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My name is Sebastiaan van der Schrier and I’m an ex-social anxiety disorder suffer.
In this essay I will have you discover the #1 reason people fail to overcome their social anxiety. Plus, I will reveal the4 steps to overcome your social anxiety and transform it into rock-solid confidence.
This information is based upon more than a decade of study of social anxiety and the solutions to it, thousands of hours of coaching and being coached, research and experimentation.
This information can change your life when you apply it.
A bit about me first.
From the age of 12, I had Social Anxiety. At age 16 it evolved into Social Anxiety Disorder. I was really afraid of being around groups of people, guys that were stronger than me, girls I found attractive, and people that were popular.
I blushed all the time when I was disapproved off.
I even felt uncomfortable around my friends.
I felt like a loser and thought everyone was better than me. And, I was convinced that others thought of me as a loser as well, that they didn’t like me, and that they were always waiting for an opportunity to make me look bad.
I felt insecure, anxious, and I was horribly afraid of becoming embarrassed.
As a result, I avoided all social situations I could stay away from without losing face. I became masterful at coming up with excuses.
I was deeply unhappy. I was ashamed of who I was, I disliked most people, I was terrified of my future, and, to put it mildly,
LIFE WAS A LIVING HELL FOR ME
I now know that, being so shame-based, social anxiety disorder is a mostly unrecognized condition.
At the time, I just felt trapped, hopeless, helpless and paralyzed.
It wasn’t until I realized what was going on that my situation began to improve. I had become aware that the challenges I had were the result of negative limiting beliefs I held. I realized that when I simply changed these beliefs, I would overcome my anxiety.
Although easier said than done, this gave me great hope.
I started looking for resources to change my beliefs, and overcome my anxiety.
Determined, I worked through countless books, tapes, self-help and different forms of therapy.
I worked with an NLP Master, I tried hypnosis, I used the CBT techniques, I did the scary exposures, but nothing truly helped.
For five years, I suffered silently in the fear and isolation of this disease.
Still, I kept looking for an answer. Then, I found EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). This is a silly looking, yet extremely effective technique to rapidly release negative emotions.
In retrospect, everything that led up to the discovery of EFT was a blessing. It not only helped me completely understand and overcome my SAD, it allowed me to discover my life mission.
Today, thanks to the remarkable tool of EFT, I am anxiety-free (something that is commonly thought of as nearly impossible) and I am 100% committed to help others overcome SAD.
In the process of getting to this place of freedom and peace, I learned a lot about myself, others, and this debilitating disorder.
Having experienced so much joy and connectedness after so much isolation and suffering, I decided to dedicate my life, to make it my mission and exclusive focus to create a solution; to provide assistance and options not available elsewhere; to offer the best tools, training and resources possible in order to eventually resolve all social anxiety in the world.
A big goal, but nonetheless, one I’m committed to, and have been for the past 5 years.
With this goal in mind, in early 2008, amidst years of personal training and growth, I created
For about four years now, I have been coaching people from all over the world, attracting and assisting SAD clients almost exclusively.
From the insights from both my own journey to social confidence, and from coaching social phobics I’ve created a structure to overcome social anxiety disorder permanently. It’s tested with many clients, and when you apply the steps and you persist you can become anxiety-free too.
Here’s an example of a common case I had…
When I first spoke with Mark he told me he had tried everything to overcome his social anxiety disorder. Nothing had worked. He felt hopeless, frustrated and depressed. He believed there was something terribly wrong with him, and he feared he’d have to live with his social anxiety for the rest of his life.
To his credit, he had done all the work. He had seen a variety of therapists, read the social anxiety books and tried out several of the famous self-help programs that promise to beat your anxiety.
He had even followed a 3-week group boot-camp with a CBT therapist who specialized in overcoming SAD, had done tapping on himself, had faced his fears, done affirmations until he was blue in the face
–and basically tried anything and everything that was recommended.
Still nothing worked for him to overcome his anxiety.
I was immediately able to relate to Mark, because like him, and many other people suffering from social anxiety, I had experienced the same frustrating results.
Mark had done all he knew and was capable of and yet he still got intensely anxious in social situations.
