For as long as I can remember, I was scared.
Growing up, I didn’t know what the words “social anxiety disorder” meant. It wasn’t until many years later I’d find out I had it.
- It was the reason I couldn’t make or hold eye contact with most people.
- It was responsible for me feeling constantly tense and worn out if I wasn’t by myself.
- It was the thing which made me so quiet, shaky, insecure and withdrawn.
- It was what made me so nervous and awkward around people…
- …To the point that I couldn’t even hold conversations or have friends like a “normal” person.
IT took over 20 years of my life away.
Over 20 years of nervous sweat dripping down my armpits every time I stepped outside my door. Years of avoiding people every day and staying in every evening. Not because I wanted to, but because I was afraid and couldn’t make friends. Years of believing that I would never get a girlfriend to cuddle and feel close to.
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Then I feel for you. I really do.
And I can tell you that finding this website is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to you.
So bookmark this page and come back to it often, because I’m going to show you new insights into social anxiety that you won’t find anywhere else.
Definition Reality of Social Anxiety Disorder
Occasionally someone will ask me what it’s like to have social anxiety. Here’s what the academics say:
Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people. It is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety and fear in most all areas of a person’s life. It is chronic because it does not go away on its own. –socialphobia.org
You know the problem with this definition? It’s too boring. Too abstract. Instead, I’m going to describe to you what social anxiety is like because I still remember my darkest days vividly.
You’re taking an innocent walk in the park. It’s a beautiful day. You’re really enjoying yourself. The grass is green, the birds are singing, life feels great.
Suddenly, you see some people coming towards you in the distance. Your heart skips a beat. You start to freak out inside. You try to figure out if it’s someone you know. Immediately you want to turn around and avoid these people, but they’ve already seen you. It would look weird.
So you keep walking towards them.
It’s a couple of cute girls and they’re getting closer.
Your heart starts racing, your stomach is turning over, and you feel clumsy and awkward. You start to analyze every little thing you do, becoming paranoid about what the ‘right’ way to walk is, or where you should look as you walk by these people.
In an instant, your social anxiety has taken over the way you feel, the way you think, and the way you act. You went from being “perfectly okay” to “completely terrified” in an instant. Then the cute girls pass, and slowly, slowly your heartbeat return to normal, you relax a bit and breathe a small sigh of relief.
At least until the next person walks by.
That’s what it’s like to have social anxiety. Things that most people can do easily, like buying a bag of chips at the grocery store or making conversation, become enormously stressful. In the end, you often avoid any unnecessary social contact because it makes you feel so terrible.
2. What Causes Social Anxiety?
“Who Are You, And How Did You Overcome Your Social Anxiety?”
My name is Sean Cooper. Every month thousands of people come to my website to learn how to overcome shyness or social anxiety. I’m considered an expert in the area. But it wasn’t always like this.
Growing up, I was invisible. In fact, I tried to MAKE myself invisible. Never raising my hand in class, talking quietly, keeping to myself during lunch, not doing much outside the house, not making friends, and so on.
This was me all throughout elementary school and high school. Sometimes I feel like I wasted those years when I could have made some lifelong friends and created some memories.
After that I moved out of my parent’s house to go to university.
I was going to a university in Ottawa (that’s the capital city of Canada). Starting the year, I had high hopes. I thought that maybe I would be able to “start fresh”. Maybe if I got away from the people I knew in high school I could act differently. Maybe I could make some friends and … who knows … even get a nice girlfriend.
But my hopes were soon shattered.
Although I had moved to a new place … I realized something horrible. I was still me. I had carried “my old self” with me to the new city.
My old insecurities and fears came rushing back as soon as I moved into my room. I was living in a big house with eight roommates and… guess what?
I Spent Most Of My Time Trying To Avoid All Of Them!
Whenever I had to eat, I tried to make sure no one was in the kitchen. I tiptoed around so people wouldn’t hear me going to my room. On the weekends, I shut myself in my room and prayed nobody would decide to invite friends over.
My social anxiety was making me isolated from friends… from a girlfriend… from having a life that was actually interesting. And even though I was living in a house with several people, I was starting to feel like a crazy hermit. A complete loner.
One day I overheard a couple of my roommates talking about me.[quote style=”boxed”]”Did you see Sean this week?”[/quote] [quote style=”boxed”]”No, I barely ever see him at all. What do you think he does all day?”[/quote] [quote style=”boxed”]”Who knows? Maybe he’s sitting in his room watching porn. He’s a pretty weird guy.”[/quote]
I felt like I wanted to crawl into a hole.
I won’t bore you with the details, but it was around that time I decided to try something desperate.
I decided to spend several months going through every psychology book that was even a little bit related to social anxiety. I read scientific studies, I read the bestselling “Conversation Tips” books at the bookstore, I listened to audio programs and video seminars on confidence.
I Became Obsessed With Finding A Solution To End My Social Anxiety!
And what I discovered is that there really is no one single solution out there.
But… there were one or two useful tips or techniques I could learn from each book or product I went through. And when I combined them all I started to see myself making amazing progress.
Of course, change didn’t happen overnight. Anyone who tells you it does is probably a scam artist.
It took me a few weeks to figure out what worked and really make any progress… A few months later people were starting to comment about how “different” I was. One of my classmates even started calling me “New Sean”.
Now, a couple years later I have a group of friends, a social life, and a girlfriend – something I thought would never happen!
I’m not some super-confident guy. You’re not about to see me singing on stage at a rock concert. (I don’t think that’s the type of confidence you’re looking for either.)
Instead, I’m still a regular guy, but with above average social skills.
