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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been thinking about my social anxiety and realized I never actively did anything to get over it. Sure, I've made progress. But mostly, that's because events in my life conspired to force me into socializing: I had to go to college, I had to get a job, ..exct. I didn't make these choices to get over my anxiety, I did them because I felt I had to for other reasons. Of all the shortlived friendships I've had, I never intiated one of them. Of all the girls I "dated"(if you can call it that), I only made the first move once (of course, that was only after she made it 100% obvious that she was interested). I make a lot of excuses for why I don't try. Really, my only "strategy" is to hope people will suddenly take interest in me and include me in whatever it is they are doing.

No, I'm not beating myself up for not trying hard enough. I just think it's an interesting observation, and I can't help but wonder: would I still have anxiety if I made a point of practicing certain social exposures? So recently, I made a list of some exposures that I plan on practicing daily. Here it is.

1. Say hello to 5 strangers at work.
2. Say something at a meeting at work.
3. Talk to a classmate.
4. Say something to a girl that I find attractive.
5. Go to the gym.

I could try going to night clubs or speaking in front of an audience of 1,000 people as exposure exercises, but I don't think that I would feel comfortable enough to even try and I doubt I would have any success if I did, so I feel I'd only be setting myself up for failure. I chose these things because they are challenging to me, but I also felt confident that I could do them. To make sure that I'm actually trying, I am going to keep a log of every time I carry out one of these exposures. Overtime, and as my confidence increases, I am going to escalate these goals. For example, I might say hello to 10 strangers at work, and then 5 strangers when I'm not at work, and so on. Ultimately, I want to feel confident speaking in front of large groups and confident enough to ask out any girl that I am attracted to.

Does anyone else have a plan for overcoming their anxiety? If so, what does it entail?
 

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I've been thinking about my social anxiety and realized I never actively did anything to get over it. Sure, I've made progress. But mostly, that's because events in my life conspired to force me into socializing: I had to go to college, I had to get a job, ..exct. I didn't make these choices to get over my anxiety, I did them because I felt I had to for other reasons. Of all the shortlived friendships I've had, I never intiated one of them. Of all the girls I "dated"(if you can call it that), I only made the first move once (of course, that was only after she made it 100% obvious that she was interested). I make a lot of excuses for why I don't try. Really, my only "strategy" is to hope people will suddenly take interest in me and include me in whatever it is they are doing.

No, I'm not beating myself up for not trying hard enough. I just think it's an interesting observation, and I can't help but wonder: would I still have anxiety if I made a point of practicing certain social exposures? So recently, I made a list of some exposures that I plan on practicing daily. Here it is.

1. Say hello to 5 strangers at work.
2. Say something at a meeting at work.
3. Talk to a classmate.
4. Say something to a girl that I find attractive.
5. Go to the gym.

I could try going to night clubs or speaking in front of an audience of 1,000 people as exposure exercises, but I don't think that I would feel comfortable enough to even try and I doubt I would have any success if I did, so I feel I'd only be setting myself up for failure. I chose these things because they are challenging to me, but I also felt confident that I could do them. To make sure that I'm actually trying, I am going to keep a log of every time I carry out one of these exposures. Overtime, and as my confidence increases, I am going to escalate these goals. For example, I might say hello to 10 strangers at work, and then 5 strangers when I'm not at work, and so on. Ultimately, I want to feel confident speaking in front of large groups and confident enough to ask out any girl that I am attracted to.

Does anyone else have a plan for overcoming their anxiety? If so, what does it entail?
how do you eat an elephant ? one bite at a time !

eating a whole elephantwould seem impossible and feel very overwhelming. if if i were to eat an elephant id first splt the elephant into chunks. id throw the leg in one corner, the head in anoter corner,the trunk and tale in another corner and finally the body int he last corner.
then i would break each chunk down into tiny pieces. e.g i chop the legs up into tiny pieces , id chop the body up into tiny pieces etc....
then i'd focus in one chunk at a time. id get all the pieces from the legs ''chunk'' and id say ''right im going to focus on eating these peices and compleely forget about the pieces from the rest of the chunks e.g the head, body etc....''
id then eat one piece at a time and once id finish the legs id move ontot he next chunk

socially anxiety should be treated the same way. first you establish the chunks. there are 4 chunks to SA (see gillian butlers book overcomin sa and shyness ):

