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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am starting to realize that as I improve my self-esteem, my anxiety has tended to get better. I am no longer HYPER-worrisome of what others might be thinking of me at any given moment. And this has got me to thinking about a possible cause of my social anxiety. Since it is the fear of rejection or negative opinions (of ourselves) from others, it means we are placing other people's opinions over our own.

Do you do this?

I am realizing that I have done this a lot in my life. I have also noticed that when confronted with different angles/opinions/viewpoints I can be easily swayed and I tend to put a lot of stock into other people's opinions.

Has anyone else noticed that improving self-esteem, and learning to develope a strong inner-voice helps?

By realizing and taking firm hold on my own values and opinions I have realized that I am no longer on such an emotional rollercoaster of self-doubt and worry. I am being true to myself, and I truly don't need others for approval. Man, that really sounds cliche...but it is starting to make a lot of sense to me. Sorry if something similar has been posted already...
 

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Dude
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What kind of things did you do for your self-esteem?

It's been posted before, but some people havent seen it and we can always use a new perspective.

I agree with you. I think one of the major sources of SA is the need for approval and toxic shame. We treat ourselves as unequals and lower our value system and live by the rules of others because we are ashamed of our deep self. Thus why our self-esteem is so erratic. If we base it on ourselves we can be in control of our self image and self esteem. But I think we still need love from others to be happy, not approval but validation. Which is unconditional love, whilst approval is conditional love.

I've been trying to look for more positives about myself, and asking myself WHAT DO I WANT, firmly before making decision or reacting to somebody opinion. Helping a bit, hopefully becomes automatic one day. This is the main thing i'm working on now, and i believe the greatest hindrance to my goals.
 

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I agree with you. I think one of the major sources of SA is the need for approval and toxic shame. We treat ourselves as unequals and lower our value system and live by the rules of others because we are ashamed of our deep self. Thus why our self-esteem is so erratic.
Agree.

I've been trying to look for more positives about myself, and asking myself WHAT DO I WANT, firmly before making decision or reacting to somebody opinion. Helping a bit, hopefully becomes automatic one day. This is the main thing i'm working on now, and i believe the greatest hindrance to my goals.
I think my inborn stubborness somewhat allows me to do what I want if I really want to, particularly recently. However, I don't know if it is always a good thing, socially speaking. For example, one day at college at lunch time, my college was giving out free food [for Eid] in the common room and my friends wanted to go there. However, I outrightly refused to go there and so, went off by myself to go out to eat. And so, doing what we want without the need for approval (which, in this case, almost always consists of doing what everyone else is doing) would go against "social expectations (probably the wrong word for it) and so, constitute to further isolating yourself. Or, at least, this is what I have experienced. A disliking to "follow the crowd" may also have a say in this.
 

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You are exactly right about the self esteem thing. I think self esteem is absolutely key to social anxiety, for me at least, it is 100% linked.

As a kid and a teenager, I had enormous self esteem, I really liked myself and I was proud of myself and my life was awesome because of it. When you are that confident, you give off an aura of confidence and contentedness. I think people find that very attractive. Other guys wanted to hang around with me because I was like a confident leader type, and girls often flirted with me and often I would flirt back. In fact a little later on, like age 17 or so, some girls practically threw themselves at me. I rejected them because deep down there were holes in my confidence and I was wary of actually dating someone, so then my confidence probably just looked like arrogance and aloofness.

Since everything came crashing down for me, I'm now a pathetic creature in comparison really. I have very little confidence or self esteem at all, and it is hand in hand with social anxiety. I walk around with my head held in shame and I assume people are looking at me and more importantly, looking down their noses at me for whatever reason... Because of this my life got destroyed, my relationships with friends and family and jobs has all suffered and now I'm a fully blown loser.

I've gone from one extreme to the other. It's odd though because I occasionally have brief moments where the confidence of my youth comes back... and it's almost like I've been given super powers or something. I completely change and I feel like I can go out and take on the world and do anything I want, but then the feeling gives way to the anxiety again...

