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The Only “Cure” for Social Anxiety Disorder and Achieving Social Freedom

It’s a paradox that what got you reading this article is maintaining your problem. The word “cure” is what creates your social anxiety disorder. I cringe at saying cure in the title of this article, but it displays a breakthrough point modern therapists have discovered: attempts to remove social anxiety cause it to persist.

You can do a social anxiety test to learn if you have a disorder, but it’s likely you suffer from a social anxiety disorder having tried to treat it for years. Your infatuation with anxiety and curing it go hand-in-hand. What you resist persists making problem-solving ineffective.

Watch the video above for the start of this article and the only social anxiety disorder cure

From a young age we’re tricked to believe in emotional regulation. We believe adults are mature, stable, and happy because of emotional control. “Stop crying and being a baby.” “Don’t be angry.” And of course my dreaded, “Don’t be a scaredy cat.” Emotional regulation has lead to your search here today as you try discover the cure of your social anxiety.

What are the affects of battling your anxiety? What’s the secret to better socialize and start living a meaningful life?

The Hidden Danger of a Social Anxiety Disorder

Cowards die many times before their deaths.William Shakespeare

To understand the world one must not be worrying about one’s self.Albert Einstein

Social anxiety affects you on the outside. You’re in a conversation looking at someone, but really you’re looking within, monitoring what’s going on. “Am I getting more anxious? Is my nervousness dropping? What do they think of me?”

A battle with a social anxiety disorder is life-limiting. Imagine yourself at a banquet of delicious meats and foods on the table with anxiety sitting beside you. If you battle anxiety, both hands grasp the knife and fork for weapons as you focus on slicing anxiety to death. Anxiety sometimes gets hit yet morphs into a more intense form. You swing harder only to tire yourself out – all the while you miss a delightful moment of treats.

Your battle with anxiety consumes plentiful amounts of energy that diverts your mind and body from activities, daily tasks, and relationships meaningful to you. If someone was to choke you right now, of all the things you could do (look out the window, scratch your head, laugh), you’d be obsessed with one: breathing again. Fighting anxiety is like being choked as it narrows your repertoire of behavior. There’s a banquet to enjoy in life instead of fighting anxiety.

In conversation you can focus on learning what someone does for a career, how your friend spends free time, or listening to make someone feel heard to live out a value of being friendly. At the moment though, you fight anxiety. This makes a social anxiety disorder an awkward problem. If you have the disorder as characterized by a resistance to anxiety, you’re not present in the conversation and people notice it.

I created an anxiety video and infographic to help you better understand what it’s like to have an anxiety disorder in today’s world:

Anxiety disorder infographic

How Anxiety Experts Cure a Social Anxiety Disorder

If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.George S. Patton, World War II general

Fear is natural. Be with it.Thomas Leonard, founder of CoachVille

I picked up a social anxiety disorder at 14 years old. I’m now 27 years old and don’t consider myself cured. “What?! You can’t teach people then you jerk!”

The moment you consider yourself treated from social anxiety or other forms of anxiety is when you’re vulnerable. It’s the same mind-trap as wanting to banish anxiety.

Stephen Hayes, co-creator of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), was a psychologist when he developed a panic disorder. In an interview I did with him, he applied advice from cognitive therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but they felt to him as if he had spat into a hurricane.

Here’s one example. CBT uses the term “cognitive restructuring” to be more rationale about anxiety-inducing situations. Shifting a thought of “I’m going to look like an idiot at the party” to “I’m extremely nervous at this party, but I’ll leave in one piece tonight and probably make some new friends!” wasn’t very helpful for him. You may have tried the same restructuring that helped in the short-term only to find the spit flying back at you soon after.

The problem and infatuation with removing anxiety go hand-in-hand.

One day Dr Hayes became an assistant professor when he was in a department meeting watching the professors angrily fight with each other. He raised his hand to ask a question, but couldn’t make a sound come out of his mouth. After 30 seconds, no sound was made and the meeting resumed.

“That event,” says Dr Hayes, “is not what created my anxiety disorder.” If you get humiliated talking to a hot blonde, it doesn’t mean anxiety will be with you for the remainder of your life. It can start an internal battle where you fight the internal experience of anxiety. You start to project the experience where you see yourself fainting and dying in the future.

