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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
SAD has tortured me all my teenage and adult life (Im only 23). Nevertheless I have managed to struggle through to get my degree and a good job, although majorly underachieving due to it.

Anyway, more than anything it has made me majorly depressed so much so that it saps the life out of all the achievements and enjoyment and good relationships I have with people. With that said, I've tried many different theories including the psychological route and many New Age and spiritual takes.

This week has been amazing I feel like I am finally beginning to break free and have just started to glimpse the richness of life that can be gained once SAD is tamed...although I have some way to go but I am VERY excited at the prospect of the future, it's like I'm seeing the world from a different perspective :)

Sorry if that all sounded a bit patronising or smug or whatever, it's just an amazing feeling I thought I'd come share it and maybe if anyone wants to know how I did it or wants to discuss it then I'd be happy to. I've wasted so many hours of my life on sites like this and with my head in a book trying to find the answer!
 

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That's great news man. Just keep in mind, if you hit a low spot again don't give up. I've made alot of progress over the years myself...it takes work but it can happen. good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
yeah, had a great week but can almost feel some of the old negative thinking habits creeping back in! cant let it happen!
 

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BobSleigh,

It's just old thinking trying to creep in - it will do that. The key is realizing that it will eventually lose its power over your emotions. Keep remembering the triumphs.

:boogie :boogie :boogie
 

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I'm really happy for you bobsleigh! I'd had those moments of breakthrough as well and I know it's a great feeling! Let us know what happened or what you did!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey everyone, thanks for such a positive response :D

I got a private message from someone asking me to share so I wrote a massive rambling speel to them and then came on then checked this thread...so I'll just paste what I wrote to them:

Yeah, it's funny you mention that cause I had a mixed day today so not everything is hunky-dory as I first thought but I know it's going to take hard work and determination. I was at an away day conference for my division.

Although there were numerous negatives such as feeling uncomfortable, anxious, perceived failures when interacting there were many positives (once I had written it all down tonight) such as being able to pipe up a couple of times in our workshops (a couple of times is better than no times in all previous situations) spoke with many people on one-to-one effectively, spoke to a group of three at one point, and so on...

Anyway you probably didn't want to know all that! My technique is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) chances are you know of it, but moulded to suit my own situation - seeing everyone keeps saying everyone's social anxiety is different.

I like to visualise it as a triangle and at each point of the triangle are the elements which all contribute to 'success'. Firstly there is challenging negative beliefs and assumptions - so being able to be truly honest with yourself and recognise and challenge those images or beliefs that pop up when you are out there such as 'people think I'm strange' or 'I'm ugly' or 'I'm no good at socialising' and so on. And the assumptions being statements that hang around in the head beginning 'I need' 'I should' 'I must' 'I need' such as 'I need to be liked by everyone' or 'I must be witty' or even 'people must be funny to be liked'. The best way to challenge appears to be to go out there, interact, experience it, and then write down your negative thoughts and challenge them by writing alternatives. An example I wrote for today was 'I must show I have a sense of humour in order for people to like me' which leads me to excessive smiling and unnatural laughing at other people's jokes which loses me respect rather than gain it. So in reflection I wrote some alternatives such as 'Some of the best comedians are rarely seen laughing' or 'If I respect myself, people will respect me' or 'If I focus on the experience rather than on my self, i.e. I listen to what they are saying, without the unneccessary pressure of having to laugh, then I will have heard the joke and the laughter will come naturally'.

The second point of the triangle is safety behaviours, i.e. things you do socially to keep yourself safe. First you have to recognise them. I wrote mine down. The list went something like this: Avoid eye-contact; avoid walking by people I know to avoid conversation; avoid situations altogether; turn up early to avoid attention; drinking to lose inhibitions; drugs to lose inhibitions; eating, drinking, smoking, going to toilet or doing anything that distracts me from the social interaction at hand for the sake of that only; hiding in the shadows of someone who is extrovert - letting them do all the talking; saying what I think someone wants to hear; not saying anything at all; lack of smiling or expression; excessive smiling; not revealing anything personal in a conversation; asking too many questions in a conversation so as to keep attention off myself; rehearse what I am going to say in my head; doing things excessively for the sole reason that they are solitary - reading, gambling, jogging, etc. The more you can identify the more progress you will make by systematically, although gradually, dropping them altogether and see what happens.

The third point of the triangle which I feel is primary to my personal progress is reducing self-consciousness, as I am someone who overthinks it seems to just be the way I am. So it's helpful for me to try and 'get out of my mind and into my life'. If you focus on other people or what is being said then it takes the attention off thinking about yourself. So in one situation, if I am constantly thinking how I am coming across and that others are judging me and so on I inevitably blush and get lost for words and resort to all my safety behaviours. But if I concentrate on what other people are saying and the actual interaction itself (including my contribution to it, not rehearsed) then I will be too busy listening and reacting to what is happening to be concerned about what I am doing and so I don't seem to be blushing much these days! A success!!

But basically from my recent experience things only seem to go well if all three components are brought together - if progress seems slow or I feel I am relapsing I have to ask myself which one of these components is missing. So I can be totally focussing on what other people are saying and giving them full eye-contact and so on but if subconsciously (or 'unconsciously') an image or thought (normally from the past) pops up in my head that tells me that these people 'think I'm boring' then suddenly I become self-conscious and so I don't enjoy my interaction.

Anyway, sorry for the long essay and sorry if you know all this stuff anyway! It was as much for me as it was for you, I obviously am going through a bit of a journey myself at the moment which is exhausting, but it's been well worth it so far I promise you, I've gained so much enjoyment even in the last week just cause I'm really trying hard.

There's tons of other little tips I can give you if you want, but my therapy essentially revolves around that triangle structure and trying to juggle the three attributes simultaneously, which is easier said than done! I would say that you definitely have to get yourself out there - I spent so much time in my room reading and looking for the answers and knowing the theories inside out but until I actually went out there and tried to apply it then it's no progress.

If you aren't already familiar with the stuff I wrote about then I recommend these specific books. I am definitely an authority in this area having spent an absolute fortune on self-help/psychology/philosophy/New Age books. Anyway they are:

Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness by Gillian Butler - best book for understanding social anxiety and how it works and it's solutions.

Cognitive Behavioural Therap for Dummies - excellent practical book, basically a bible for CBT, got loads and loads of stuff in it.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle - A bit new-agey but a very influential book on the experience of mindfulness, living in the present moment and the pitfalls of being ego-driven. Just don't believe it all though!

The first two are must-have's the latter not so much.

Hope some of this helps and hope I haven't rambled too much!! Would be interested to hear your story...
 

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Thanks. My family doctor recommended Butler's book and I have it. I only read first 20 pages and have continued reading for past month. I guess I should pick it up again. Self-conscious tip is really helpful since that is my main weakness, always evaluating myself and caring what others think. I can't even talk to a friend if I'm around people I see as "cooler" than me and similar BS like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
yeah, i think it's helpful to know the theory behind CBT and Social Anxiety but beware of falling into the trap of being a perfectionist, not allowing any mistakes or failures.

I found a couple of good resources from other users:

www.selftherapy.org - listen to the audios and read the excellent articles at the bottom of the page

www.succeedsocially.com - good for learning about the rules and non-rules of becoming outgoing written by a shy introvert
 
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