Maybe you can also relate.
Maybe you are wondering how this is even possible. As it turned out, Mark had been focusing all his efforts on “beating his anxiety”.
Unfortunately, Mark was fighting the wrong problem which is what most sufferers of SAD end up doing. And this leads to massive frustration and fear that the social anxiety can never be resolved.
However, with persistence, focusing on the correct problem and applying EFT in the right way,
social anxiety can be completely overcome.
This might sound strange to you, so allow me to explain.
As you read this, I suspect you’ve tried many things to let go of your social anxiety, and your results have either not been as great as you expected, or worse, they’ve been non-existent.
You might have made some positive changes, but these never seemed to last. And your progress
– if there has been any – has been frustratingly slow.
You might even have tried EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and have made more rapid improvements than before, but still haven’t gotten the lasting results that you are hoping for.
Overall, you may still be far from resolving your social anxiety and fear and are asking yourself why that is when you have worked so hard for so long.
So why is this?
Could it be because you’ve been fighting the wrong battle?
What if your social anxiety is not the real problem?
Let’s start out with why you experience anxiety in the first place.
You experience anxiety because your subconscious mind perceives you to be in danger, and to protect you from it, it fires off a built-in, automatic early-warning system referred to as the fight, flight, or freeze (FFF) response.
Every time this FFF response is activated, adrenaline gets pumped through your veins, blood rushes away from your head and your digestive system into your outer limbs, and your throat tightens up. Your heart races a hundred miles per hour, your mind blanks out and you feel a knot in your stomach or chest.
Does this sound familiar?
Or, when you’re in a difficult social situation, do you find yourself doom-thinking, seeing everything through the filter of possible danger, being hyper-alert to whatever you fear might happen?
This is the FFF being activated. All of these symptoms enable you to fight, run or hide from the danger your subconscious mind perceives.
You might recognize these symptoms as what we generally call “anxiety”.
Anxiety presents itself in a variety of ways, all of which are very uncomfortable. As a result, you are acutely aware of the anxiety as the one thing you most want to get rid of. It’s at the forefront of your attention.
But what you should know is that the anxiety you experience is only a symptom of a deeper problem.
So What Is the Real Problem?
We’ve established that anxiety is not the real problem, it is simply the set of feelings and physical symptoms you experience when your FFF is activated.
Let’s take a closer look at what happens in a typical FFF activation:
Your subconscious perceives a danger or threat and fires off the FFF response.
That FFF response sets off feelings of anxiety to prepare you to deal with the immediate threat.
Most SAD sufferers are too busy dealing with the aftermath of the FFF response to question what triggered it in the first place.
But, understanding that the trigger isthe cause of the problem is the key to the solution.
When your subconscious perceives that you are not safe, it activates your FFF response, which causes your anxiety symptoms to surface.
You can try to get rid of the anxiety symptoms all you want, but until you address what activates your FFF response you’ll never completely overcome your social anxiety.
So the real problem is not your anxiety.
The real problem is that your subconscious mind perceives that you are not safe in social situations.
And the subconscious mind always rules.
And because your subconscious mind thinks that your anxiety is warning you away from actual danger, it’s not going to give up that response.
It uses the same anxiety symptoms to warn you if you’re inside a burning house… and that’s a good thing.
The problem is that your subconscious cannot tell the difference between a real danger and a perceived one.
And since the subconscious mind’s main ‘job’ is to protect you and keep you safe, it’s only going to stop firing off the FFF response once it believes you are safe in social situations.
Let’s go back to Mark.
Mark had been fighting this subconscious resistance, and because his subconscious mind was far more powerful than his conscious wish to overcome his SA, he was fighting a losing battle.
So, it wasn’t until we started working to overcome his subconscious resistances, and eliminating the real reasons Mark was and remained anxious, that he started to make big improvements and was finally able to overcome his social anxiety disorder.
What Is Subconscious Resistance?
Subconscious Resistance is your subconscious mind – the deeper, more powerful part of your mind – resisting something you are trying to achieve consciously.
In your case, it is specifically resisting your letting go of anxiety.
WHY does it do this?