Imagine a young boy freely running around a playground. Suddenly he falls into a dark, dirty hole called “anxiety”. It’s not his fault he fell into the hole. How the hole got there doesn’t matter because it’s just there.

The child is scared of the black ditch because one day he heard bad creatures live in the dark. Afraid of this, he quickly decides to escape by digging. 10 minutes later he looks up to see no progress so he digs more dirt out and digs faster. Sweat beads down his forehead.

One hour of strenuous digging later, he glances up with his glassy eyes only to see he’s further from freedom. He is more afraid than before.

Has digging hard (attempts to conquer anxiety) freed you? I doubt it has because you’re reading this article hoping to cure a social phobia. Have a pad and pen handy because in this article I’ll ask you to do a lot of tough and fulfilling work that’s counter-intuitive to what you’ve done most of your life.

How to End Suffering Forever

We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.Seneca, 1st century Roman philosopher

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Neibuhr

Anxiety sufferers believe anxiety causes pain and must be gone before they can live a meaningful life. Self-talk of social anxiety sufferers include: “Before I can talk with that girl, I need to feel confident”, “I need to be comfortable to get on stage and speak”, and “I can’t make friends as long as I’m a nervous wreck”.

Anxiety sufferers believe anxiety causes pain and must be gone before they can live a meaningful life.

You may believe you can’t make friends or chat with cute girls until this yucky thing that is anxiety disappears. That’s what you’ve been lead to believe by self-help gurus who pronounce you have to think and feel a certain way to achieve a goal. Georg Eifert and John Forsyth, co-authors of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders, wrote something worth burning into memory: “Feeling good is not a requirement for living good.”

When you believe you must feel good to live good, you battle anxiety. The truth is: anxiety doesn’t cause pain – your struggle with anxiety creates undue pain.

Suffering forms from pain and nonacceptance according to Linehan, author of Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder. Ultimate suffering is suicide, an attempt to end pain from nonacceptance. You suffer when you don’t want to be hurt, when you don’t want to be anxious, when you don’t want to fear.

Fearless is unnecessary to have a great social life. You don’t need to be fearless to contribute. You can be fear-ridden and live a meaningful life. “You don’t need to think this way or feel that way to be free of social anxiety,” said Dr Hayes. “Instead of wanting social anxiety to disappear and then you can be with yourself and others, it turns out you can go directly and quickly to the end if you compassionately hold your insides.”

Anxiety does not mean something is wrong you – it’s the approach of battling anxiety that causes suffering. Sexual abuse is one unfortunate event in life that causes trauma yet it doesn’t always lead to being broken or living a sexually suppressed life. Victims of sexual abuse can feel anxiety in sexual situations yet live as they please. Psychological health is not the absence of trauma, pain, and negative experiences.

The difference between a free outgoing person and someone shy is not the experience of anxiety, but if the anxiety is held onto, battled with, and pushed away. Escapism constricts your social life because your internal experiences are inescapable. You cannot run from yourself. Drop the mindset of “curing anxiety” altogether. “I’ve learned to never say no to anxiety,” said Dr Hayes in my interview with him. “If anxiety wants to show up, it’s perfectly welcome to do so.”

My question to you is: are you willing to make room for anxiety to be in your life?

Why Doing What You’re Anxious About Works

There is no coming to consciousness without pain.Carl Gustav Jung, founder of analytical psychology

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.Fr. Alfred D’Souza in Happiness Is A Journey

Do the thing you’re anxious about and anxiety will rot away. That’s a truth of fear and a better lesson self-help teaches. The underlying message is to conquer fear and anxiety, which contradicts what you learned so far.

Firstly, fear and anxiety differ. Fear promotes action in the present while anxiety anticipates the future. You can fear being punched in the head by a muscle-jacked boyfriend if you approach a hot girl and he pushes you, but worrying about being punched by that guy before you approach is anxiety.

Fear and anxiety reduce when you experience what you’re afraid of. Neither emotion is worse than the other. A skydiver will likely fear his tenth jump less than his first and a guy who approaches a hundred women will be less anxious than if he approached none. This is exposure and it works at living with anxiety.

You didn’t learn to ride a bike by reading or thinking about it. You crashed, you fell, you got hurt. There’s no other way than direct experience to ride a bike.

