This post did make me wonder though, if it would be possible if s.ayers could act the way they wanted to be. My mum once said to me in a rather strained, disbelieving tone 'why don't you just be the person you want to be?' and I knew what she meant, why don't we just do all the things we want to do? Is it really possible?
I say yes and no. I've had an experience where changing my attitude made me more effective socially. The trouble is there were real changes at the time that made me happy and confident for a day or two. Then it went back to abnormal.
I've used mantras to change my attitude and remove negative thoughts, like saying to myself "I am attractive to women" or "she wants me" to women I see that are hot. It can help remove the thoughts temporarily.
The trouble is we can't just be the person we want to be, because if that were possible, we would already be it. Social anxiety is so debilitating no one would want to have it. We have specific cognitive distortions and disabilities in reading people, we are introverted and look more to our inner world than the outer, we lack the ability to see or create affect in another person when conversing with them.
Think about people with Asperger's. They have difficultly functioning socially because of differences in how their brain works. I identified with a lot of the advice in a book designed to help Asperger's boys get through life, even though I've taken the online evaluation test and score low on it. Our symptoms overlap, even if the cause may be different.
It is true, that to some degree, you can "make it by faking it" and normal people do this all the time in little ways. We have trouble faking it because we prefer to be honest, since that is easier to keep straight. Most people engage fluently in social lies and denial of negative self-appraisals. We don't.
Experiences I'm having are changing my thinking. I know now that people do listen to what I say sometimes and appreciate it. I know that some women like me and are interested in me. I know that some of kids I went to school with liked me. I know that some girls at school were interested and I didn't realize it. These come from engaging in more social interaction, taking more risks. These positive experiences are erasing some of the social anxiety, but not the organic parts of the disease.
Anxiety is a disorder with psychological and organic components. People with anxiety do not always know where it comes from or how to deal with it. Social anxiety people suffer from cognitive distortions, unable to read people, their brains freeze up when they are out of their conform zone, they are afraid to approach people, be spontaneous or keep in touch with friends. They are quiet, keep to themselves. This offends people, hurts them and causes the more idiotic social people to lash out blindly. It takes a lot of time and effort to overcome these disabilities. Why don't we just tell paralyzed people 'why don't you just walk?' It assumes that we have power to change our minds, that its just some matter of changing our mind to be social. They don't feel the massive waves of fear we do, don't experience the blank mind when put in an extreme social situation. Its just not there.
I believe anxiety has a lot to do with social inability (and research suggests it). When I'm out of my comfort zone, I become unable to function, my brain locks up and I am silent or say stupid things. With the very same person once I know them, I am fine. I am much better talking about normal, factual things, than I am with the bantering with drinking buddies type stuff people do. I have friends who engage in all kinds of sexual innuendo and jokes with each other in mixed company. When I try to be funny and cool like they are, I end up saying things that are creepy.