Surprisingly, it has a very good reason. Its primary job is to keep you safe, to move you away from what it perceives may cause you pain or harm.
Currently it believes social situations may cause you pain.
It believes you are not safe in them, and it believes your social anxiety is actually protecting you from “dangers” that may bring pain such as rejection, embarrassment, looking foolish, getting criticized, experiencing conflict, getting hurt, and so on.
It also likely believes that there are all sorts of downsides to you being permanently free of your social anxiety.
It quite possibly believes that your social anxiety is in some way benefiting you, and that you will lose these benefits once you overcome it.
And it most probably also believes that change will be hard and challenging for you.
Therefore, it believes it is neither safe nor beneficial for you to be free of your social anxiety.
And as long as your subconscious mind believes that it’s better for you to be socially anxious, it will overpower whatever attempts your conscious mind makes to get you anxiety-free. It is the more powerful party, after all.
Your Subconscious Mind Rules The Show
To give you an idea of its power, your subconscious mind processes 40 million bits of information
per second, whereas your conscious mind only processes 40 bits per second.
Your conscious mind is capable of 3-5 unimportant tasks at the same time and only 1-2 important ones. Your subconscious mind can do several thousand tasks at the same time.
Your subconscious holds every detail of every event that’s ever happened to you.
It maintains all your bodily functions, your metabolism and it does all these things on autopilot so that you don’t have to consciously think about them.
And did you know for instance, that over 90 percent of your mental activity is subconscious?
So even though you consciously want to overcome your social anxiety, as long as your powerful subconscious mind believes you’ll be less safe without it, no matter what you try or how hard you try, you won’t get the permanent results you want.
As long as your subconscious is resistant, it will make sure you won’t change.
HOW does it do this?
It does this by sabotaging your conscious desires and efforts to beat your anxiety.
Have you ever felt committed to take steps to overcome your social anxiety, but then when it came time to take action all of a sudden you felt very tired? Have you ever found yourself procrastinating, using any conceivable excuse you can think of?
These are manifestations of your subconscious mind exercising its resistance.
Patterns of behavior such as feeling lazy, procrastination, not following through, not finishing things, not working on the right issues at the right times in the right ways, not knowing where to start, feeling overwhelmed, etc. are evidence that your subconscious mind is sabotaging your efforts because it thinks being free of anxiety isn’t safe for you.
In Order To Permanently Overcome Your Social Anxiety
You Need Your Subconscious Mind To Agree With
Your Conscious Wish To Be Anxiety-Free
There are some schools of thought that teach you to use your conscious mind to fight your subconscious programming, to force yourself to do certain things, to “go against your anxiety in order to beat it”.
In my experience, both personally from having overcome a severe social anxiety disorder and professionally from having coached many socially phobic clients, these changes might work for a while, bringing some limited relief, but the results are not lasting.
Only using conscious efforts to overcome your anxiety is like swimming upstream: You can effort it for a little while, but eventually you’ll exhaust yourself.
In order to permanently eliminate your anxiety you need to get conscious and subconscious agreement that being free of your social anxiety is safe and beneficial for you.
Once you achieve this, you can enjoy effortlessly floating downstream and more easily and quickly get to your goal of releasing your anxiety forever.
How Do You Overcome The Real Problem?
To repeat once more, the real problem is that your subconscious perceives danger in social situations, which fires off your FFF response and naturally results in the symptoms you know as “anxiety.”
Overcoming this problem can be really challenging.
It’s highly likely that your subconscious doesn’t just believe you’re not safe in social situations, it likely also believes that changing isn’t safe for you, and furthermore that being socially confident isn’t safe for you.
So the problem is a bit more complex as there might not only be a subconscious resistance to letting go of your anxiety, but there is also likely subconscious resistance to change, and also subconscious resistance to being socially confident.
And often, they are in some way related to each other as well.
Knowing that the subconscious is more powerful than the conscious mind; can you begin to see that as long as you’re dealing with all these subconscious resistances, you won’t permanently change and get yourself to a place of being anxiety-free?
I believe this is the reason I have often read in books and heard on forums that anxiety is something you’ll live with forever.
But I know from experience that this is not true.
