See page 5 for cognitive-behavioural therapy walkthrough
You need to dive into the feared situation without looking back. I did this heaps of times with the small things like talking on the phone with someone else around or checking the letterbox. You have to flood heaps of times before the anxiety gets better. As for the personal big ones for myself like approaching an opposite-sexed person I like or asserting myself to authority, it was just too hard and I had to resort to other techniques first. When I faced a fear my mind would first focus on to see if others were looking or were about to turn rejecting or critical and when it concluded they were then my attention would switch over to myself and social anxiety would start. I needed to realize that these were just thoughts and did not necessarily reflect reality. Once I got it I could just begin to get on with what I was doing instead of being preoccupied with the thought of others were staring or were being rejecting.
Flooding for social anxiety is a bit of a miss and hit affair because of self-consciousness and safety behaviours. Self-consciousness keeps the problem going because information will be biased toward negative appraisals of the self and others. Safety behaviours keep the problem going also because you do certain things to help ward off potential embarrassment and humiliation. Without those behaviours you feel threatened while with them you feel more secure. You might drink alcohol before an event. You might always stand near the back of the room behind everyone. You will never learn to see that these threats are really imagined or exaggerated if you don't allow yourself to behave differently andm ove out of your comfort zone. Therefore the problem of shyness and social anxiety remain when these 2 things are intact. Remove them and flooding has a better chance to work.
2. GRADUAL EXPOSURE
Start by smiling and making eye contact when saying hello and goodbye to cashiers. Ask for help in department stores where people work. Talk to them by asking questions. Make things up to keep the conversation flowing. Go to a restaurant and ask the waitress about the food. If you own a cb-radio, you might find a few people on the air which you can then talk to. Once you get used to all of this you can perhaps try to make it a goal of saying hello to one person each day. You might start saying hello to inanimate objects fist. Then try animals then maybe your own reflection. Imagine your reflection is a person. This is a good way to get your mind used to saying hello. Approach people to ask them for the time or directions. If this is all too hard, you might start chatting with people online. This is how I started gettig over my opposite-sex shyness. If sexual situations make you unconfortable you might try phone sex, then a strip club and you might try a even get yourself a lap dancer. Then finally you can go all the way and get a prostitute. Try approaching people you don't like or have no intention of dating. I found drunk women far easier to communicate with because I know they are more open to other people. Once this is all too easy, you can move up and onto more classy or sophisticated women. Try online dating perhaps.
You start off doing little things bit by bit. Try and come up with as many of your social fears as possible and number them from lowest to highest. Write them down and try to gradually reduce them. This is a good strategy because with each success you will feel a boost in your confidence to keep going. Really you should write your progress so that you don't forget! But really you should combine this with cognitive therapy.
3. EXTERNAL FOCUS
Whenever you feel social anxiety and your attention beginning to focus on yourself, realize that it is and redirect it onto something on the outside like
what someone is saying. You will need to practice this technique for a few weeks before it become significantly helpful. Just pick an object such as a shadow on the wall and gaze at it. When your mind wanders off realize it has wandered from the object and you can just easily redirect it back. Keep practicing this for a few weeks or until you can hold your attention on the object for at least 1 minute without distraction. Then you will have a powerful ability to help control acute attacks of social anxiety and self-consciousness because you can just keep holding your attention away from yourself and away from any unpleasant feelings and sensations. This technique is really great for seeing that people are not being judgemental or watchful like you may think they are.
Remember that realization is the way to redirect the mind back onto an object and that concentration is all mental effort; physical strain is not a sign of concentration.
Whenever you need to do something but it makes you anxious, say you need to go to the shop for something but you think people will laugh and insult you just try to toss all thoughts out of your mind. You might try to hold your attention on one thing to achieve this empty mindstate. Practice emptying your mind for a few weeks at anytime you wish. For example, if you want to get dressed hold your mind still and just get dressed without even thinking about it or what you are doing or about anything. It gets easier with practice. Then you will find that when you need to do something that makes you perhaps low to medium anxious you can just hold those thoughts out of your mind. If your real good, even the highly anxious thoughts can be held back. This is great for getting much needed exposure to chip away at those anxieties and get that exposure you need.
5. RESPONSE PREVENTION
When you get the urge to hide away or to quickly walk away from an event or somebody, hold back and stay put. Remind yourself that you are trying to see if the things you fear will happen will actually happen. This will help keep your mind focussed on reality. EXTERNAL FOCUS works great here. Realization of why you are doing this will help you out with staying put.
6. COGNITIVE FLOODING
Try to imagine yourself in a social situation that would provoke anxiety. Self-hypnosis and trance meditation are good ways to help you enhance imagination. This technique will help you confront your fears without facing the real thing. This all works because most of social anxiety is rooted in imagination. When you get anxiety while imagining just go with it. It will eventually burn itself out - just like FLOODING. Repeat this until no more anxiety is felt. Now hopefully when you do the same thing in the real world the anxiety will have also disappeared. Lucid dreaming the situation I found is a good way to get a full sensory experience. Just try to keep your mind alert while you let your body fall asleep. If you practice EXTERNAL FOCUS this will help you out to achieve this mind awake/body asleep state. Then you will just slip into a dream fully lucid. And while you are waiting for the dream to occur you can create the environment you want to be in. This lucid dreaming approach works better after sleeping for 5 - 6 hours.
This technique is perhaps the next best thing to real life exposure in helping out social anxiety. If you are not feeling genuine social axniety during the imagined scenario then the technique will probably not work.
7. IMAGE SUBSTITUTION
If you are thinking about doing something but all you keep seeing is people being judgemental or being told off, replace the negative image with a more positive one. An example may be one of the people looking pleased to see you or being friendly with you. Keep doing this until the negative image no longer appears or has begun to dissipate. This works better when you are mentally and physically relaxed.
I had to learn to accept that rejection and criticism was an inevitable part of social interaction - particularly the dating scene. I had to drop the assumption and expectation that everyone everywhere MUST except me no matter what. Reducing the impact that rejection has worked far better than trying to control other people through trying to behave how I thought they wanted me to behave - like just avoiding them.
