What one will typically begin to see quite clearly, is that the pre-event thoughts bringing on the discomfort rarely/if ever take place. In addition, one will typically see a repetitive pattern of Being satisfied about attending the event, which tends to be the case a high percentage of time.
I think too many therapists/self-help authors assume everyone will have the same kind of experiences.
It's all well and good to tell people to challenge their assumptions, because often they're wrong, but what about people who aren't wrong? What about people who will consistently have negative social experiences because they're notably different in a way that most people find disagreeable? They're not going to be helped by a frontal assault on their anxiety, because every attempt to overcome it will end up reinforcing it.
Those people need to be taught different kinds of coping mechanisms. How to maintain a feeling of self-worth when that worth isn't being reflected by anyone around them. How to act in the face of open hostility and ostracism. How to maintain a healthy mindset when they're living in isolation and with no one to turn to for support. Without that groundwork, they won't even try to overcome their anxiety.
Not everyone who tries to overcome their anxiety with CBT is going to succeed, because not everyone is going to have more positive than negative experiences interacting with other people. It's the assumption that a person's negative
predictions are unfounded that is conventional therapy's greatest weakness, and it's why all kinds of people end up in places like this. Betrayed by therapists who failed to understand the seriousness and complexity of their problems. And instead of asking themselves why their patients are failing, the therapists blame the patients. "You just weren't trying hard enough. You have to want to get better." Etc.
I say this as a person who believes in the value and utility of CBT. I use it both on myself, and when I'm trying to help other people. Our beliefs have a profound
impact on our behaviors and actions. But it's important to approach each person as an individual and deal with the full range of their problems in a sensible way. And for many people, a CBT approach to combating anxiety, on its own, is worse than useless. A significant amount of other preparatory work has to be done for those people. And ime, most therapists have neither the time nor inclination to do that work.
But welcome to the forum. I hope that doesn't scare you off.