You can completely overcome your social anxiety when you move past all the resistances and get yourself to a place of feeling safe.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, in my experience the easiest and most effective approach to overcoming social anxiety is to first get rid of your subconscious resistance to change and then to get rid of your subconscious resistance to having the worthy goal of social confidence.
This way, both the journey to, and the destination of social confidence become safe and beneficial for you.
Once you have achieved this, and the subconscious resistances to change and to the journey to the end goal have been diminished or released, you can then step-by-step work on getting rid of the reasons why you don’t feel safe in social situations.
By taking action in this way you make the journey to social confidence not only possible, but much easier.
You will be able to make changes because it is safe, and because the outcome that you’re moving towards is not only safe, but even exciting. So you are pulled towards your goal.
Plus, as you start making changes, you are no longer fighting the losing battle against your subconscious resistance to letting go of your anxiety, because instead of fighting the symptom (anxiety) of the problem (not being safe), you are now eliminating the reasons for why you suffer from anxiety.
By successfully doing so, you naturally get yourself to a place of feeling safe and the subconscious resistance disappears on its own along with the anxiety.
Here are 4 steps to take that may vary in order depending on your unique situation.
The 4 Steps To Being Anxiety Free
1. Change your negative perceptions about change (to make the journey safe)
2. Change your perceived downsides to being anxiety-free (to make social confidence safe)
3. Change your perceived upsides to staying socially anxious (also to make social confidence safe)
4. Eliminate the reasons for not feeling safe socially (to make being yourself socially safe)
Let’s take a brief look at each of these so you can begin to fine tune your awareness of them and recognize them when they come up.
1. Change Your Negative Perceptions About Change
You want to get yourself to a place where both the journey towards getting there is safe, and the end destination of social confidence feels totally safe and beneficial for you as well.
Currently, you might be thinking that change is going to be hard. You may believe it can take a long time. And you might believe you may not have what it takes to keep up with it, and so on.
Maybe change has been really painful in the past. Or maybe you are afraid of change because
-fill in the blank-.
So it’s understandable that your subconscious might be saying to you: “It’s not safe to change. It’s easier to just stay where I am now. It won’t work anyway and it will be painful, so why bother?”
What if, instead, you listened to your subconscious saying to you, “Change is safe; what is not safe is to stay where I am! Change will be effortless. It will release me from all the pain I am in now. I can’t wait to make these changes!”
Can you see why changing these perceptions will help you overcome your resistance?
In order to make the journey safe, you want to change all these limiting convictions (beliefs!) and fears that are in the way.
They aren’t even necessarily true (most often they’re not), and the ones that seem to be true to you now, can be seen in a different light, and can be turned around:
Once you have eliminated the resistance to moving forward, you can re-frame your outcome to social confidence, making it natural and safe. Let’s take a look at how we do this in step 2 and step 3.
2. Change Your Perceived Downsides of Being Anxiety-Free
I realize this might sound a bit whacky. What could possibly be a downside to being free of social anxiety?
Even though you may not know the answer, it doesn’t mean these downsides don’t exist. Let’s see if we can begin to uncover some of your possible downsides.
Say that you wake up tomorrow and you are totally free of anxiety. You have no anxiety whatsoever. What would be problematic? Would there be any negative consequences?
Might you feel more pressure to perform? Might people expect more of you? Might you expect more of yourself?
Might you fear that once you are anxiety-free, people might not like you? Might certain people have a problem with it? Maybe someone close to you won’t like it? How would people react around you?
Maybe you’ll be worried you still won’t be able to get a girlfriend or boyfriend? Will having sex be scary?
Having gotten rid of your SA, you will no longer be able to use it as an excuse. How will this be scary for you?
You may worry about who you will be and how you will act when you’re no longer anxious. Or what you’ll think about. And what others will think about you. You may be afraid of how they might judge the non-anxious you.
You may be concerned about what you would do with your life if you’re no longer fighting your anxiety. You may be worried that –fill in the blank-.
And because of these perceived downsides – they’re all just perception, they’re not real, but they feel real on some level, and therefore form an obstacle- to overcoming your social anxiety, it might not feel safe to be socially confident.
