Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Five TED Talks for Social Anxiety and Shyness

I could spend hours watching TED talks: there are so many videos of educational and inspirational value to enjoy. It's certainly twenty minutes well spent, as you not only learn through watching, but you also feel inspired to get off your bottom and do something. It's hard to slob out on the sofa after viewing J.K. Rowling's famous Harvard commencement speech, for instance.

 If you've suffered from social anxiety like I have, I'm hoping that you'll find familiar words in the following videos, alongside inspiration and motivation to move forwards.

1. Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are - Amy Cuddy

I've read a lot about this first video on anxiety websites. Amy Cuddy, a glamorous, confident social psychologist, speaks of the power of body language and faking confidence. Upon first impressions of her, you may question what she knows about low self-esteem and shyness, but the biographical revelations that she makes will change such perceptions.

Amy Cuddy TED Talk for Social Anxiety
Amy Cuddy on social anxiety and faking positive body language and confidence. Image from TED.

2. The Power of Introverts - Susan Cain

Susan Cain's recent non-fiction book about being introverted in modern society has gained plenty of press attention, and it's a superb read for those of us with social anxiety. It shows that it is perfectly acceptable to be introverted, and that there is no need to change yourself or pretend to be different.

This seems conflicting to Amy Cuddy's message, yet I believe that faking confidence in certain situations (such as presentations) is perfectly acceptable too. Also, Cain classifies shyness as fear of judgment, and introversion as dislike of social stimulation. According to Susan Cain, our culture needs introverts for the sustenance of a thriving creative culture, and I entirely agree.

Susain Cain TED Talk for Social Anxiety
Susan Cain on the advantages of being introverted. Her book Quiet: The Powerof Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking is superb. Image from TED.

3. Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself - Thandie Newton

Thandie's a beautiful lady. In this TED talk she discusses her feelings of otherness whilst growing up, and comes to a positive conclusion. Watch this if you've ever worried about fitting in, or struggled with your sense of self.

Thandie Newton TED Talk for Social Anxiety
Thandie Newton on bulimia and 'otherness'. Image from TED.

4. The Habits of Happiness - Matthieu Ricard

Matthieu is such a wonderfully smiley and inspirational Buddhist monk. He recommends, like the Stoics, to be aware of our inability to change external circumstances, and to instead focus on our inner strength. You can't always change what's happening to you, but you can change your perceptions.

Mattieu Ricard TED Talk for Social Anxiety
Matthieu Ricard on the habits of happiness, providing a stoic perspective on social anxiety. Image from TED.

5. The game that can give you 10 extra years of life - Jane McGonigal

Are you a gamer? If so,  this TED talk is perfect for you. Several years ago, Jane McGonigal suffered a serious concussion, and she created a multiplayer game to get through the psychological and physical issues that came with it. In Superbetter, players set health and wellness goals and invite others to play with them (and to keep them on track). 

If you have social anxiety or shyness, this game is certainly worth a go. There are challenges particularly for your anxiety, and these will help you to build resilience, form goals, and face challenges. The philosophical and psychological thinking behind Superbetter is fascinating, and I can comfortably say that the game has ben really useful for me.

Jane McGonigal, founder of Superbetter: a superb online multiplayer game to help you through your social anxiety
or shyness. Image from TED.

Like more of the same? Subscribe to the Tolstoy Therapy Newsletter and receive a round-up of the week's articles every Sunday to enjoy with your coffee. Click here to subscribe.


Violet said...

There are many times when I wish I didn't have a slow internet connection that costs $15/GB. There is so much on the web I would like to see, including these talks!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for these links! :)

Lucy said...

No problem :) Yes, there's so much to learn and watch online - too much, in fact!

Smith said...

Psychologist nyc Dr. Mike Abrams talks about depression & anxiety. Have a look on the shared videos. Thanks

psychology videos

Helen Fagan said...

Thank you for sharing my TEDx talk on your site. This is the exact reason I gave the talk. Best, Helen

tolstoytherapy said...

Thank you, Helen. I really enjoyed watching it! As a PTSD sufferer your experience and advice deeply resounded with me, and I'm very grateful that you gave the talk.

I hope your symptoms are maintained, and that you're enjoying your life and work.

Best wishes,


tolstoytherapy said...

Dear readers: the TED talks for PTSD article that was originally integrated with this one is now located here,


Shanti said...

Thank you very much for recommending these TED talks for social anxiety. I came upon them doing a google search and am so pleased that I found your wonderful blog. The talks have been super helpful as I had been feeling alone and disconnected and these talks have helped me realize how many others have similar issues and have given me ideas and new ways of thinking about and dealing with this challenge. I'm grateful.

tolstoytherapy said...

Thank you so much, Shanti - I'm so pleased you found my blog too! I absolutely love TED talks, and I've learned so much from them. It's great that they've helped you too :)

I hope you're well, and feeling more connected lately. I know how difficult it can be to feel alone, but you're definitely not the only one experiencing this! Lucy.