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roarrrr
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like to make many posts in this sub-forum about CBT & how to conquer social anxiety (& other mental issues) using CBT techniques. First - I would like to start out with the very first step in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy which is discovering your thoughts, behaviour & triggers. The second step is fighting that behaviour - but I will start out with helping you guys find out triggers & thoughts so we can just begin slowly. (Yes - I want to be a CBT therapist when I get through my schooling, so my advice here is kind of "practice", although I very much want to help my fellow sufferers.)

The technique I would like to help you guys do is the "Vicious Flower" diagram. Now it is supposed to actually be a diagram of a flower that one fills in the petals, BUT since we are online, I can't pass these diagrams out to you. So we are just gonna go in a list. Pretend that we are making petals & the center. ;)

The first thing that one should do is realize a trigger. I'll use an example of something I personally went through. I suffer from perfectionism & self-injury. So here's my "vicious flower".

Trigger: Getting a "B" on an essay that is filled with marks & corrections by the professor.

Center of the Flower I put the key thoughts & meanings I attach to the situation.
So...
Center of the Vicious Flower: I'm a failure. (Try to make this as simple & direct as possible.)

The petals of the flowers are the side effects of your center:

Petal 1, Attention Focus: Wanting to harm myself because I'm a failure.
Petal 2, Physical Sensations: A burning in my chest of shame, anxiety, quick breath, crying.
Petal 3, Emotions: Depression, suicidal, shame, embarrassment.
Petal 4, Behaviours: Cutting. Reasons for cutting? To punish myself. (Make sure to clarify your reasons as they are very important in the next step of CBT.)

This is my favourite realization technique from my CBT book. I highly suggest the members here please try this out. If you are struggling on any of the steps in here, for example, not being able to identity the trigger, or the center of the flower, the emotions, any step, I will help you out. I encourage everyone to participate as I want to follow this up in the coming days with the next steps to take. If you don't want to post your "vicious flower", feel free to PM me to me & I'll give you the feedback over Private Message.

Note: Do not participate in these activities if your doctor, therapist, professional, alerts you not to. I am simply a student, not a professional.

*If a Moderator or Administrator sees the importance of these exercises I would love to have it stickied, but only if they see fit.

(I wrote this exercise geared towards cutting, but it works for many mental disorders. Please give it a shot with your specific mental issues. I'll help out anyone that's experiencing difficulty.)
 

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I must say, I love the title of this exercise: Vicious Flower. Such elegant depravity. Anyway, let the activity commence. I self harm when I am perceptibly no longer in control of happenings I feel I should have full domination over and being insignificant. An example of this can be shown in my writing. That is to say, how my talent is ostensibly forsaken to negative thought loops or patterns and seemingly better authors. I guess it could be a form of self defeating or ties into deprecation, but the point is I know I am more than amply proficient in the language. I should be banging out masterpieces every other week, and I should hold full control of my linguistic prowess, given the knowledge with which I am positively acquainted. So when my scribing fails to impress, or I trust absolutely that my words have failed to impress (even with no concrete evidence of this), I feel a royal failure. Then, bam, self harm. Punishment for the fact that I am wholly unimpressive despite the fact that everything I know tells me otherwise (my use of words, knowledge of grammar, use of literary device), and I should hold full reigning authority over the greatness of my works. I realize the absurdity here, mind you. I have literally no command over how my sh*t will be received. I guess therein lies the problem, so to speak. I hope this madness makes the least bit of sense. This is only a small bit of me for the activity, mind. Now the actual exercise.


Trigger: Coming across as conspicuously prosaic, or an utter failure, or not very well put together.

Center of The Flower: I fail and am perfunctory.

Petal 1. Attention Focus: A severe desire to give up all and harm myself.

Petal 2. Physical Sensations: Trembling, upset stomach, anxiety, "boiling blood", bruxism, fist clenching.

Petal 3. Emotions: Anger, shame, guilt, humiliation, suicidality, melancholia, mania at times.

