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  • Writer's pictureCarol Bullock

Hypnosis for Social Anxiety and Shyness

Updated: May 14

What is social anxiety?


The NHS here in the UK defines social anxiety as a long-term and potentially overwhelming fear of social situations.


Of course, it encompasses a range of behaviours. You may just feel uncomfortable in social groups and unable to be yourself. Or you may be so fearful of new people and situations that you’re leading a really isolated life.


Wherever you sit on this scale, if social anxiety, shyness or lack of confidence is stopping you from living the life you want, it’s time to do something about it. And hypnosis for social anxiety, in-person or online, can be extremely effective.


What are the common symptoms of social anxiety?


Everyone’s experience is unique. People come to me at Hypnotherapy for Brighton with all sorts of social anxiety symptoms, including:


·      Inability to talk in groups, be that social gatherings or work

·      Struggling to make friends and feeling lonely as a consequence

·      Holding back at work because of shyness, or the worry of getting things wrong

·      Overwhelming worry about what other people think; feeling judged all the time

·      Finding it impossible to just ‘be themselves’ or show their ‘best self’ on dates, in social groups or work situations

·      Ducking out of events or avoiding opportunities because they feel inadequate or frightened


The physical effects are numerous. You might get a feeling of nerves in your tummy, which can escalate to feeling really unwell and even vomiting. You might feel a raise in body temperature, and that might lead to blushing or a full sweat. You might get a panicky feeling that makes you talk louder or longer, or quieter, or not at all. You might suffer panic attacks, where an overwhelming sense of fear takes over. You might self-medicate with food, alcohol, drugs or other behaviours that have their own consequences.


What’s actually going on?


The ‘fight – flight – freeze’ response you are experiencing as social anxiety is hard-baked into your cave dwellers DNA to keep you safe. Based on evolved experience going back millennia, when you’re faced with new people or new situations, your mind wants to know:


·      Is this tribe dangerous?

·      Do they mean me harm?

·      Am I safe?


Not many of the groups you’re likely to rub up against today carry spears or hunt wildebeest. But once that subconscious part of our brain is triggered, it can momentarily take over.


On top of your DNA, is your learned experience. From a tiny baby and through the toddler years that you probably can’t remember, up through school and into adulthood, you are constantly learning. In that process of learning, your brain puts down ‘red lines’ when it feels things are unsafe.


For example, as a toddler, you might have accidently touched a candle flame and your brain now knows that is super dangerous for you. You will have formed very individualistic opinions about the foods you like or dislike. And your parents, carers, siblings and other kids were constantly telling or showing you what was ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – based on their own understanding of the world (which of course may not be ‘right’ for you).


Whatever the cause, your brain has stored a ‘safety warning’ in your subconscious. Whenever a triggering situation occurs, it’s ready to launch your fight – flight – freeze response to protect you, regardless of what your logical brain wants. Safety first!


With social anxiety, a neural glitch has made this process over-sensitive, so it triggers more and more often, possibly for less and less genuinely dangerous situations.


How can hypnosis for social anxiety help?


My approach is very personal. I will take time to really understand how social anxiety, shyness or lack of confidence is affecting you. When or what triggers it. And how you would like to behave if you could put it behind you.


Then, using gentle hypnotherapy techniques in a safe and confidential environment, I will help you to relax. Together, we’ll connect your logical mind to your emotional mind and calm the automatic response that seems to have taken over.


We can then explore what the underlying belief is that makes your fight – flight – freeze response overreact. I often find this is rooted in ideas like: I don’t belong; I’m not worthy; I’m not good enough; I can’t trust them; It’s not safe.


Once we have identified that belief in your subconscious and understood where it comes from and how it was formed, your logical mind can ask questions: Is this true? Is it fair? Is it useful for me now? Would it be ok for me to let this belief go?


What’s hypnotherapy for social anxiety like? How long does it take?


Hypnotherapy is like a counselling session, but with some of the time spent with your eyes closed. I provide a safe, welcoming, non-judgmental space where you can really explore and understand your unique experience of social anxiety and the underlying beliefs that are at its root cause.


Unlike stage hypnosis, you are not ‘in my power’. Quite the contrary, since in many ways, I don’t hypnotise you but instead help you find a way into your unconscious mind where you can dehypnotise yourself from the limiting beliefs and fears that are holding you back. I am just helping the part of you that wants things to change connect with the unconscious part that is resisting. You are doing all the work. I’m just facilitating it. You are safely and fully in control throughout the process.


How long does it take? Every human mind is unique so that’s a very difficult question to answer. Most clients notice significant change after one or two sessions, though, because our minds, bodies and the experiences that have shaped them can be so complex and entangled, other clients chose to continue therapy for a number of weeks or even months.


If you’d like to book a session or to find out more about how hypnotherapy could help you free yourself from social anxiety, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a free consultation, in confidence and with no obligation. Email or call me now on 07748 165227



About Carol

Carol is a qualified hypnotherapist (DipPHH, MNCH Reg.) with thousands of clinical hours working with clients at her practice in Brighton, and online, all around the world. Carol is also a qualified and practicing Counsellor (MBACP Reg.) and was previously a state registered nurse (RGN).

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