Fear of social gatherings is not the problem. The belief regarding the social phobia is the problem. How? It starts with a thought. The thought guides the belief that gives fear its power and the fear orchestrates our behavior. If this was math, it would look like this: Thought + Belief = Behavior.
When I was younger many years ago, I experienced intensive social phobia. Being around groups of people made me so anxious that stomach would hurt and I would hyperventilate. I got so bad that I would avoid places where there were many people and if I could out avoid it, I would become one of those little wall flowers. I wouldn't speak or say anything. Now this caused a problem with me trying to establish relationships. I wouldn't talk and that made it hard for people to get to know me. Most of the time, nobody tried and I became just a sidekick to my friends. This went on for many years until I found my voice.
Before I found my voice I had to figure out what my voice was. Who was I behind the mask of mute? Sure I had my own opinions, likes and dislikes. However, I couldn't see anything beyond my fear. I soon figured out that I had a lot of inner chatter and this chatter was saying a bunch of negative things about me. "You're too fat." You don't know what you're talking about." "People are going to laugh at you." And there were other things I heard too, but you get the picture. Now of course there words were not audible, but they were thoughts that I had. Thoughts that started believing them.
I believe I shared before about having low self esteem and that I had a mentor, a Pastor from the church I attended. Well, she started speaking other words to me. Louder words that were positive. Things like, "You are somebody." "You can be successful." "Work what you have regardless of your weight, height or skin tone." Amazing, right? Well, I thought so and I listened. Soon, the positive words muffled the negative ones. I started believing the positive words and not only that, I started saying positive things to myself. I stopped believing I was less than and started believing I was somebody. Not only that, but I started affirming that possibilities were open to me and all I had to do was keep believing.
Now as far as me getting nervous around others, I had to walk in my belief by showing up. Even if I didn't know what to say, I still engaged in conversations. The fear would still try and show up, but this time I didn't believe the thoughts, because it was just that....thoughts. As I ignored the thoughts, the fear eventually went away. I was able to overcome social phobia by refusing to believe the thoughts and this has been working about me ever sense.
Here are 4 simple suggestions that may help with social phobia:
1. What are the thoughts that come up in your mind when in social gatherings?
2. While exploring the thoughts ask yourself, are they validated?
3. If they are validated, such as, you don't know what to say. Ask yourself, what can do to support the topic? Maybe ask questions to learn.
4. This is more of a call to action. Start small and just engage.