Petal 4. Behaviors: Cutting, drug use, avoidance.
Reasons: Cutting for punishment, serves also as an outlet. The drugs for an escape from the emotions. Avoidance because I believe no one should be subject to my horrid self and I feel I should be imprisoned by the very emotions I use the drugs to escape from in a solitary manner.

Hope that this is correct. This displays a sliver of my craziness unmitigated.
 

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I have, from time of remembrance, been overwhelmed by the physical sensations of panic when in the presence of people leading to avoidance and dissociation when avoidance is not possible. I have an overwhelming fear of being banished from the tribe leading to immobility in social interaction yet I have an almost equally overwhelming desire to be seen and admired. These two forces fight for dominion with the former emerging the victor in all cases. *he says in his best authoritative voice*

The rest I'll do my best but, for all I know, I may be protecting myself by feeding you a bunch of ****. Hope not.

The trigger is actual or anticipated social interaction.
The center of the flower is: I have no worth. I should not be seen. I am separate.

Petal 1: How can I get away from here? I am in grave danger. Run and hide.

Petal2: Chemical/electrical short circuiting of my system. Loss of coordination, difficulty exhaling, pounding heartbeat, vertigo, helplessness.

Petal3: Shame, loneliness, hopelessness, depression, extreme self-hatred.

Petal 4: Avoidance to stay alive and in one piece. Acting to make sure no one suspects what is happening inside me. Self-medication with alcohol/recreational drugs to mitigate stress and provide the illusion of the possibility of self expression.

Thanks for this. Not sure if I totally grasped all components but gave it a good try. Take care.
 

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Thank you, Miss Dregs. Psychforums will be fine :)

Kesker: Fine job. Seems to me you performed the exercise well, sir. And without the faintest hint of bullsh*t, mind you. Honesty is poop retardant.
 

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roarrrr
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have, from time of remembrance, been overwhelmed by the physical sensations of panic when in the presence of people leading to avoidance and dissociation when avoidance is not possible. I have an overwhelming fear of being banished from the tribe leading to immobility in social interaction yet I have an almost equally overwhelming desire to be seen and admired. These two forces fight for dominion with the former emerging the victor in all cases. *he says in his best authoritative voice*

The rest I'll do my best but, for all I know, I may be protecting myself by feeding you a bunch of ****. Hope not.

The trigger is actual or anticipated social interaction.
The center of the flower is: I have no worth. I should not be seen. I am separate.

Petal 1: How can I get away from here? I am in grave danger. Run and hide.

Petal2: Chemical/electrical short circuiting of my system. Loss of coordination, difficulty exhaling, pounding heartbeat, vertigo, helplessness.

Petal3: Shame, loneliness, hopelessness, depression, extreme self-hatred.

Petal 4: Avoidance to stay alive and in one piece. Acting to make sure no one suspects what is happening inside me. Self-medication with alcohol/recreational drugs to mitigate stress and provide the illusion of the possibility of self expression.

Thanks for this. Not sure if I totally grasped all components but gave it a good try. Take care.
Hey Kesker - Thanks for trying out the exercise. Did you find that it helped illuminate anything that wasn't clear to you before? Just so that you & everyone knows - this exercise doesn't end when you fill in all the petals. You have to question why you feel this way & use techniques (such as those I posted in the Coping section) to start fighting these cognitive distortions.

& Yes, Kesker - there are distortions here, for sure. I don't think you fed me bullshyte at all, actually. I think it was pretty honest, which I commend you for. Plus - for your bravery for posting it where everyone can see.

Let me go over your petals before I address the center. Your first petal which is the attention focus was very revealing. One word really stood out to me: "danger". What do you fear will happen in social interactions? Some sort of emotional hurt, am I right? You seem like you feel very vulnerable, as well, to the possibility of getting hurt by others, the possible outcome of a situation, etc. Where did this vulnerability come from? Can you remember anything in your past that could have triggered this? (Sorry, I'm kinda delving into a dynamic type of therapy, getting off CBT for a moment, but I believe the past is very important to find the root of current thoughts.)