“Exposure therapy” has you repeat contact with what you fear in a safe environment until the fear is extinct or minimized. If you’re petrified to leave the house, it might begin by putting your head out the window, sitting on your verandah, or walking around the garden. If you’re afraid of cafes, day one could be to order a coffee, day two is to order a coffee while holding eye contact, while day three also gets you to ask how the barista’s day is going.

How can you use exposure to step into your social phobia? List three steps on a pad. It could be: 1) go to a mall and sit down, 2) make eye contact with 10 people who pass you, and 3) say “Hey” on the tenth person.

You may feel your heart increasing right now with just the thought of exposure. Don’t battle it. The battling is what causes suffering. Be mindful of your increased heart-rate and shallow breathe. Be okay with it. Continue to write your three steps.

The discomfort experienced signals your evolution. Something different is happening in your life right now! Remember Jung’s words: “There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” Whenever I feel discomfort, I acknowledge a transformation – an evolution – is occurring inside me that’ll produce a different a result to what I’ve had in the past.

Be careful making exposure another cure to social anxiety. Cognitive therapies use exposure to reduce anxiety and treat symptoms, but ACT uses it with the purpose of getting you to be okay with feeling anxiety. That’s a big difference.

Make doing what you’re anxious about a feeling experience that enriches life.

Anxiety is natural so it makes sense to not suffer with attempts to conquer it. Bootcamp students get a great feeling experience from exposure therapy. We might go to a bar or club with no intent but to be there. The student says “Hey!” to a group and keeps walking. The goal is to be okay with feeling afraid of meeting people so you can live a purposeful life. The belief you shouldn’t be afraid of new people only increases suffering.

If you do what you worry about to remove anxiety, is that another short-term tool to battle anxiety? I suggest you use exposure not to reduce anxiety, but to experience anxiety, feel how it’s normal, and believe a purposeful life is possible with it. Anxiety is natural so be with it.

Lesson: make doing what you’re anxious about a feeling experience that enriches life.

How to Free Yourself From the Fight with Social Anxiety

One cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.Albert Einstein

He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War

Creatures relate to things based on their attributes like speed, color, and size. Humans do too but we can abstract these perceptions. We often do not take a fast beating heart for what it is: a fast beating heart. If your heart thumps hard, you may infer you’re about to have a panic attack. Once you learn to categorize something within, it seems like a thing. Anxiety to you seems real and dangerous.

In the past century since Darwin’s work, we’ve categorized anxiety as an unhealthy emotional affect of worry. Anxiety is seen as bad due to the surge of pop-psychology books in the 80s, positive-thinking tapes in the 90s, and now blogging in the 21st century where anyone can chant self-help advice. Western society teaches you to master your emotions, control your thoughts, and move from unpleasant states through manipulation.

Answer these questions to do with categorizing emotions:

  • Is “joy” good or bad?
  • Is “sadness” good or bad?
  • Is “anxiety” good or bad?

You probably answered “good”, “bad”, and “bad”. But is it bad to be sad when your friend dies? Is it bad to be anxious when you’re in a new environment and meet someone you don’t know?

The self-help myth and belief that anxiety is bad cause you to try cut it out like a parasite from your body. You read endless articles on dealing with social anxiety, post in forums desperately seeking help, and beg for anything to alleviate you of this disease. All this makes you more anxious.

You fight anxiety because of the belief and categorization it’s bad. You can also take this control approach because it’s an adaptive method to survive in the external world.

You fear climbing a high cliff for survival and pain reduction. Bruce Chorpita, Professor of Psychology at UCLA, and David Barlow, Professor of Psychology at Boston University, in a 1998 study called The Development of Anxiety confirm a control approach to make life right is important to healthy well-being. Nothing is unhealthy about avoiding an unchained dog growling loudly or taking an aspirin to alleviate a headache.

Problems arise when control is used at an extreme level as rigid thinking and behaving do not work. Not approaching a cute girl because you’re nervous does not work. Calling in sick because you’re afraid to give a presentation does not work. Saying you’re not in the mood to go to party does not work when you’re really staying home to avoid your fear of dancing. It’s once you avoid crossing a bridge because your friend jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge that control doesn’t work.

Anxiety and other feelings like anger typically understood as “bad” are not bad. They typify human experience. The belief you need to think and feel positive all the time is inhuman. Emotions don’t have an off and off switch. Our emotional spectrum of fear, sadness, happiness, anger, and disgust (Darwin’s five emotions) makes you human. Those who accept and experience the five emotions and their lesser ones without defense are healthy.

