Do you face your fears? - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-15-2020, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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Do you face your fears?


When I first started struggling with social anxiety, I would always face my fears and put myself into situations that made me uncomfortable. I thought if I just take some risks and do those things that scare me I wouldn't be so afraid anymore, but in the end I just became worse. I would talk to people a lot, start conversations with them and try to make friends, I would go to parties and make memories, but every time I came out of my comfort zone something bad happened and I just became more anxious. Now I don't face my fears anymore and I don't let people into my life because I'm afraid they're just going to leave me. The one thing everyone says you should do when you have anxiety is to go out and face your fears, but what if you do that and it just makes you more anxious?
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-15-2020, 12:05 PM
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I can kind of relate... it doesn't matter how much I do something, there's always this underlying feeling of discomfort or anxiety. I've been burned a lot too, like being taken advantaged of by people I thought were friends, dumped by guys I (probably) loved, laid off from work, rejected by relatives I tried to reconcile with, almost fcked over by landlords, etc.

But I think it is very brave of you to face your fears - and it's kind of how we grow, I suppose? Staying in the comfort zone is easy. Seeing something you aren't sure you'll succeed in, that makes you so nervous you want to puke - and then going to do it anyway... I think that's what builds opportunities for people like us. A lot of times things won't work out but occasionally they do. It's the Law of Averages
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-15-2020, 12:13 PM
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If I have a choice, usually no, if I'm pushed to do things I'm uncomfortable with, like for work etc, I usually do ok & I'm the better for it.






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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-15-2020, 12:56 PM
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pretty much the same. my "comfort zone" is pretty uncomfortable already lol.

even buying new shoes took me months. even ****ty cheap ones. just dont like it. avoid avoid avoid.

psychologist forced me to make goals of talking to coworkers etc. when I was doing that. which I never accomplished. now I dont make those goals I dont have to feel bad about it

people say "just do you". I am in agreement

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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-15-2020, 01:04 PM
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I used to try. It always backfired and just proved my fears were well founded...so, confronting my fears literally made those fears worse.

The big prime example is my fear of criticism and rejection by potential friends. Oh my God I have tried SO MANY times to reach out to others in friendship and it just...always backfired spectacularly. The times I was most positive it was going to work out, I even had a really good feeling it would...those were the times it failed the hardest and most painfully.

My former psychologist actually set it up for me to meet another client of hers for possible friendship. TWICE. They both agreed ahead of time to get in touch with me. The first one, I had to e-mail her first, initiate contact--remember, face my fears. The lady had promised to respond so I had no reason to fear being ignored or rejected. Well...she never replied. I sadly informed the psychologist; puzzled, she spoke with the woman. Oh, she was just busy, but I was welcome to e-mail her again. I couldn't understand why I was still expected to do the heavy lifting when the ball was now in the OTHER party's court--why couldn't she just respond to the e-mail I already sent her?--but I mailed her again anyway. And never heard back. So frustrated and hurt, but the psychologist insisted such things happen, move on.

Then we tried with a different client, who again promised to get in touch with me. I agreed to come to the mental health clinic on a day I didn't have an appointment (a hardship for me, what with transportation), and meet her in person (INCREDIBLY hard for me). We met, talked a bit, then she invited me to a group meeting later that evening--an EXTREME HARDSHIP for me, so short notice and so much so soon, but I felt the psychologist would accuse me of not trying hard enough if I declined, so I reluctantly agreed. The lady promised to call me later that night then come pick me up. After she left, I told the psychologist I had a feeling, based on how we'd interacted, that she really wasn't interested in being friends with me. Psychologist brushed off my fears and said I "shoot people down too quickly."

So, here I had a GUARANTEE of at least meeting this lady one more time. I sat at home that night and awaited her call and arrival. And...guess who never picked me up, never even called to let me know she wasn't going to pick me up? Yep...I actually got stood up.