And as you now know, whenever your subconscious mind perceives an outcome won’t be safe for you, there is resistance to achieving that outcome.
Now aside from changing all these perceived downsides to being free of your social anxiety, there might also be perceived upsides to staying anxious. These need to change as well in order to make the outcome of social confidence both safe and beneficial.
3. Change Your Perceived Upsides of Being Socially Anxious
The perceived upsides to having social anxiety are very similar to the downsides of letting go of your social anxiety and they can be just as hidden from us.
It might be difficult to believe, but your subconscious may perceive your social anxiety to be benefiting you in some way. It might perceive you’ll lose a benefit you have in your life along with your social anxiety.
You might have a lot of time for yourself now and you may worry you won’t have this any longer once you are socially confident.
Maybe you have a lot of privacy now, and worry you might lose this “privilege”.
The following might upset you, or sound unsympathetic when I know you really want to overcome your social anxiety (or you wouldn’t be reading this!), but it’s possible that on some level, some part of you may use your social anxiety as “an excuse”.
Maybe it serves as an excuse not to look at a bigger problem in your life. Or maybe it serves as an excuse not to work full time. Or to not move forward in life. Or it might be the excuse for your not being successful in –fill in the blank-.
And giving up this “excuse” might seem scary.
So your subconscious may see letting go of your social anxiety, and being socially confident, as being neither beneficial nor safe.
Once you change all of the above, make the journey to social confidence a safe one, and make the outcome of being anxiety-free safe and beneficial as well, the subconscious resistances are removed.
Now you can start working on the actual problem of not feeling safe socially!
4. Eliminate The Reasons For Not Feeling Safe Socially
Why is it that certain people feel naturally comfortable in social situations, while you are terrified of being disapproved off, looking foolish, or being rejected?
Is it possible that you have learned certain negative limiting beliefs that cause your subconscious mind to perceive social situations as dangerous?
Is it possible that they are not actually your beliefs, but come from someone else?
Read through this list of negative limiting beliefs and see if any of them sound familiar, or if you can relate to any of them:
• There’s something wrong with me
• I’m not good enough
• I have to be perfect to be loved
• People are mean
• People are out to get me
• People don’t like me
• I can’t trust people
• The world is a dangerous place
These beliefs aren’t there because there’s something wrong with you. They are there in response to certain traumatic life experiences you’ve had.
During a trauma you experience such intense negative emotion that it completely overwhelms your ability to cope or integrate the ideas and emotions involved with that experience.
So in order to keep you safe from becoming overwhelmed, your subconscious mind in that moment makes a generalized split-second decision about the experience in order to keep you safe.
It registers all the information of this traumatic experience in your memory and additionally, to protect you from having this experience again, your subconscious mind makes certain decisions, which form beliefs, based upon this experience.
So, as an example, maybe while reading out loud in front of the class you are made fun of and become totally embarrassed. Because this is traumatic to you your subconscious makes a split-second decision about what this experience means in order to protect you from it happening in the future.
The decision may have been “it’s not safe to be the center of attention”
This belief has now become part of your automatic (subconscious) operating system.
Then, because of all these acquired negative limiting beliefs, your subconscious perceives you to be in danger in certain social situations and acts accordingly by firing off the FFF response.
Here are some social fears that result from the negative limiting beliefs that might seem familiar to you:
• Fear of rejection
• Fear of looking foolish
• Fear of criticism
• Fear of disapproval
• Fear of conflict
• Fear of not being liked
• Fear of embarrassment
These negative limiting beliefs and fears cause your subconscious to read social situations as “not safe” and to do whatever it can to protect you from them.
That there is no real danger of a wild bear approaching you, but only the perceived danger of getting rejected or embarrassed makes no difference to the subconscious.
It doesn’t have the capacity to judge or analyze the real facts or circumstances.
It simply acts on the data it has gathered earlier in life and on the belief that you’re in danger.
How To Feel Safe in Social Situations
To get you to feel safe in social situations, you will first need to neutralize the negative emotions from those traumatic life experiences where you learned the limiting beliefs.
The traumatic experiences are the proof your subconscious has to keep holding onto those beliefs.
