Do you get really anxious when you go out and surround yourself by people? Afraid to approach people you really want to talk to, afraid to ask someone on a date, afraid that you won’t have fun, etc? One thing you can do is simply to ask yourself what you will do to ground yourself before you go out.
The point is that you find a way to stay focused on the mental space you want to be in that will affect your experience and your relationships. And the key is that you do this beforehand when you have a chance to think before getting caught up in the social situation.
Meditating before interacting can be immensely helpful. One time I went to a bar, sat down, and meditated for two hours straight before getting up and going to socialize. I normally would have a lot of approach anxiety, but I approached several women that night and even danced by myself with everyone watching me because they were all too afraid to dance.
Another possibility is to pick one a simple thought that you’ll come back to throughout the event. Maybe you read a book on personal growth a few hours before going out, but your mind is still anxious by habit. That means that anxiety is what’s grounding you, and when you go out, you’ll probably just keep coming back to that. But if you select something helpful to focus on, you’ll have something different to ground you. For example, you could focus on feeling self-confident. Then you say in your head over and over as you go out and interact with people, “I am self-confident. I feel self-confident.” Another example would be, “I feel calm,” or, “I am not asking what I can get from others, but what I can offer others.”
If you choose more than one thing, it might better to write it down on a pocket pad in case you forget, but whatever works for you. Just writing it down can be helpful for committing to what is grounding you so you don’t feel like you have so many personal growth ideas running around you that you can’t focus on any of them. You may not need to look at it once you write it down, yet it is helpful.
So far, I have found it more helpful to just choose one thing, but tonight I am going out and will try writing down three things and report how it goes. Stay tuned!
Update: Yep, one thing is working better for me. You may have a different experience. I wrote down three things, but mostly was only able to focus on one of them. Same thing happened last time I chose three things. This time I did check on what I wrote down, which pushed me to go ask someone to dance who I felt was perhaps ignoring me… silly idea – it was the most intimate dance of the night for me! Maybe we were both being anxious toward each other because we’re both obviously queer women, and because there was a combination of awkward feelings and attraction. More silliness unveiled!