Had to wait until my next appointment to angrily let the psychologist know what had happened. I didn't even have an explanation! Surprised, she contacted the lady for one. Turned out she decided she "wasn't comfortable" meeting one on one with me (never mind it was a group meeting we were supposed to be going to ), and had just changed her mind about the whole friendship thing. And I guess she didn't think I needed to know?? Well, that was TWICE (actually four times) I agreed to face my fears and did so, but then the OTHER parties chickened out at the last minute. I did all the scary work, for nothing. I was guaranteed at least a meeting yet I still got rejected. And then when I complained to the psychologist about it, she got fed up and MADE EXCUSES for both women and told me she didn't want to hear about it anymore. So, even though I did everything that was expected of me (and then some), it was still somehow my fault for "expecting too much"!

I just KNOW that if I'd pulled the same stunts those women had, psychologist wouldn't have accepted my excuses, would have accused me of "not trying hard enough." I don't understand why those women deserved the benefit of the doubt and I just got told to shut up and stop complaining. All this did was CONFIRM that my fears of rejection were well founded, when even the people who promised my psychologist they'd respond to me never did, and the psychologist herself downplayed it all as me just being too negative.

Not surprisingly, psychologist gave up on me soon afterwards and effectively rejected me, terminating therapy. I tried several times to ask when could I reapply. She refused to give direct answers and just strongly hinted that I not bother returning. My very first day of therapy with her, when, crying and barely able to talk, I'd said that I was sorry for wasting her time and I knew I'd fall through the cracks again, she'd insisted that time was MY time and I had no reason to feel guilty. By my last session, she was telling me to feel happy that now my therapy time would be going to somebody who needed it more and actually stood a chance of improving (unlike me--the one thing she did admit in my favor was that I was unlikely to improve any further).

So in the end, even the psychologist who'd insisted my overwhelming fears of criticism and rejection were unfounded...criticized and rejected me and let me go. I had been seeing her, BTW, because the previous psychologist had done the same and washed her hands of me. So that was TWO therapists who rejected and gave up on me.

I could give countless examples of friendships and attempted friendships that went the same way. Rejected, rejected, rejected. Whether I reached out to them first, or even when they reached out to me--rejected. The fear isn't unjustified and it isn't just in my mind. It's based on overwhelming life experience which even professional therapists contributed to.

I have one online friend. She approached me first. We've known each other for years and even met twice. Yet she still has to put up with me not writing to her for months, and reacting with terror and avoidance to every e-mail, because that fear of criticism and rejection just...never goes away. I'm ruined. Can't trust anyone anymore, can't believe I won't just end up rejected again.


Tl;dr--at least when it comes to socializing/making friends, facing my fears merely confirmed them, and made me even worse. I've given up...don't have the heart or stomach for this anymore.

If I don't reply to you, it's NOTHING PERSONAL. It's my ANXIETY.

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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-15-2020, 02:32 PM
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If you read up on how people face their fears, exposure isn't simply enough. It's also about being in a calm state of mind when you are in the situation - i.e. not feeling a surge of anxiety. That's why breathing exercises are so helpful in the situation - by focusing on your breathing instead, you bring yourself to a calmer state of mind

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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-15-2020, 06:00 PM
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Pretty much the same experience here. I used to think that it was a good idea but I never had anything but really bad outcomes (why I expected anything else is really beyond me but I guess society kind of programs us to think that facing our fears will make things better (simply because society doesn't really care about us and just wants to give us canned solutions that aren't solutions at all)).

I gave up on it as some sort of "therapy" and now only do it as a matter of necessity. If I fear making a phonecall, I'm just not going to do it unless it is a necessary phonecall and there's no way around it. And then I am still gonna hate it and it's still gonna suck and I'm still not going to want to make phonecalls in the future).

/WYSD
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-15-2020, 06:29 PM
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Someday I will. Likewise, there were lots of uncomfortable and awkward moments in my past, whether it'd be during school or in the times I found myself in social situations. I'm sure there will be many more to come.

