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I've Had Good Success Getting Past Social Anxiety

2913 Views 22 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  John H
I've had good success getting past social anxiety. It took many years and lots and lots of effort but it was/is well well worth it...

In my teens and into my twenties the anxiety of just day to day living was so great that at night I would often cry for awhile before I would fall asleep, just from the felt hopeless....

I got to a psychiatrist at one point. This was in the seventies, when I tried to tell him how I felt he seemed to listened but then just kind of dismissed me saying, your just the same as any one....I knew different, I knew I was in rough shape....

So what did I do, well I started working on my confidence and social skills starting point was very very low. Much of the progress that I have made over the years has been sparked by books. an early important book was "Shyness; What It Is And What To Do About It", this was in the nineteen seventies when even the term Social Anxiety was not common, I don't know if books on Social Anxiety even existed then???

The shyness book gave me some things to start with, it was the best that I had at the time....Another early book was Dale Carnegie's book "How To Win Friends And Influence People". This book gave me some insight and how to's of connecting/interacting with people. I started trying to do what I could. I will say at this point that this was not instant and transformational but rather little tiny steps, as I could over years.....

There were other books such as "I Feel Guilty When I Say No", this is about setting boundaries, saying No when you need or want to.....Other books would come later such as "People Skills" by Robert Boulten, an excellent book on connecting, boundaries and conflict resolution....Again I want to stress that this all was not a smooth, success only process for me, much of it was extremely, extremely, extremely hard. A good portion of the time I felt like it was not quick enough or that I was not making progress at all,,,depression and
despair were not uncommon...I want to be clear it was no smooth easy process!!!!

And yet beyond my doubts and despair I did make progress...over years I was developing confidence and ability. I was able to start to interact with people with growing confidence and calmness rather than terror and anxiety....

I would do some workshops (years into my process) and courses, one course I did was a eight week public speaking course. Very challenging yet worth it for the increase in confidence and ability, I noticed that after it I was more calm in every day life.......

I did other courses including studying conflict resolution for the better part
of a year, valuable!!!! I also got involved in the public speaking group Toast Masters. I did this for a couple of years, with this I became more confident and sure of myself, again not instantly or smoothly but rather week to week, month to month, bit by bit, some steps forward, some steps back.....

I am writing some of this out because I feel that I am an example that social anxiety can be beat, I hope that I am also making it clear it was not easy or smooth, much of the time feeling hopeless....and yet I got through it, I am now a confident and calm person while connecting and interacting with people more often than not...... I say more often than not because it is not perfect, more often than not is a great place to be, it is where many average people who are not, have not been afflicted by social anxiety probably are... I'm very happy with "more often than not that I feel confident and calm...."

To start to wrap up I hope that some of my success may be encouraging to some,
not that you would do exactly the same necessarily but that it may give you some
ideas and encouragement......

Each person needs to find their own way, I do think that with time that a lot is
possible, again when I was in it I often did not feel that way, but now that I'm
past it I do.......

I just encourage each person to take whatever steps, even if tiny tiny steps,
they can to build confidence and abilities in interacting with people......

Anyone who wishes to correspond with me either on this Forum or directly threw
e-mail, [email protected] , please feel free to do so....

All The Best To You All

John Hutton
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John H said:
You asked why I signed on now to this website, well in my life one of my greatest personal successes is that I went from being super anxious, introverted and I really very messed up to pretty calm and confident and emotionally pretty good.
It sounds like from your post that you went from being introverted to being more outgoing. Am I understanding it right? Do you think your personality changed from being introverted to becoming more outgoing or is it basically the same but you lost some of your insecurities that prevented you from really being yourself and just became more comfortable with yourself?
John H said:
Hi Travo

Absolutely, many times, I'm sure there were times that I could have been treated for depression.
No brilliant way that I got through. I remember alot of being on an emotional rollercoaster, sometimes things I had read about (books were really important for me) would work out a bit and I would feel encouraged, other times it just felt like I was to far away from where I wanted to be and had little or no belief in my ability to get there, obviously at those times I pretty often plunged into dispair....
It was, in looking back that I kept trying as I could and at one point the cummulative effect of my efforts is what tipped the balance from life dominated by dispair to one of building to confidence and calmness....
I wish I had a better answer than this but that is how I moved to where I am now....
One thing about now is there is the internet, when I was going through my worst times it was before the internet and I was truly alone in my struggles...

As far as interpersonnal skills, yes I do mean, " you learned to shoot the breeze and get anyone to open up and have a conversation with you", I also mean assertiveness where I could in a effective way stand up for myself, and boundary setting where I could respect myself and not do things that I was uncomfortable with, and group dynamics type stuff where I could be calm and comfortable with groups of people....I think all of these things are part or interpersonal skill and I think when a person has a good, or reasonably good proficiency in these areas that anxiety will naturally start to least that was my experience......

John H
thanks for sharing.. I'm wondering if you attribute some of your success in overcoming this to kind of growing up or growing as a person and having more maturity about things. Like for me, the way that I try to overcome some behavior that makes me unhappy is I first notice what things make me feel unhappy with myself or make me feel bad about myself. Once I identify some of these things, for example it could be taking things personally, I start to realize all the times I do it to myself and how it all adds up to making myself feel pretty bad at times. Once I realize that, I try to figure out a solution so I do it less or so it doesn't make me feel bad anymore. So it's kind of like I'm studying myself and trying to work on some behaviors which contribute to the anxiety. So it relates to the maturity thing because as you grow older you get to know yourself better and once you know yourself, you can change things about yourself that are giving you trouble. So overcoming this anxiety thing takes a lot of time because you need to change one thing at a time, and there are so many different aspects that cause you to have this. Also as you grow older, you understand the world more and have more experiences and you have more resources to draw upon so you can hopefully handle things better and with more confidence.

What r ur thoughts about it? :)
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travo said:
Hi, some questions:

Were you ever in a place where you were really demoralized and down on yourself for your shyness problem before you worked through it? If so what got you through that.

And another, what do you mean by interpersonal skills? Do you mean you learned to shoot the breeze and get anyone to open up and have a conversation with you?

you mentioned about learning to shoot the breeze with people and getting people to open up and have a conversation with you, and I'm wondering why you are wondering about this :). I think that was something I was focused on before, like I wanted to be this person who could talk to people easily, but not anymore. Actually wanting to be that kind of person made things more difficult for me and made my anxiety worse. So I'm just wondering why you are wondering about this topic. The thing is because I wanted to be this way, it actually made it more difficult for me to be myself because I was always subconsciously trying to play that role since I thought people would like me more if I could "learn to shoot the breeze" or whatever. I just thought what you wrote struck a chord in me, and I hope you are not trying to be this person who can strike up a conversation with anyone especially if you don't think that is really you. anyways, just trying to help :stu :)
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