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Sebastiaan shares his personal story of dealing with anxiety before and after attending a salsa festival in Vietnam.
Despite being a salsa dancer for over five years, the thought of meeting and interacting with the famous salsa stars at the festival made him anxious.
To manage his anxiety before and after the event, he used a tapping technique while focusing on negative thoughts or emotions.
Sebastiaan, who has been coaching people to overcome social anxiety since 2009, shares his insights and personal experience to help others with social anxiety.
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Have you ever felt anticipatory anxiety—anxiety before you’re about to go to a particular social event?
Have you ever felt anxious after doing something really well?
Are you on a journey from social anxiety to social ease?
Would you like to get some insights from someone who spent roughly 37,000 hours focused on what the solutions are to social anxiety?
You’re in the right place.
Hey! This is Seb from Social Anxiety Solutions. I’m a former Social Anxiety disorder sufferer and a Social Confidence coach. I’ve been obsessed with trying to overcome Social Anxiety since I’m 17. I’m 38 now and I’m losing my hair. So it’s been quite a while.
I want to talk about a personal story today. So for the longest time, I’ve been telling people, “Look, I don’t have any Social Anxiety anymore. I’ve been coaching people since 2009 (I just calculated before shooting this video), and I’ve logged over 7000 coaching hours. And so I’ve been doing this for a long time; I teach this.” So, don’t I ever get anxious anymore? Well, typically, the answer is no.
However, here’s what happened this weekend.
I’m with my girlfriend in Vietnam. We’re here for the Vietnam Latin Festival, one of the biggest (or the biggest) salsa, bachata, and kizomba festivals in Asia. Very cool. About 1000 people were expected to attend, including some of the salsa world’s biggest stars, and it was overly exciting.
I’ve been salsa dancing for about five years. When I got into it, I became almost immediately obsessed. I thought I could get better in six months, so I started dancing every day and haven’t stopped since. So I’m pretty good, if I may humbly say so myself. You can’t not be good if you put that much time, effort, and energy into it.
So it’s finally the weekend. I’m about to go salsa dancing; I’m at ease on the dance floor. This is a festival, after all.
My girlfriend was already at the party. She is a good dancer as well. We were going to be dancing with some of the stars. When I thought about it, I thought, “Wow, we’re leveling up”, “We could be interacting with the superstars of the salsa world”, and “Maybe there’ll be an afterparty, and we’ll be hanging out with them.”
Thinking about that gave me a bit of anxiety. I was like, “Hmm, interesting.”
Now I’m sharing this with you to tell you how I handled it. Since it was ahead of the party and I was still in the comfort of my own home, I decided to do some tapping on that.
I started tapping, and I’m thinking about being around and meeting these people.
How would I feel?
Would I feel comfortable? No, I wouldn’t feel totally comfortable.
Whatever thought came to mind, I would tap on it. So my thoughts were along the lines of,
He is better than me.
He has some kind of authority over me.
He has a particular status because this guy is famous, and that gives him some kind of power over me.
Whatever came up for me, whatever thoughts, insecurities, or whatever it was, I just kept tapping and focusing on it until I felt calm.
“What else can I imagine that might trigger a little bit of discomfort, anxiety, nervousness, or tension in my body?”
I imagined us being all around the table and sitting there with the superstars and having that get together. That brought up some more anxiety, so I tapped on it. After 15-20 minutes of tapping later, I’m like, “All right, I feel good. No more anxiety. Let’s go to the party!”
I went to the party, and it was great. I was dancing with my girlfriend when she said, “Oh, Brenda Leo is there,” referring to one of the female salsa dancers, and she’s amazing.
I finished dancing with my girlfriend, and then I danced with Brenda. It was fine. It was an amazing dance, but it was a pretty decent dance. Everyone is watching, and someone is filming me. My girlfriend is filming me, and a friend is also filming me.
I felt okay during the dance. But as soon as the dance had finished, the dance teacher there was looking at me and giving me compliments and stuff. That made me feel uncomfortable, which made me feel a bit awkward and anxious.
