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Ep – 41 The 3 Main Issues That Cause Social Anxiety and How to ‘Grow Through’ These Challenges

Show Notes

Hey parents, is your daughter’s social life running her? Or is she running her social life?

Clients come to me all the time feeling confused, hurt, and distraught by other people’s behavior. When someone says or does something that’s inconsistent with your perception of them, or different from how you believe they’re supposed to behave, it creates internal conflict. And internal conflict turns around and creates anxiety.

As you might imagine, I hear a lot about the daily lives of teenage girls in my 90 Days to a More Resilient Teen Coaching Program. So, if you’re not sure if your daughter’s social life is running her or if she’s running her social life, or why this is even important, stay tuned.

For years my clients, teenage girls, have reported that their social scenarios consume 60% or more of their emotional bandwidth. Meaning, if there’s something stirring within her tribe or there’s a perceived social conflict, it’s really hard to concentrate in class, or be fully present with you at home.

The 3 Main Issues

And wouldn’t it be nice if these social conflicts were less impactful or just disappeared altogether, I’m here to tell you, as strange as it may sound, that these conflicts offer an opportunity for your daughter to grow through what she’s going through.

Yes, it’s true. With the right tools, your daughter will cultivate her confidence, resilience, and integrity when she sees that she can handle and grow from any conflict.

While there are a zillion social scenarios that can be anxiety provoking, there are three that I repeatedly hear about. Because when they’re active, they turn a mild social conflict into a scary, intimidating one. The three issues include:

Rank, Reputation and Rumors

Rank – a level of power or influence over or within a group.

Reputation – opinions or perceived opinions that other people have about who your daughter is. Taylor Swift has an entire album about this!

Rumors – a story that may or may not be true and are often misconstrue the details and spread life wildfire on social media platforms.

So, if you look at these three issues – rank, reputation, and rumors – what do they have in common? Well, they’re created, constructed, or started by someone else.

And for a connection-seeking teenage girl, when it appears as if, or feels as if someone else has power over you OR something else is bigger than you, it’s fertile ground for social anxiety to escalate.

So, if you hear your daughter…

  • apologizing for something she didn’t do in an attempt to restore peace
  • skipping social events because her perceived anxiety is too intense
  • and questioning her character because of the said event or situation

It’s time to equip her with some new coping strategies.

Grow Through What You Go Through

Let me share a quick story with you because real life examples are such a powerful way to demonstrate these concepts.

With Homecoming events and dances on the horizon in the US, plans are in full swing. If you’ve not yet witnessed what this looks like, the best way to describe it is like a buzzing beehive – lots of energy, ideas and usually one leader.

The strategy I’m going to share with you evolved from an experience a client had a few years ago, and maybe your daughter can relate to this too.

Long story short, the homecoming plan was to exclude someone at the last minute. My client didn’t feel comfortable with this, but fear and anxiety took over in the moment and she couldn’t get herself to say anything at that moment.

The good news is, she knew the group would reconvene to hash out the plan, and when they did, she’d be ready. We worked through what I call The Entrance Strategy because my client didn’t like how it felt to stay quiet and really wanted to show up and exercise a sense of agency over her experience.

The Entrance Strategy

Okay, so what’s The Entrance Strategy? This is a strategy that your daughter can use anywhere, anytime to exercise agency over her situation.

It goes like this…when that zing of social anxiety starts revving up, that’s her signal to pause – and then ask and answer these questions:

3 Empowering Questions

  1. How do I want to show up in this situation?
  2. How do I want to interact with this person or this group?
  3. Who do I want to be at this moment in time?

Many of my clients respond with …

I want to show up calm and with a clear mind.”

“I want to interact with a confidence and curiosity.”

And most of the time I hear …

“I just want to be myself and share what I have to say.”

What It’s Really All About

As your daughter may recognize, a solid dose of courage goes a long way.

My client was aware that speaking her truth might not change the end result – and she chose to stand in her integrity anyway. Because that felt authentic and she knew if she didn’t, she’d regret it.

It Gets Easier

Okay, let’s pull this all together. As tough as these social conflicts can be, they really do present an opportunity for your daughter to practice choosing on purpose how to show up in a way that feels good, that’s authentic.

The bottom line, and what I’d like your daughter to take away from this conversation, is that as much as we’d all like tough social challenges to go away, they can and will, when equipped with the right tools – will give your daughter what she needs to ‘grow through’ what’s she’s going through.

It’s not about doing it perfectly, never is. But the process does get easier, I promise – and The Entrance Strategy is a simple, effective first step. Okay, that’s it for today my friends, I look forward to connecting with you soon.

In the meantime, here’s to cultivating a more resilient teen for all of life’s adventures.