how to overcome social anxiety and shyness - jump into the first step - seeking helpI often get asked the question of how to overcome social anxiety without using medications – i.e  Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax, Klonopin etc.

If you’ve watched any of my YouTube videos, or read any of my articles, you’ll see that I don’t judge people that wish to use medication as that’s up to them.

However I don’t recommend that approach.

I will say that I’ve tried a bit of Xanax in the past and all it did was “mute” the feeling of social anxiety, so I knew that meds weren’t the way for me…that they were just a cover.

I just don’t see how medication helps you learn to handle negative thoughts and feelings, which is critical to overcoming social anxiety.

Of course, I’m not giving professional medical advice as a physician, because I’m not qualified to do that.

I’m simply recommending what I’ve used that has worked very well for me, as a former social anxiety sufferer and trained professional coach.

These approaches don’t only work for social anxiety, but learning to lead a  healthier and more fulfilling life in the long-run.

So what do I recommend instead?  If you’ve done a lot of reading already on how to overcome social anxiety and shyness, you’ll probably know about these approaches already, but I’ll give you my take on them.

1) Books

There are a number of books on Amazon that help people overcome both anxiety and social anxiety.

Since social anxiety is a subset of anxiety, they really are closely related, it’s just that the thoughts are in a different context.   Any strong therapeutic approach will be able to cover many types of conditions, whether chronic depression, PTSD or social anxiety.

I highly recommend the book “The Confidence Gap” by Russ Harris MD, which is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (more on that here) and even has social anxiety cases in the book itself.

I also have a ton of recommendations on the resources page here on Social Expression for dealing with your social phobia.

2) Supplements

There are many types of supplements that help with relaxation from anxiety, though I wouldn’t  say they apply to social anxiety specifically.

I have used L-Theanine and Ashwaganda for emotional regulation, as well as Passion Flower and Valerian Root.

The later I used for sleeping in the end, as I don’t like things that directly make me feel “mellow”.  I’d much rather have some anxiety and have energy, over being suppressed by supplements that are of a “downer” type.

Again, I wouldn’t recommend just using supplements alone, but using them in combination with coaching or therapy to overcome social anxiety and shyness.

3) Therapy

Going to see a qualified and experienced therapist is always a good choice in discovering how to overcome social anxiety and shyness.  If you can find a therapist that knows how to deal with social anxiety, that is the best option as far as the therapy approach.

But let’s define “qualified therapist” here.

I think it’s critical to find a therapist that really knows what they are doing, if that isn’t obvious already.  Just because they have a degree and are licensed to practice therapy doesn’t mean they are any good, or even if they are good, if they are a good fit for you.

I’ve heard from people that have tried therapy, and also stories from friends who are very caring and good therapists, about therapists that don’t really know what they are doing, even though they are credentialed up-the-wazoo.

I think it’s very important that the therapist has gone through therapy themselves, and if they haven’t experienced the therapy process themselves, then don’t go to them.

Since therapy (and coaching too) are experiential processes, to go to a therapist who has book knowledge only, but hasn’t gone through the process themselves (even if it’s not for social anxiety), is a red flag to me.

They don’t know the therapy process inside-out and can’t really relate to what it feels like.

For example, going to a therapist who says they treat social anxiety, but has never undergone therapy themselves, I would never do that.

If you went to a therapist who has done therapy, but isn’t experienced with social anxiety, that will still be a better option.

Even better than that would be a therapist that has undergone therapy and is a former sufferer of social anxiety, but that’s much harder to find I think.

Watch out for therapists who think they know it all, try to fix you, or think they are better than you (arrogant).

They certainly are not, they are people just like you and me.

If they are using their knowledge to be smart or be right and pin you into a corner, that is not effective psychological change work.

I believe most therapists aren’t like this, but watch out for ones that are.  Same goes with coaches (see #5 below).

There are plenty of hack coaches out there, that aren’t properly trained or haven’t been coached by people who know what they are doing in terms of the coaching process.

4) Audio or Online Programs:

There are a number of programs out there to cure panic, anxiety and social anxiety.

Most of them are ebooks or audio programs, and very few offer some kind of support along with them.

I’ve designed an online recovery program called “Dissolve Social Anxiety” which uses video lessons, gives you weekly homework & exercises for 3 months to fully support you in finding out how to overcome social anxiety and shyness.