I would give it a four or five out of ten. That’s pretty significant for me at this point, right? So I was like, “Wow, I’m feeling uncomfortable now. I feel awkward.”
Anyway, I walked over to my girlfriend. We just hung out for a bit, but after a few minutes, I was like, “Okay, see you later.” Then, I’m off to the toilet because I don’t want to feel anxious. I want to deal with what has been triggered.
While I was on the toilet, I locked the door and started tapping. What am I tapping on? The first thing that I was tapping on was, “I’m feeling anxious. Am I accepting it?”
Well, I know that it is essentially important to accept what it is that you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, and what you’re dealing with. As a result, I did some tapping. Even though I’m teaching this, I’ve noticed a little bit of resistance to accepting that I don’t want to feel this way.
So, I just tap on that. I’ve verbalized that I don’t want to feel this way.
It shifts quickly, and within a minute or so, I’m fine with feeling anxious. I’m allowing myself to feel it. I’m okay with it.
Now that I’m in acceptance, I check to see if I’m resisting letting go of it. I wasn’t, so I moved on to the next thing.
What triggered this reaction?
What’s the threat here?
I was perfectly fine asking her to dance. I was fine dancing with her.
Maybe I was a tiny bit nervous
Maybe it was a tiny bit like, “I’ve got to step up my game here”, because obviously, she’s at a much higher level than me
She’s a real professional, and I’m just an excited amateur.
However, the discomfort only started happening once the dance was done. I was kind of getting praise and respect. Something about that made me nervous for some reason.
So what happened there? I couldn’t really determine what it was, per se. It might have to do with something like being popular or weird. I didn’t exactly know what it was.
Anyway, I tried to calm myself down as best I could. When I felt better and thought I could dance again, I went out to dance.
As I was dancing, I wasn’t thinking about that anymore because I was accepting of what I was feeling. My body can just shift things and move on to the next thing. I made a note of it on my phone so that I could get back to it the next day.
The next day comes around. As the evening approaches, I realize, “Oh, before I go to the party, I need to address this.” However, in hindsight, I didn’t. I just went out to dance. It was very exhausting, and I didn’t dance for too long.
When I went to the party the next day, I said to myself, “Before I go, I’m going to address this.”
I also know how to do psych-k or psychological kinesiology. I thought, “There’s probably a belief that I can install that will cause me to feel comfortable in situations where I formerly might not.”
I asked myself, “What do I need to believe in order to not have this problem?” I figured out that if I were to believe that I deserve to be popular and respected, I wouldn’t have that problem anymore. So I simply installed that belief, and then I felt calm.
After remembering what had happened, completing the dance, pretending that I was there, seeing what I saw, hearing what I heard, and feeling what I felt, I finally felt comfortable. And when I was imagining it in the future, I felt comfortable too.
That was probably it, and then I went out to dance. The dance was amazing. I was on fire, and I was really enjoying it. So, that’s it. That’s how I dealt with it.
Was there any freaking out about the anxiety? Something like,
This is triggering me.
Let me deal with it.
Let me go to the toilet.
Let me come to terms with it.
Let me get to acceptance.
Let me see if there’s any resistance. [No, there’s no resistance.]
Let me clear the triggers.
I couldn’t fully clear them. I just dealt with it the next day. I happened to have used some Psych-K because I have known that technique for a long time. I could have used tapping to get there as well. However, this was just easier for me at the time.
This problem is most likely resolved. Is it really resolved? The truth is, I don’t know. I’m only going to figure it out next time when I’m in a very similar situation.
I’ll be attending a festival in about a month. Not all the superstars are there, but I will see.
This is how I go about things. Before this experience, I hadn’t felt anxious for maybe a year or even longer. All of the situations, people, and circumstances that I find myself in no longer trigger anxiety. That’s not because I’m avoiding all of these situations. Rather, because I’ve addressed all of these situations, they don’t trigger any anxiety anymore.