It's all part of the process, and overtime I'll learn better how to interact with others with a clearer state of mind.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 02:48 AM
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I face some of them, it sort of depends. For the last few years I've lived in this place - and if I didn't face my fears I would never have left my apartment or come home again in the evening. I've seen and heard some very frightening things in this place. You're generally safe once you get to your flat though.

As for the social anxiety thing - not so much. I used to a lot more because I had to work. I used to get panic attacks etc when I was working in the library. But it varied. They'd want me to do talks etc and take classes and that never got any easier. I would always be scared stiff.

The thing about letting new people into your life though OP - I'd encourage you to try and deal with that, although I know just my saying it doesn't make it any easier. I've had people let me down too - we all have. But if you cut yourself off from everyone then you might miss out on some beautiful people. There are plenty of them around. I don't have a problem letting new people in - I'm just getting a bit old and tired tbh, and half the time I'm just trying to deal with getting through my day.
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 05:01 AM
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Yeh, as much as I can.. but in a very gradual and controlled and careful way.. using cognitive distancing and compassion, and not straying too far from my comfort zone (which expands over time).

Honestly, I have come to the conclusion that, if you don't do this, everything just gets worse. But things also get worse if you don't do it carefully and start avoiding. It's unfortunate.

Compassion focused therapy audio, guided meditations:

https://balancedminds.com/audio/
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 06:38 AM
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Red face

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after each 268 interviews i gain experience,

building any strategy to fight 'em back.. walk out before they show me the door
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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 07:16 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tehuti88 View Post
I used to try. It always backfired and just proved my fears were well founded...so, confronting my fears literally made those fears worse. <a href="http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/images/smilies/icon_sad.gif" border="0" alt="" title="" >:-)</a>

The big prime example is my fear of criticism and rejection by potential friends. Oh my God I have tried SO MANY times to reach out to others in friendship and it just...always backfired spectacularly. The times I was most positive it was going to work out, I even had a really good feeling it would...those were the times it failed the hardest and most painfully.

My former psychologist actually set it up for me to meet another client of hers for possible friendship. TWICE. They both agreed ahead of time to get in touch with me. The first one, I had to e-mail her first, initiate contact--remember, face my fears. The lady had promised to respond so I had no reason to fear being ignored or rejected. Well...she never replied. [IMG class=inlineimg]/forum/images/SAS_2015/smilies/tango_face_plain.png[/IMG] I sadly informed the psychologist; puzzled, she spoke with the woman. Oh, she was just busy, but I was welcome to e-mail her again. I couldn't understand why I was still expected to do the heavy lifting when the ball was now in the OTHER party's court--why couldn't she just respond to the e-mail I already sent her?--but I mailed her again anyway. And never heard back. So frustrated and hurt, but the psychologist insisted such things happen, move on.

Then we tried with a different client, who again promised to get in touch with me. I agreed to come to the mental health clinic on a day I didn't have an appointment (a hardship for me, what with transportation), and meet her in person (INCREDIBLY hard for me). We met, talked a bit, then she invited me to a group meeting later that evening--an EXTREME HARDSHIP for me, so short notice and so much so soon, but I felt the psychologist would accuse me of not trying hard enough if I declined, so I reluctantly agreed. The lady promised to call me later that night then come pick me up. After she left, I told the psychologist I had a feeling, based on how we'd interacted, that she really wasn't interested in being friends with me. Psychologist brushed off my fears and said I "shoot people down too quickly."

