How To Overcome Fear And Social Anxiety
The hallmark of shyness and social anxiety is fear. Fear of what others will think, fear of taking risks, fear of bad outcomes, fear of being judged, fear of embarrassment, fear of looking foolish, fear of…
In order to break through the ceiling that your shyness is creating, you must learn how to overcome your fears. Listen to this week’s episode to discover how!
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Overcome Shyness: Do What Scares You
Do what scares you. You heard me right. That is something that actually makes many people cringe but particularly my shy friends out there because, as you know, we have a habit or pattern you might say of avoiding what scares us. That’s a place that I lived for many years in my life… There’s something that scared me say, going over and introducing myself to a pretty young attractive co-ed when I was in college, and I wouldn’t do that. That sounds like a terrible idea.
Or maybe going and applying for a job, or offering to speak up in a group of people, or raising your hand in a class, or taking on a project at work and involves leadership responsibilities or signing up to do a presentation at work or at school or anywhere else in your life, really finding a way to put yourself out there in the professional life, in your personal life when it comes to dating and relationships or most recently, I was at a wedding which happened to be my own.
Oh, yes, yes married, hurray. This is a success story for the shy guy, I’ll get more into that in a future episode. But a good friend of mine who was one of my groomsmen told me, this was after the wedding that he had a major regret and it was really bothering him and that was that during the toast section of the wedding which was one of the most awesome toast sections that I have ever been to, perhaps because they were all about me and my wife. But he had an idea about something he wanted to say but he didn’t do it. He talked himself out of it and he’s not a guy that you would think as really shy. So it just goes to show that there are so many things in life that we want to do but we don’t do because we’re scared and then like my friend there, we feel some regret or sometimes we don’t even feel regret because we’re just so used to living that way, that it’s just the way things are, that’s just how we’re going to be in the world and that’s his own sort of pain, his own sort of hell.
And when we avoid what we – what scares us for so long then our life just becomes limited. And we don’t even feel the pain and regret anymore, we just feel the pain of numbness of life not feeling full of color. It feels kind of gray and dull and repetitive and predictable and that is a clear sign my friend that we need to shift something and the thing that I’m suggesting you shift is to move toward what scares you, to do what scares you, to break that pattern of avoidance and find something in yourself. Find a well of courage that will give you the endurance, the stamina, the resilience to give it a shot and see what happens.
I remember a fellow named Dr. Paul who has a lot of products out there for helping men develop their confidence among other things. I remember hearing an interview with him long time ago. Maybe eight years ago now at this point, but he said something that stuck with me to this day and there was a formula he had. I don’t really remember the exact specifics of the formula so bear with me if I butcher it. But it was something like if you are scared but you do the right thing, like being scared plus doing the right thing equals confidence. I think that’s the formula. He probably voiced it in a much better way than that. But he found a formula that if something that you’re scared but you find a way in yourself to do it, then you will develop confidence in yourself. And there is a formula for that and it’s actually called Exposure Therapy in cognitive behavioral therapy.
If someone wants to overcome a phobia like a fear of spiders, you systematically expose yourself to the thing that you’re scared of and you find a way to manage the fear, overcome the fears that are often really over the top. I know one client of mine, we were doing this and he has a hard time interacting with people. Terrified to start conversations with people which was holding him back — for friendships and relationships in all areas of his life — and so we were starting small and we were doing a social experiment which I really loved to do which is you go out and you asked five people or 10 people: “What time is it?”
You just go into a supermarket and see someone there and say, “Excuse me, can I ask you a quick question? What time is it?” Or you do it with someone on the street or whatever and I remember the first time we we’re doing that, he was terrified…
And so we were talking, I was like, “What do you worry is going to happen?” And he said, “Well, they’re going to give me this look of disgust, they’re going to shake their head, they’re going to think I’m kind of weirdo and they’re going to walk off.” I said, “Wow, that’s pretty extreme.”
And you know what as long as he didn’t do it (which had been his whole life) that was true. There is no other evidence, if not the contrary. So he was stuck in that belief. He believed that that was going to happen and so that was his reality.
