How To Be Yourself

Silence Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety

Manuela Pauer
3 min readFeb 8, 2021

What if you could just be yourself without any anxiety?

What if you knew that there was nothing you needed to fake, no image to create?

What if you truly knew and felt that you are enough, just as you are?

Unfortunately many of us feel that if we were truly being ourselves in our work, our relationships and our life, we would be judged by others.

We fear that people will see something “bad” in us and will reject us for it.

What is Social Anxiety?

Ellen Hendriksen, author of “How To Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety”, defines Social Anxiety as “the fear of being scrutinized, judged and found lacking in social or performance situations that gets in the way of doing the things you want or need to do.”

Social anxiety is more common that you think. 99% of people say they have experienced social anxiety in a particular situation. 40% of people consider themselves to be shy. And yes, I myself experience social anxiety quite often.

The great news is that people who are socially anxious have some wonderful strengths: They are careful thinkers, conscientious, empathetic, considerate and helpful.

Yet anyone who has experienced social anxiety, knows how painful and debilitating it can be.

What can we do to overcome Social Anxiety?

Here are 3 practices that Hendriksen recommends:

1. Play a role to build your true self

In the next social interaction you have, give yourself some structure by choosing a role for yourself that allows you to build up and reinforce the real you.

Examples of roles you could take on:

Advocate, host, pet parent, unofficial photographer, takeout master.

2. Affirm yourself with what you know is true about yourself

Before your next task that makes you anxious, write out, your intrinsic values. For example: I am a loyal friend. I am a good listener. I work hard. I have a great sense of humor.

You can also acknowledge yourself for the times you did the right thing. For example: A time when you stood by a friend when nobody else did.

3. Let go of your safety behavior

We all have behaviors that we think will keep us safe in social situations. For example: Not looking someone in the eyes. Rehearsing what you will say while the other person is talking

Looking at your phone during any breaks.

Unfortunately, the message it sends is that you are aloof, distant, snobby, or prickly, when nothing further could be from the truth. Notice what behavior you usually engage in and let go of it during your next social interaction.

Don’t wait until you are confident first

We think we need to feel confident first, in order to be ready to take actions on things we are anxious about.

That is not true.

The way you gain confidence is by doing things before you are ready, while you are still scared.

Which practice do you want to try?



Manuela Pauer

Career and Life Happiness Coach. Former Executive Director of Strategic Planning and Product Management at AOL.