One of the many “open secrets” out there is that well-wishing for others tends to calm social anxiety.
If I am in a situation that triggers social anxiety in me – such as giving a talk or teach – and I take the time to find sincere well-wishing for others, the nervousness subsides.
And if I know in advance that I will be in such a situation, I take some time to find the well-wishing to others in general and specifically to the ones who will be there.
How do I do it? As it becomes more familiar, it is just a matter of shifting into it. But there are also tools for inviting in that shift, such as finding the sincerity in statements like “may all go well for them”, visualizing others as healthy and happy, or doing a practice such as tong-len.
I am not quite sure what mechanisms are at play, but I suspect it has something to do with the miracles of an open heart.
When my heart opens, it opens to whatever is happening. For instance, if it initially opens to my body – through the Inner Smile or some other pointer – it opens to the whole of me as a human being, to others, and to life as it is.
In this case, my heart initially opens to others… and then naturally to myself. There is a sense of coming home, of allowing all of who I am as it is, of the sense of drama falling away, and a softening of the sense of I and Other.
So even when stories about me come up – stories my personality doesn’t particularly like – the sting goes out of it.
In sincere well-wishing for myself, I take the information in those stories seriously and make use of them in whatever ways seem appropriate, but there is little or no sting there.