Well with enough convincing and cajoling and playing and even actually watching me do it a number of times, he realized maybe my fears aren’t accurate. Maybe that won’t happen and that is actually the case and he ended up doing it in that day that I was working him.
He ended up doing with five or six people and that might seem like, if I don’t know where you’re at in your growth or shyness to social confidence and you might think, “That’s easy.” Or you might be listening to that and being like “Wow, maybe I’ll try that experiment.” But for him it was a big deal and was most exciting is he actually came to me the next week. We’re doing one-on-one coaching. He came to me the next week and said, “I asked maybe 15, 20 people over the course of the week and I never got a negative response.” One time some elderly person did not respond to him in a store but he questioned if she didn’t hear him. But he didn’t take it personally because he had 19 other times that went well.
We’ll get more into this in future episodes. We’re going to talk a lot about the nuts and bolts of exposure therapy and how to use that to overcome your fears and it’s going to be a consistent theme in the questions and answers sections that I do when I take questions from folks and you’re really going to hear this throughout this radio show over time. And so I wanted to just introduce you to the topic, but I feel like there is no better way to really understand this topic than to talk to someone who really gets it.
So in just a moment, we’re going to be back and we’re going to be talking to Josh Sabraw who is a guy who I think gets this on a fundamental level. He doesn’t just understand it intellectually, he actually lives this. I have a philosophy that if you see someone who is doing something you want to do, like for example I’ve seen Josh walk up to a group of four women and just casually start a conversation with them and believe me, he is not some “pick up artist” where he has scripts and he planned it all out ahead of time and he knows how to “number close” in two minutes.
He’s just an ordinary guy who believes in himself and is willing to give it a shot and willing to do it even though it scares him and that’s what’s most amazing about him.
And my philosophy is wow, if someone can do something that I want to do and I can’t, that’s probably something I can learn from that. So I want to talk to them. I want to understand their mindset, their attitudes, their approach to life, some of the lessons they’ve learned and how they’ve overcome some of the challenges that I’m facing and so I want to ask him all those questions and you’re going to get a huge amount of benefit of really understanding the mindset of someone who is adopted the life philosophy of doing what scares you.
Expert Interview – How To Overcome Fear And Social Anxiety
Aziz: Welcome back to our show. In a moment, we’re going to be talking with a good friend of mine named Josh Sabraw who is actually a guy who really, as I mentioned before, embodies this way of being in the world where you move towards what scares you, find some place in you that drives you towards something that you want even if there is an obstacle in the way, even if you’re not sure of the outcome.
He comes from, I would say his humble beginnings in Southern Oregon and he grew up, and I will talk a little bit about his background in the interview. But he grew up with some adversity and challenges and then he went into the military and actually rose through the ranks there and ended up in a position where he was commanding man underneath him which I think gives a testament to how he takes things on in his life and that didn’t stop.
When he got out of the military, he started his own fitness business and is a personal trainer and a health coach and has ever since I’ve known him just been delving into that at a high level and really refining his skill. Well, I think he’s got some interesting insights about how you can use your physical body and improve that to enhance your confidence. So we’ll get his thoughts on that as well. And one final thing about Josh is this guy knows how to talk to women and he’s not held back by his fears. So hopefully, we’ll learn some of his tips and secrets and mindsets when it comes to that area. So thanks for joining us, Josh.
Josh: I’m happy to be here.
Aziz: So as I said before you really embody the philosophy of doing what scares you and as long as I’ve known you which is maybe been four years now or something like that, that’s been how you live in the world. But I’m wondering have you always done that? Do you remember when you started to do that? Was there a time when you didn’t do that?
Josh: Sure. Yeah. I talked about with my friends being introvert in high school and it kind of getting lived and kind of not avoid by anybody in particular but this kind of being intimidated by my peers and kind of being in a shell and it kind of being entraped in that. I think the approach mentality that I got, I took on they used to mention in the army, I joined the army to get out (11.56) ever since where I’m from and I enlisted as a paratrooper and to be paratrooper you jump out of a plane in a certain number of times and I was terrified about it at first.
