Overcoming social anxiety was not an easy road for me. It took years for me to be able to go out into public or be in close proximity with people and not have my hands sweat or heart race. Anyone who has had some experience with this knows how challenging it can be. It was excruciating having a personality that craved social interaction and validation, and yet was paralyzed in fear when around people.
During that time, I spent a lot of time looking for resources that would help me to get out of this so-called personal hell that I had created for myself. I mean, it’s not like I was spending that time with human beings, so I had a lot of time to myself.
As I’ve found, it’s not so much what book you read, but reading the right book at the right time. Here’s a list I’ve compiled of the books that made the most impact on me and helped me to change my physical reality:
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
My father always talked about how taking a Dale Carnegie Sales Training Course changed his life. I believe I have multiple copies of this book now–you could say it’s a staple in our home.
This book is chock-full of advice from an expert in people. It covers topics for basically every area in life. And most importantly: it’s simple. A key in the book is, “Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.” Become interested in people. It’s simple, and it works.
More importantly, this gave me faith that I could one day be successful at communicating with people. It gave me hope that people could like me one day. The tools and techniques, I think, are mainly to bolster your confidence in your interactions with others. I felt like I had more control, and so I had more confidence. It made something that was frightening to me into something formulaic. Something that you didn’t have to naturally understand to implement and see results.
2. The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy.
I highlighted and underlined this book like no other. I’d say this was Carnegie’s predecessor for me. I don’t know when I started believing that our mind has the most weight in how much we enjoy our lives, but this book was a big contributor to it. Not all of our problems can be solved by our mind, but a lot more physical changes can occur than you would expect.
Belief is a powerful tool, and the fact is (that I will not go into detail on here) that there are all kinds of “placebo effects” in us and around us that have shown us how powerful our minds are.
This book helped me to believe that I could do a lot just in my mind. Which was great, because I didn’t want to be around people. Haha. But eventually, my mindset became my physical reality and I got there.
A big part of this book is autosuggestion–getting your subconscious to work through to solutions. You have the power to change your thoughts and your life–and this ISN’T woo-woo stuff. This is real and it can change your life.
This gave me a formula for HOW to utilize my subconscious so that it was working for me, not against me. It showed me simple tools to program my subconscious like repeating statements that I wanted to be true etc.
It took me from knowing that I could change, to REAL and IMPLEMENTABLE as to how to do so. Easily, the most transformative of the bunch.
3. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.
There are a lot of “life lessons” in here, but there was really only one point that for some reason got burned into my brain that made the most impact on me out of anything (for some reason).
That was: Be Natural.
Yes, that is it. I was just so tired of thinking about every move I made, even every breath I took around people. That takes up a lot of energy! I was just sick of it and felt, you know what–literally anything would be better than this. People can think I’m weird and reject me and talk about me and all that wouldn’t even be bad if I had a few friends and could just stop putting so much energy into caring.
I decided I would reprogram myself to notice whenever I had an inclination to do something–maybe it was touching a leaf, saying hello, something else simple like that–and I would do it. I had been so controlling over every little movement and action (it was really pretty neurotic) that I consciously would have to do this.
So basically, I went crazy and weird and things turned out great. Other things prepared me mentally, but this single thing is what drove the actions and behaviors that changed my life. Not into being a perfect person, but in just being able to live again.
Note: this picture is the book I read and recommend, simply because it’s easy to read and seems more accessible.
These books are far from all the books that have helped me, but they are the most pivotal. They’re classics that you have to check out if you’re looking to improve your mindset and your life.