Franklin D. Roosevelt is famous for saying, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” However, the President’s wife had many great quotes of her own, dealing with the same subject matter: fear and anxiety. Eleanor Roosevelt was, “A shy, awkward child, starved for recognition and love,” yet she grew into, “One of the most outspoken women to live in the White House.” That didn’t mean the former First Lady stopped feeling fear and anxiety. She merely learned how to overcome her fear, and the following quotes explain how she did just that.
1. “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”
With social anxiety, we fear talking to people. If we accept that fear and talk in the face of it, we may speak nervously and stumble on our words, but we will nevertheless have spoken. That, in turn, will give us more confidence, so that the next time we speak, we won’t be as nervous as before.
2. “You must do the things you think you cannot do.”
With social anxiety, we think that we can’t talk to people. In reality, we can talk, but we just think we can’t. The best way to get over that false belief is to prove to ourselves that it is wrong by doing what we think we cannot– talk to people.
3. “Friendship with ones self is all important, because without it one can not be friends with anyone else in the world.”
Social anxiety often stems from low self-esteem. It’s important to first like ourselves or “be friends with ourselves” in order to overcome social anxiety and be friends with others.
4. “I believe anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him.”
The best way to overcome social anxiety is to face our fears and talk to people. Yes, it will be scary and awkward at first, but if we continually practice, we will get better, and the fear will dissipate.
5. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
When we have low self-esteem, we think others think as lowly of us as we think of ourselves. In actuality, we don’t know what others think about us, and even if we did, it’s out of our control. What is in our control is what we think about ourselves.
6. “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
Most of social anxiety comes from worrying about what other people think of us. The truth is, other people are too busy thinking about themselves to be thinking about us.
7. “You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.”
Social anxiety can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. We tell ourselves we are shy, so we remain shy. But if we change our attitude and think of ourselves as more confident, we will become more confident.
8. “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Exposure is the most impactful part of overcoming social anxiety, but it’s also the most difficult. However, if every day, we do one small thing that causes us social anxiety, then eventually, that thing won’t cause us social anxiety anymore. Each little step we take may not seem like much, but if we take one step every day, imagine how far we can go in a year.
9.“We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it as not as dreadful as it appears, discovering that we have the strength to stare it down.”
It may seem impossible to overcome a lifetime of social anxiety, but we don’t have to do it overnight. We only have to take one small step at a time. Even if we start by saying one word to one person a day, or something even simpler than that. Start just outside your current comfort zone then progress from there to expand it.
10. “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”
We may have been shy with social anxiety our entire lives. But that doesn’t mean we have to be shy with social anxiety tomorrow.
11. “Do the things that interest you and do them with all your heart. Don’t be concerned about whether people are watching you or criticizing you. The chances are that they aren’t paying any attention to you. It’s your attention to yourself that is so stultifying. But you have to disregard yourself as completely as possible. If you fail the first time then you’ll just have to try harder the second time. After all, there’s no real reason why you should fail. Just stop thinking about yourself.”
This sums up why we have social anxiety and how to beat it. I couldn’t have said it better myself.