I’ve always been an introvert, even before having children. It was until I realized that my social anxiety as a mom was only getting worse that I learned these coping mechanisms to help me succeed in social situations. If you’re feeling stressed or struggling with your social interactions, you’re going to love these tips for helping with your social anxiety.
My idea of social interaction involves me at home in my grandma sweater with a bowl full of dark chocolate ice cream as I cuddle with my husband on the couch watching our favorite show or laughing at some of the silliest questions we ask each other.
But, I also realize that if I were to do this every day my waist would be the size of a large planet and I would have no social life outside my home.
Although I wouldn’t mind eating ice cream and cuddling every day, I know the truth comes from the fact that I am an introvert and struggle with social anxiety.
There have been so many times when I’m invited to a church party, find myself in a room full of people, or need to go to a child’s function that the anxiousness of these social interactions creeps up inside of me.
Then I try to find ways to get out of them without hurting anyone’s feelings – and ultimately, I end up hurting myself.
It was only recently when I made the mental realization that I was using my children as a crutch for my social anxiety that I needed to do something to get back in control of this area in my life.
I felt naked without a child on my lap, or I would use the excuse of, “Sorry, I have to help my child” to get out of having a real conversation with another mom.
To many, this looked really stuck up and selfish.
I understand and have to realize that I can’t control what other people feel about me (although the guilt of not being able to face people is difficult and only adds to my anxiety).
I want to share with you 5 secrets that I have been using to help me work through my social anxiety as a mom.
My hope is that they will also be of service to you on your journey.
5 Secrets to Work Through Your Social Anxiety As a Mom
1. Pay Attention To Your Strengths During Social Interactions
I know this sounds a little silly when you feel like your greatest weakness is social interactions, but I promise when you focus and notice your strengths during social interactions, you’ll begin to see yourself in a new way.
There are a few questions I want to ask you and I want you to think about yourself in social situations:
- Do you feel more comfortable in small groups of people, large groups, or one-on-one interactions?
- Would you rather go out with a group of friends or invite one or two people over to your home?
- Do you find greater value in more intimate relationships with a certain number of people?
I personally can’t stand large gatherings with lots of people and noise.
I’m not a fan of going out to dinner with groups and find that my social interactions with others suffer because I don’t feel like I’m in control of the situation.
Instead, I’m left feeling stressed and anxious.
I have realized over time that I love talking with someone one-on-one and getting to know others better on a more intimate and personal level.
When I find myself having to be in large groups of people, although I can’t control the number of people, I can focus on one friend (or meeting one person who also looks like they’re alone) and take back my social anxiety by playing to my strengths.
2. Don’t Feel Guilty About Feeling Stressed, Instead Do This
Meeting new people and having to work through your social anxiety as a mom is stressful. Please don’t feel guilty about having to cope with this mental struggle.
It’s real but it’s not what defines you.
One of the ways you can focus on not feeling guilty and decreasing your stress in social interactions is preparing yourself for when these times come.
Heaven knows the number of parties I left early (or didn’t go at all) because I was afraid.
One of the ways I found to take control of the situation was by preparing a list of about 5 fun questions to ask a certain number of people at the party. (Remember, I only focus on one person at a time from tip number 1).
If I know a little bit about the person I ask about their plans for upcoming holidays, any exciting or new news in their life, or any other question that gets them talking about themselves.
People really do love talking about themselves! And it’s great because you won’t have to talk about yourself and you’ll be remembered as being thoughtful and warm in wanting to get to know them better.
3. You Can’t Control Your Emotions, But You Can Control This
No matter how many social situations I find myself in, I’m still left feeling overwhelmed, scared, anxious, and like I’d rather play the ultimate game of hide-and-seek but not ask anyone to “seek” for me.
Although I can’t control how I feel in social situations (who can, right?) I can control the ultimate decision of what I want to get out of this particular interaction.
Sometimes my biggest win is going to a party by myself and staying for more than 15 minutes.
It might look like going to a big church gathering and meeting someone new.
Or it could be checking off the things on my list of things to do before 30 with a friend.
Other times my biggest win is having a great conversation with someone else.
I do my best to understand those who thrive and love social interactions and parties.
God knows I am an introvert and needed to strengthen my social skills so he sent me a very extrovert daughter.
My daughter thrives and LOVES parties and people.
She is fueled by them whereas I find my emotional tank on empty and wanting to step away.
I notice that when she focuses on someone else and helping them feel comfortable she shines even more.
I have done the same thing where I go to a party or find myself in a large group of women and think, “What can I give to someone else today?”
Meaning, what can I offer someone in the ways of a kind word or a friendly smile.
4. Celebrate Your Successes With One Win At A Time
No matter how many social parties you go to, functions you find yourself in, or groups you attend, I want you to celebrate each one because a lot of courage was required on your part.
You are doing better than you realize when you are willing to put yourself out there and meet new people.
Social anxiety is scary and having this mental struggle is difficult, but each time you try to get outside your comfort zone and be with other people is a huge win.
And who knows, maybe you’ll be attending parties and taking classes at your local gym, all while rocking a complimentary red lipstick for pale skin that compliments your complexion.
Think about all the new people you would meet!
You could learn about different types of Pilates and other forms of exercise, get yourself out of your comfort zone a little more, and start living the social life that you’ve been dreaming of.
5. You Don’t Have To Have This Kind Of A Social Life
I want you to know that you don’t have to go out to parties if this scares the living daylights out of you.
If you thrive on having one or two people in your home, then open your doors and don’t worry about the mess or dust!
You don’t have to go to parties to have a social life, and you don’t have to find yourself in large groups of people, just to make a single friend.
There are other ways to invite people into your heart, by inviting them into your home.
For myself, I feel most comfortable at home where I feel like I’m in control of the situation.
One of the things my husband and I loved doing before we had kids was inviting couples over to play a board game.
If they wanted to bring anything, we invited them to bring a dessert or their favorite drink.
We don’t do this as often anymore, mostly because our children are little and we find ourselves going to bed earlier and earlier, but it’s something we will be doing again as our family grows up because we enjoyed doing this so much.
As you focus on your social strengths, stop feeling guilty about feeling stressed, celebrate your successes during social interactions, and focus on the kind of social life you consider to be healthy for you and your family, you will continue to work through your social anxiety as a mom.
I know some days aren’t easy and trust me when I say I’d rather get a tooth pulled than go to a big event with lots of people. But I can tell you that for every success you have, you’ll slowly build up your confidence over time.
It’s not a matter of putting yourself in a scary situation where your anxiety is going to take control, but a journey of working with your social strengths so you can build lasting and worthwhile friendships. This should be your main goal.
I would love to hear from you on how you handle social situations.
Leave a comment below and let us know what works best for you.
Micah Klug is a wife, homeschooling mother to five children, and author. She teaches time-tested solutions to help parents remember what matters most in life, including strengthening their home, faith, and family relationships. To learn how a child who grew up in an authoritarian home is now creating an environment of peace and joy in her own home visit this page. If you want to contact Micah, send her an email here or email [email protected].