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Eating and drinking in front of others in cafe/restaurant situations is a situation I usually avoid - unless I can drink at least one or two alcoholic drinks. I started to work on this problem with some self help last year, and managed to make a little progress. But then kind of gave up for a while.

However, yesterday I decided to visit a local cafe at my local shopping centre at a fairly crowded time. As a therapy exercise, I picked a table near where quite a few others were sitting - as opposed to picking one out which was as far away from others as possible. I deliberately sat there on my own for a minute or two to see what happened. My partner joined me afterwards, but as part of the exercise, deliberately made a silly joke in an extra loud voice to attract extra attention to our table. I found out two things that surprised me! Nobody appeared to be paying much - if any - attention to me during the whole time I sat on my own or while my partner sat with me. Even while I was feeling pretty nervous inside and felt it had to be showing on the outside! When my partner behaved the way he did, we did get the one negative stare. But just a short lived one, and other than that people didn't appear to take any notice! If I'd had any inkling at the time we were being stared at by anybody (which I didn't, my partner told me about the stare a little later) I'd have worried the lady was going to say something unpleasant or rude to us. But it didn't happen! After about 15 mins or so, I found I started to feel reasonably relaxed and not anxious at all! I even quite enjoyed the cafe visit in the end! And left with extra confidence that I could probably manage a short cafe visit at a busyish time ok on my own!

Also, despite some moderate anticipatory anxiety, I managed to walk into a local mobile phone shop to try to ask a question. Frustratingly, I never got to ask it because the assistant was too tied up with other customers. But for me it was still a triumph, as before starting my recent course of CBT, I'd have never even considered doing anything like that. It's the kind of thing that makes me feel stupid if I'm not planning on buying anything. Plus I tend to get worried in advance that someone is going to try to pressure me into buying something I don't want to buy, and that I wouldn't be able to deal well with it in that type of situation. Still, I decided to try it! And once I was in there, I found I actually started to feel a bit better about the whole thing. Just a shame I wasn't actually able to get to speak to the assistant. I guess I'll have to try again another time!
 
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