It can’t let go of the belief that people don’t like you because it still holds all the emotional pain from the experiences in the past where this was true.
And it believes it has to warn you away from such people and situations because they are “dangerous”.
It can’t let go of the fear of rejection because the sting of rejection is still alive inside you.
And when you are around others, your subconscious reads this as a situation where you may feel that pain again and fires off the FFF response to warn you away from it.
The anxiety is basically an alarm bell:
“Careful! This situation is just like X situations. You may experience rejection and pain here again!”
Once you release the negative emotions from these traumatic life experiences and programming, you destroy the evidence your subconscious has been using to hold onto the fears and beliefs responsible for you not being safe in social situations.
Having done this, the negative limiting beliefs and fears that were causing your subconscious to perceive social situations as “dangerous” will likely be a lot less intense, and possibly be gone altogether because their roots have been eliminated.
From this place you can more easily overcome any possible remaining fears and beliefs and permanently overcome your anxiety.
Making Friends With Your Subconscious
Once you have eliminated the negative limiting beliefs you can now begin to communicate with your subconscious.
You can now begin to build a friendship with it. You can thank it for all it has done from day one:
“Hey, thanks for warning me away from danger all that time because I wasn’t safe.” And, you can begin to bring it up to date with your new normal: “But hey, those situations are no longer alive inside of me. They’re gone now. Shit happened, but it’s over. I survived.”
“These beliefs and fears I have today are no longer serving me. They’re no longer necessary to warn me away from danger because I am strong inside me now. I have new resources and new points-of-reference to keep me on track to gaining total social confidence.”
You will have new convictions that any remaining beliefs and fears are now just harming you, making feeling safe more difficult.
You can remind your subconscious that “I am safe now, so I no longer need those fears and beliefs. I choose to let them go. Thank you very much for keeping me safe, but I can take it from here!”
From this place where you have your subconscious as a “friend supporting you”, you can feel calm and effortlessly confident in social situations.
You Too Can Achieve Social Confidence
While this explanation may sound complicated or overwhelming at first, and while overcoming your anxiety may be a big challenge, realize that you are not alone.
This process can be broken down into easily manageable steps, and that you can get out of the position you find yourself in one safe step at a time.
There’s nothing wrong with you. You have a challenge to overcome, possibly a big one.
However, YOU are NOT the challenge.
By continuing to take the right steps to overcome your challenge you will not only grow tremendously, but you can fully overcome your social anxiety.
In summary, realize that your social anxiety is not the problem; the problem is not feeling safe.
And because you don’t feel safe your subconscious mind fires off the FFF response.
Since it believes this keeps you safe, it is resistant to letting go of the response.
Not feeling safe is caused by the negative limiting beliefs and social fears you learned throughout life.
In order to feel safe in social situations you need to overcome these negative limiting beliefs.
You do this by releasing the negative emotions from earlier traumas in life where you learned these limiting beliefs and social fears.
In order to start making these changes and to move towards the outcome of social confidence, there is a process of change involved.
When the journey isn’t safe, there is subconscious resistance to taking it. When the outcome isn’t safe there is resistance to being socially confident.
So in order to overcome your social anxiety forever, and live a life of social confidence for the rest of your life, you have to:
Overcome the subconscious resistance to change so the journey feels safe and beneficial.
Overcome the subconscious resistance to the outcome so social confidence feels safe and beneficial.
And get rid of the reasons for not feeling safe socially so that your subconscious will no longer need to resist and will no longer need to fire off its automatic FFF response.
As you follow these steps to overcoming your anxiety one by one, you will be able to live your life in a way where you can finally express yourself freely, connect and make friends easily, and create the relationships you want and live your life to the full.
Wishing you all the best on the journey to effortless social confidence,
Sebastiaan van der Schrier
About The Author
Sebastiaan is a personal coach specialized in working with people suffering from social anxiety disorder.
On his website, he talks about his journey from social anxiety disorder to social confidence in detail.
He tells stories about the things he tried to beat his anxiety. He shares what worked and what didn’t work and why. And throughout these stories, he’s teaching you the things you need to know to become anxiety-free as well.
To learn more, visit his website at http://www.social-anxiety-solutions.com