I am posting the summary of my experience on this page with the hope that other members will share their experiences as well.
Some months ago I enrolled in a study made by the Drexel University. My therapist used the ACT (Acceptance and Commitment therapy) to help me face my social anxiety. I have also read two useful books about it.
I briefly state what I have learned:
It is not possible to control your thoughts or feelings, and I soon realized this by looking back at my life experiences.
What I have learned is that thoughts are just words in my mind, so toughts are just thoughts, and feelings are just feelings. It looks something logical, but it is very difficult to recognize this in a social context when you experience fear and worry. If I think that I won't be able to speak to a group of people (because of my social anxiety) in that specific situation for example, that does necessarily means that it's going to be true. Being aware that my thought is just a thought is a big step in facing a social situation. The same is true for feeling. ACT helped me to become a better observer.
I have learned that there are two parts of me: a thinking-self, and an observer-self.
The thinking self produces all the possible thoughts: positive, negative, or neutral.
The observer-self is instead that part of me that is aware of what I am thinking, that observes the environment around me and inside me (thoughts and feelings).
Developing the skill of identify these two parts is a key in ACT.
The other fundamental concept is ACT is to live a life based on your values and goals.
There is a bing difference between values and goals.
A value is an on-going process, something that never ends. For example, caring about other people is a value.
A goal is a process that has an end. For example, getting a degree is a goal. Once you get the degree, you reached your goal.
In order to live a meaningful life it is important, first to identify your values and then your goal underlying the values.
Worry and fear will always be part of our path, because is a biological part of being a human being. The important aspect is to act based on your values and goals and never stop our trip because of the obstacles.
This is a brief description of what I have learned in theory. Now I am trying to put this in practice, that is to become a better observer, to accept and be aware of my thoughts and feeling, and to act based on my values and goals.
If you have any experience on this matter, please reply to me. Sharing information is a great tool to improve our life.