So, here I had a GUARANTEE of at least meeting this lady one more time. I sat at home that night and awaited her call and arrival. And...guess who never picked me up, never even called to let me know she wasn't going to pick me up? Yep...I actually got stood up. [IMG class=inlineimg]/forum/images/SAS_2015/smilies/tango_face_plain.png[/IMG]

Had to wait until my next appointment to angrily let the psychologist know what had happened. I didn't even have an explanation! Surprised, she contacted the lady for one. Turned out she decided she "wasn't comfortable" meeting one on one with me (never mind it was a group meeting we were supposed to be going to <a href="http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/images/smilies/icon_neutral.gif" border="0" alt="" title="" >:-)</a> ), and had just changed her mind about the whole friendship thing. And I guess she didn't think I needed to know?? Well, that was TWICE (actually four times) I agreed to face my fears and did so, but then the OTHER parties chickened out at the last minute. I did all the scary work, for nothing. I was guaranteed at least a meeting yet I still got rejected. And then when I complained to the psychologist about it, she got fed up and MADE EXCUSES for both women and told me she didn't want to hear about it anymore. So, even though I did everything that was expected of me (and then some), it was still somehow my fault for "expecting too much"!

I just KNOW that if I'd pulled the same stunts those women had, psychologist wouldn't have accepted my excuses, would have accused me of "not trying hard enough." I don't understand why those women deserved the benefit of the doubt and I just got told to shut up and stop complaining. All this did was CONFIRM that my fears of rejection were well founded, when even the people who promised my psychologist they'd respond to me never did, and the psychologist herself downplayed it all as me just being too negative.

Not surprisingly, psychologist gave up on me soon afterwards and effectively rejected me, terminating therapy. I tried several times to ask when could I reapply. She refused to give direct answers and just strongly hinted that I not bother returning. My very first day of therapy with her, when, crying and barely able to talk, I'd said that I was sorry for wasting her time and I knew I'd fall through the cracks again, she'd insisted that time was MY time and I had no reason to feel guilty. By my last session, she was telling me to feel happy that now my therapy time would be going to somebody who needed it more and actually stood a chance of improving (unlike me--the one thing she did admit in my favor was that I was unlikely to improve any further).

So in the end, even the psychologist who'd insisted my overwhelming fears of criticism and rejection were unfounded...criticized and rejected me and let me go. I had been seeing her, BTW, because the previous psychologist had done the same and washed her hands of me. So that was TWO therapists who rejected and gave up on me.

I could give countless examples of friendships and attempted friendships that went the same way. Rejected, rejected, rejected. Whether I reached out to them first, or even when they reached out to me--rejected. The fear isn't unjustified and it isn't just in my mind. It's based on overwhelming life experience which even professional therapists contributed to.

I have one online friend. She approached me first. We've known each other for years and even met twice. Yet she still has to put up with me not writing to her for months, and reacting with terror and avoidance to every e-mail, because that fear of criticism and rejection just...never goes away. I'm ruined. Can't trust anyone anymore, can't believe I won't just end up rejected again.


Tl;dr--at least when it comes to socializing/making friends, facing my fears merely confirmed them, and made me even worse. <a href="http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/images/smilies/icon_sad.gif" border="0" alt="" title="" >:-)</a> I've given up...don't have the heart or stomach for this anymore.
I'm so sorry that happened to you. I know how you feel, people always say that your anxiety is just in your head, but when people walk out of your life again and again it's hard to believe that. And I know you tried your best and that was very brave of you. And what your therapist did was not okay, she knew what you were going through and that you're afraid of rejection and she should have been more understanding, you deserve someone who is there for you and who would do whatever they can to help you &#x1f642;

Quote:
Originally Posted by RSxo View Post
If you read up on how people face their fears, exposure isn't simply enough. It's also about being in a calm state of mind when you are in the situation - i.e. not feeling a surge of anxiety. That's why breathing exercises are so helpful in the situation - by focusing on your breathing instead, you bring yourself to a calmer state of mind <a href="http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif" border="0" alt="" title="" >:-)</a>
Thank you so much, that was very helpful &#x1f642; I was actually talking about that with my therapist, because I always felt very anxious when I was in the situation and she said people could see that I was uncomfortable talking to them and that's why I could never connect with them. I just never knew what to do about that, because the more I get rejected by others, the more anxious I feel and the more anxious I feel the more I get rejected by people because they can see I'm uncomfortable around them.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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I face some of them, it sort of depends. For the last few years I've lived in this place - and if I didn't face my fears I would never have left my apartment or come home again in the evening. I've seen and heard some very frightening things in this place. You're generally safe once you get to your flat though.