You also have email access directly to me for the length of the program to answer any questions.

It’s quite possible you’ve come across the Dr. Richards “Overcoming Social Anxiety Step-by-Step” program, which I’ve used myself and it helped me a lot, though I didn’t find it to be a complete solution with the traditional CBT approach.

I’ve designed the recovery program to be experiential and to drip out the information and exercises, because I believe that long-term support is necessary to make substantial progress, and when too much information is given out at once it can be overwhelming for people.

Not only that, but the urge to read it all at once and trying to retain it just doesn’t work.  Recovery needs to be done slowly and effectively…and through experiential work too, not just an informational approach.

I cover all things that have worked well for me in the, which is based on mindfulness/acceptance types of therapies like Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and some principles from Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and my professional coach training as well.

5) Coaching

As far as I know, I’m the only social anxiety coach out there right now, from what I’ve seen.  Probably because not a lot of people have suffered from social anxiety and also been trained professionally as a coach, and also have experienced coaching people.

I wonder if that trend will change.

Coaching does have a lot of crossover with therapy (at least the way I was taught), because I believe and have experienced that, you have to go deep into core beliefs and emotions inside the person being coached – to really bring long-lasting & effective change.

Coaching is pretty hard to describe, and much easier to experience.  It’s not just “advice giving” which falls under the category of mentoring.

Since I’m a former sufferer of social anxiety myself, I have no choice but to be both a coach and a mentor, who can empathize with what you’re going through, but also compassionately challenge your story about yourself.

It’s my goal to help you see new possibilities and take new action into a life where social anxiety doesn’t control you anymore…and where you are truly in charge of your life again.

Even though I don’t think that the mentoring approach is quite as powerful as the coaching process, I do get lots of questions when coaching about how to behave, what I would do, and that’s fine.

There is definitely some value in that for teaching people how to overcome social anxiety and shyness.

However “outside-in” approaches aren’t quite as effective as “inside-out” for deep personal change. It’s like when someone describes how to throw a baseball and say’s “this is how you do it”.

But when you actually start throwing the ball, you get to experience inside-out, while someone is coaching you as you go.

Coaching is the experience of the change process, and not the information alone. That’s why I absolutely love the coaching process and think it is extremely powerful, when done properly.

I’ve been through both therapy and coaching, actually.  I think both are great, if you find a powerful and skilled individual.

With social anxiety coaching, I assume that you are whole and resourceful, overall.

That if the problem is within you, you also have the answers within you, it’s just a matter of getting curious, getting interested in what’s blocking you, and what’s possible.

I’ve found that therapy tends to be more “directive-based” vs. “exploration/possibility” based.

Actually, I think there is power in both approaches, and I do use both in my coaching process.  I think the best therapists and coaches are problem pretty close to one in the same.

Just my humble opinion. Of course you have to determine if coaching is right for you vs. the therapy approach.

I hope that helps to answer the question of how to overcome social anxiety and shyness for you.

Get started today in beating social anxiety with the the

    3 replies to "How To Overcome Social Anxiety And Shyness: Medication Free Approaches"

    • JK

      While overcoming the shyness one thing everyone has experienced, the hard you try the hard your shyness bounces back, a stage comes when the person losses confidence and goes for medication. The existing all techniques written by various professionals like you does not work on majority of shy people. The simple reason is these techniques teaches to take action first to change the thought processes. Any fool can say that it is impossible to work against your mind. A technique has to be devised such that the thought processes is changed systematically hence when actions are done the mind will not oppose, then only the shyness can be reduced.The people like you will definitely find a the technique and help millions of shy people like me

    • Hana

      Thats a great article. Very insightful.
      You are right therapy is the best way to overcome SA and I’d really like to try that. Unfortunately I thought medicine will cure me so I went to a psychiatrist. The med worked only temporarily. I just want to stop taking it but doc doesnt allow me to. And yes I don’t trust most therapists especially ones who didn’t experience SA or therapy. I’m tired of searching for an effective one. My doc talks nonsense when I tell him my problems. It makes me really mad!!

      • David Hamilton

        Hey Hana – meds do help some people, but ultimately they are NOT the final solution. It can be a long road, but you can get there! Keep on it, try different approaches and do whatever it takes.

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