People joke a great deal about having an emotional disorder, whether it is claiming they have OCD when it comes to the organization of their closet or just casually stating that something random gives them anxiety. However, anyone who ever has truly struggled with an emotional disorder will tell you it is no laughing matter, and I am unfortunately one of these people. I spent a lot of years of my adolescent life struggling with social anxiety so severe I was basically leaving the house only to go to work. I skipped college because it meant meetings with other people and having to interact with others on a regular basis.
It took a lot of trial and error and me finally coming to terms with my social anxiety disorder through therapy before I determined that confidence (or lack thereof) was directly responsible for most of what I was going through. Here are a few things I have found helpful to build my confidence as someone who suffers from anxiety.
Take baby steps to achieve small goals.
Anxiety can make you feel like you are just stuck in a rut, unable to move forward because your overwhelming fear holds you back. I’ve found that it helps to take tiny steps toward doing things that usually cause you anxiety. For example, if the idea of being in a crowded restaurant evokes your anxiety, first set a goal to pack up your own lunch and eat in a public place, like a city park, where there are still people, but not in a confined area. Setting small goals and achieving them helps you build a little more confidence over time.
Work on enlarging your social circle.
If you are anything like me when I was at the worst in my social anxiety disorder, I barely had one close friend. The whole idea of meeting new people, or even just starting a conversation to try and build some form of relationship with a new person, was scary. The problem with keeping such a small circle is, it often makes you feel like there is something about you that others don’t like — even though you are creating the problem through your own anxiety and lack of confidence. I slowly started to step out of my comfort zone a bit, allowing myself to interact with someone new at work or even sending new friend requests on social media. I may not have a lot of friends now, but my circle has definitely grown, and it has helped me gain confidence because I feel like I am a likeable, valuable person in other people’s lives.
Work on doing something good for your body.
People who suffer with anxiety are notorious for forgetting about their physical well-being, which just contributes to problems with self-confidence. I learned that getting outdoors to take a walk, even if I was all alone, helped me feel better. I also started doing workouts at home and being more conscious about what I ate. Not only did I start to shed a few pounds, I started to feel a little more comfortable about how I looked, which translated to me being more confident about being around others.