So yes... I think if I could somehow talk myself in to being more confident about myself, judging myself fairly and forgetting about what other people think, get the self esteem to value my own opinion again, more than other people's, then I think I could turn my life around. It is easier said than done though of course..
 

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I strongly agree with this line of thinking, for me at least it's proven to be true. When my self-esteem takes a knock, my SA gets worse. When my self-esteem is ever lifted (even if only for a day) my SA lessens.
My only issue is how to raise my self-esteem without my negative internal monologue switching on with the usual "they only said that because they pity you", "you were just lucky", "you don't deserve it".
I've tried looking for materials on ways to improve my self-esteem, but I always end up listening to some very cheesy audio book of self-esteem mantras, or browsing some site that ends up trying to push their product on me.

Maybe for me I need to fight that internal monologue. That's what my therapist thinks. When I did CBT half the battle for me was fighting that voice, but when that therapy ended the voice eventually took control again. But how can I build a self-esteem when internally I am always degrading myself, discounting my achievements, looking for the worst possible meaning in things.
 

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With CBT you are meant to be able to hijack any negative thought and replace it with positive thoughts, and thus completely change your mood in to a positive one.

For me it's just so much easier said than done. It would just take so much effort if I had to constantly monitor my incoming thoughts and then think of ways to spin them in to something positive. It would be really hard work and it would be annoying too because half the time I don't have these negative thoughts at all, they just kind of ambush me sometimes all of a sudden. That's a major problem with my problem is that it hits me so fast, literally less than a second. So I can walk in to a room of people and start chatting and everything is fine, and then BOOM, I'm paralyzed by fear, mid syllable.

I wonder if the only way to truly beat this problem is to just obsess over this CBT thing. Literally never let your guard down for a minute. Practise it constantly all day every day. Whenever a negative thought pops up, be ready to smack it away and replace it with something positive. And constantly question yourself too... "Am I thinking positive thoughts right now?" If not, why not? They should be positive. I think we are probably bombarded with these negative thoughts, to truly counter them, we maybe need to constantly bombard ourselves with positive thoughts, and never stop until your mood starts naturally changing to be naturally positive by default.

I believe it is do-able. I just think it would take a LOT of effort. For me, I just need to find that effort.
 

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With CBT you are meant to be able to hijack any negative thought and replace it with positive thoughts, and thus completely change your mood in to a positive one.
My understanding was that I was trying to not replace my negative thoughts with happy thoughts, but with realistic thoughts. Realistic thoughts based on past experiences, allowing for uncertainty without that uncertainty becoming dread, and constantly appraising the situation (so that if I took a realistic view of things, and I was correct, that I could realise that once again thinking rationally actually helped).

I mean, on a personal note, I will never be the of person who is able to bombard myself with positivity. I'm just too much of a grinch. But that said I can see myself fighting off the negative thoughts, or at least rationalising them, seeing if they really make that much sense.

The issue, you are right, comes with finding the energy to do this 24/7. I mean, hell, I get negative thoughts about myself when I'm on the toilet. I sometimes even see myself being negative, and knowing that I should speak up, but I just let it go because I can't be bothered. I need to get that energy from somewhere.

I might start doing coke.
 

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Lol, it's all so familiar sounding. Even the coke part! I had coke a few times and it made me confident for a while, but I wouldn't go anywhere near it in my current state because I think it could really screw me up in a massive way. And it just isn't long lasting enough anyway.

It's hard to find the energy because I don't know about you, but the anxiety makes me completely exhausted. Physically and mentally exhausted.. Some days are better than others but most of the time I just lay in a chair and can barely get out of it. So it's catch 22 because the anxiety saps my energy and yet I need energy to fight it.