The reasons that I picked are obvious but I was certain and this is when I was 18 years old and I had ridden on a plane, maybe once or twice in my life and everyday over the days you see people jumping out of planes and their chutes opening up. Literally, hundreds of people just parachuting over this space every day, I’m like thinking to myself certainly my equipment will fail. I have the worst luck in the world. As you know, on the 1000, I’m going to be the 0.1%or the 0.01% or whatever that is the equipment fails and I fall to my death a thousand feet above ground and I’m over (inaudible) Georgia and so yeah, I have a lot of anxiety about it.
Josh: And so unfortunately for me, you get to think about it for weeks. So you spend three weeks in an airborne school before jump week and so you rehearse, you’re doing practicing falling and using equipments and loading and unloading on planes and just doing basic parachutist stuff. And you’re practicing, you do a ground week, you do a tower week and then you do a jump week. And so you’re seeing planes over head, you’re seeing people falling. You just get the sense of this is inevitable. This is what you’re doing. I think it’s supposed to reassure you but I was pretty terrified. And as I was loading onto the plane, I realized there is no escape.
There is no way out. There’s really — once you kind of strap in and load into the backend of this cargo plane, the only way out is through the jump door and they will throw you out. They will incentivize you to get out of the plane because it’s a big deal if they have to land the plane. There are people in the cargo and so. It’s written, there’s no way out. And if furthermore, if you do not hand off your safety strap or the static line that pulls the chute open, if you don’t hand that off correctly on your way out the door, the guy behind you could get strangled by it. So there’s a measure of presence of mind you have to have. You can just be totally terrified. You actually have to with some smartness hand your static line to the jump master and then leap clear of the aircraft and not strangle the guy behind you.
Aziz: That’s a particularly interesting piece of it that you’re not only or two things you’ve said stood out to me. One is that A. there’s no way out other than the jump door which I think is a pretty powerful metaphor. We’ll get into that. And the second but the other thing you said was that you had to keep a presence of mind about you. You had to keep your wits about you and that actually reminds me of the fantastic film 300 in which they talk about these Spartans who were trained to fight for a very young age that instead of feeling fear, they feel an enhanced awareness and in attunement of their senses.
And it sounds like there’s a similar aspect to your experience there where you’re terrified and yet you’re forced by needing to be aware of your surroundings and your peers to so as to not cause problems.
Josh: Right. I think that having a tactile mission, having a purpose in your hand literally in this case in front of you and a process that you’re going through takes your mind away from your own personal mortality and into your I will have to deal with this because I have to check my gear, I have to hand it to the jump master. I have to leap with full force and vigor outside the plane and get clear.
Josh: And that process –I imagine was to keep people like me actually moving instead of just crying. So that’s what I did and I was in the plane and stand up, hook up, and I start, as I was hooking my gear up to the plane, I was saying to myself, “The only thing I want to do is correctly pass off this static line and then I’m going to leap as hard as I can and get as far away from this plane so that nobody behind me gets hurt and I don’t fail my mission.” So I didn’t ignore or override the fear that say my equipment would fail and I would die. I said, “Well, then that maybe. But what I also do is just fulfill my small objective of getting away from this plane and then we’ll see what happens after that.”
Aziz: Hmm. Hmm. I think that’s another key point is that you can focus on a purpose or a mission or an objective that allows you to bypass or act in spite of the fear. We’re going to take a brief break from the interview with Josh and be back in just a moment to hear more about what he has to say around a variety of topics including dating and relationships.
[Are you tired of feeling stuck in shyness? Do fear and self doubts stop you from being social or outgoing? Overcoming social anxiety is possible, but it requires action. Join Dr. Aziz in an eight-week video training program that will teach you exactly how to unleash your confidence. Go to confidenceunleashednow.com.]
Aziz: Welcome back. Let’s get back into that interview with Josh. And I’m wondering how do you relate that to you something and say your personal life when you go or let’s say you’re going to start a conversation with someone, maybe an attractive someone. What would you say your purpose is in that interaction?
Josh: Oh, it’s great and that’s a great question. My purpose is to make somebody’s day and I got there through thinking about how – when friends of mine who are women or people I know talk about a stranger approaching them in a park or at a coffee shop or wherever they’re at and you start talking to them and or flirting with them makes their day and gives them a story to tell. So I framed it up as my purpose is to make somebody’s day. I’m going to give them — I want to give them an experience.
