Want To Turn Your Social Anxiety Into Charisma?

There are many things that trigger our social anxiety, such as being on a date, going on stage to present or having to go for an interview. Last week, I watched Jimmy Fallon’s interview with Sophie Turner and found her to be absolutely charming.

Subsequently, after watching more of her interviews, I discovered that she isn’t as naturally confident and charismatic as she appeared to be during the interview with Jimmy Fallon. In fact, Sophie admitted to struggling with social situations in an interview with Rolling Stones.

As I went back to rewatch her interview with Jimmy, I realised that little traces of her nervously could be found during the conversation. Little quirks and habits that although subtle, are prominent key signals of anxiety.

Here are 8 body language signals of anxiety:

  1. Excessively Playing With Your Hair
  2. Not Being Able To Sit Still
  3. Picking At Your Skin
  4. Biting Your Nails
  5. Not Making Eye Contact
  6. Forgetting Important Details
  7. Sudden increase in speech rate.
  8. Stuttering, pauses, or delayed responses.

These signals are just to name a few, and there are dozens of body language signals and indicators that reveal social anxiety or nervousness. So back to the question, “How do you turn your social anxiety into charisma?”.

Well, let’s follow Sophie’s example and understand how to take control of your anxiety.

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage,” affirms research professor and author Brené Brown in Rising Strong.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you think of vulnerability, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It could be weakness, fear, or feelings of hurt. While most people naturally hide their vulnerability, I want you to learn embrace it. Allowing yourself to be open and exposed brings about two things; ingenuity and courage.

Being vulnerable around people shows that you have the courage to reveal certain sensitive aspects of yourself without fear of being judged. This decision to expose yourself can actually encourage people to root for you, if it is displayed wisely.

 That being said, your level of vulnerability should adjust to the context of the situation. Compare Sophie’s interview with The Rolling Stones and the interview with Dr Phil.

During the interview with Dr Phil, Sophie Turner shared about her experience being a child actress, as well as her journey with body image issues. At one point of time she was asked about mental health, which she admirably reveals her own struggles with depression. This is a sensitive topic that is appropriate within this context, but would otherwise been too deep for the interview with The Rolling Stones which took on a more upbeat and cheery atmosphere.

Essentially, matching your vulnerability to the social situation is key. For an instance, right before making a speech you could address your own nervousness and anxiety but saying “I’m feeling a lot of butterflies in my stomach right now”. What would have been overkill in such a situation is to venture into depression.

You need to learn to be comfortable with yourself, in order to be comfortable with social anxiety. Understand that everyone is vulnerable, by embracing your vulnerability will help you grow as a person.

2. Build Self-Confidence

Building self confidence is by no means, an easy task. Think of self confidence as the polar opposite of anxiety; one inevitably diminishes while the other strengthens. Anxiety often encourages negative thoughts which brings down confidence, hence you need learn how to transform negative thoughts into a positive ones.

Here are 3 things you can do to boost your self-confidence:

  1. Set yourself up to win.

    Often times, people dampen their self-confidence because they set themselves goals that are far too unattainable. It is good to set goals, but is better to set realistic ones.  Start by setting mini goals that are easily achievable, build on a consistent flow of success, then gradually set more difficult goals. It is important to reinforce the confidence in yourself.Understand that nobody is born with immense self-confidence. Actors like Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr. and Penélope Cruz that possess incredible self-confidence, probably been working on building it for years. Essentially, building self-confidence is an unending journey that is equal parts arduous and rewarding.Pro Tip: Make a “Did-It” list reflecting on your past achievements, it could be major milestones to tiny tasks.

  2. Shift to an equality mentality.

    Often times, people dampen their self-confidence because they set themselves goals that are far too unattainable. It is good to set goals, but is better to set realistic ones.  Start by setting mini goals that are easily achievable, build on a consistent flow of success, then gradually set more difficult goals. It is important to reinforce the confidence in yourself.Understand that nobody is born with immense self-confidence. Actors like Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr. and Penélope Cruz that possess incredible self-confidence, probably been working on building it for years. Essentially, building self-confidence is an unending journey that is equal parts arduous and rewarding.

    Pro Tip: Make a “Did-It” list reflecting on your past achievements, it could be major milestones to tiny tasks.

  3. Affirm yourself.

    We tend to believe anything that we tell ourselves. behaving in accordance with our own self-image. The trick, however, how to mold your perception of yourself to your liking. The key lies in affirmation, to boost self-confidence through constant positive reinforcement.

3. Challenge your anxious thoughts

Although I do agree with the saying to “Hope for the best, but expect the worst”, it may sometimes encourage people to be pessimistic about an outcome rather than realistic. Imagine yourself to be Sophie Turner, with dozens of interviews to go to, you’d probably be ridden sick with negative thoughts. “What if I make a fool of myself on live television?” “What if I forget what to say?”,  while negative thoughts are inescapable, it’s ultimately how you control them that helps you.

Instead, what you should start practicing is challenging your negative thoughts. Ask yourself: “How would they even know what I’m going to say?” “Why would anyone scrutinise you for feeling anxious?” The key to this practice is to not let emotions and feeling muddle your thoughts and logic.

To conclude:

Feeling social anxiety is common when being in unfamiliar situations, but that should not define how you behave. It will take constant practice to get better at handling yourself. If you’re truly determine to develop yourself as a person, take these social skills and tips to heart and commit to them to daily practice.

For Further Reading:

“Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques” by Gillian Butler

Alvin

Author Alvin

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