What does that mean exactly?
- Imagine being able to talk to anyone effortlessly. Never worrying about what to say next or whether you’re going to create an awkward silence.
- Imagine being able to walk into a room of strangers and confidently introduce yourself to anyone and make a good first impression.
- Imagine being able to walk over to someone you find attractive and strike up a conversation… get their number… and go on a date later in the week. (Yes, I’ve done this plenty of times.)
- Imagine being able to “fit in” at any party or group conversation instead of standing off to the side. Or worse, avoiding groups altogether because you’ll be too quiet, boring or uninteresting.
And the list could go on.
But this post isn’t meant for me to brag about what I can do. It’s about giving you some useful information. So you can start experiencing the same results.
I’ll start off with…
3 Big Reasons Why You’re Still Socially Anxious
1. Nobody Ever Gave You Specific, Actionable Steps To Cure Your Social Anxiety
The first reason why you still have social anxiety is because of bad advice.
When I had really bad social anxiety, the only advice I heard was:
- “Just talk!”
- “Just be social!”
- “Just pretend to be confident!”
- “Fake it ’til you make it!”
The problem is, advice for overcoming social anxiety is 99% garbage.
It’s usually given by people who have never had the problem themselves. Your parents, friends, or teachers simply don’t understand it. That’s why they tell you the types of useless phrases I listed above.
Even the published books and articles on social anxiety usually suck. They’re usually written by psychologists who know a lot about the causes of social anxiety, but don’t know how to cure it. Or they’re written by people looking to make some quick cash.
Most books just tell you to “focus on other people” or stand up straighter. Rarely do they give any concrete techniques or steps that make a difference in the real world.
This is why I decided to make this website. I wanted to share the tips and techniques for curing social anxiety that I had proven to be effective. The difference is that I’m speaking from personal experience. I think that “shines through” in most of the articles I write here.
The second reason why you’re still have social anxiety is because…
2. You Believe Social Anxiety Is A Part Of Your Personality
When you were young, someone may have told you, “You’re shy” or “You’re quiet.” This assumes that social anxiety is a part of your personality or identity. That It’s something you were born with or have developed over time to become a part of you, like your hair or feet.
But the truth is, social anxiety is not a part of your personality.
Think about it: Are you anxious all the time? Are you equally nervous when you’re talking to someone new as when you’re talking to your closest friend? How about when talking to a group of people versus just one person?
No, you aren’t. So what does this mean?
TRUTH: Social Anxiety Is A Learned Behavior
Social anxiety is a learned behavior. It’s a set of mental and physical behaviors you’ve learned to use to react to certain situations. The amount and the type of reaction you feel depends on the situation.
The important thing to understand is that nobody has shyness or anxiety in every area, it always relates to specific situations. Here’s a few more examples:
- You may not be able to make conversation with strangers easily, but there’s probably one or two people in your life who you can talk to effortlessly.
- You may not be able to make a speech in front of many people without sweating and shaking, but you can talk to one person comfortably.
- You may not be able to make eye contact with someone you are intimidated by (like an authority figure) or someone you are attracted to, but with other people it’s much easier.
- You may be quiet and hard-to-hear when there’s lots of people listening, but when you’re in a private room you can speak as loud as you want.
So stop assuming social anxiety is a part of your personality and turning it into an unchangeable identity. Don’t say: “That’s the way I am.” Say: “In this situation…”
Social anxiety is a set of thoughts and behaviors you have learned to use in certain social situations. This also means you can unlearn these thoughts and behaviors and replace them with new ones. I’ll explain how a little later on this page.
3. You Think Social Anxiety Is An Illness Caused By Genetics Or A “Chemical Imbalance”
Social anxiety is not a real disorder or illness, despite the name sometimes given to it: “social anxiety disorder”.
99% of people out there who have social anxiety have nothing physically wrong with their mind or body that needs to be fixed through medication. (Of course, always see your doctor just in case you happen to be in the minority.)
Social anxiety can be fixed, but not by altering your body’s chemical balances through medication. Medication helps some people manage their anxiety better, but it will never make it go away. It can only be a temporary fix.To make it go away permanently, you’ll need a different approach, which I’ll share with you in just a bit.
By the way, the reason why so many people believe this myth is because big pharmaceutical companies want to sell more drugs to people. Think I’m kidding? Here’s what a Harvard professor of medicine has to say about it:
“If you watch television in the evening, the news shows, it’s marketing one drug after the other. And it not only markets the drugs–it markets the medical conditions they are used to treat. It convinces people who watch shows that there is a brand new drug, a miracle drug for every ailment and discontent they can come up with. And so if they are shy, suddenly they have Social Anxiety Disorder and they need Paxil.” – Dr. Marcia Angell, Harvard Medical Professor
What scientific studies have found is that drugs used to treat disorders like anxiety or depression are not as effective as the strategy I teach.
The drugs (sometimes) work as long as you’re taking them, but as soon as you stop, the anxiety or depression comes right back, because you haven’t fixed the root of the problem. You only masked the symptoms.
Anti-anxiety medication does help some people when it is used along with the type of strategy I teach. It is most useful for those who have extremely severe anxiety issues, to help them get started on their way to getting better.
Important Disclaimer: This being said, I’m neither a medical doctor nor a psychiatrist, and nothing on this website should be taken as medical advice. I’m just sharing with you the results of my research.
So what exactly is the strategy I teach? What is the cure for social anxiety?
Before I get to that, first I need to teach you something pretty cool…
[Note: Right now this page is under construction. I’ll be adding more in the near future.]