of your Creator. Memorize it. Declare what is true about yourself every time anxiety attacks. 

The truth is that, although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds.

2 Corinthians 10, PHILLIPS

We are at war.

Together, we will win.

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Don’t You Give Up On A Miracle

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Little Green Journal Entry

“I dreamed last night that I was apprehended by a tall teenage thug, built and styled like a wrestler. I was walking down a stairwell in New York City, and he opened the street door, about to climb up. We stood face to face. My heart was pounding. I don’t remember exactly what kind of struggle we had in my dream, but I remember feeling a clear urgency that my life was in danger. In our struggle, my body stood tense and alert, but my spirit was never scared.

After a long struggle, he gave up fighting and sadly drew off his shirt to show me inch-wide, two-foot whip scars across his back. “Satan did this to me.” he said, eyes downcast. Before he could say more, three of his thug friends came, and all four pushed past me, ran up the stairs and slammed the door. I heard music pound and I knew something dark was going on up there that I could not go against alone. 

I stood at the bottom of the stairs, deeply sad, thinking about those awful scars. Why would he run up the stairs towards an enchanter who whipped him?

The next scene of my dream showed my parents, Ben, Arthur and me in the prayer room of our church, interceding together. 

My eyes shot open after this scene. My breath puffed white in the moonlight, but inside my sleeping bag, my skin was damp and clammy. I fumbled for my watch and pushed the button. 2:55 a.m.

My heart was still racing–every nerve on full alert. I switched my headlamp on red and reached for my tiny Bible, asking God to give me clarity about what my dream meant through his Word.

The first words I set eyes on were these, from Mark:

‘And he went into all the 10 towns, telling everyone he met what God had done for him.’ 

I backtracked. This was the deliverance story of Legion, a man possessed by demons, who everyone else had given up on. Who Jesus set 100% free!

I prayed for a long time in my tent, and drifted back into a calm sleep. 


 

It is incredibly uncommon for me to dream, much less remember it vividly.

This was not a dream.

This was a prophetic vision about Precious One, a real person who my heart had been crying for. I needed to hold on to this prophecy in the days to come, when Precious One verbally agreed with Satan’s lies, when I replayed the sad, sad scene of Precious One trying to destroy their own life.

“And he went into all the 10 towns, telling everyone he met what God had done for him.”

COMPLETE RESTORATION.

Yes! This will be true for Precious One, and soon!


From Luke 4, TPT

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been raised, he went into the synagogue, as he always did on the Sabbath day. When he came to the front to read the Scriptures, they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus unrolled the scroll and read where it is written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he has anointed me to be hope for the poor, freedom for the brokenhearted, and new eyes for the blind, and to preach to prisoners, ‘You are set free!’ I have come to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great acceptance has begun.”

After he read this he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the minister, and sat down. Everyone stared at Jesus, wondering what he was about to say.  Then he added, “These Scriptures came true today in front of you.”


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BELIEVE what your eyes have seen, child. Believe what your eyes will one day see. Our God is a god of miracles.

Greater things are still to come.