Now, I consider myself free of Social Anxiety. I feel anxious in this situation once a year. I don’t call that Social Anxiety. This is me expanding my comfort zone. I have done all the new things in my life that I wanted to do. I didn’t let any potential anxiety stop me. As a result, I’ve included all these experiences and all these people inside my comfort zone.
I wasn’t podcasting until about a decade ago. I had been free of Social Anxiety in my regular day-to-day situation.When I started podcasting, however, I experienced some new anxiety because I had never done that before.
Now, I was going to speak to all the superstars of the tapping and psychotherapy worlds. That brought up some anxiety.
How did I deal with that? I tapped on it before my first interview, or whatever came up. During the interview, I was actually tapping. After the interview, I asked myself, “Hey, what was it that happened that caused me to feel anxious there? What was the threat that I saw? Am I okay with the anxiety that I have resistance to releasing it?” I would simply tap to calm myself down.
Before the second interview (podcast interview), I tapped. It had already lowered the anxiety. It wasn’t even that high to start with, but it was already lower than before the first interview.
I calmed myself down even further. I tapped during and after the interview. I asked myself again,
“What was the threat?”
“Why am I uncomfortable?”
“Why wasn’t I feeling at ease in that situation?”
“What was I not okay with?”
“What was I worried about?”
I tapped through all of it. After two, three, maybe four interviews, I was totally comfortable. Boom! Podcasting is within my comfort zone.
Prior to podcasting, I was anxious about going to co-working spaces with other entrepreneurs, for whatever reason that was. I used the same approach, and now I’m comfortable in co-working spaces.
After that, I started salsa dancing five years ago. Was I completely comfortable right at the start of it? No, not at all. But before I went to my first social dance, I had only had 10 lessons up until that point. Still look like a dork. Still look like an idiot, and never look amazing.
This is my first social dance. I have never been there. I don’t know what to expect. That’s why I had anxiety. I tapped, and I got it as low as I could.
Then I went, and I said to myself, “I’m going to go for half an hour. I’m going to do one dance at least. I’ll give myself permission to go home.”
I went, and I danced with the host who invited me to dance. It was awkward and uncomfortable, but kind of fun also, and I went through it.
Afterwards, I tapped on whatever came up.
A couple of days later, I went to the next social dance. I tapped before it. I’m not sure if I went to the toilet and tapped that too, but I definitely tapped afterwards.
I did that a couple of times. Within two or three weeks, I was totally comfortable on the dance floor.
still looking like an idiot
still not being able to dance
still having the reality that girls actually don’t really want to dance with me
still stepping on people’s toes
still missing the rhythm, etc.
Yet I was totally comfortable. I had already included salsa dancing in my comfort zone. That’s why I developed such a passion for it and loved it. It’s a big part of my life.
This is a process that you can use for yourself. When you learn how to apply tapping in the right way, you can get to a point where you’re comfortable in all areas of your life.
Except for the ones that you haven’t potentially experienced yet, such as “What’s come up for me” or “I haven’t danced with a superstar yet. Now that I have, this is what I experienced”.
If you want to learn how to do this, you can get my free “7 Secrets to Social Confidence” mini course. I’ve just told you that I spent about 37,000 hours obsessed with solutions to Social Anxiety.
My website has been up and running since 2008. I’ve been working eight hours a week.
Since 2009, it has taken five years to have a full coaching practice. I’ve spent 40 hours a week on this for the past 13-14 years. I started obsessing about Social Anxiety Solutions when I was 17.
I invested $150,000 in getting therapy, supervision, courses, and workshops all over the world. All of that is the best of the best. I’ve put them into one simple mini course, which is just a series of 10 emails, and they follow each other.
It’s entertaining to read. It has stories in it. Through these stories, you’ll learn what the secrets are to really overcoming your Social Anxiety. You’ll learn mindsets, tips, and tricks. You’ll get links to particular interviews with leading tapping experts. You have opportunities to tap along and make some progress. You really get the best of the best in seven days.
You can get it by going to bit.ly/socialconfidencenow
Go check it out. Bye for now.