Aziz: That’s a very different purpose and I think a lot of the guys listening have. And I know a very different purpose than I had when I was really stuck in shyness and that I think often times the common purpose is “I hope I don’t mess this up. I hope that she likes me. I hope that I make a good impression so she’ll want to go out with me.” What would you say about the – a fear that’s really common which is – or aren’t you worried that she might dislike you?
Josh: Yeah. Well, lots of people dislike me and that that could happen. The truth to the matter is you got to give somebody the opportunity to see who you are and they can make their own decisions and I found through practice that people are generally pleased to meet people regardless of their personal style or circumstance and whether or not it’s — you’re going to have sex with this person that you just met or have a great conversation or have actually really nothing at all. That’s up to both of you in the moment. I think you’d never get off to the starting line if you think about the opportunity to miss a basket.
Aziz: Yeah. It reminds me of something. I think I heard Brian Tracy say recently which is you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.
Josh: Yeah, yeah. Actually I think that’s also a sniper motto.
Aziz: Huh? Which actually that reminds me, bringing it back to you the military and the only way out is through jump door, all other options are off the table, you have to go out in this way. How do you bring that to your life now in the fact that you were just telling me before this, before we started this interview that you’re moving your whole business to a different location. It’s a big deal and that of course, there’s unknown, there’s fear there but you’re doing it anyway as you do. But how do you bring that philosophy to your daily life as a civilian? There are or either you cannot go talk to the woman, you can back out of this deal to move. So how do you keep that, say focus or drive and really convince yourself that the only way out is through?
Josh: Yeah. Well, I think experience, I talked to other trainers, I have a lot of friends who were trainers in Portland and we talked about approach and avoid being the two choices to any decision or any obstacle. Like you don’t necessarily know that you are going to be able to go over it or around it or under it or through it, but if you don’t approach it, you’re never going to figure it out. You’re never going to move on and the idea is to grow. If you avoid it, you escape the pain and tension of whatever you’re dealing with but you don’t get the reward and I think the first time I climbed a tree, it felt higher up and exhilarated and a little scared but that was like I like the first approach mentality signal that I got when I was a young kid and it was easy to climb up and then reap the benefit. So now I just think that having that exhilaration and that fear is natural but the benefit and the growth and the reward is in the approach.
Aziz: Uh-hmm. And I think that there’s a key distinction there that can be really difficult is that a lot of guys say well, “What if I’m climbing the tree and I fall and as you said well, the only way to find out is to do it.” But I think a lot of guys experience a sense of deflation and demoralizing effect from say trying to start a conversation with someone and it being awkward or asking a woman for her number and her saying no. So how do you deal with it or how would you – what advice would you have for somebody saying, “If it goes bad, I won’t be able to handle this. It’s too much. It’s too painful.”
Josh: Well, I want to share an experience that I perhaps have shared with you before because we’ve talked about our experiences with dating. But the first girl I had a crush on, I walked up to her in junior high school. So I’m on eighth grade at this point. I didn’t know what to say. I’m just completely overwhelmed with fear and I said, “Hi, my name is Josh.” And the woman – or the girl that I was talking to, she was among the popular kids, one of the untouchables or maybe I wasn’t an untouchable which everyone means that everyone wants to be in equality that nobody could approach without permission. But I approached – she had an Australian accent.
Josh: She was hot. Yeah, oh, man. And her response to my outstretched hand and my name was, “Why are you talking to me? You’re so ugly. Get away from me.” So brutal, brutal smack down and I shrugged it off and then I went home. Of course, thank God for like 30 minutes about my – I was just like never – I was destined to be single and alone a virgin of course and I was going to die alone and I was just – it was the worst feeling in the world and that lasted, I don’t know, a few weeks. But that was pretty much the worst burn I ever had and probably also it felt the most vulnerable stage in life. Falling out of the tree or getting rejected is kind of the inoculation of pain or getting into the approach mindset. The worst I’ve had fallen out of lots of trees and I’ve got a little scraped up but you walk away. God forbid anyone dies from falling out of tree as to this conversation but the – you’re going to survive and if you kind of let your fear, if you never experience true rejection or true interaction that maybe doesn’t go well then your imagination will be so much more powerful than real life.
