Mar 3, 2013

Social anxiety - my hard learned lessons



As I've shared before, I struggled with social anxiety for many years (more precisely since I was 12). I've had many ups and downs, but after two experiences of therapy - a shorter one, and a longer one that continues until today, I can say I'm much better. Nevertheless, I still have low to moderate social anxiety, depending on the social circumstance.

I realize that after having been almost obsessed with this issue, now I don't give it much thought. In a way, I actually avoid thinking about it. Since my social phobia always had marked obsessive characteristics I guess I fear that by thinking too much about it I may awake forgotten fears...

Even so, I recently thought that it might be interesting to look at what helped me improve and to share it here. I reflected on it for a little while and gathered some lessons that really make sense to me now and that help a lot. These lessons are as follows (expressed in the first-person, as they may only really make sense to me):

- Don't indulge in rumination. This is very important! Rumination, as I see it now, is like wallowing in the mud.  I won't go anywhere, I'll just feel tired and 'dirty', i.e., basically, worst. Note: This is especially applicable to the aftermath of social situations that I think went badly.

- Remember, 90% of the time social interactions actually go much better than I initially expected!

- I'm not the center of the world. Yay! People don't care as much as I think they do about how I perform.

- I must respect my personality. I'm an introvert, I cannot and don't really want to turn myself into something I'm not (an extrovert).

- Any scary social situation is not THAT important. What if I make a fool out of myself? Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?

- I shouldn't take myself too serious. Laughing at myself is very therapeutic ;)

- Facing difficult social situations is hard but is the only way to diminish social anxiety in the long run. I must face, face, face, until I adapt.

- I choose to focus on social activities that are meaningful to me and that I truly wish to engage in, and forget about the rest.

- I don't define myself by my social anxiety. I'm not this condition. There is so much more to me than this.

- I'm as valuable as other human beings. I'm not inferior, no matter what.


These are (only) some of the ideas that helped my recovery. And you - have you ever struggled with social anxiety? What helped you the most?


See you (relatively) soon ;)

4 comments:

  1. these are such amazing points. I find it harder and harder everyday to deal with people, especially because good etiquette is pretty much optional nowadays. You are right about one thing most of all: You are as valuable as other human beings. Amazing actually.

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    1. Hi Ana :)
      Yes, it can be hard to deal with people - for different reasons, and one of them is certainly lack of basic politeness.
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I have a tendency to think little of myself, so it's really important to keep remembering this simple lesson.

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  2. Hi Mopsa,
    since living in Portugal becuase I do so many stupid things I've learned to laugh at myself often.

    I read your other post - you've come along way...keep going

    Speak soon PigletinPortugal

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    1. Hi! Happy to see you here :)

      Yes, learning to laugh at ourselves is really important! When I'm in a foreign country and have to express myself in another language I too need to frequently embrace this 'hard learned lesson' ;P

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