Anxiety and other feelings… typify human experience.

Here’s a quick exercise to do in this moment. Try to make yourself happy. Give yourself a minute. Now try to make yourself anxious. Give yourself another minute to create this state.

Did you make yourself happy or anxious? You didn’t directly create the emotion. You induced either by remembering a happy or anxious memory, which created the emotion. You experienced something that triggered happiness and something else that lead to anxiety. Emotions like anxiety naturally arise from experience and cannot be easily controlled like a power switch.

One point I must make clear is regulating actions of an emotion is completely different to emotional regulation. It’s okay to accept the one second of anger when your son doesn’t wash the dishes, but it isn’t okay to abuse him about it. You have the power to control the action-side of anger by breathing to gain clarity, thinking about the need that caused your anger, and being assertive.

A Breakthrough Model for Social Freedom

He who is brave is free.Seneca

Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.Voltaire, 17th century writer on social reform

You now know to not resist anxiety. If you try to not think of a pink elephant, you’re stuck thinking about a pink elephant. What should you do instead of obsessing about the pink elephant that is anxiety?

Before we can answer this, let’s first understand what you were trying to achieve by removing anxiety. Here’s a quote from my special member’s only report The Only Cure to Social Anxiety, available in part three of Big Talkers, where for the first time this breakthrough model of social freedom is revealed and simply applied to socializing:

You’ve heard the terms “social anxiety” and “fear”, but what words are their opposite? You probably think terms like “calmness” is the opposite to “social anxiety” and “confidence” is the opposite to “fear”.

You’ve been “working on yourself” for a few years now and banish fear in pursuit of confidence. You try to erase anxiety in pursuit of calmness. Such actions are driven by the belief that an opposite – more ideal – state of anxiety exists. This belief drives your fear in social situations.

You can see this traditional model to deal with social anxiety below:

The old model of social confidence where you try to cure a social anxiety disorder
The old model for fixing social anxiety: move from socially anxious to confidence

Continuing on in the report:

What if I told you an opposite term didn’t exist? What effect would that have on your belief system and actions?

If social anxiety and fear had no opposite, you wouldn’t pursue another state. You wouldn’t seek out calmness to move away from it’s polar opposite of social anxiety. You wouldn’t seek out confidence to move away from it’s polar opposite of fear.

With anxiety and fear being their own states with no opposite, you couldn’t make them transform or disappear into another state. They would simply exist because it’s natural.

What does the new model look like then?

If anxiety is a natural experience to be held, the other end of the “confidence spectrum” becomes freedom. You’re free to experience what you feel!

The problem is not anxiety, but the desire to avoid anxiety.

Freedom is not an alleviation of barriers, but complete acceptance of them. You don’t have to like the barriers. You don’t have to like anxiety. It’s your choice if you drop the tug-of-war rope with anxiety and allow it to be there.

The problem is not anxiety, but the desire to avoid anxiety. Attempts to move from social anxiety towards confidence, calmness, even freedom – whatever it maybe – snares you in the same trap of fighting anxiety. This new model of socializing and living happy aims to not push you from social anxiety towards social freedom, but to move you to accept social anxiety, which is freedom.

The new model of social confidence
The new model for social anxiety: move from avoidance to value-based living

You can quickly comprehend how free you are by asking: “Where’s my focus when anxiety arises?” The free person sees what’s important to them (value-based living) while the anxiety sufferer battles with anxiety (desire to avoid social anxiety).

A girl who thinks everyone analyzes her is not socially free – she will be afraid to speak and socialize. Another girl who says what she feels and speaks her mind even when she’s afraid is socially freer than the first girl. Social freedom is therefore the absence of a desire to avoid social anxiety. The later girl lives a freer social life because she knows anxiety and fear is okay to exist. How can you too live a free social life once and for all?

How to Live a Meaningful Life and Treat a Social Anxiety Disorder with ACT

Has fear ever held a man back from anything he really wanted?George Bernard Shaw, recipient of the 1925 Nobel Prize in literature

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.Ambrose Redmoon, rock band manager and writer

You don’t decide to feel anxiety – you decide to live a meaningful life. Pain exists either way. The push-pull of fear and love is expected if you move towards what you care about like friends and social freedom. Your decision is not whether you feel anxiety, but if you want to reflect on your past and feel proud. How do you go about this? You use the ACT formula.

