Five TED Talks for Social Anxiety and Shyness

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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 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 bestselling book, Quiet, 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 Power of 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 spirit. 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 designed to combat anxiety, helping you to build resilience, form goals, and face challenges. The philosophical and psychological thinking behind Superbetter is fascinating.
Jane McGonigal, founder of Superbetter: a superb online multiplayer game to help you through your social anxiety
or shyness. Image from TED.
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