8. MEMORY RESCRIPTING
If you are haunted be past memories of rejection and humiliation or being uncared for then imagine the painful scenario as vividly as possible. Try to get the original feels to occur. Then imagine you are someone else, someone powerful and enter the scene. Talk back to the people mistreating the "you" in the scence. Tell them off and point out the wrong they are doing and that they are being unfair. At this point, I would feel lilke crying or felt really special because someone was standing up for me. Anyway, then comfort and nurture the "you" and explain the reason they were doing that was to try and cause hurt. If you were bullied or had parents who were critical or punitive or uncaring then this can really work by repairing the damaged child within you. Another way of trying to rescript memory is to get yourself into a good mood then recall the painful memory or experience. This should help rewrite the memory so that it is associated with a good mood. But in any case, the emotional memeory of an event is the vital part that needs to be changed.
When the powerful figure confronts the tormentor you can try to forgive the person. I found forgiveness helps the healing process far better than anger and hatred.
9 - 15 anxiety techniques
9. Feared Fantasy
Imagine yourself in any social situation you fear and imagine the things you fear actually happen such as people laughing about you being quiet or having no partner or whatever it is. These people rip your heart out exposing all your shame and humiliating you. They deliberately hurt you. Now you start talking
back. Where is the evidence for these things ? What are the justifications for these accusations ? To take the edge off the peak, you can agree with the people in what they say. You can also try EMPATHY, SELF-ACCEPTANCE and COMPASSION, or COMPENSATION if you like. You will learn about those later on. It is probably best to write out a script for this.
CRITIC: Cheez your such a loser aren't you ? Let's see: you have no girlfriend, you've never kissed a girl, and your still a bloody virgin. What have you been doing with your sad, patheric life ?
TARGET: Well when you look at my life through the lens of the culture of this country, you will see me as sad and pathetic.
CRITIC: If I were you I'd have shot or hung myself 20 years ago.
TARGET: Well that's shows the difference between you and me, doesn't it ? You're life without those things is far more meaningless than mine.
CRITIC: It sure does, you can't even get laid even if you wanted to!
TARGET: Your absolutely correct. I've wanted to get laid for years but am just incapable of it.
CRITIC: Well have you even tried ?
TARGET: Sort of but I usually chicken out.
CRITIC: Wait a minute. How can you be 40 years old and have not been laid once. You MUST be gay.
TARGET: Gay ? Nope! I just have no real technique and just know I will end up making a fool of myself all the time and then just get rejected.
CRITIC: You are one serious LOSER!
TARGET: You're not wrong there! I have been a loser all my life when it comes to the ladies. You got any tips ?
CRITIC: You're 40 man! How am I going to help YOU ?
TARGET: Well let's say I was your age what would you tell me ?
CRITIC: I don't know, just go for it.
CRITIC: Your welcome.
Congtratulations. You have successfully neutralized the critic.
You should apply these to your negative beliefs, assumptions and rules that you uncover while doing cbt and find ways to "roll" or put others to shame when they start critizing you for your personal problems or deviant lifestyle.
10. REJECTION PRACTICE
Instead of trying to get a date or phone number make it your goal to get rejected. Your job is to approach someone and just say hello, how are you...my name is. You might then just decide to talk about something really boring. You are trying to see how many times you get rejected. Perhaps make it a goal to get rejected 10 times in one night. If you are afraid you will end up in an awkward conversation or moment, just say thankyou for your time after telling them your name and just walk off. The change in your own motivation for approaching someone can alter how you will react significantly. If approaching the opposite sex is too difficult you might just ask people for the time but remember you are trying to see how many times you will be rejected.
Instead of nervously trying to hide away feelings of anxiety or shyness you openly disclose them to others by telling them that you feel shy or anxious or
embarrassed or ashamed. When they ask why explain to them what you are afraid they will say or do to you. You will often find that most people are far less critical and judgemental than you think. Once you get your fears out into the open you will often find they dissipate - if people react non-judgementally.
You see shyness and shame are often confused because they produce similar behavioural characteristics but shame is the real killer. If your ashamed of something about yourself it will inhibit you because you feel others will reject you for it. So once it gets out in the open and others are accepting the
fear disappears. Self-disclosure can be difficult if you have low self-esteem but having an attitude of CURIOSITY will help you out. SELF-ACCEPTANCE works good here even if other people are judgmental about your anxiety and shyness.
12. DEVIL'S ADVOCATE
The idea behind this technique is that once you get a negative thought that makes you afraid, it is so tempting to just avoid the feared situation that you
just give into the fear. When you want to go somewhere or do something but social anxiety tells you to stay put, you need to begin to learn how to talk back to that part of you that keeps telling you to avoid and telling you bad things will happen. With this technique the thoughts that keep telling you people will laugh or stare or do something to make you cringe is the "devil" telling you this and then you will answer back. It's best to write down a dialouge.
Here's how to do it.
YOU: I like that girl and want to ask her out.
DEVIL: No! don't do it. She'll crack up in your face and everyone will laugh at you.
YOU: So what if she does ? I don't care anymore. I'm sick and tired of being so lonely and isolated like this and always being scared.
DEVIL: But think about it first. Do you really want to risk rejection. It will be SO humilating and that's really bad.
YOU: Big deal. Rejection and humilation are no where near as bad as being in my house everyday feeling like my life is wasting away.
DEVIL: Trust me. That little trade off is worth it.
YOU: Are you kidding me. It sucks big time.
DEVIL: Does it really matter how much it sucks ?
YOU: If it doesn't matter how much something sucks, then why are you telling me rejection and humilation are so bad.
DEVIL: It just is. Trust me.
YOU: Trust you ? I've listened to you all my life. But now it's time for me to stop listening to you for once at least.
DEVIL: You'll be sorry.
YOU: That's ok. Even if I am rejected, it won't be the end of the world. Sure it might be somewhat embarrassing but I sure I will handle it.
13. Shame-Attacking Exercises
Instead of trying to look relaxed and confident, intentionally do something foolish like pretend to lose you train of thought. Do something that you are afraid of doing like being really shy. So around others you would behave really shy and timid even if you don't feel shy. Make your voice shaky and cracked
or let your hands tremble. Look to see if people say or do anything about it. Your world won't come crashing down. If you are humiliated by rejection from
someone just stand their showing them just how much they have broken your heart. Be creative and come up with different things to try. CURIOSITY, EXTERNAL FOCUS, MINDFULNESS, OVER-COMPENSATION and SUBMISSION work good with this. Doing things that make you feel ashamed or embarrassed can be tough but they pay off in big ways as you will see people don't really bother much and just get on with their own things. Unless you hurt someone else or affect them emotionally most people will not even care what you say or do and will probably be too shy themselves to say or do anything anyway!