1)safety behaviours
2)self conciousness
3)beleifs and assumptions
4)sociall skills

so 1st you focus on saftey behvaiours and completely forget about the other 3 chunks. you break the safety behaviours down into steps and you spend 21 days on each step. once you have completed the step you move onto the nex one

once saftey behaviours are done you more onto the next chunck self conciouness

ill give you a little example from my own life:

1)safety behvaiours. i have so many of these. i avoid public places , i avoid nightclubs, i aoid speaking to popular and confident people , i avoid getting my hair cut at busy times (i go at 8am int he monring when its quiet), leave a situation when i blush, i pretend to use my mobile so that i dont have to talk to people
what i wuld do is i would break the saftey behaviours down into chuncks again like catoagorys. for example i have a lot of safety behaviour i use to stop myself from blushing or from people seeing me blush. all of those safety behaviours would go in one chunck - the blushing catagory.
then i also have lots of safety behaviours were i avoid places e.g the supermarket, the pub, other people's homes etc... so all of those behaviours would go in the ''situaional avoidance'' chunck.
then i have lots of behaviours were i avoid certain people. e.g i like talking to safe people like unpopualr people o quiet people etc.... but i avoid hot woman, or popular social people or adults cos all these peoplemake me uncomfortable. so all of those behaiours go in the ''people avoidance '' chunk.
id then decide which chunk to workon . if i choose the blushing chunk then i simple uncover all of the things i do to stop myself blushing and then i creae an opposite behaviour. e.g if read the paper whilst waiting in the barber shop so that i can focus on something instead of getting self concious and blsuhing i will create a new behaviour .e.g ''just sit there without the paper and let people see me blush.
ill just create opposite behaviours for all of my current behaviours an then ill do one at a time. ill spend 21 days on each behaviour and then move onto the next behavour

2)self conciousness. again just go step by step. figure out all the ways you can get use t being the cente of attention. the 1st 21 days might be as simple as ''sit in the middle of the canteen in work , so tha everyone can see you , instead of sitting int he corner so you can hide.
you might evenatully build yourslef up to ''singing karioke int he pub

3)beleifs. theere are so many beleifs and they fit into catagorys. e.g i have beleifs about :

*rejection
*critisicm
*being worthy of friends
*being boring
etc.... and mny more

just uncover all of your beleifs and put them into catoagorys. work on one catagory at a time and one beleif, from that catagory, at a time.
work out how that beleif makes you behave and then create an opposite behaviour. spend 21 days on thatbehaviour

4)social skills. again break it into catagorys e.g

*body language
*listening
*telling storys
tc....

and take one step at a time
 

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Nothing really. I've given up.
 