The ACT formula below is part of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy., a place where patients of almost any health problem come together to share their self-experiments, found Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to be one of the most effective yet hidden solutions for anxiety treatment.

Three components exist to start living a meaningful life when you suffer from social anxiety: Accept, Choose Directions, and Take Action.

Accept. Follow the serenity creed by accepting what you can and can’t change. If you get anxious around attractive women because you’re short and you think women find shortness unattractive, as erroneous as that belief is, you can’t change your height and need to accept it.

Your decision is not whether you feel anxiety, but if you want to reflect on your past and feel proud.

By accepting your height, you don’t resign to the thought you’ll forever suck with women. It means you end your struggle with what is. This creates space for you to do something productive like learn the many other things women want in men.

Acceptance is your willingness to openly live. It is not resignation to your anxiety, a feeling, or one decision. It is a choice you make to approach life each day. There may be a law you hate, but you accept it and openly live with it. Acceptance transforms your suffering into plain pain. Acceptance ends your battle with social anxiety.

Besides, how has resistance to anxiety gone for you? You struggle with the internal battle doing things like screen phone calls, skip parties, and shop at the least busiest of times. The anxiety temporarily subsides then explodes in another situation.

You’re not a bad or messed up person because of your battle with anxiety and use of strategies to deal with it. You’re just using ineffective methods. Can you see how resistance is not working for you and why this first step of “Accept” is important for you?

Choose Directions. Where do you want to be one year from now?

Viktor Frankl was a man confined to life-threatening barriers yet used choice, acceptance, and values to survive then live a valuable life. Frankl was a prisoner of war transported between Nazi camps relentless as the other. Prisoners were stripped naked, called a number instead of their name, starved, placed in gas chambers, and put in dehumanizing moments.

Fellow prisoners committed suicide to avoid the suffering of another day with the Nazis. Some prisoners lay in bed refusing to get up as they submitted to Nazi beatings. Statistic experts estimate there was a 3% chance of survival.

Frankl noticed a common thread amongst those who endured the pain: they had reason to live. What did Frankl do? He stood outside to give a psychotherapeutic speech on concentration camps, studied and helped fellow prisoners, and did what he could to give life purpose. Surviving prisoners imagined reunion with families or completion of a valuable project back in their home country. No Nazi could steal a prisoner’s vision.

Freud said man is driven from sexual instincts. Frankl developed Logotherapy and says your deepest desire is purpose. Carl Jung echoed similar sediments saying, “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.”

Again I ask you… Where do you want to be one year from now?

You may struggle to head in a direction because of your language that describes anxiety. It’s typical for anxiety sufferers to be low on life consumed with the anxiety battle. I’ve heard and said things like, “I can’t go to parties until my anxiety is fixed”, “I’d do public speaking, but I’m afraid”, and “That girl is hot and I’d like to talk to her, but I don’t want to embarrass myself”.

Why have you previously wanted anxiety to be gone? To be less anxious? How uninspiring! You know at some level that less anxiety through techniques, anti-depressant medication, or some other remedy doesn’t create a richer life.

How would it feel if your tombstone had written on it:

[Your name] battled anxiety for 14 years. He dedicated each day to researching techniques, taking medication, and doing what’s possible to dodge anxiety-inducing situations. He had few friends, never volunteered to help the less fortunate, and never married. He was never able to lie down on the beach with the sunset and cool breeze blowing through his hair because he never conquered anxiety.

Write your tombstone if you died today. We’ll get to the second part of this tombstone exercise soon.

Do another useful exercise for change to this new model of social anxiety. Spend five minutes now writing your list of Life Costs of Anxiety Avoidance. This list is to include the costs of what you have missed in life because you avoided anxiety. Common life costs of my students battling social anxiety include:

  • No partner, ever
  • No fun at social events
  • No promotions at work from weak behavior
  • Abuse from strangers for awkwardness
  • The frustration from not voicing needs
  • A disbelief great goals can be achieved

To further help you choose directions, ask yourself,“What values do I hold?” These values can be outside of relationships because anxiety affects your entire life. You can avoid going to university from your anxiety of being afraid to meet fellow students.