I want to look at your thoughts as well. "Hopelessness" stood out to me a lot. So if I'm getting this correct, you feel that other people/the situation have more power over you than you yourself? You feel as though you can't beat this "beast" of SA? You will forever be afflicted, right? This is a distortion in your thinking. You are in control of yourself, & very much over the situation. You have to use rationalization. Us with SA often forget this because the nature of the disorder is irrationality. It seems that maybe the shame & self-hatred stem from this specific distortion. (At least with my limited information with the flower.)

Your explanation of the avoidance, to "stay in one piece" is an interesting reason. Can you explain this a bit more? What happens if a social interaction doesn't go well?

(I apologize for acting like a f-king therapist. :b But it is what I'm planning on pursuing.)
 

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(I apologize for acting like a f-king therapist. :b But it is what I'm planning on pursuing.)
On the contrary, I apologize for not paying you.:)
I'll mull your questions over and respond soon. Thanks.
 

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*I guess what I fear will happen in social situations is repulsion, disgust and rejection from whomever I'm engaging. Any one or a combination thereof will shatter me emotionally, make me a slobbering idiot.

*I cannot nail my irrational vulnerability down to a single event (although three therapists were in agreement about suspecting such). I've attempted conversations about this with my parents but they refuse to talk about the possibility that I have highly challenging issues. My best guess is the consistent messages I received from both parents telling me loud and clear that I could not operate as an independent entity and the looks of disgust when I became enthusiastic about something. (I had a lot of energy and may have been a little hyperactive). They were fond of telling me, "This isn't you. You are not like this." I was also existing between two forms of fear--my mother who feared everything, especially sin, and my father who ruled the house with a firm open hand to the temple. (Not beatings, but quick one time shots that clearly got his message across)

*I'd never thought about other people having more power over me than I do, but when I connect that notion to my early childhood experiences there seems to be a correlation. Still I cannot help but believe there were many people in similar circumstances who did not develop this issue.

*As a child, the physical aspect of the panic was extremely traumatic (still is). It felt (feels) like I cannot contain myself physically inside my body but if I allow the monster to run around where it can be seen it will break me apart so I grapple with it and pin it down. Survival instinct endows me enough mental capacity to keep me under the radar but my ability to reason is compromised. There is the feeling (developed at around five years old) that I must hide this turmoil at all cost or become an object of disgust. This panic was (is) a really scary thing that I, by force of will, kept hidden when all I wanted to do was run into someone's arms and cry like a baby. So avoidance keeps me clear of situations that may push me to this place.

*If social interaction doesn't go well, I go back to my core belief about myself which is: I am utterly inept and without worth.

Ah, some of this stuff made me a little sad, but it felt good to write it all out. Thank you for all you do on this website. I hope you are navigating your own issues with the same grace you exhibit with others. Take care.
 

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roarrrr
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for explaining in depth. I realize it must have took a toll on you, & I'm sorry for prompting that out of you. But I'm glad you did it.

*I guess what I fear will happen in social situations is repulsion, disgust and rejection from whomever I'm engaging. Any one or a combination thereof will shatter me emotionally, make me a slobbering idiot.
What about you is so repulsing? From what I see on this forum you are a very intelligent person. I have never felt repulsed by any of your posts at all. & Usually - one doesn't feel inhibited from posting their true thoughts on here - so I do believe that this is probably the real you coming through here. ;)

Secondly - even if people did reject you for whatever reason. Rejection is a part of life. Everyone gets rejected. I'm not belittling here, mind. I'm trying to use rationalization. Rejection doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. That person doesn't click with us. So - in the end - that person doesn't matter. They aren't going to be influencing our life any more.

I've dealt with my share of rejection. A lot actually. & It devastated me. I self-harm, I did a lot of horrid actions because I couldn't stand the pain of rejection. But then I realized, I rationalized, that this people didn't matter in the grand scheme. Some of them only influenced my life for 5 minutes, some for months, BUT - they won't be influencing me anymore. They don't matter anymore. They are in the distance. They are out of my life. I can move on. I will meet others.