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I've tried cognitive behavioral therapy. It didn't work. I tried medication--it worked somewhat. I've given up now; maybe I'll try to overcome it some other time. What really gets to me is other people--they tell me I can "get over it" as if "getting rid of" social anxiety were a walk in the park and they see me as the lazy bum who'd rather sit on the bench than get up and do something about it. That really offends me, when people trivialize it. I've had it my entire life and I'm 23 now--you think I haven't tried? You think I enjoy not having friends and being perpetually stunted socially? I also don't appreciate the "other people have it worse than you" guilt trip people put me through. Yeah, I know that there are people with missing limbs and confined to wheelchairs and suffering from terrible diseases/disorders--but this isn't a pity contest! I am suffering in my own way and I hate that people try and say I don't have a reason to feel down just because I happen to have all my limbs and suffer from no major physical problem. It's also very offensive to people who are blind, injured, etc. because by saying to me "well, you don't have it as bad as some people" they are pretty much implying that people who are blind, injured, etc. have miserable lives--it puts all the focus on the handicap and they make assumptions about that person's quality of life, not even looking at them individually as people! *end of rant* I might start a new post about this...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nothing really. I've given up.
But did you ever really try? I can't say that I ever gave up, but there have been times where I did nothing and was absolutely convinced I would never get any better. Those were the most painful times in my life. It bothers me that I have no friends, that I can't date who I want, and that I have no control over my life. It bothers me so much, that I don't think a minute passes where I don't think about how I want these things. The further away I am from them, the worse I feel. Paradoxically, the closer I get to them the worse I feel. That's why I need to desensitize myself. I can't stay stuck in this purgatory forever. Just making a plan made me feel better. It's not so easy to carry the plan out, but when I do meet a goal it definitley makes my life a little bit more bearable. Even if it makes me feel worse, at least it gives me a point of reference so that I can quantifiy just how badly I suck at life. Nothing, NOTHING is worse than feeling anxious and doing nothing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've tried cognitive behavioral therapy. It didn't work. I tried medication--it worked somewhat. I've given up now; maybe I'll try to overcome it some other time. What really gets to me is other people--they tell me I can "get over it" as if "getting rid of" social anxiety were a walk in the park and they see me as the lazy bum who'd rather sit on the bench than get up and do something about it. That really offends me, when people trivialize it. I've had it my entire life and I'm 23 now--you think I haven't tried? You think I enjoy not having friends and being perpetually stunted socially? I also don't appreciate the "other people have it worse than you" guilt trip people put me through. Yeah, I know that there are people with missing limbs and confined to wheelchairs and suffering from terrible diseases/disorders--but this isn't a pity contest! I am suffering in my own way and I hate that people try and say I don't have a reason to feel down just because I happen to have all my limbs and suffer from no major physical problem. It's also very offensive to people who are blind, injured, etc. because by saying to me "well, you don't have it as bad as some people" they are pretty much implying that people who are blind, injured, etc. have miserable lives--it puts all the focus on the handicap and they make assumptions about that person's quality of life, not even looking at them individually as people! *end of rant* I might start a new post about this...
Please don't take this the wrong way, I'm only interested in helping, but maybe you didn't really try. I know I didn't. Taking medication is a passive experience. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is active, but I too tried it and didn't follow through on any of it. Writing down your negative thoughts and thinking of alternate positive thoughts was just too tedius, and felt superficial. I found reading about the techniques to be very helpful though. I did and continue to use the techniques in my head, which works pretty well, regardless of what Dr. David Burns says in his book "Feeling Good". I never got to the "Behavioral" part, which I now think is the most important. Exposure is the only thing that I've found to have a substantial effect on improving my social skills and decreasing my anxiety. Any cognitive therapy I employ now is only in support of my exposure excercises.

As for people without social anxiety, I agree, they don't have a clue what we go through. Not suprisingly, their advice is absolutley shallow, useless, and sometimes even damaging. I can't even begin to understand how much idiots with the "just get out there and do it" attitude set me back and kept me from trying social exposure. It's not always like the movies where some shy kid breaks out of his shell after a few social initiations. Overcoming social anxiety can be a long, long, process filled with many setbacks and false starts.
 

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Since I quit psychotherapy in Feb, I've set my own goals and made up my own treatment plan. The 2 counselors I saw didn't seem to have plans, or maybe they didn't have any faith in me? Who knows. I figured I could do just as crappy a job as they were! Turns out I'm doing a better job! :D

1. So in just 4 months here are some of the things I've done:

*Joined this website
*Used Xanax temporarily to aid me to make phone calls to Social Services & doctors
*Joined a DBT group but then it fell thru (lack of $$$)
*Drove on the expressway
*Dental cleaning & 2 fillings
*Attended a 4 yr old's birthday party with a bunch of strangers
*Started reading Feeling Good by Dr Burns, which enabled me to break free of my addiction to approval (that's my biggest change)
*Called and had many visits with a Chiropractor
*Socialized with boyfriend's sisters
*Called pizza place
*Actually read the job ads & think about working
*Went apartment hunting
*Haircut
*Posts, requesting friends, & some PMing on SAS
*Went to a couple Recovery Inc. meetings and spoke to strangers

Basically i'm doing my own behavior therapy and trying to gain confidence from the experiences, be more self accepting, and try to look forward to a good future. I write everything down that i do so I can feel good about and see my progress on paper.