Values are different to goals because a goal can be achieved while a value may never end. You achieve a goal of making friends but you can’t complete the value of being friendly. Values are a path you go on. You may like to think of a value as an intention.

Example values are below along with questions to stimulate value-extraction and the problem of anxiety avoidance to show its affect on what’s meaningful:

  1. Example: Loving brother/sister and parent. Questions: What type of brother/sister/parent do you want to be? How do you want to be around family? Problem: I’ve avoided talking about the elephant in the room (what everyone knows is there, but ignores) and prevented a deep connection with family because it’s scary.
  2. Example: Great friend. Questions: What does it mean for you to be a great friend? What is it about friendship that’s valuable to you? Problem: Skipped my anxiety by not approaching people and accepting invitations to events that’s lead to few friends and low-quality relations with current friends.
  3. Example: Help people with my career. Questions: What do you care about with work? What work do you like? Problem: I’ve stayed at home to avoid my anxiety that comes from meeting with clients and co-workers.
  4. Example: Learn new skills. Questions: What would you like to learn? Why learn or undergo training? Problem: Stagnation and unfulfillment from a non-acceptance of anxiety to do with failure.

Take 10 minutes to list various values. Your answers are extremely important and guide you to purposeful living. Don’t let the importance of values bog you down because you can shape your answers later on. Hold values playfully to do this exercise because life and purpose is fun!

If you’re yet to locate your values, go inside the pain where you struggle the most then flip it over by saying, “What would I have to not care about to not have this pain be hurtful?” If your pain is social anxiety, you may not have to care about being with people, contribution, and loving others. Values reside in fear.

Your Life Costs of Anxiety Avoidance list motivates you to step into anxiety while your list of values motivate and direct you where to go.

Take Action. Once you accept what you can and can’t change and choose directions valuable to you, action is the last step. Act on your values.

You likely already act on your values. Your values are better clarified by what you do. If you avoid your anxiety, you probably value avoiding anxiety. With anxiety, however, it muddles what’s meaningful to you.

A commitment to take this third and last step of action is itself a value that shows you care about your life.

Spend 10 minutes now to build an action plan that puts you on a path aligned with your chosen directions. In your action plan, list the first action-step to get you started. This is critical to build momentum and meaningfully live.

Behave aligned with your values and meaningful goals.

If you value family, a step could be to phone family members to organize a date for dinner by the end of next month. If you value being friendly, maybe a step for you is to get How to Win Friends and Influence People and Big Talk. Put together a concrete action plan to get going.

Unless you do something different, whether it’s follow ACT or some other treatment plan, you will not generate different results in your life. When you follow these steps, you shift from emotional regulation to emotional acceptance. You go from anxiety reduction to a fully functional being with values and goals meaningful to you.

The “cure” to social anxiety disorder isn’t accepting anxiety to remove it. That’s the same trap. Forget curing anxiety altogether. Behave aligned with your values and meaningful goals. It’s not easy. You either be friendly or you do not. There’s no “I tried to socialize” or “I tried to be nice to people”.

Your willingness to live meaningfully is a choice you make through action. Feelings and thoughts come and go, but where you travel is a daily-decision acted out with your feet. Will you join me at the banquet beside anxiety?

Recommended Resources About a Social Anxiety Disorder

  1. Free test to see if you have SAD.
  2. Fellow Aussie Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, has a good overview of ACT I recommend you read if you want to further explore this therapy.
  3. For a complete step-by-step guide to effortlessly make friends when you’re shy and quiet, get my Big Talk course.
  4. Another good resource (saying so myself) is Big Talkers, particularly part three where you’ll access my interview with Dr Stephen Hayes quoted in this article.

Question of the Day

What will you do this week to live a more meaningful life instead of trying to cure a social anxiety disorder?

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Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power"

Joshua Uebergang, aka "Tower of Power", teaches social skills to help shy guys build friends and influence people. Visit his blog and sign-up free to get communication techniques, relationship-boosting strategies, and life-building tips by email, along with blog updates, and more! Go now to



When I read this article, I think of courage. Courage is facing your fears and anxiety. To really diminish the fear or anxiety, you have to have the courage to face it. Before I read this article, I couldn’t really sum up the meaning of courage. If someone were to ask me what courage really meant, I wouldn’t know how to answer them. The funny thing is that a while ago I wrote the word down and contemplated it over and over in my head and for the life of me, I couldn’t place my finger on it. When I wrote the word “courage” down, I was scared about something maybe that was a turn in the right direction.

