Overcoming social anxiety: Coming out of your shell

September 18, 2017 - 13 minutes read

overcoming social anxiety

Tips to Overcome Social Anxiety Issues

Many of the clients in my workshops tell me they are looking for a way of dealing with social phobia. For some people, the act of having any kind of social interaction outside of their comfort zone is the source of very real fear.

What is social anxiety?

According to the Social Anxiety Institute, social anxiety is “a fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.”

It’s an unhealthy headspace to be in, but it is absolutely possible to conquer those feelings of self-doubt.

Social interaction is a key part of what it means to be human. If you don’t tackle your fears about it, you’ll be missing out on the sweetest things life has to offer.

I’d like to share advice on how to break out of your shell and project confidence.


Social anxiety always comes from our own barriers.

At some point, stop to think about what you are hiding behind. Are you scared of receiving the “fuck off”?

Let me tell you, I’ve seen the “fuck off” once in my 11-year career, and the fuck-offer in question wouldn’t have been approached a great deal anyway. It doesn’t exist to the extent you think.

If that is your biggest fear, one of the biggest social techniques I can teach you is to go out into the field and try to get the “fuck off”.  

How far you will get in the conversation will surprise you, and if you do get the fuck off, it’s the worst that can happen. 

If that is the worst that can happen, are we then hiding behind the fear of rejection?

Banish the fear of rejection

If the thought of being turned away by a woman fills you with dread, there is  one mantra you need to repeat to yourself: You can’t reject something you know nothing about.

Rejection doesn’t exist. You either progress deeper into the interaction and win, or that doesn’t happen and you learn. To get good at being social, you have to ratchet up your interactions to learn about human responses by generalisation.

We don’t have to throw ourselves in the deep end. We just have to start.

You don’t have anything they can reject. They’re not rejecting you because you’re not asking anything from them.

When you experience a challenge from a woman, they’re challenging you because they’re interested. It’s her mechanism to filter the good guys from the weak guys.

If you didn’t overcome that challenge, she was right about you. If you can’t stand up for yourself and be strong in that moment, you may not be strong in the long-term, when you have to show fortitude in a relationship.

Learn responses from people through repetition. If you’ve been there more than the average person, your conversations are going to have more of an impact.

You need to approach women in such volumes that you get bored of saying the same thing over and over again, forcing you to break the pattern and self-amuse more each time.

If you’ve been there thousands of times more than the average person, you’ll be making a far greater impact and social interactions will become something of a routine for you, rather than an endurance test.

You’re never going out to seek approval. You’re going out to see if you approve of the women you speak to and make sure they meet your qualifications.

How to come out of your shell

Once you’ve abandoned your fear of rejection, you can start putting the pieces together to defeat social anxiety once and for all.

Here are some steps to overcome social anxiety, a few little exercises you can do each day to ease you into the idea of social interaction.

Start small and work your way up.

Ask 5 people for directions.

It needn’t be any more than that. Get yourself in a ‘doing’ mindset as that’s where you learn best. We need to get ourselves out of our heads and into the playground and get used to being social. Your social ability is a muscle. The more you use it, the easier the challenge becomes.

Ask 5 people, “How are you?”

It could be friendly chatter in the supermarket queue. But if you’ve been asked “How are you?” and simply responded with ‘I’m good,’ why didn’t you return the question?

Why not start saying it to people during these kinds of encounters? It’s an open question and gets people responding. The only way you lose is by doing nothing at all. It’s small, and you may still get a pretty basic response, but a small step is still a step forward.

You’re not looking for the most phone numbers or instant gratification. We’re just looking to flex our social biceps. In the immortal words of Rocky:

“The only person you have to beat is that person staring at you right in the mirror.”

There’s such a thrill to be found in giving the finger to that negative, defeatist voice in your head. You’ll learn a lot about yourself the more you do this.

Be curious enough to use assumptions.

Maybe you hear a woman with an accent or see very particular clothes. Ask her for more information. Give your curiosity a voice.

Not only will you learn more about the world to bolster yourself for future encounters, you’re also opening up a conversation in an interesting, immediate way and learning to react.

These are practical everyday exercises that may not lead to a powerful interaction, but every time you head out to practice these, you’d become a little better and a little less afraid.

Take a client-facing job.

You will literally get paid to practice talking to people. A client-facing job, such as sales, forces you to challenge social anxiety head-on.

I did sales for many years. I was rough round the edges when I started, then developed flair and managed to work in more of my personality. The more calls I made in a day, the better my patter became.

People buy from people. Confidence is all about becoming that charismatic person that people can believe in and relate to.

Field sales or business development is great for coming out of your shell too. It’s a job that requires you to build up relationships in an area. Someone like an area sales manager has to go and find new business. You end up constantly critiquing yourself and improving your interactions.

Charity fundraising is another great avenue you could take. Charity fundraisers on the street could be pick-up artists. They all have to have the ability to stop people and make an impact. You have to step out of your head and become that larger than life character.

I had a Saturday job at the market when I was younger. You learn about people very quickly due to high footfall, and you meet characters who have been on the market for years, and had really come into their own.

It’s the self-amusement aspect of market patter that draws people in. It taught me a lot. Walk around the market and see if anyone needs help. You’re doing it for the experience, not the money.

You could become a club promoter, or even a sub-promoter. Helping out an established club promoter is a great way to further relationships. It gets you out on the streets inviting girls to parties, or groups you haven’t spoken to for a while.

If you’re around people, you’re learning about people. If you’re around women, you learn about women. Put yourself in these environments.

I also found waiting to be great for breaking down my barriers. Even on my first day, I’d have to go to the table and repeat their order and generally be pleasant and give good service.

Some would be more receptive than others. But it allowed me to get out of my head and slowly develop confidence. Most of these jobs aren’t about positioning yourself around women, but placing yourself on a social platform.

If you have a job that isolates you, balance it with something social. Be around people.

Take a course

A dedicated confidence course such as my 7-Day programme can help, but actually any course that encourages you to engage with others will help you take great strides in your self-esteem.

I often refer people on my courses to drama courses or improv classes. They force you out of your shell and push you to think on the spot. You get to jump into a character and then jump back into yourself. If you can learn what a character has been through and step into it, you can learn about yourself as part of that process.

Those are just a few simple steps you can take to start combatting social anxiety today. Dive into one of my workshops and courses at www.johnnycassell.com/pua-training to fast-track your success with women and your people skills.

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