*I cannot nail my irrational vulnerability down to a single event (although three therapists were in agreement about suspecting such). I've attempted conversations about this with my parents but they refuse to talk about the possibility that I have highly challenging issues. My best guess is the consistent messages I received from both parents telling me loud and clear that I could not operate as an independent entity and the looks of disgust when I became enthusiastic about something. (I had a lot of energy and may have been a little hyperactive). They were fond of telling me, "This isn't you. You are not like this." I was also existing between two forms of fear--my mother who feared everything, especially sin, and my father who ruled the house with a firm open hand to the temple. (Not beatings, but quick one time shots that clearly got his message across)
I definitely believe that parents have a huge impact on how we are shaped & develop as we go into adolescence & adulthood. Which sucks when they are do a sucky job. But they don't know everything. Parents are not God. They are humans. Humans that make faults & are full of flaws. Given this - they don't speak the truth.

Now - I realize that not much rationalization is going to help when it comes to what your parents instilled in you. Because it affected your personality & development. The only thing we can do is work on your present thoughts & help you overcome this. Do you still believe your parents?

*I'd never thought about other people having more power over me than I do, but when I connect that notion to my early childhood experiences there seems to be a correlation. Still I cannot help but believe there were many people in similar circumstances who did not develop this issue.
I was afraid of belittling your experience, but lo & behold, you're achieving that yourself! People respond differently. People have different genetics, different predispositions etc. That's what determines the development of personalities. (That's purely my opinion, I'm a big supporter of the "nature" side when it comes to the "nature vs nurture" debate.) But the good news is - that our brains are plastic, meaning that they can change & adapt. (My teacher was just talking about this today, actually.) Working with CBT & other Cognitive therapies can help you change the roots of your anxiety & low self-esteem.

*If social interaction doesn't go well, I go back to my core belief about myself which is: I am utterly inept and without worth.
To me - your core belief, the center of your flower, is a HUGE cognitive distortion which will undoubtedly take awhile to break down. I'm sorry that I didn't address it in my other post. (I was too busy with the petals & your thoughts. *facepalm* ) You're letting other people determine your worth which is extremely damaging as the feeling of true worth must come from within. Can you try, in my favourite exercise of all time, to list 5 things about yourself that prove your worth? I can already sense one that I mentioned before: intelligence. Do you agree that you're intelligent? No matter what you believe, other people can't touch your intelligence. It will always be there. Your worth is always there.

Ah, some of this stuff made me a little sad, but it felt good to write it all out. Thank you for all you do on this website. I hope you are navigating your own issues with the same grace you exhibit with others. Take care.
I'm sorry it made you sad. :( But, therapy techniques & exercises are hardly fun. They require a lot of emotional strain & flooding. Anytime you want you can say that you don't want to answer my questions anymore. Of course. This is a lot to remember & go over. Feel free to take a three month break from this thread if you have to. Or PM me if you don't want to share openly in the thread anymore.

& Trust me - I've been working on my own issues for awhile now. I think I got the social anxiety down pat for the most part. I used the same exercises. & Realized the cognitive distortions. Took awhile.

Are you seeing a therapist yourself? On any medication such as anti-depressants for this?
 

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Are you still doing these, Monroee? It's my first post on the forums, and I'll give this a go… Mine is just about social anxiety disorder, not a secondary disorder.

Trigger: I try to fit in with a group by joining the conversation after sitting quietly for a while. My comment doesn't go anywhere, it's not well-received (misunderstood jokes etc.), or I don't understand the reaction I receive. People soon return to ignoring me.

Centre of the Vicious Flower: I'm incompetent.

Petal 1, Attention Focus: That was a failure. I want to leave right now. I shouldn't have said anything.
Petal 2, Physical Sensations: A hot twisting sadness sensation in my chest, red face, heart beating fast, prickly skin, blood boiling.
Petal 3, Emotions: Anger, depression, resentment, shame, embarrassment, loneliness.
Petal 4, Behaviours: I want to get out of the situation immediately. Often I want to explode and storm off in a huff, but I resort to slipping away subtly or acting fine while I make an excuse to leave. When I remain in the situation, I withdraw into myself and don't say a word.
Reasons for behaviours: I need to be alone so I can let out my frustration and sadness. I don't want to remain when I feel my presence is a burden or annoyance to others.
 
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