14. Humorous Imagining
The magnification of other people's qualities can cause shyness of them. Therefore you should try to see them in a different light. A person you are really shy of you might imagine them having really hairy armpits or really bad breath. Imagine what they would be like on the toilet after a hot curry. Imagine them in their pyjamas and slippers. They have long yellow dirty toe nails and smelly feet. What would they look like without any hair or teeth or limbs ? What if there skin was green or blue ? Would you still see them as someone to be afraid of ?
The whole point of these exercises is to get you up and out of your automatic ingrained thinking that causes social anxiety in the first place. The more you exercise those thoughts the more ingrained and automatic they become. The less you do the weaker they become. The more you practice any cognitive anti-anxiety technique the quicker it will begin to activate when you need it. This will not happen overnight. It can take months or even years.
15. Gruesome Imagining
Imagine what happens to a person when they are run over by a train. Their body is mangeled or cut into various pieces. Their face may be squashed in by the sheer weight of the train. Their brain is lying on the tracks and their intestines are strewn all over the place. There are large chunks of flesh just lying there. They have lost all of their blood. Not a pretty sight. This can happen to anyone who is in the way of train or any machine. How can this happen ? I thought bullies were invincible. They sure made me think they were. I thought hot women were so great and were a great investment and nothing could ever happen to them ebcause they were at the top of the totem pole. Yet living creatures are surprisingly delicate against moving metal parts - including bullies and hot women. If you are afraid of someone's rejection you may want to imagine them in such a situation. Perhaps researching the stages of human decomposition may help you understand that social anxiety is all pointless in the end. No point in being so afraid of others since they will all be dead one day.
Seeing and understanding death can help get you motivated into helping yourself do the things you want because it may help you realize you will end up dead at some point down the track. It sure gave me some motivation to do things.
16 - 19 anxiety techniques
16. Comparison Technique
Compare yourself to other people. Ok, ok, I thought others were so much better than me because they went out to nightclubs, got drunk, got laid, went to parties, were great conversationalists, liked rap/techno/R&B music, hung out in groups, talked to the other gender. Then when people where in their 30s they were married and had children. So because I didn't do these things or wasn't interested in anyting the majority was I was weird and different. If I didn't have a mobile phone or heaps of mp3s I was a "loser" or "sad". This is what I was led to believe. But apparently I was lied to...again! It seems that society has a nastly habit of force-feeding bulldust down people's throat. So I sat down and compared myself to others in how I was the same as them. I saw them eat and drink. I heard them complaining about feeling hungry and thirsty. I heard them speak. I heard them breath. I saw them use a toilet. I saw they walked on the ground. I heard them wanting to go to sleep. I saw them use their five senses. I saw them getting sexually excited. They all apparently lived on Earth under the same sky. So you know what ? It occured to me that I was very much the same as the next person! It was more mental stuff that people compared themselves to others but other than that they all seemed very much alike. So next time you think you are so very different, just think of this.
17. Acceptance Paradox
Accept all your flaws with tranquility and a sense of humour. Let's say you are shy and hate it then think who cares, that's the way things are. The way things are are perfectly fine. If you can't talk well with other people, it doesn't matter, that's just the way things are. If people are rejecting and critical, you have no control over how they react, so let them be. Let them say what they want. If your self-esteem takes a battering over other people's words just agree with what others say and accept it with grace. If you feel embarrassed around someone for feeling attracted to them just accept the feelings of attraction and embarrassment. If you tell yourself you are a loser or something similar, agree with what you think you are. If you have a desire that you feel ashamed of or anything you don't like about yourself do the same. If you agree with those things, you end up making piece with yourself. This technique can be difficult to grasp at first but is really powerful once you can accept the way you feel and the things that happen to you. Writing out a dialogue will help.
CRITIC: I'd hate to be a virgin like you.
SHY GUY: Yeah it is strange for someone as old as me to be a virgin, isn't it ?
CRITIC: Ahhh, yeah it is very strange. It's real funny too. LOL
SHY GUY: I often laugh about it as well. But if I wanted to do something about it I would but it doesn't bother me.
CRITIC: Doesn't bother you. WTF! Are you gay or something.
SHY GUY: I guess I'm even more strange than I thought. Oh well.
CRITIC: Oh man, I feel so sorry for you. Being a virgin at your age just give me this feeling like I'm on a barren lifeless wasteland that supports nothing.
SHY GUY: A barren lifeless wasteland supports itself, doesn't it ?
CRITIC: Yeah, but there is just something not right about a man your age being a virgin and never being in any kind of relationship. It's just so weird.
SHY GUY: Many things are weird, but once you understand them, they no longer are weird.
CRITIC: Why don't you want to lose your virginity ? Isn't that every man's dream ?
SHY GUY: Yeah, it was a dream once, but no longer. I have different aspirations now, like painting and playing instuments.
CRITIC: This is so sad.
SHY GUY: What can I say, people fall into circumstance and things happen because I believe these things were meant to happen when they were born. People just follow their script without thinking about taking another path. They think and feel and just follow through. If they get into a conversation with someone they like and that person likes them, they just decide to get into a relationship. That's just the normal thing people do. They follow their desires. That was in their script. Me, however, think and feel, but choose NOT to follow through with things simply because I want to be different. It causes temporary pain and grief over loss but that goes away. I chose to dishonor my needs and desires when I was younger for various personal reason but I consciously chose this path.
(But alas, now I realize I have all along followed the script that was written when I was born. D'oh!)