2. I like to tell myself:

"I don't need anyone's approval for anything I say or do"
"There's nothing actually "wrong" with me."
"It's normal to feel anxiety."

3. Learning that i don't need outer approval and realizing that i already approve of myself wiped out the urges I used to have to kill myself.
 

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Nothing really. I've given up.
Never give up! :no

Keep persisting with meds/and or therapy until you get better.

What am I doing about my SA? I am just being me. So I talk when I am in social situations but I lack a social life still. <sighs>
 

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Not a damn thing. I have tried off and on for years when I wasn't depressed(which has been EXTREMELY RARE) to get better, but I have just learned to accept it. I am too used to this lifestyle, and although yes its hard at times, I have just decided I want things the way that they are now. That means avoiding people as much as possible, not talking, and pretty much keeping to myself.
 

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Forced social situations like finding a job and taking interesting classes at college. Maybe if I try enough things I'll get it right sometime.
 

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my SA is mainly based on my physical self-consciousness/obsession, so I'm currently overcoming 2 medical problems, finally updating my wardrobe (to fit the "new me"), thus improving my image and consequently, my self-perception, which in turn lowers my SA.
When I feel good about how I look, I'm more confident and will find dealing with SA through social exposure much more surmountable.
 

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These days I'm just trying to focus on interacting with my co-workers. I'll only eat lunch when the kitchen area is full of people as exposure therapy. I used to eat at my desk or eat at odd hours when people were back at work. I'm mostly working on my negative mind-set, my self image/self worth, and my body-language.

Even the smallest bit helps, don't give up!
 

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I am trying this out: when something embarrassing happens to me, I purposely draw attention to it because I think it makes me look more human, but I don't know how to phrase this. Yesterday, I was driving to my appointment with my psychologist and I opened a bottle of water. I accidentally spilled it all over my lap and it looked like I had a major league accident, LOL. I thought oh no, this is going to look really embarrassing. But when I got there, I said to her "I am such a klutz! I spilled water all over myself, I don't want to get your furniture wet...do you have something I could sit on?" While she got a towel out, I added "this is a social phobia nightmare" and she laughed. I told her later in the session why I did what I did and she thought it was healthy.
 

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Exposure exercises will work if you first change your philosophy from believing certain people and places are fear inducing and pose a serious danger to a more realistic approach. Since these fearful thoughts (many of which now reside in the unconscious(which does not mean that they are in so deep you can't weed them out with persistence and practice)) are very much ingrained into your psyche through years and even decades of this type of self-defeating, habitual thinking, you better work on retraining your brain to think along more rational lines. I would recommend reading A Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis. Once you get the gist of it, then go out and experiment. Otherwise, it will just be the same old thing, like when you went to school every day Mon.-Fri.which was certainly repetitious but still didn't help you feel any less fearful. A CBT type of therapy is what I would far and away recommend for best aiding you on your way to recovery. It is, from my experience and from the data I have gathered, the most efficient way of going about this. But, you better understand that although comparatively quick in its effectiveness, it will probably take several months for you to notice significant changes. And, more importantly, like any human in this world that deals with other shortcomings, you can expect a lifetime of continuing to improve your moods as no one can be perfectly happy all of the time. Think of it as a project, or a challenge and try to have fun with it. You will soon learn that people and things cannot hurt you emotionally. Rather, you hurt yourself by believing that they can.
 

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i barely started this quest..damn!...but the future looks promising.
 

