How Gratitude Can Help You Overcome Social Anxiety
Gratitude is one of the healthiest human emotions. It not only makes you more resilient to stress and illness but also plays an important role in the process of overcoming social anxiety.
I remember years ago when I first tried to be intentionally grateful for things around me. It was a wonderful experience that gave me lots of positive energy and helped me see life from a different perspective. In a way it helped me conquer my automatic negative thoughts. They became less frequent and far less intense.
It just wasn’t possible to be grateful and unhappy and depressed at the same time.
You see, gratitude can literally save your life.
Now let me explain this a little bit.
Lets look at why gratitude is good and how it affects your mood and anxiety.
First, gratitude allows you to celebrate the present.
It allows you to stay in the present moment and be happy about it.
This is very important because social anxiety does just the opposite.
Social anxiety makes you think about the past and the future.
When you’re thinking about the bad things that happened to you because of your anxiety, you’re basically living the past. You’re beating yourself up for things that have already happened. You’re beating yourself up for things that you can’t change anymore.
Unfortunately, this creates a lot of unnecessary stress in your life.
Being grateful allows you to pull yourself back into the present moment and enjoy the positive things in life.
Now social anxiety also makes you think about the future a lot. It makes you think about the future events that might happen in your life and you’d rather avoid. It makes you think about future events that could expose your anxiety and get you embarrassed. It makes you think about the things that could get you emotionally hurt.
Therefore you suffer for the things that haven’t really happened yet.
And that is why you need to get yourself back in the present moment as soon as possible. And gratitude allows you to do that.
But not only that.
Gratitude actually magnifies the positive experiences that happen in your life.
You see, our positive emotions wear off very quickly.
You get yourself a new cell phone and you feel happy for a couple of days. But then your emotional system adapts. The phone doesn’t feel so new and exciting anymore… and you become unhappy again. Now gratitude allows you feel happy longer. It delays the adaptation to having a new phone and allows you to get more involved in life.
You’re not just a spectator anymore. Life doesn’t just go by anymore. You become an active participant and that in itself increases your happiness.
But this is not the only positive thing that helps you deal with your anxiety and social fears.
Gratitude also blocks negative toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, regret, depression and anxiety.
These negative emotions can destroy your happiness. They can destroy your well-being and self-worth.
But when you’re grateful, there’s no room for these negative emotions anymore.
You just can’t be envious and grateful at the same time.
You can’t be anxious and grateful at the same time.
These are simply not compatible emotions and that’s why being grateful makes it hard to be anxious.
And we’re still not finished yet.
Gratitude also makes you more stress-resilient. It strengthens your immune system, lowers your blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness, and makes you less bothered by aches and pains.
It also encourages you to exercise more and take better care of your health.
And I’m sure you already know how exercise positively affects your mood since it helps your body produce the hormones of happiness called endorphins.
You know, exercise has the same positive effects as chocolate but no side effects such as gaining weight.
Last but not least, gratitude strengthens your self-worth and that’s what really counts if you want to overcome your social anxiety.
You see, we usually take to many things for granted. The clothes that we have, the roof over our heads, the education we have, the food on our tables…. We usually take these things for granted.
But when you recognize that many things that you’ve taken for granted have been given to you by someone, you start to feel much better about your position in life.
You start to realize that people do care about you.
So when you realize that your parents paid for your education you start to appreciate them even more.
And when you realize that your parents gave you this life and took care of you for many many years, you start to appreciate life even more and you begin to realize that people do care about you.
Consequently your self-worth improves and this makes you less insecure, which in turn makes you less anxious over time.
Gratitude really has amazing powers and that’s why I think you should start practicing it.
In fact, here’s what I recommend.
Start a gratitude journal.
At the end of the day, write down 3 things that happened to you that day that you appreciate. Write down 3 things that you feel grateful for.
This could be anything.
You could be grateful for something that happened to you that day and made you feel happy. These can be little things such as someone saying hello to you or wishing you a good day.
In fact, when you start to appreciate the small things, your attitude towards life changes and you become a much happier person.
So, at the end of the day open your journal and write down 3 things you are grateful for. And if you can’t come up with 3 you can write down just one. Just make sure to write it down and feel the gratitude.
Now the next morning, read what you have written the day before. Remind yourself of the things you appreciate because this will help you start the day on the right foot.
And of course, repeat the procedure every day.
Try to write a gratitude journal for at least a month. Give it a try and see for yourself how your life will change.
I’m sure you’ll be positively surprised and you’ll feel less anxious than you feel now.