I don't know how severe one would say my sa was. I used to be literally mute, petrified to speak to anyone. Sometimes people would say hello to me and I couldn't even muster that. I'd freeze up, I'd feel so dull, I wouldn't dare to speak. Gradually I just began to push myself but still fought with sa, I would feel so plasticated and hollow, so nervous and self-conscious and awkward in conversations, but I'd partake in them despite feeling so so nervous. I thought I was dull, weird and that my anxiety seeped off me.
But now I am feeling goood about myself. I can easily strike up conversation with people I have just met and can express myself confidently in conversation. I'm even described as bold by some of my new friends a lot of the time
haha! Various things have got me to this place. I still don't feel completely like my old *bubbly* self, that I was before the ****storm of depression and social anxiety hit. But I found that a positive outlook with lots of good perspective is a great tool. When you feel caught in the world-wind of your feelings, take a step back and think, seek insight and apply a good dose of perspective. For example you need to think of social situations as being more about developing social skills then seeing it as about you. You have to remind yourself that your social skills are constantly developing while taking stock of your past social successes. When you see social situations in terms of just being another event in a long line of events of social skill building, it gets less daunting (and I am described as 'popular' at college and have been even during my more full swinging social anxiety! yet even I feel like I my social skills need to be built).
Various things have helped me, a big big one being that I bought a book on cognitive behavioral therapy and worked my way through that, it had me laughing at how ridiculous my sa was. I definitely think that this would be a great help to anyone. The best advice it gave me was that only positive social experiences can really lessen social anxiety and I was PETRIFIED of putting myself out there, but I did it! And at first it was horrible! I felt so jittery, so so anxious! But it got less and less, and I began to enjoy myself and my confidence kept building. I also dropped my 'safety behaviors' (these are behaviors that you feel you need to use in order to succeed socially and you attribute successful social encounters to being only a result of applying these things) which included not speaking unless spoken to, only asking questions to others, not expressing my thoughts (a good piece of advice was to not monitor what was 'good enough to say' and just say what was on your mind. it's scary but even if what you say isn't amazing, you learn to get better and better at expressing interesting things only through your interactive experience of putting that stuff out there!). Anyway this has been the biggest help to me
Positive experiences rid the anxiety more and more, bring out the real you, a little fragment with every positive experience. Of course I've had bad experiences but also being able to handle them internally and bounce back with confidence has helped heal with self esteem and anxiety. So even they are good. Also bvad experiences can bring out good traits which you can praise yourself for. Sometimes you have to deal with pricks, toxic people and bad situations but pushing back and asserting yourself really helps you feel strong, alive and kills the anxiety. For me, it's about taking a bad situation and finding a way to bring out what's good in me, to get some positive fuel out of it, often through self-assertion and confident expression to help me mold the situaiton to my benefit. Dealing with the worst of things can help you feel tough enough to deal with day to day interaction, so don't feel a victim like i used to, but work on pushing back at what pushes you and dealing with your situations as best you can.
Other techniques CBT taught me was to label different sa traps to take away their power. such as emotional reasoning; *I FEEL I did bad so I MUST of done badly*, catatrophising *OH GOD! THAT WENT SO BAD!*. When you label what you're doing in your head, it kind of lessens it's power! Also writing down my experiences and analyzing how they contribute to my anxious feelings - looking for concrete evidence that I am *weird* or *dull*. This stuff also helped a lot.
I also do yoga and eating healthy. These add a great deal to my well being. If I don't feel good in myself, it greatly contributes to my anxiety. Also eating badly can easily push me into feeling jittery at times. I eat a predominate fruit and veg based diet and eat lots and lots of wholegrain as my main source of calories (brown rice, brown spaghetti) but I also drink alcohol and enjoy junk food, but only in moderation, if I feel good and my skin isn't breaking out a lot I know I am eating well. Eating well clears my skin, gives me lots of energy, and gets rid of low level depression - without it I am not really happy tbh. Green juice and green smoothies are also a big big part of this - they provide me with euphoria and flashes of enlightenment at times, and can even get me feeling invincible. I blend about 200g of greens a day into a juice
and it really makes me feel AWESOME!
Yoga is amazing too. It fills you with so much peace and gives you a deep perspective on life. It makes you feel wonderful
. It really really taps into your self approval, it helps you see yourself in a wonderful light. It's greatly helped with my self-acceptance, it has made me feel strong and filled me with self love after practice, and the effect lasts for the whole day, even though it slightly lessens as life floods in, it's still there (I do about 45 mins a day).
I also stopped all negative internal talk a long time ago. I have used lists to list all my positive traits, using experience and compliments from people to back them up. These have helped a lot too.
Also I have tried to teach myself social skills via books but I find that doesn't work much. How to win friends and Influence people is good - don't complain, smile, remember names, ask questions, express enthusiasm to see people. Good advice, but you need to take in the basics, rather than rely on it. I did for a while but it just added to my anxiety, I felt like I constantly had to refer to it and felt plastic and awkward expressing it. I've learnt that learning social skills properly is all about actual interaction and being around real people. Watching socially skilled people, you can kind of soak their skills in, how they go about it (coz they aren't plastic, unlike a book which can't teach you how to do things IN ACTION) and then you can become it. Look to the people with the best social skills in the group and try and soak them in, you can note what they do and then go about doing it yourself, it works 'naturally' that way, because psychologically humans are good copy cats :P when it comes to social interaction. It's also the only way to enhance your own skills, by putting yourself out there you learn what you do well and what you do not so well and you build on that with each interaction. I used to think I was awful with it, but now people seek me out and express a lot of positive sentiments towards me, so if I can get to that, despite how poorly I thought of myself, so can you
. Also learning in action means you can easily mold what you learn in with your real personality I find
Sorry, I am aware this could have been a little bit of a dull and preachy ramble (but since I am not sa anymore, that doesn't faze me anyway
:P) but talking about personal issues like this is probably the only thing that makes me feel anxious and self-conscious
lol. But I thought it would be great to put it out there if there is any chance it will help anyone out
! Hope it does! Good luck guys! If I can make it, you can!