This article will go a long ways with helping somebody. It was an excellent point. I’ve held a few believes about anxiety. This one, “I can’t make friends as long as I’m a nervous wreck” applies to me the most. Except I would say that I can’t have friends as long as I’m overly emotional or rather imbalanced. (I’m borderline). And I really felt that way. I’ll start to imagine my life spent alone because of my difficultly with holding myself together at times and it’ll feel like it’s the end of the world and it’ll feel like I can’t make anything of myself because of it. I will say that this article is inspiring to my situation and that I’ll definitely apply this to my life. Thank you.


After reading this article i discovered that is the immediate cure to my anxiety. Keep it up

Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power"

You didn’t read the article then Tasiu 😕

Writing the word “courage” down and defining it… good exercise Kira.


Josh that was a really well thought out and considered post!
I tend to agree with a lot of what you have said – the fact that one is anxious then tries so hard to get rid of the anxiety, will actually result in focussing on it too much and enhancing the whole condition!
The need to escape, change,improve, and eliminate seems to be quite prevalent these days, and your whole post reminds me of the book “The Power of Now”, a book which focusses on living in the present moment and being at peace with what is happening right now, rather than trying to change things constantly.
Good work!


Hi! I’m just annoyed with what I’ve been thinking for past few days. I was thinking like, if in a normal conversation, I asked someone something and they didn’t responded me, do I look stupid? I mean as far as I know, there might be a reason or they are just like that or maybe they’ve bad feelings. I was convincing myself with these but does it really make me stupid when they don’t respond me even if there’s a reason behind it? I feel that I have stopped socializing due of having such mentality even if I know that there’s always a reason behind of everything. I just want to do everything but I just don’t wanna end up looking stupid. This thinking is making me weak and I’m even loosing self confident that’s why I was searching for the answer. Thank you


Joshua, while I really did like your article, the only problem – and a BIG problem – is that it does not address the core issue of social anxiety in a person. I’ve had a lifetime of social anxiety and it wasn’t until I addressed the actual root of the problem did I overcome my anxiety. The root of most social anxiety is a condition called “toxic shame”. It’s important to know that toxic shame is NOT the same as “regular” shame. Social anxiety is actually just a symptom, with toxic shame being the cause (for most people). For ACT to work you must first appreciate and recognize how you were (toxically) shamed growing up. This leads you to towards acceptance of yourself and an autonomous belief that you, at your core, are not defective and inferior – of which people with toxic shame tend to see themselves as.

I have healed myself of my toxic shame and it’s symptom of SA, and I know others can as well. Social anxiety is the not the only thing related to toxic shame. As Gershen Kaufman, the author of the book “Shame”, says… shame is the source of most psychological/emotional conditions. Anyways, if anyone would like a lot of free information of how to heal your toxic shame, then click my name and it will take you to a thread that explains everything about toxic shame and what to do about it.

By the way, even though a few books are mentioned in that thread, there is nothing being sold there. There are no links to any sales pages or anything like that. It is a thread meant solely to help others and nothing else.

Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power"

I completely agree with identifying and addressing toxic shame, though it’s not for everyone. Anxiety suffers do NOT all have toxic shame. For those who suffer from the belief “I’m flawed”, labeling an internal experience as “toxic shame” can help liberate you from such beliefs.

A subtle secret in my lesson of sharing that anxiety and other internal experiences are okay to have is the alleviation of toxic shame. “So I’m not weird after all?”

As you accept, choose your direction, and take action, you become the one who creates a meaningful life and develops healing relationships that free you from the belief that you’re a mistake.


It helps me to make a phone call while I’m doing something else like watching TV, so that my attention isn’t just on the person I’m talking to (since the person is the cause of my anxiety.) But then the person always sounds offended, like “Is this a bad time? Because I can hardly hear you? Where are you?”


This is a fantastic article. I have worked in the mental health field for several years and have a background in linguistics, but I’m just now learning the true power of neurolinguistics programming and it’s many applications. I appreciate your hard work, Josh, and I think you have built a wonderful and valuable website.

Puleng Mabe

🙂 thanx in a million ways dis article opend my eyes“So I’m not weird after all?”.

