How to Manage Social Anxiety and Increase Confidence

Do you ever feel awkward in social situations? If so, you’re not alone! Social anxiety often stems from a subconscious fear of people’s negative judgments, fear of rejection and/or fear of abandonment. It manifests as significant discomfort in and through the body, tons of negative thoughts and the urge to avoid or reduce unease. But, interestingly, no one can reject you without your consent. Shaky or low self-esteem makes you vulnerable to the fear of not being accepted and liked by others. Building your self-confidence is just one way you can help your anxiety fade in intensity. But first, check these signs of social anxiety and see if they apply to you.
Signs of social anxiety
Fear of adverse social judgment 
If you fear negative social judgment, you might worry people will poke fun at what you wear, how you look, or the things you do or say or don’t say. When your mind plays the comparison game to other people, you end up feeling as though you fall short and can feel inferior, incompetent and flawed.  
Because you imagine people judge you, you feel embarrassed and sometimes even ashamed. You believe they scrutinize everything you do or say, and you might blush (boy, can I ever relate to that one) and apologize a lot, even though you've done nothing wrong.
Avoidance of social situations 
You have an acute urge to avoid social situations and make excuses not to attend. You might say you have to work or are busy for other reasons when people invite you to gatherings.
How to increase confidence and reduce social anxiety 
Recognize most people focus on themselves 
After being a therapist for over 20 years now, I’ve come to realize that most people don't have time to judge you because they are busy focusing on their own insecurities. You might think they notice your clothes, accent, body weight, or whatever you believe is faulty about you and make judgments, but few do.
Yes, there are a select few who do judge, but if they do, their ideas stem from their state of mind. People who criticize others are often very critical of themselves and often unhappy deep down. Rather than take what they say to heart, brush off their remarks. Bringing humour to the situation can help too, by reminding yourself that “What other people think of me is none of my business”.  
Don't seek acceptance 
Notice whether you’re striving for acceptance from people whose views don't even matter to you. People will always have differences of opinion, and that's okay. The individuals you want to spend time with are more like you, and they will accept you just as you are.
Use positive self-talk 
Your inner dialog affects how comfortable you feel in social environments. Note your self-talk the next time you go to a social gathering. Do you judge and criticize yourself? If yes, mindfully note to yourself “Ah, there’s self-criticism", notice how stressful that feels inside and try being kinder to yourself instead.
Social anxiety can reflect your fears. Make a pact with yourself to longer focus on or excessively care about how people see you or judge you. People are entitled to their own opinions.  The only thing that matters is how you see yourself. One way to diminish your anxiety is to intentionally practice empowering and uplifting positive self-talk. Change your inner dialog to the narrative you would hear from a beloved friend.
Become your own best friend and life coach. Use your inner voice for motivation, encouragement and praise. When negative self-talk arises, correct it with compassionate self-observation, caring self-talk and self-approval.
Forget striving for perfection 
There's no such thing as perfection. Everyone has flaws and most of us are on journeys of self-discovery and improvement. Accept and expect that you will make mistakes, and you won't achieve physical or mental perfection because there’s actually no such thing. But you will inch closer to an improved version of yourself as life provides ongoing lessons.
Stop comparing yourself to people 
There's nobody else like you in the world – embrace your uniqueness. Being different is a good thing not a fault or a flaw. Besides, things would be so boring if we were all the same. Rather than worry that you aren't like others, celebrate and enjoy your style, personality, and unique talents.
You can drastically decrease any social anxiety and increase confidence by choosing to be authentically you. Realize that no one is perfect, and few people are actually judging you when it comes down to it. And even if they are, tell yourself – so what! - you can tolerate that. People who are often critical tend to be unhappy and have their own unresolved issues inside. Also, there's no point in striving to be like anyone else because you are unique and amazing just as you are. Celebrate who you are and engage in empowering and positive self-talk. Your social anxiety will decrease as your self-esteem and self-compassion grows.