18. Hidden Emotion Technique
Have you ever been really angry with someone and then start getting all these thought about what you think about them ? It seems that under stress like anger or fear, hidden feelings and truths and motivations start to emerge into consciousness. How is this connected to social anxiety ? The reasons you get anxious are buried out of reach from consciousness. Asking questions is a good way for the mind to start revealing and dealing with potentional conflicts and problems. You need to sit down and really think about how such things relate to you. Here is a bunch of questions I came up with in trying to reduce my shyness of the other gender.
am I afraid of havign sex with a girl ?
does she expect me to be sexually competent ?
does she expect me to be perfect at making love ?
do I expect to disappoint her sexually ?
will she be disapproving of me if I want sex from her ?
do I feel guilty or ashamed for wanting sex ?
do expect to go to hell for having unmarried sex ?
what is my attitude towards sex anyway ? Is it dirty or naughty ?
how do I feel about being naked, holding an erection in front of someone ?
will I be able to control my excitment around a girl ?
if she found out I was inexperienceed or saw I was anxious or shy, would she think less of me ?
do I really want to be in a relationship ?
am I even ready to be in a relationship ?
can I trust a girl with my feelings ?
would a girl cheat on or leave me ?
could I handle the pain of a broken heart or the humiliation if she cheated on me ?
if she died a few years later on, would I be able to handle the pain of a loss ?
what if she didn't feel the same when she found out I liked her ? How could I handle the embarrassment ?
what if she did feel the same about me ? What would be the next step ?
how would she react if she knew I was attracted to her ? Angry, rejecting ?
do I have something to hide from her ?
am I ashamed about anything of myself ? Appearance, no friends, quiet, lack of interests, being boring, social anxiety ?
what don't I like about myself ?
am I attracted to or have feelings for her ?
am I worried about what to say or do around a girl ?
if I did or said something wrong how do I expect her to react ?
what I do feel her expectations of me are ?
what are my expectations of myself ?
is there anything I might be jealous of about her ?
Asking questions is extremely helpful in allowing the mind to start dealing with these potential problesm in advance. If there are underlyings issues once you start asking questions relating to your problems the mind starts to generate potential solutions for them rather than just drawing disastraous conclusions in the moment. Just thinking "oh, when the time comes I will know" does not work all the time because for many people the anxiety is due to the great unknown. So thinking about these important things in advanced will help settle that anxious mind of yours.
19. Socratic Questioning
When you feel anxious or embarrased for no apparant reason, have an anxious thought, when someone humiliates you or you anticipate something, you might try to figure it out why it is bothering you but just can't seem to pin the whole thing down. You can't seem to process it, conceptualize or understand it. It's too complex or overwhelming. To get through these problems you write the problem down and ask yourself questions about it. Here are some questions to help you out.
what does this mean about me, about my life, my future ? What will this mean in one years time ?
what am I afraid might happen ?
what if my fears came true ? What is the worst thing that could possibly happen ?
have I been in this or a similar situation before ? Did my fears come true ?
could I handle the situation if it came true ? What would I do ?
What would it mean if it was true ? what could people possibly do ? What would they say ?
how likely is this to be true ? Certain, possibly, unlikely, definetely not ?
am I being unfair or harsh in myself or others ?
am I thinking in a distorted way ? Ignoring the positive, making predictions, exaggerating ?
am I using memories from the past to draw conclusions ?
what does this mean about other peopel if this is true ?
what does this mean other people are thinking or feelings about me ?
what evidence is there that this is not true ? Does anyone else think differently ?
has this happened to anyone else ? How did they handle it ? How did other react to them ?
what might other people know that I don't ?
what does this person mean to me anyway ?
20 - 24 anxiety techniques
20. Downward Arrow Technique
When you feel anxious and want to figure out what underlying thought is generating it you use this method. It will help you reveal underlying beleifs, values and attitudes you hold about yourself and hold towards others. You simply write the situation down and ask yourself an appropriate question such as "what am I afraid of ?" or "why did this upset me ?" then you draw an arrow under it and answewr the question and ask another approriate question. Here is how to do it ?
A hot girl talked to me (what's so bad about that ?)
Nothing I suppose (well, then why did you get anxious ?)
I felt I didn't really know what to say (why did you feel you didn't know what to say ?)
I guess I thought I needed something interesting to say (why something interesting ?)
Perhaps I felt I needed to impress her (why did you think you needed to impress her ?)
She probably wouldn't like me otherwise (what does that say about her if that was true ?)
That she's probably just a stupid mole (what does that mean if that was true ?)
She can't be trusted (What do you think she'd do to you ?)
Laugh or ignore me (what would you do to her ?)
Maybe punch or swear at her (what if you did do that to her ?)
I'd be in deep **** with people she knows
Once you get answers like that you are pretty much done with the technqiue. You could alter the questions to see what different responses you get. In this example, a belief about the girl was uncovered, what you thought she would do to you, and how you would react. Different questions could reveal other things. Anyway, the cause of the anxiety was uncovered. Now you must work on altering it through cognitive work then behavioural testing. DO CBT.
21. What-If Technique
This is similar to the downward arrow technique. The questions asked are such as "what if that happened ?", "what is so bad about that ?". Here is how it works.
Why don't you go over and ask her out ?
She'll get angry and reject me (what if she did that ?)
I'll look like a fool (what if you did look like one ?)
Other might laugh or get angry with me for making her angry (what if they did ?)
The'll remind me how much they do not like me everytime I see them (if they did ?)
I wouldn't be able to stand up to them (why is that so frightening ?)
I'll get hurt (if that happened ?)
Other people who knew me will lose respect for me for being hurt (why is that so bad ?)
They wouldn't like me anymore (what if that happened ?)
I'll become a total reject (what is so frightening about that ?)
I'll have no one to turn for help anymore (what is so frightening about that ?)
I wouldn't be able to survive on my own
The final answer will tend to really mean something to you, like a light bulb lighting up in your mind. So once you hit an answer like the above you are basically done. It may seem strange at first, but a belief like that can cause a fear of rejection from a potential mate. You may dozens or even hundreds of negative beliefs. Uncovering a belief is one step closer to doing something about your anxiety. You then need to alter it. First use cogntive work to
challenge and weaken it then behavioural work to test it and later it. DO CBT.
22. Cost/Benefit Technique
Is a negative behaviour or thought or feeling holding you back from wanting to change ? Like you feel like not giving up a thought (can't trust others with
my feelings) or feeling (being bitter and angry over lack of personal life) or behaviour (sitting at home on the computer all day) that you know is most
probably beter to get rid of than holding on to. Negative behaviour, thoughts and feelings may have hidden rewards behind them. Say for example you don't trust other people with your feelings, you write out all the advantages of having this belief and all the disadvantages of the belief.
not being hurt
not having to bother with other people all that much
I can make sure I'm on top of others all the time and not let them get me
feel more powerful and special than others for hiding feelings from them
feel unique for having problems
being emotionally empty
having no connection with anyone
putting others off with aloofness
not able to let others in
You can ask yourself questions at the end such as is it really worth running from emotional pain at every chance I get ? How important to me is being free from emotional hurt ? Is this belief causing more problems for me in the long run. SOCRATIC QUESTIONING works great here. Once you realize the negative thing you are holding onto is not best for you, you will often be released from it and be more open to change.