5 Truths About Fear

[…] will always exist in your life. The only cure to fear and social anxiety is to accept it and do it. When you do the thing you fear, whether it was a facade or not, you […]

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

[…] is not bad like other emotions such as anger and anxiety. It exists for a reason. Guilt tells a message you need to […]

Frank Bentley

Yes it’s true that he who is brave feels free. But how can you be brave if you don’t feel the freedom of anxiety? Thanks for this unveiling article about anxiety. It helped me a lot on my research about anxiety.


Your article reminds me greatly of the serenity prayer “Accept the things we can’t change. Change the things that we can and the wisdom to know the difference.
This is such an inspiring article. Thanks for sharing it

[…] If you’ve suffered from social anxiety disorder having tried to treat it for years, it is maintaining your problem. Your infatuation with anxiety and curing it go hand-in-hand. I’ve written all you need to “cure” your social anxiety disorder here. […]

[…] shy that I clammed up whenever I talked with teachers or other children. My severe shyness, or “social anxiety disorder,” lasted through college and beyond. (Attending an all girl’s high school and university […]


Two words; Thank you…
About to say alot of things, probably not gonna even read this back, just sorta need to let off some steam y’know?

I am currently in year 12; all of my life i had been the outgoing, confident one, who didn’t give a rat about what others thought! But suddenly something changed, or I pushed myself to believe ‘something changed’. I couldn’t talk to people, not even my mates, always ‘overthinking’, telling myself that i need to get better to talk to this girl, ‘it’ll all be better soon’ i said. I have now come to realise; telling myself that i am ‘overthinking everything’ and telling others that, is the worst thing I can possibly do. See, whenever i’m in a social situation, my conscious will always be saying ‘stop overthinking’, thus, leading myself into thinking I am. Always on a constant battle with myself, about to drive myself crazy, thinking about suicide etc. and all of that. Now I have realised, trying to ‘battle’ this ‘social anxiety’, will only continue my pain. I don’t have a ‘problem’ I have perceived myself and others to think that I have. Maybe because it’s easier? I don’t know. All I know is that it’s not working, fighting ‘this’ is not working. It is okay to be anxious, nervous, or feel any feeling you want to feel! Fighting this is not natural, this is why I could relate to your article so much. But accepting these feelings is what I need to do, instead of constantly fearing, when they will come back by trying to prevent them. I want to live a happy life, not a life full of fear; so this is a big step for me, to stop fearing these emotions and push on; everyone has a brain, everyone thinks not just me.

I am going to read this article alot, try to understand it and push on, I thought, i needed to ‘overcome’ this, but the truth is i need to learn to accept it and not make it a part of me, and i look very forward to this, because I am already happy, i just don’t want to see it. 🙂

Thank you. 🙂


Interesting read. I wonder about the ‘Society Norm’ type situational references used here and in the test.

“A sane person to an insane society must appear insane.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

Of course we do have to research and understand as best we can the nature of the monstrous deceptions perpetrated on humanity.

Then you don’t feel nearly so bad as it turns out you had it right all along!


this is very interesting and I dont know if you listen to OSHO ,but it sounds like something he would say that emotions just pass by you and acceptance is the key here. yet, acceptance with social anxiety is extremely hard cuz your life is basically crippled, i didnt know i have social anxiety actually and i just labelled it recently and it was such a relief to know that cuz i spent my entire life not knowing why i fear people and especially certain situations like shopping, malls, phone calls ,riding a bus etc.. So i would always force myself to do the things i am scared of but then I wud judge myself why I was hesitant or afraid etc..

also, here you mentioned those points
“No partner, ever
No fun at social events
No promotions at work from weak behavior
Abuse from strangers for awkwardness
The frustration from not voicing needs
A disbelief great goals can be achieved”

yet what can one do ,if you’re gonna accept then you will get abuse from strangers for being awkward so do u mean accept that as well? cuz how wud it change , you are not changing the scenario, you’re throwing yourself in deep waters when u cant swim. like one time when i was challenging myself i went grocery shopping and the lady was rude to me ,so I got a severe anxiety attack and cudnt really go shopping again for a couple of weeks and my b.f did the shopping. so acceptance means that u’ll have 2 live with the consequences which are horrible. I have BPD as well and i can accept BPD but social anxiety not really easy.


Thanks, man. I needed that.