As for the social anxiety thing - not so much. I used to a lot more because I had to work. I used to get panic attacks etc when I was working in the library. But it varied. They'd want me to do talks etc and take classes and that never got any easier. I would always be scared stiff.

The thing about letting new people into your life though OP - I'd encourage you to try and deal with that, although I know just my saying it doesn't make it any easier. I've had people let me down too - we all have. But if you cut yourself off from everyone then you might miss out on some beautiful people. There are plenty of them around. I don't have a problem letting new people in - I'm just getting a bit old and tired tbh, and half the time I'm just trying to deal with getting through my day.
Thank you so much, that's very kind of you &#x1f642; I just feel like I would rather be alone and learn to be okay with it than to get my hopes up every time just to get hurt again. When I'm in a new place with new people or when I start talking to someone for the first time, I always feel anxious and I'm always very self-conscious around them and I overthink everything I say. And then when they turn away from me I get depressed and I feel lonely and I overthink everything I said to them and try to figure out what I've done wrong, but then in the end I usually just accept that I'm alone and of course it makes me sad sometimes, not belonging anywhere and being alone while everyone else is having fun with their friends, but I'm okay with it and that way I don't have to feel anxious and worry about what people think of me anymore. And so if I'm going to be alone in the end anyway, it's easier to just skip ahead to that part instead of going through those bad feelings every time. I know there are some beautiful people out there, but sometimes I wonder if finding them is worth being hurt over and over again?
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 09:46 AM
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I have "faced" fears... but have I? It's a question I ask myself all the time. I've definitely done thousands of things that I feared but I have to admit I've done them mechanically and often correctly but never in the way I wanted to do them, which was as myself. I always cloaked myself with a stoic exterior and went through the motions. I was employed for forty years. I helped raise a stepson. I dealt with all the events with family and in laws etc. I married. I volunteered. I kept appointments I would rather have not. I got stuff done. But I never did any of it as myself. And that was the true fear. So I don't really feel as if I faced anything and I don't feel like I made progress just by simply performing actions. I was still panicked inside and really just hanging on and surviving through it all. That's not to say there is no value in doing "the things." It's just not what my idea of success and living is.

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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 01:00 PM
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I have "faced" fears... but have I? It's a question I ask myself all the time. I've definitely done thousands of things that I feared but I have to admit I've done them mechanically and often correctly but never in the way I wanted to do them, which was as myself. I always cloaked myself with a stoic exterior and went through the motions. I was employed for forty years. I helped raise a stepson. I dealt with all the events with family and in laws etc. I married. I volunteered. I kept appointments I would rather have not. I got stuff done. But I never did any of it as myself. And that was the true fear. So I don't really feel as if I faced anything and I don't feel like I made progress just by simply performing actions. I was still panicked inside and really just hanging on and surviving through it all. That's not to say there is no value in doing "the things." It's just not what my idea of success and living is.
Really interesting. (and hi Kesker btw, long time no see )

I honestly think those things are magnificent.

In acceptance and commitment therapy, you commit to doing things, despite the feelings. Done in a sort of kind way (because you know its the compassionate thing to do in the long run for yourself), but honestly, the capacity to do things when you feel scared, or in emotional difficulties, is the point of ACT. Its one of my key values. In CFT, its like a caring commitment.

Of course, your idea of success and living is what matters, but to me, I see what you have done as quite inspirational.

Can you explain the mechanism by which you "separate" and mechanically perform the actions? It almost sounds like cognitive distancing.. do you do a lot of meditation and mindfulness?

