Are you one of those lucky people that can go up and speak to anyone?
If not, you might just be shy. I hope you are, because for some people it's much worse.
They're gripped by social anxiety and they couldn't speak to anyone if they tried.
They want to, but they know their head will explode if they do. Their subconscious mind seems to think there is something to be afraid of. There's not anything to be afraid of, right?
But it still doesn't change anything. You can't convince your subconscious mind everything is okay. It thinks you're going to die and it acts accordingly.
You either run away as fast as you can, or you suffer the consequences (which is shame, not death).
Learn through experience
I'm a huge fan of changing your thoughts to change your life, but I don't think it's enough when it comes to social anxiety.
You need to throw yourself in the thick of the action. You need to prove to your subconscious mind there is nothing to be afraid of, because it learns through experience. It can't just be taught.
One might say in this case you need to change your life to change your thoughts, or you should at least use a mixture of the two techniques.
Out-of-body virtual scenarios
New research from the University of East Anglia suggests out-of-body virtual scenarios can help people overcome social anxiety.
They took people suffering from social anxiety and projected their image onto a large video scene which allowed them to watch themselves socializing with other people.
It allowed participants the chance to throw themselves in at the deep end without getting wet.
According to the research… it works. Along with cognitive behavior therapy it will go a long way towards helping people overcome this debilitating illness of the mind.
There is a better way
Or so I think, which is a pretty bold statement, but I'm sure of it. I suffered from social anxiety for years. I must have thrown away 2 whole years of my life, so I don't say there is a better way without good reason.
I run a lucid dreaming blog, and I've actually never told anyone this before but the reason I learned how to lucid dream in the first place was because I knew it would help with my anxiety.
I won't go into too much detail about what lucid dreaming is because Steven has already provided you with a great resource, but it basically means you become aware you are dreaming whilst inside a dream.
If you're wondering why I wasn't skeptical about 'waking up inside my dreams' it was because I used to become lucid when I was young. I had also been learning about meditation and how the mind works, so when I discovered lucid dreaming was a learned skill I knew exactly how it could help me.
Why it reigns supreme
By now you know the subconscious mind can only learn through experience, so you do need to throw yourself in at the deep end. You can't do this in real life because it's too scary. You can do it using fancy videos like in the experiment above, but it's too inconvenient.
Instead, you can reprogram your mind inside your dreams when you go to bed at night.
Once you become conscious inside your dream you can interact with anyone you want. You can go anywhere you want, and you can do anything you want.
You can throw yourself in the deep end without needing to be afraid of anything because your dream characters can't hurt you. Their opinion doesn't mean anything.
If you break down in front of your dream characters you will suffer no social repercussions. You can dust yourself off and try again the following night until you eventually succeed.
Why it's possible
Your mind doesn't differentiate between the real world and the dream world. If you experience something in the dream world it will reprogram your mind the exact same as it would in the real world.
Do you have any idea what this means? Once you learn how to lucid dream you can train your mind to become invincible. You can rehearse any scenario in a dream and when you repeat it in real life your subconscious mind will know there is nothing to be afraid of.
It's changed my life
I'm not going to say lucid dreaming will cure your social anxiety. Cure is a very strong word, but it will definitely make your situation more manageable. In time, who knows?
I shut myself away from the world for years, afraid to leave the house because I was scared of having a panic attack, which I'd already had many of when this all started. As I write this, I'm now traveling around Thailand and I'm exposed to new people on a daily basis. I've reclaimed my life, and you will too.
Lucid dreaming might not completely cure your social anxiety on its own, but I promise it will change your life for the better because it will prepare you to deal with any situation in real life.
If you're interested in learning how to wake up inside your dreams there are lots of things you can learn, but if I can leave you with anything it's the two most important skills I'd personally recommend:
– Build up your dream memory by recording your dreams
Everything else will fall into place, but if you can master those two skills you will become a great lucid dreamer and you'll be able to tackle your social anxiety problems a lot quicker.