My younger brother also have this problem and it has probably no solution for it. But still, I refuse to accept this and kept fighting.
My best friend suggested me that I should stop worrying about what others think of me, stop being too nice with people (or to be a people pleaser).
I should start being like a leader who doesn't seek approval from anyone, feel inferior from others or isn't afraid or ashamed of doing anything, and be a little cocky.
It actually helped me a little (I actually became a little confident). I'm not afraid of going to public places or take public transports and go wherever I want anymore.
But I'm still lonely without many friends. I don't know how to meet new people and hold a conversation properly without being awkward (I don't know what to say).
Loneliness is my greatest pain... I never had many friends and a good social life.
I heard Islam has all the solutions to my problem, including social anxiety. Someone told me that ''zikr'' is the solution, but I can't see how sitting and making zikr would solve my problems without any ''action''.
I've been praying nonstop for 3 months now and keep asking Allah, but nothing has changed.
Is there any other Islamic solution for this? I don't want to spend my life like this.
I read somewhere that Allah doesn't give extreme sadness to a believer so that he wouldn't lose faith in him.
What should I do? What actions should I take? I don't want to be lonely.
In this counseling answer:
• Begin to notice the symptoms of anxiety and when and where do you experience it the most.
• Be easy on yourself and give yourself complete acceptance of who you are – without being judgmental of yourself.
• There is nothing wrong with being an introvert. Accept it.
• Challenge yourself little by little. Make small, achievable goals for yourself.
• To practice assertiveness, start using “I statements” with people you are close to.
• Ask Allah SWT for His help and guidance.
Assalamu Alaikum Brother,
Social anxiety may be caused due to genetic predispositions, however, I believe, the environment a person grows up in, has more to do with one’s social anxiety.
It is possible that during your early years, you got messages from significant people in your life that you are not “good enough”.
You may have been harshly judged for what you did or did not do; and hence it became an intrinsic part of you. Hence, it may be important for you to go back in time and think about when and where your anxiety started.
Accept Yourself As You Are
We are often caught up in how one should be. We make ideals for ourselves based on what society wants us to be, or idealizes in human beings. However, it is important to realize that instead of blindly striving for change, it is first important to accept yourself as you are, and know where your anxiety stems from.
Begin to notice the symptoms of anxiety and when and where do you experience it the most. Do those situations remind you of something from your earlier experiences?
We often put many unreasonable expectations on ourselves and begin to focus on things that we cannot do.
This creates a vicious cycle of having a low self-esteem and not being able to achieve the things we want. So, be easy on yourself and give yourself complete acceptance of who you are – without being judgmental of yourself.
Knowing the Difference between Introversion and Extroversion
It is also important to understand that all human beings are different and have different personality traits. There are extroverts, who gain their mental energy with communicating with others.
There are introverts who like to live within themselves, are quieter and find it difficult to make small talk with others.
We live in an era and a society that values extroversion. However, it is essential to distinguish that there is nothing wrong with being an introvert.
Sometimes, people judge you or you judge yourself because you cannot talk about things as openly or fluently to others. However, if you are an introvert, accept yourself as one and know that this is your personality; and there is no flaw in being an introvert.
Take Small Steps Out Of Your Comfort Zone
While accepting yourself fully and practicing self-compassion, it is also important to challenge yourself little by little.
Make small, achievable goals for yourself. As you mentioned, you have started using public transport and going to public places, with a little effort. So, with small steps, you can start making conversations with people. You can talk about things that interest you.
Similarly, on days when you feel up to it, gradually expose yourself to situations where you encounter people.
Make eye contact with them, and strike a conversation with them. It may feel awkward at first, but as you continue doing it on a weekly basis, you will notice that you will feel less awkward when you talk to people.
People with social anxiety often judge themselves for the conversations they have with people and think about what they could have said differently. However, when you are conversing with people, make a conscious effort to be in the moment with the other person, and not worry about what you are saying.
The self-criticism is basically what keeps you going in circles and stops you from communicating with other people.
Work on Your Non-Verbal Communication
Having social anxiety often means that you “shut off” from your surroundings. You feel threatened and insecure in other people’s presence.
Therefore, your body language automatically changes – you avert eye contact and maintain a closed-off body posture. This is the first clue you give to others that you are uncomfortable in their presence.
Therefore, to have healthy communication with people. Try maintaining stable eye contact with people. Practice keeping an open body posture (for instance, not closing your arms on your chest as you talk to people)
Practice Being Assertive
Assertiveness is an essential component of healthy communication with people. Being assertive means saying what you feel, without holding back.
Having social anxiety, you often tend to hide their feelings from people, for the fear that others will reject you. When you are scared to share your feelings, the emotions start bottling up and it makes you increase your pain of not being able to share.
To practice assertiveness, start using “I statements” with people you are close to. For example, you can say “I feel hurt because you did not keep your promise”. Assertive communication helps you become more confident in yourself and your ability to communicate your feelings.
Go to a Professional Counselor
To work with your pain of loneliness, I would suggest that you go to a professional counselor or mental health practitioner.
Going to a counselor will help you explore the blocks you have to communicate with other people, and also why you find it difficult to form relationships.
Ask Guidance and Help From Allah
Last but not least, ask Allah SWT for His help and guidance. He listens and answers prayers. He also knows what goes into our hearts.
However, I would also say, that prayer and faith is a separate thing and we often have this misconception that doing Zikr or praying will magically alleviate our symptoms of anxiety or depression.
But usually, this is not the case – you have to take practical steps along with the faith that you have the power to heal.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.