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i try to never say no to social opportunities, i use to make excuses whenever anything made me even slightly anxious. also, i met a few new girls which i found online (networking website, and one on this site), i'm not really friends with them yet but i realize that takes time and effort. i try to do something social at least once a week or more if others invite me out but i also know my limits and take time to recharge if i'm around people for an extended period of time. i also went biking alone and soon i'm gonna go swimming alone. i'm putting the job search on hold for now cause i'm not ready for that just yet (i tried a few things related to that also).
one major thing is that sometimes i do really good and sometimes i fail but i don't beat myself up for it, i'm recovering pretty fast after i fail.... so the progress is there. ohhh also i started watching the news/documentaries and some reading soo i can expand the things i can talk about (so now my conversations also include things like ohh i did this and this with this person blahh blahh and "did u hear about [insert something i learned on tv/reading].)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Exposure exercises will work if you first change your philosophy from believing certain people and places are fear inducing and pose a serious danger to a more realistic approach. Since these fearful thoughts (many of which now reside in the unconscious(which does not mean that they are in so deep you can't weed them out with persistence and practice)) are very much ingrained into your psyche through years and even decades of this type of self-defeating, habitual thinking, you better work on retraining your brain to think along more rational lines. I would recommend reading A Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis. Once you get the gist of it, then go out and experiment. Otherwise, it will just be the same old thing, like when you went to school every day Mon.-Fri.which was certainly repetitious but still didn't help you feel any less fearful. A CBT type of therapy is what I would far and away recommend for best aiding you on your way to recovery. It is, from my experience and from the data I have gathered, the most efficient way of going about this. But, you better understand that although comparatively quick in its effectiveness, it will probably take several months for you to notice significant changes. And, more importantly, like any human in this world that deals with other shortcomings, you can expect a lifetime of continuing to improve your moods as no one can be perfectly happy all of the time. Think of it as a project, or a challenge and try to have fun with it. You will soon learn that people and things cannot hurt you emotionally. Rather, you hurt yourself by believing that they can.
I disagree that this is like going to school everyday (although I never went to school, cause I was homeschooled... but that's another story). The difference is that simply going to school is a passive social experience. We don't go there to get over our social anxiety, we go there because we either want to learn or because our parents make us. With this in mind, going to school can be an experience that actively works to increase our fears and inhibitions because it becomes a place where we practice avoiding every social situation that comes our way.

In contrast, the type of exposure I'm talking about actively involves me in changing my behavior. For the most part, the only reason I do the exposures is to overcome my fears. I have no inclination nor interest in saying "hello" to 5 strangers at work other than to decrease my fear. I want to be in shape, but I could easily do that at home. I go to the gym so that I will be around people, just for the sake of desensitizing myself. Other things I do because I want to (like talking to pretty girls) or for other reasons (like speaking in front of groups of people). I choose them as exposures because I know that my anxiety prevents me from doing them as much as I would like to.

Obviously, there has to be a change in thinking, otherwise I'm just throwing myself under a bus. I won't get any better if I enter these situations expectating perfection or beating myself up everytime an exposure leads to an awkward or embarassing experience (which has happened many times in the past few weeks that I've been following my plan). That's why I read books on cognitive therapy (like Dr. David Burns' "Feeling Good") and employ several cognitive therapy techniques, such as writing down my negative thoughts and thinking of a postitive alternative. These techniques usually help me to fight of depression and help to motivate me into trying the exposures, but they don't get to the root of the problem: avoiding social situations.
 

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I've been trying to make myself do some scary things every day as signed off work with depression and feel I need to do something.
See what you mean about passive things, all my close relationships have involved the other person taking most of the initiative.

I have found some of the safe things I do are random e.g. I would be happy going to a yoga class but not an aerobics class. I repress the fear a lot or avoid e.g. going to a party but not saying a word all night. Only going out if my boyfriend is going with me, or if it is by car, straight from work or not too late.

Anyhow,
I've phoned my job agency to say I'm looking for work from next Monday
phoned up for a horse riding lesson (not been for about 2 years) that is today I feel a bit sick and like something is twisting round in my gut
went to a spinning class at the gym (had to phone)
went to a yoga class (had to phone)
drove to a friend's new flat with a GPS and went shopping
I'm going with my partner to someone's house for a mini housewarming
Going to a fancy dress party on Saturday night with my partner (hold a grudge as we both have PhDs but she has a new 3 year research job and I have been working for 2 years as a secretary. Not seen this person for a few years but used to be my housemate)
drove to the vets own my own, driving on the motorway

I feel a bit rubbish and really want the therapy my Dr has referred me for. I've not had much luck with CBT previously, but didn't have much exposure.

This is probably more than I've done all year, I think the first party of the year, maybe 2.
 
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