23. Double-Standard Method
Do you tell yourself off when you goof up in social situations ? If someone you liked did that would you do the same to them and tell them off ? If you had a close friend or one of your children wanted to go out and find friends but never did and stayed at home in their room most of the time or avoided intimacy with others purely because they were terrified of rejection or being hurt, what would you tell them ? Would you agree with their fears and help reinforce it, or would you think their fears are exaggerated ? Wouldn't you point out how wrong they mostly are about their conclusions about others. Do you think you need to always be funny and amusing around others ? Do others do that when your around because they fear your rejection ? Probably not. So why feel you need to do that around them ? Do people make a grand effort around you at being a great conversationalist ? You don't need to agonize in the lunchroom because you aren't saying anything; the other people are not either. Do others go out of their way to keep you happy and to keep your approval ? Do you avoid critiizing or pointing out other people's mistakes when it is best to do so out of fear of losing their approval ? If you do but they don't then how is that fair on yourself. You'd be suprised at just how you treat yourself in comparison to others and usually you end up treating others more better than yourself - but not always. Are you rejecting towards others when they attempt to befriend you but you feel nobody has a right to reject you. Are you being fair to others ?
Do you ever scorn yourself for mistakes you think you make around others ? Do you feel worthless when others reject you ? Does loss of approval enrage you ? Do you believe you are unworthy of things such as acceptance and love or getting your emotional needs met ? Ok. We will be trying to provoke feelings of compassion to counter negative feelings associated with social anxiety. Feelings of acceptance, caring, softeness, tenderness, warmth and sympathy will sooth the deepest feelings of toxic shame and humiliation. I found imagining having a close opposite-sexed friend do the trick to get the feelings of compassion to surface. You can imagine yourself being humiliated or mistreated and the figure then comforts you. PRactice it. Then when you are hurting for real, this image can be conjured up and soothing can take place. Remember the double-standard method ? Would you laugh and add insult to injury to someone who you liked if they were rejected or made a social mistake ? I certainly hope not! If you are rejected by someone or make a mistake you simply treat yourself with same compassion and understanding that you would towards someone else. Compassion will help you move towards emotional hurt without feelings of contempt, anger or disgust and will soften the impact emotional pain has on you. You will instead feel the sadness and hurt that it causes rather than anger and hatred towards people doing the rejecting. You will feel more open towards revealing vulnerability rather than hiding it and you will begin to appreciate your own hurt.
If you've ever done CBT, the difference between that and compassionate-based cbt is that instead of suggesting a rational alternative you suggest a
compassionate one. One that shows yourself understanding and rooom for percieved faults and comfort for anticipation of social humiliation and embarrassment rather than a cold, rational alternative view. You show yourself love. If cbt has failed then perhaps compassion may work since it works on the emotional level.
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You become an impartial observer of your own consciousness. Emotions like anxiety, shyness, embarrassment and humiliation are noticed without judgement. Without judgement there is no aversion to them. They come and they go. When a negative thought first comes into your mind such as "people are watching me and thinking bad stuff", you may then feel self-conscious and anxious over it. But you realize this is happening and you decide to not react to it, rather just notice you are feeling such as way and thinking such a thought. So how do you be mindful ? Well, remember the technique I explained for EXTERNAL FOCUS ? The easiest way I found is to just pick an object to concentrate on and then when the mind wanders off realize it is but let it just do what it wants. You can draw it back onto the object if you want and let it wander off again and then draw it back again and so on. Or you can try to observe aspects about thought or emotions or perceptions to try to allow disengagement from them. Then when you are in an anxious situation just realize you are and let the feelings occur without reacting to them. You sort of look at your feelings and thoughts much like a scientist.Mindfulness will begin to show you that things everywhere are really mental constructs. Things are really parts put together with labels slapped onto them.
26. Paradoxical Magnification
When you think something negative about yourself such as "I'm a weirdo", try to make the idea seem ridiculous by exaggerating it in an absurd fashion such as "I'm the biggest weirdo in the street, no the whole country, no, actually the entire planet". Imagine the President of the U.S.A making a daily comment about you being the most weirdest of weirdos on the face of the Earth. Imagine people everywhere stop and stare and point and call out "weirdo". They even call you up. Imagine people everywhere are driving around with bumper stickers of the you being the biggest werido ever. Everyone wears t-shirts that say the same thing. People drink coffee mugs with your face on there stating "WEIRDO". There are number 1 songs about you being a total weirdo. There are billboards of you on how weird you are. Millions of dollars are spent advertsising this fact about you on tv and radio. There is even a world's biggest weirdo public holiday. When you do something like this, the whole idea of the negative thought can seem absurd and you start to rethink the thought in the first place.
27. Examine the Evidence
If you are afraid of being rejected or humilated or insulted when you go out in public, ask yourself how you know that will actually happen. How many times has this happened before ? What are the statistics of people being openly humiliated when they go out in public ? How many people do you know this has happened to ? How often do you feel like humiliating someone in public ?
28. Experimental/Curiosity Technique
If you are afraid of other people's reactions towards you like being ignored or laughed at or being told off, how will you find out if these things are infact true ? You go in like a scientist undertaking a new experiment, with an attitude of pure curiosity. Drop all expectations and convictions and start
observing by paying attention. You are only testing to see what occurs. No emotional involvment, just detached observation, the kind you must have when visiting a violent crime scene or fatal accident or doing an autopsy.
This is one of the best ways of testing out alternative beliefs when undertaking cbt.
29. Survey Technique
Ask people if THEY wanted to do something but were scared of it would it just be better to stay put. Ask people if they have ever lost their train of thought or felt embarrassed or shy during a social encounter. You'll find most people have felt anxious or shy or embarrassed around others before. It is some comfort to know this since it helps to reduce feelings of being strange for having this issue of being afraid of others if you indeed feel that way.
