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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can I overcome social anxiety?

    I am extremely nervous in social situations - parties, eating at the shopping centre and speaking in front of my classmates. I have tried many different relaxation techniques including deep breathing and exercise, however none seem to work. The point is I am EXTREMELY nervous and shy, and avoid all social situations when possible. Can I overcome this? It seems impossible as it has been a part of me for as long as I can remember! (I am now 27 years old)
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia.beyondblue is a bipartisan initiative of … View Profile

    Certainly deep breathing and relaxation exercises are a couple of strategies that can be useful for addressing social anxiety, but there are other important aspects of treatment including cognitive therapy which can involve identifying the catastrophic thoughts that you may have regarding social situations and addressing these.

    check out the beyondblue book “what works for anxiety” it is free and online and it will give you an excellent overview of the different types of treatments for a range of anxiety disorders, how they work and how effective they are. Visit where there are also a great range of fact sheets not the topic also.
    Best wishes

  • Bruni (Brunhilde) Brewin

    Counsellor, Hypnotherapist

    Bruni Brewin is President Emeritus of The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association (AHA), the oldest and largest National Registration Body for hypnotherapists in Australia founded in 1949, … View Profile

    Fear of rejection?  Fear of failure?  Feel I have nothing to say that anyone will find interesting?

    Some years ago I was allright talking to one person at a time, but put me in a group I would freeze, panic and want to cry.  I didn't deal with this until I studied hypnosis and we had to deal with things that we felt were a problem with us.  And as you say, you can avoid social situations wherever possible so you don't have to deal with it.

    For me, going back in hypnosis to the very first time that I had that feeling, took me back to being ridiculed infront of the class.  I was a little German girl that went to England at the age of 8.  I didn't speak a word of English and children poked fun at me.  It was the teacher that riducled me by holding up my exercise book to the whole class and telling me to read it out to the class.  "Look at it, he said to me... go on, read it out to the class!"  How I wished the floor could have swallowed me up.  I felt so embarrased.

    Did someone put you down and say horrible things to you as you grew up?  Or were you very shy even before school?  Did your parents bring you up to be seen but not heard?  Any number of things can get us to feel the way you do.

    I would suggest you look into when this issue first started and release any feelings surrounding any issues around this.

    You can't be something that you have never been taught.  Watch people and see how they react in social situations.  The extrovert can be over the top and gushy.  Another will be more quiet and sincere.  What would you rather be?  There is no right or wrong and most of us will gravitate to people we like and who like us - that's how it should be.  Don't hang out with people who would put you down.

    And there is a saying; "Feel the fear and do it anyway."  (Small steps at a time).  The more you steer away from something the bigger the issue becomes.  Seek help from a therapist that can help you through this.

    One of my clients ended up going to toastmasters.  People go there because they have a fear of talking in front of people.  She ended up winning her State award. How impressive was that?  It took a while, but then everything we learn to do takes a while doesn't it?

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