Most people with Asperger’s Syndrome struggle with social anxiety.
If you are one of them, these 10 tips may help you overcome it.
With diligent research and practice, these tips can also help you improve your interactions with others, boost your confidence, help you make friends, and improve your relationships.
1. Take control of your thoughts.
Anxiety is often connected to an unreasonable fear that something bad might happen.
Chances are you’ve had some negative social experiences in the past, and it’s these events that may subconsciously cause you to fear it may happen again.
To take control of your thoughts, start by trying to be more aware of what you are thinking about when different situations arise.
Try to identify what is triggering your feelings and look for ways you can influence or change situations or to decrease your exposure to it.
2. Be present in conversation.
We are often so focused on ourselves that we fail to see or acknowledge the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of those around us and that we interact with.
It can lock us in our mind and cause us to worry unnecessarily about things that aren’t as important as we make them out to be.
In doing so, it causes us to fail to connect with others and miss engaging in positive and potentially beneficial social interactions. It can prevent us from making friends. It can cause people to think we don’t care or aren’t interested in what they have to say, thereby damaging potential for future conversations or building a relationship with that person.
To be present in conversation requires genuine interest and effort.
To do it, whenever you are interacting with others, focus less on how you should respond and more on what is being said. When you force your thoughts outside of yourself, you should start to feel less anxious as you won’t be letting yourself worry about what to say or saying the wrong thing or what others think about you.
3. Know your limits.
All social interactions require energy and effort. For Aspies and those with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), it is even more draining and mentally exhausting.
Know that it’s ok if you can’t handle certain situations or if you feel uncomfortable. On some level, all people experience this. There is no shame in needing some alone time to recharge.
Recharging your social batteries often means taking anywhere between a few minutes to several days to be alone or with limited contact with the outside world.
Some people may not understand your needs, including employers, teachers, friends, family, or other people you come into contact with. If you aren’t able to explain it to people, you can give them a note stating that you need some alone time.
4. Step outside of your comfort zone.
If you don’t try, you’ll never get anywhere. If you don’t practice, you’ll never get better. If you don’t fail at times, you’ll never learn.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Things are usually not as bad as we tend to think and the rewards may be far more than anything we ever dreamed of.
5. Use the “I AM” statements to ground yourself.
When we are stressed, we tend to be so focused on the things we are afraid of that we fail to see anything else and we restrict ourselves to a negative mindset.
One of the most powerful ways we can change our feelings and our behavior is by using the “I AM” statements.
I AM courageous.
I AM confident.
I AM calm.
I AM smart.
I AM capable.
I AM kind.
By telling ourselves what we feel, focusing on creating that feeling within ourselves, and making it a part of our identity, we can transform ourselves into the person we want to be.
6. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
We are our worst critics. Most people, non-Aspies included, tend to think somewhat badly about themselves.
While this can result in a more humble attitude, which is good, it can also become a problem and lead to depression and a severe lack of confidence.
7. Focus on the heart.
Society has effectively trained everyone to focus on external beauty, while failing to encourage us to behold the beauty of a good heart.
Is a person who looks beautiful on the outside, but has a selfish personality and bad attitude better than someone who lacks attractive physical qualities but is generally kind, loving, and compassionate to others?
In other words, are external appearances to be valued more than good character?
Focus on being a good person and a good friend. Be someone that is deserving of respect by respecting others, being patient, kind, and friendly.
Choose to have a good character and a positive attitude. Be someone of integrity. As you do, people will take notice. People will want to be around you and talk to you because they will enjoy being around you.
8. Build a support system.
It is important to have people in your life who will be there for you in your darkest times and through your most difficult struggles, and who will also cheer you on in your successes and as you work on the things most important to you.
Without the support and encouragement of others, we can not only feel alone but we will be missing something we instinctively long for – deep, personal connection.
A support network is essentially composed of friends, family members, and mentors.
For Aspies, this is often incredibly difficult to acquire for many different reasons, such as it can be difficult to find people to connect with, a lack of social skills can make it hard to talk to people, and social anxiety can make it difficult to approach people or build strong connections.
If that’s the case for you, take heart for that’s one of the reasons why this website exists.
As our community grows, here you will find people with similar interests, who understand your struggles, and will respect and encourage you to pursue your passions.
9. Ground yourself in reality.
Feeling anxious? Stop and redirect your thoughts and focus to something physical in your environment.
What is the floor made of? What is your chair made of? How do you think it was made? What is the texture of your seat? Is it smooth or rough?
These kinds of questions help pull you out of the internal thought processes that are causing your anxiety, and grounds you in the present reality and causes you to have an awareness of the environment you are in.
10. Study and practice communication.
If you were going to take a trip to another country with a different language, chances are you would take time to learn and practice the language the people speak there.
We don’t all communicate the same, so we all work to try to speak a d communicate in a way that enables others to understand us.
When you don’t know the social cues, rules, etiquette, language, or customs, it is incredibly difficult to communicate and be understood. This naturally leads to many problems.
The solution is to study and learn how to communicate, to practice those skills, and to have plans in place to help you better cope with difficult situations that arise.
And when you have a support network behind you, this becomes far easier.
Now while theses strategies aren’t always so easy to implement, they will give you powerful tools and skills that you can use forever and to create the life you always wanted.
Expert Training to Overcome Social Anxiety
If you’re interested in some powerful training and mentoring to help you overcome your social anxiety, I highly recommend this 12 module video training program.
Expert confidence coach, David Hamilton, has put together a ton of great videos full of advice plus a training program that can help you overcome shyness and social anxiety.
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Hi! I’m Lisa Anthony, the founder and editor of Life with Asperger’s.
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 29.
If you need help with anything, I’m here!