30. Define Terms
When you apply labels to yourself like "loser", "inferior", or "idiot", what do they actually mean ? How much of a loser are you ? Do you always lose or only sometimes ? How much do you lose compared to others ? If you have won anything, are you still a loser ? Labels and names are just theories about yourself and others. You can play around with them, blow a bubble at them, discard them and just move on.
31. Threat Technique
You HAVE to do the thing you want to do. You have no choice. Eithe do it or suffer the consequences. your kneecaps will be smashed with a sledge hammer. Your sexual organs will be destroyed, a red hot pin will be inserted slowly into your eyeball. your tounge will be cut off and so on. Try to really imagine such a consequence will be waiting for you IF you don't get up and do that thing you want. Which would be more unpleasant intense physical pain or emotional pain ? If you were bullied or smacked a lot you might think that such things will happen again if you don't do the thing you want to do. Is going to the shop and buying the shoes you want so much worse than being punched up by 5 bullies or being belted hard on the arse by one of your parents ?
When an outcome such as severe physical torture is the consequence for not doing something like approaching an opposite-sexed person you like, the mind will normally become capable of doing the thing it fears. Therefore, try to find consequence that will be worse than the fear and it will usually overide the social fear.
32. Self-Punishment Technique
Everytime you give in to a fear and avoid, you punish yourself. You might touch the electric spark that ignites the gas stove. You might eat tasteless boiled vegetables for a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner or something else dull and boring you don't like. Put chilli sauce in your eyes. Put a bar of soap in your outh. Disconnect your tv and computer for a week. Give away half you paycheck to charity. Give up smoking for a month. buy somethign you really want then destroy it. Stay awake for 2 or 3 nights in a row. Havea cold shower for a week. sell or give away things you like such as dvds or cds. Slap yourself on the cheek 10 time really hard or use a belt on you arse - even get someone to do this for you. Explain to them why. Eventually you should reach breaking point and give in. I found pretending to be an authority figure doling out punishment for disobedience seems to help the whole process.
33. Positive Reinforcement Technique
Whenever you go into a feared social situation, you pat yourself on the back. Let's say you afarid of going outside and you just step out onto the front porch. You can reward yoursef by cooking yourself a good meal. This will help get the ball rolling with confronting more social fears. Everytime you succeed
in reducing a fear you reward yourself. Buy something you really like but didn't want to spend the cash on. Make yourself feel good by telling yourself you've done well.
Have you ever had a dram where you are doing something that would scare you to death in real life. I'm talking something social. Do you do things inside
lucid dreams you would never do in reality ? The reason you are able to do such things is because there are no consequences. It is a state of mind. Practice pretending you are in a dream while awake and that consequences do not matter. CURIOSITY helps here. Pretend everything is a dream and that you will wake up soon.
35. Submit & Surrender Technique
Have you ever noticed how some people seem very shy but don't look worried or anxious or distressed ? These people just smile a lot, look down and nod to questions. They might just be acting coy or not be ashamed of being shy. But another reason may be because they don't try to avoid or fight against negative situations or feelings. They submit to them or surrender to them. They are able to humble themselves and swallow up all of their pride. When you have done something wrong do you fight the consequences or try to avoid it ? Or do you surrender to the punishment ? When you surrender the stress dissipates. When an animal is being hunted it runs away, when it is cornered if may fight back, but at some point it may just surrender and allow whatever it thinks will happen to just happen. It no longer experiences stress anymore. When you surrender to the things you fear will happen the same happens to you. Try to put your ego and pride aside in the moment and just submit and surrender. Again, CURIOSITY works well here as does MINDFULNESS. If you have a crush on someone but don't talk to them because you are too shy, try to feel love for them. Try to feel a deep sence of unconditional love, respect and comapssion for that person. This should help disolve pride, fear and shyness and help you to feel humble. And humbleness works against embarrassment and humiliation whereas pride seems to help encourage it in most cases. If you are rejected, your love and repect for the other person will help halt negative feelings of humilation and shame.
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36. Empathy & Altruism Technique
Has there ever been someone who has just stared and smiled at you but you did nothing because of your own shyness even though you liked them too ? Instead of doing that how about perhaps thinking of what they want instead ? Put yourself in the other person's shoes and think about their needs and wants. You want to make them happy and see them smile. Think of how happy they will be to give them what they want. Even if they end up rejecting you later on, it doesn't matter because you just want them to do what they feel is right and let you go. DO NOT ignore the people who say hello or look at you to attract you. You are causing them some form of pain. You need to get ito the state of mind that makes you want to do things for others and to forget about your own needs. Don't go so far that you become an approval-seeker and a tool, just go far enough to dissipate social anxiety. When people reject you or try to humiliate you try to understand why they do these things. What is their motivations. Try to look at things from their perspective. You will often see those people as ignorant, insecure, weak and fearful and trying their hardest to fight the things they fear and do not understand. You can think back and do this same thing to other people who you feel abused or mistreated you in the past. You may even end up feeling sympathy and forgiveness for them and that is only a good thing.
37. Affirmation Making Method
You repeat to yourself positive phrases such as "I am free from fear around others". They should be repeated at least 30 times a day. Try to believe the thing you are saying is true. Don;t just repeat it in a parrot-like fashion. You also need to understand the concept of what you are saying. It needs to have some kind of meaning, and not be just some meaningless phrase. These things take many weeks to start having even a small effect. You might even want to record these things on tape and play them while falling asleep. To help speed things along, you can image a scenario in which you are relaxed and calm and enjoying it and while doing this repeat the positive affirmation. Getting deeply relaxed or being in a lower brain-wave state helps this a lot. Don;t include words like "not" or "can't" or "don't" ebcause the subconscious mind has difficulty understanding those and keep hings in the present tense and in the first person because that is how the subconscious mind works; in the present and in the first person. Affirmation making works best when combined with cbt.
38. Encouragement Technique
Give yourself encouragement to do the things you fear. You might tell yourself that you really are exaggerating your fears. You can show yourself that others do things and that you are capable of doing the same. Try to create a sense of doubt over how afraid you are or how worthless you feel. All this time you have only just been thinking you were afraid but really it isn't true. Dump the thought and feeling that you can't do things and replace it with the feeling that you can.