Aziz: Yeah. That is a key point and I really like so much about what you’re saying but the fear, the fantasy of how it’s going to go badly is nine times out of 10, way worse than reality.
Josh: So way worse.
Aziz: In fact, and all the men that I’ve been working with and all the experiences I’ve had, I’ve never had a woman or anyone that I’m trying to start a conversation with and be friendly with say something as harsh as what you described there in your middle school experience and that’s what I think a lot of guys are expecting in some sort of like, “Get away from me, you creep. I hate you.” And the reality is that the falls or the rejections are much more like little scrapes. She politely says, “Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t give out my number.” Or she kind of turns away or doesn’t want to engage. So there are much more minor slights. But the power of our imagination to create these shadows and demons in the closet is never ceases to amaze me. And so I think what you’re saying about where you have to at some level just do it and realize that you can survive it and I love that you said that and that inoculates you to future rejection, future pain.
Josh: Yeah. It’s huge. It’s a big confidence boost and just being somebody who can tell the story and trying and maybe falling short is way, way more character build and people really respect you for taking your shot, whether you’re eventually trying to shoot a goal in this or you’re trying to start a business or you’re just trying to start a conversation with an attractive girl like being the person that takes action speaks way louder than any blog or any remnants of any fantasy. There are lots of people have things they want to do and there are few people actually do them.
Aziz: That’s all the time that we have for the interview with Josh today. I want to have just a little bit of time at the end of this episode to get into the actions step. So we’re going to cover the rest of the interview with him in the next episode and that’s actually a very fascinating discussion we get into about his experiences with online dating as well as his approach with women in general which you learned a little bit about today but he goes a lot more in-depth into it next week and just as a teaser, he does very well with women. He’s got some interesting stories and I think there is a tremendous amount that we all can learn from. His approach, his philosophy, how he handles rejection and how he goes after what he wants and it works out very well for him in his relationships with women. So we’ll get into that next week. But for now, we need to go into the action step.
Time For Action
In this week’s action step, I think it would be fitting to have it related to what Josh was saying which is when he was on that airplane and he was going to parachute and he was terrified as we all would be and he knew that he said there was no way out but the jump door. And what I heard when he said that was there was complete leverage that he had on himself. There is no option. There is no other way out.
This question is your action step is this week: How can you get that kind of leverage on yourself?
Leverage from physics is if you can get things set up just right with the appropriate lever and the appropriate distance that with a small amount of like a jack and you’re lifting up your car with a small amount of effort, you can do an incredible amount of work, in this case raising your car with a jack, that’s what the power of leverage is and we can harness that power with ourselves but we have to know what is the lever?
What is the thing that we have to push on in order to get ourselves to take action. For some people leverage is going out for the thing they really want. It aches so much that you want that. You want to be able to connect with a woman. You want to be able to have a girlfriend. That is powerful leverage to get you to take action and for other folks, I know I’ve fallen to this camp a lot myself it’s what you don’t want. Oh, man, that would be really painful if that happened or if I couldn’t get that and so that drives you, that motivates you.
For some people it’s their kids. For some people it’s desire for connection or relationship. For some people it’s achieving that dream or going after that goal, but if you really focus on it, what is the leverage that you can get on yourself? What is the thing that you can focus on and you can tell yourself that makes it feel like there is no way out but the jump door?
That makes it feel like I have to do this? This is a must for me. So that’s your action step for this week and join us next week, we’re going to get more in-depth from this interview with Josh. We’re going to go into his philosophy in dating and relationships and he’s got some really interesting things to share there. And we’re also going to cover some interesting stories, on what’s happening in the world around social anxiety and potentially if there’s time, a segment of ask the shrink where I got some email questions that always coming to my inbox and I want to start responding to them in this podcast. And if you have any questions that you would like me to answer in the podcast or otherwise, email them to me at draziz-at-socialconfidencecenter.com. I will look forward to speaking with you in the next episode, until we do talk again and then you have the courage to be who you are.