Compassion focused therapy audio, guided meditations:

https://balancedminds.com/audio/
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post #16 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 02:14 PM
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post #17 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by kesker View Post
I have "faced" fears... but have I? It's a question I ask myself all the time. I've definitely done thousands of things that I feared but I have to admit I've done them mechanically and often correctly but never in the way I wanted to do them, which was as myself. I always cloaked myself with a stoic exterior and went through the motions. I was employed for forty years. I helped raise a stepson. I dealt with all the events with family and in laws etc. I married. I volunteered. I kept appointments I would rather have not. I got stuff done. But I never did any of it as myself. And that was the true fear. So I don't really feel as if I faced anything and I don't feel like I made progress just by simply performing actions. I was still panicked inside and really just hanging on and surviving through it all. That's not to say there is no value in doing "the things." It's just not what my idea of success and living is.
Words can't express how perfectly I understand this.

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post #18 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 02:40 PM
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Really interesting. (and hi Kesker btw, long time no see )

I honestly think those things are magnificent.

In acceptance and commitment therapy, you commit to doing things, despite the feelings. Done in a sort of kind way (because you know its the compassionate thing to do in the long run for yourself), but honestly, the capacity to do things when you feel scared, or in emotional difficulties, is the point of ACT. Its one of my key values. In CFT, its like a caring commitment.

Of course, your idea of success and living is what matters, but to me, I see what you have done as quite inspirational.

Can you explain the mechanism by which you "separate" and mechanically perform the actions? It almost sounds like cognitive distancing.. do you do a lot of meditation and mindfulness?
Hey, SplendidBob. It's good to "see" you again. I really want to develop the habit of mindfulness and meditation but haven't as of yet. I'm glad you brought that up because I'm feeling the need for a productive routine as I tend to fly off at the drop of a hat.

I would say the mechanism is much closer to dissociation than anything else. They say that certain areas of the brain shut off when one is traumatized. The ability to voice what one is going through is, apparently, one of those areas. I think I'm in fight or flight in almost all performative settings so I overcompensate by shutting down. So I am present to a certain degree but not present to a degree, if that makes sense. I'm able to passably get the task done but it's more a getting it over with than taking control of it and being in the moment. Many times I have no recollection of what I did because I was so far away in my mind at the time. I also take longer to pick things up such as instructions because I'm busy trying to get far enough away (in my mind) to "survive" the ordeal. It can take quite a toll if I have to remain doing this for an extended period so I tend to pop in and out and plan in advance to make a quick experience possible. If I can't do that, it's painful.

...you gotta keep the goal in mind, develop tunnel vision to a certain extent. it's hard, and it's not for everyone.

~bad baby

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post #19 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Emily29 View Post
When I first started struggling with social anxiety, I would always face my fears and put myself into situations that made me uncomfortable. I thought if I just take some risks and do those things that scare me I wouldn't be so afraid anymore, but in the end I just became worse. I would talk to people a lot, start conversations with them and try to make friends, I would go to parties and make memories, but every time I came out of my comfort zone something bad happened and I just became more anxious. Now I don't face my fears anymore and I don't let people into my life because I'm afraid they're just going to leave me. The one thing everyone says you should do when you have anxiety is to go out and face your fears, but what if you do that and it just makes you more anxious?
I don't. As long as I can live comfortably the way I do, there is no need for me to face my fears. Instead of trying to change myself, I fit other things into my life that suits the way I am and live.

I am scared of heights. Do I have any need to challenge myself on this? I don't think I do, because most of the time, I won't go to places that is far above the ground.

Similarly I can live very comfortably with my level of anxiety. I am very forward with people on what I want to do, and don't want to do.
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post #20 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2020, 03:00 PM
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Everyone has given pretty good answers, I agree with a lot that has been said here. In general, I feel much the same, I do not face my fears unless I really need to. There are different kinds of fears too, some that come with an adrenaline rush, scary yet fun, and I do enjoy indulging in that kind of thing - stuff like exploring abandoned buildings, walking around at night, it is scary but also exciting. But fears where there is no excitement to be gained are not something I would pursue unless it was necessary.

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