39. Compensation Technique
Tell yourself you don't care what others think or will try to do to you. Tell yourself you don't care if your shy and quiet or feel conspicuous in front of others. You are number 1 and you come first and that no one deserves your fear and dread. Look down on others as if they were all little children and that you are more important than all of them. You might try to imagine people putting you down and insulting you for being afraid of the things you are afraid of. Now your job is to fight back and prove them wrong by showing them that you can do these things. Try to remember all the injustices and mistreatments you faced from others. I found this helps me cut off wanting approval or even acceptance. You need to really work yourself up for this to work. Though it is easy to go too far and overcompensate which makes you come off looking arrogant and selfish.
Avoidant personality has similiar underlying features as narcissitic personality. They both feel defective underneath. The narcissist fights these feelings and feels superior and entitled, while the avoidant avoids the feeling and so ends up avoiding all situations that provoke it. Of course you get narcissists who just feel entitled and not defective due to being only spoiled and indulged or getting their own way always.
40. Mode Shift Technique
Ever had times when under some circumstance you had the courage to do something you would never had thought you could ? When my parents talked behind my back and were whispering things about me I suddenly developed great confidence and could do the things I wanted to do without feeling afraid whatsoever. So how can this happen ? To understand this you must understand modes. Simpy put a mode is an aspect of personality that has split off from another aspect of personality. The way you think and feel and behave will depend on what mode you are in. Just because someone has AvPD doesn't mean they will ALWAYS think they are defective and worthless. There must have been one time when they felt and thought differently, like they forgot about their own feelings of defectiveness and are able to function more properly. Then when the situation changed they went back into the defective way of thinking about themselves.
Like at school I would be far more happy and talkative around my friends, while at home I was miserable and was very quiet with my parents. Borderline personality is a more dramatic example of mode shifting. They go from being scared to angry to dependency in a matter of moments. There is temperament (anxious vs calm, shy vs sociable, cheerful vs low mood etc), and then there are personality modes that are developed through experience. There is a mode that harbours our fears and emotional pain (vulnerable child), a mode that harbours our anger for unfair treatment and for our needs and wants being unmet (angry child), a mode that acts on impulses and desires with complete disregard (undiciplined/impulsive child), a mode that is happy and content because needs are being met (happy child), a mode that fights mistreatment (overcompensater), a mode that gives in to and complies with others (compliant surrenderer), a mode that avoids pain from others (detched protecter), a mode that feels and thinks and behaves like the parent(s) or abuser (demanding parent/critical and punitive parent), and a mode that is able to take charge, fulfill it's own emotional needs, act responsibly and put aside all negative thinking and feelings (healthy adult). So how do you get a more positive mode to activate ? Well you need to start monitoring when your state of feeling and thinking changes. Like let's say someone walks into the lunchroom and you feel like retreating into your shell. This may very well be a reaction based on temperament but this could also be a shift into the vulnerable child mode and it's coping mechanism of a detached protecter. Try to look at it as if you were seperate from these modes. I'm sorry for this but I'm having great difficulty on explaining how to get the healthy adult to activate because it usually takes something dramatic to happen for it to activate such as genuine rejection or abandonment from important people around you and then it just activates and you no longer rely on other people's acceptance or opinions to gain self-esteem as the mode can fulfill the needs of yourself. Then anxiety seems to just disappears (if the healthy adult mode activates that it)
41. Integrity technique
You adopt a policy of 100% honesty. You have to say what is ever on your mind because that is now your most important value system. If you like someone you must tell them. If someone mistreats you you must let them know about it and not just pretend to not care. Other people's rejection doesn't matter as much as honoring the honesty value system.
42. Flashcard Technique
If you are almost sure about the origins of your social anxiety you can write out a flashcard that you can look at when you need reminding about it.
I am feeling (like people want to humiliate me) because (I am in a shopping centre surrounded by people).
This is likely to be my (related core belief, assumption, rule) that I developed (because my older brother would leave me out of activities in the family for a good laugh)
I believe my (thoughts and feelings), though they are probably not representitive of reality.
The positive things that I have experienced (people wanting to be my friend) show my negative thoughts and feelings to not always be true.
So I feel like (avoiding people all the time) I will instead (try to ignore the negative feelings and face one my fears).
43. Observing Others
If you really feel you just don't know what to do in social situations, then look around and see what others are doing. Pick out the things you like that
others do such as the way they use body language or the way they express interest in what others say or the way they relax around others and don't worry if they are making great conversation, then save it for later when you might need to use it. Anxiety can stop you dead in your tracks from doing things differently so you might need one of the many other techniques in this book first to help control anxiety.
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44. Value System Cleansing
If you've ever done cbt you should have learned about rules, assumptions and beliefs. They are the ingrained thoughts that relate to yourself and to others and about the world. The one we are concerned about here is just what degree you value approval from others. If it is high, your mood will dip when you anticipate disapproval from others. You'll lose self-esteem when other people criticize you. You'll become afraid to point out other people's mistakes in fear they'll disapprove of you. You might feel anxious or depressed around others when you aren't getting approval or you think others may be disapproving. You need to work on seeing that other people's opinions of you should not dictate your mood or self-esteem. How do you go about this ? You need to show yourself a good time by making yourself feel better about yourself without other people. Do cbt.
45. Biofeedback Technique
You count the negative thoughts in your head. You keep track of them. Just write each of them down. Over time you will get better at noticing them. Then at some point you will notice the numbers will begin to actually decrease. Then you can start counting postive thoughts as well, with the aim of increasing them. Combine this biofeedback technique with cbt.
46. Anti-Critic Method
When you are attacked by other people for things like being quiet or lacking a social life you respond in a way that helps to neutralize what they say or to help them develop respect for you rather than having them always see or treat you as someone inferior because you don't do the things they or most other people like to do or have done.
The first way is to use EMPATHY. You simply try to get the person to be more specific in what they want to know or are trying to say. By using this method it will not only help you find out what they mean but it will help them find out what they mean and what they want to really know and why the thing bothers them.
CRITIC: Your ALWAYS so QUIET! TALK DAMN IT!
QUIET GUY: And how does that bother you ?
CRITIC: I don't know, it just makes you look like a weirdo. Like you are planning on murdering people or something.
QUIET GUY: Is that why you don't like it when I am quiet, because you think I am plotting to harm others ?
CRITIC: I don't know. It's just not normal for a person to be so quiet always like that. So I guess you must be up to something.
QUIET GUY: Well, you've seen me for so long, have I ever done anything to you or have you seen me do anything like that ?
