How to Make Friends with Social Anxiety | #MyCounselorSays

Kashina Harris, MA, CIT

Question:

Renee says, “I’m a stay-at-home mom with social anxiety. How do I make friends when I am scared to even text a friend to set up a coffee date?”

Read more to find out what Kashina Harris, MA, CIT, says about how to make friends as a stay at home mom, and how to understand and overcome social anxiety.

About the Author

This article is based on scientific evidence and clinical experience, written by a licensed professional and fact-checked by experts.

Kashina Harris, MA, CIT is a Counselor in Training, specializing in marriage counseling. You can schedule an appointment with Kashina for online counseling.

Video Transcript

(Transcript is generated by a software and may have discrepancies from the video.)

Cassie

Welcome to My Counselor Online. I’m Cassie and this is My Counselor Says. My Counselor Says is where you submit a question, either for yourself, or for a friend,  and one of our incredible therapists takes their time and answers your personal question. So let’s go find out what My Counselor Says.

Kashina Harris on Our Need to Connect with Others

Thank you so much for taking the time to ask a question that plagues so many moms. I stayed at home full time with my four kids for many years. It is so hard; because we put all of our time and energy into the role of being a good mom and wife, we can forget about ourselves sometimes.

One of our main desires and needs is to have connection with other people. We were created for it.

We connect with our kids and husband every day, but we also need connection outside of that.

First, I want to start by asking, how do I make friends?

How to Make Friends as a Stay at Home Mom

I think that looks so different for moms who stay at home. Not everybody is an extrovert and enjoys meeting new people.

But even as children, and into our adult years, we’re kind of forced into these situations, such as school, work, and college, where we have to interact at some level.

And so we go to school, because we get grades. We go to work, because we get a paycheck. And we go to college, because we get a degree.

Make Connections with People Around You

Start off small in your endeavor to make friends. Make those connections with people around you. Maybe it’s your neighbor, or people at your church, or in the supermarket. And when you do make those connections, reward yourself.

We have a great opportunity as moms at this stage because there’s so many opportunities for us to connect with mom groups. Whether it’s through small groups at church or programs such as MOPS, there are support groups we can share our struggles and our joys with other moms that really have the same doubts in themselves in some areas. And so that’s a great way to start.

Make a Plan & Reward Yourself

Whatever you decide to do, put it on the calendar. Whether it’s a small step like interacting with your neighbor, or a big step to go into one of those groups, put it on your calendar and then hold yourself accountable. When you do it, then reward yourself. Maybe it’s a hot bath. Maybe it’s your favorite snack, something that will give you that desire to do it again.

Making Friends with Social Anxiety

The second part of the question that I want to answer is, ‘I’m scared to reach out and make a connection with others.’

I love that you asked that, and gave that example because fear is paralyzing. When we have social anxiety, our fear primarily comes from our thoughts and experiences, along with many other things.

Our Thoughts and Experiences Drive Social Anxiety

Our thoughts can hinder us and really feed into that fear. I’m sure if you ever get the courage to want to text that friend, you may have thoughts such as ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘they’re just going to ignore me’, or ‘I might embarrass myself’. You can probably insert some of your own thoughts that you tell yourself into that, but I just want to start by saying those thoughts that generate the fear are not absolute truth. Your thoughts are not absolute truth, and I encourage you to acknowledge that, and then to teach ourselves to think differently.

And the other primary influencer of social anxiety is experiences. We all have those experiences that leave us thinking, ‘that’s not a good idea, or I shouldn’t do that.’ That’s called catastrophizing, when we tie one negative experience to all other experiences.

That’s hard because at some point in time in our life, we’ve probably all felt that rejection piece where we didn’t fit in. When we feel that, it’s so hard to reach out and try to connect with people, if we’re using that negative experience as a driving force.

And so, remember that not every experience is the same, and our thoughts are not absolute truth.

I hope that I answered your question, and gave you some good foundational ways that you can really jump-start connecting with others. If you have any other questions, any of the counselors at MyCounselor Online would love to talk with you. And for today, remember to have grace with yourself as you take that step.

Cassie

Thank you so much for submitting that question!  We certainly love to answer your questions. If you have a question for yourself or a friend, you  can submit it using our web page and then look for the answer in an upcoming edition of our weekly e-newsletter.

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