CRITIC: No. But what do you do in your spare time. Murder people for pleasure!
QUIET GUY: Drink, smoke, listen to music, watch tv, all the sort of stuff lots of people do.
CRITIC: well then why are you so quiet ?
QUIET GUY: I don't know really. People have always asked me that because I've been like that all my life.
CRITIC: Your still weird though.
QUIET GUY: I don't see why me being quiet should upset you so much.
CRITIC: I just hate it when people don't talk.
QUIET GUY: Well alright, I'll talk more just to make you happy. How does that sound ?
CRITIC: Alright I suppose.
QUIET GUY: Do you feel better now ?
CRITIC: Kind of.
The empathatic approach will help create the conditions to solve underlying problems the person has towards you and will help avoid a heated conflict where insults are hurled about or you end up feel rejected or humiliated by the critic. When the problem is brought out into the open and solved then you will likely never hear the same criticism from them again. If the person is just throwing insults that are designed to hurt you, your response should be similar to try to get answers out of them and to lay the ground work for solving the problem.
The next method is DISARMING. Instead of arguing against their criticism of you, you find truth in it. This will help throw water on the fire rather than fuel as does often happen when you hit back in defense and critisicm of them.
CRITIC: Cheezes, your SO SHY!
SHY GUY: Your right, I'm shy. I'm extremely shy.
CRITIC: WHY, HEH ?!!! I demand you explain to me the reason!
SHY GUY: I just can't help it, it seems to be in my nature. If I could get rid of it I would. Believe me!
CRITIC: Well there's just no need to be so SHY! It's childish! People don't bite you know!
SHY GUY: I'm sorry for my shyness upsetting you, perhaps there's a way you can help me overcome it.
CRITIC: (Feeling sympathetic for SHY GUY and guilty for criticism)
The above example showed when a critisism is valid and has some truth to it. But when a criticism has little truth in it or seems invalid or is harshly
critical and is more just about insulting or trying to make you feel hurt or humiliated or like a "weirdo" or an outcast what do you do then ? You do exactly the same thing and try to agree with them.
CRITIC: Your sad.
GUY: Why do you think I'm sad ?
CRITIC: Just look at yourself ?
GUY: I do have a lot of things I don't like about myself.
CRITIC: No argument from me or anyone else here.
GUY: Nor should you or anyone else argue back either.
CRITIC. Your 40, you live with your parents, your not married, and you don't talk and just look at your face. LOL. Your just sad.
GUY: That's all true. It's kind of sad when I think about it as well.
CRITIC: It's not just sad, it's pathetic. You are the most pathetic person alive.
GUY: You could very well be right about that as well.
CRITIC: I AM right, you sad, pathetic loser. You're just a waste of space! LOL
GUY: I sometimes feel that way about myself, like I am just a waste. But I am planning on fixing things.
CRITIC: Well why don't you ? Maybe because your just too sad and can't ever change. LOL
GUY: Change can be hard when your used to thinking and feeling a certain way for a long time.
CRITIC: Nah, your just sad.
GUY: I'm really sorry for how things turned out with my life but I'm glad you expressed your anger and frustration over my situation. Thankyou.
The lesson here is to (1) listen to the critic and try to find their point of view using empathy, then (2) disarm them by trying to point out the truth in
what they say, even go as far as thanking them for pointing those things out. Once you have done that you will be in a better position to explain your
feelings and solve differences through negotiation. If the critic is wrong, do not insult them by using personal labels. Simply acknowledge to them that you might be wrong and they might be right in what they say. If the critic is right and you are pointing out the truth in it, this can avoid an argument and lead to respect. Of course, they may however use it as another way to criticize you and make increasing and unjust demands on you which can simply be delt with in the same way.
47. Desensitization Technique
The mind can adapt to anything painful over time. It basically gets used to the painful things that occur and so does not react to it. Lets say your afraid of rejection and so are afraid of asserting yourself, the way to desensitize yourself without actually asserting yourself whatsoever is the next time you are around someone, think of speaking up. You have to actually think of deciding to say something and get your anxiety to surface. If you are around a woman, think of asking her out. You have to decide to do it and get the anxiety to start up.. but don't actually ask her out. Just keep thinking of doing those things in the situation with other people around until ta da... no more anxiety. Your mind has gotten used to the feeling of the thought and when you try to do those things in real life, you won't react with fear.
48. Anchoring Technique
You first need a stimuli to associate the good feelings you will activate when you need them. You can use a pin for this. Imagine something in the past or imagine a scenario that makes you feel confident, happy, proud etc about yourself. Good feelings. Then at the height of these feelings, poke yourself a bit with the pin on a part of your body. You need to use the same area of your body for this. And you need to practice this for at least a few weeks before you can call up those postitive feelings when you need them. The next time you cannot do something because you feel shy then use the pin and it should cause the good feelings to push the bad ones out of the way.
49. Stick Figure Technique
When you are trying to pinpoint why you feel the way you do in a situation but can't pinpoint your negative thoughts, draw a stick figure with an unhappy face. Pretend that person is in the same situation as you and is feeling the same way as you do. Then write down negative thoughts you think that person is thinking. In many cases the thoughts you come up with will be "projections" of your own negative thoughts onto that person. This will allow you to see your own thoughts in another person, which allows you to see things more objectively.
50. It's all in the head
I was reading about dreams and they were saying how some people see dreams as other dimensions that are objective and not just in our heads. They were saying we have other bodies that travel in other dimensions while asleep.
They explained that when we are awake, the world we see, hear, touch, smell & taste is also in our heads. Not as imagined in our mind, but signals from the outside get through our senses and we only see and hear and feel things in our brain, and NOT the way we think we do.
What they're saying is if you look at your screen, you think your seeing it from the outside, but what you "see" is actually what you're seeing in your brain after it's processed. If we were to see the external world before it gets processed it would be completely different.
So remember this next time you feel anxious. The people we see and hear are in our brain.
Now you will learn how to use the techniques to conquer your fears one by one! Grab a sheet of paper and write it out like this (find out your thoughts that make you anxious) Go to page 6 to see how to go about it.
I will try to bump your posts everyday just so it doesn't disappear into the forum.
Thank you so much!!!
Thanks for sharing all those techniques.. I think i found some usefull ones i'll try :boogie
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Oh,so many methods!Thanks for sharing.
Duck its a driveby bumping!!
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