I've been tempted to get on SSRI's again because I had them once before and it completely worked for me and everything was awesome. The problem was that they wore off after a year or so and I wasn't able to move on to a different one at the time. I'm tempted to go on them again because I hear you can just rotate through different types these days, and as your body gets used to them you just move to a different one. The only problem with that is that I am concerned it will just mask my problems and I will never truly deal with them because they won't be there for me to deal with. And then some day in the future I'm probably going to have to deal with it eventually. Unless I take meds forever :b
 

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SSRIs never seemed to work for me. If they did I would have probably done as you said and stayed on them for life (just switching when the body built a tolerance).

A doctor in a hospital once said to me, about depression and mental illness in general, he didn't get why people were so anti pills. For him, he saw clinical depression or anxiety (for example), as no different than a cold. His opinion was, we choose to take medicine when we have the cold, we don't wonder why we have the cold, or really care about how we get rid of it, just that it goes. He said I should view depression the same way.

But I don't and I probably never will.

Edit: The more I think about it, the more I feel you are right about the anxiety draining energy. It's hard for me to notice because I've been living with this for so long, but it is draining, physically and mentally. I wonder what I could do to lessen this draining, or get my energy from elsewhere.
 

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Well I started jogging which is obviously hard at first, but weirdly, it seemed to give me more energy. It's not just that I got fitter but it seems to help mentally too. Not enormously but definitely significant. If you can jog for 20 minutes or so, about three times a week, you will definitely feel better for it.

As for the SSRI's, I took various ones but I never gave them long enough to really try them out, except one. Seroxat (called Paxil in the US). It was like a mircale drug, within a month I was a completely different guy. Perhaps one of the best years of my life was when I took that drug. Unfortunately I felt so good that I stupidly stopped taking it, and within a couple of months I went worse than I've ever been in my life. Like almost a complete breakdown. I quickly started taking them again and didn't want to try anything else because I just wanted to save my life in a way, and they got me back to feeling ok but they never worked as well again.

I think now that I'm stable without any drug, I would quite like to try different ones and give them a lot longer. I never took any of the others for more than a couple of weeks and that's not enough really. Gotta take them for at least a month, maybe two, to really see if they work.

The only real downside of taking them is that it my erections less hard and less sensitive which wasn't very nice... but hey, at least I got to use my erections which is more than I can say for myself now, living a lonely life, scared to go out pretty much. Also you can apparently just take viagra now if that happens again.
 

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I think my inborn stubborness somewhat allows me to do what I want if I really want to, particularly recently. However, I don't know if it is always a good thing, socially speaking.
Well I find a balance and compromise is always needed. Sometimes I have to give myself up. Approval is still necessary just SAers feed off it. When I get angry about my beliefs, I find that's my typical signal that i'm being too stubborn and using anger to fuel my self worth.

I see the "don't follow the crowd" mentality as a safety behavior and a flat out rejection of approval and rejecting others before they reject you. Which is different from trying to learn to live better with less approval and by my own values. I think social isolation will only occur if one goes to far with the concept of not needing approval. I use to reject a lot of outings because I didn't feel it, but I realize they are more helpful in the long-term and outweigh the cons. So I am doing something for me.
 

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I think now that I'm stable without any drug, I would quite like to try different ones and give them a lot longer. I never took any of the others for more than a couple of weeks and that's not enough really. Gotta take them for at least a month, maybe two, to really see if they work.

The only real downside of taking them is that it my erections less hard and less sensitive which wasn't very nice... but hey, at least I got to use my erections which is more than I can say for myself now, living a lonely life, scared to go out pretty much. Also you can apparently just take viagra now if that happens again.
Thanks for sharing your erection haha. Well at least you'll have more blood for the brain to think. I don't know, I always thought of taken drugs, but they just seem like a temporary fix. When it's gone, everyone going to see me weak me.

I hope CBT really works out for you, cause I have to say you were really bashing yourself bad in your first post. I could really relate to the part where you dwelled about the past confident you. I was very social before SA hit too, pre-teen for me. I spent my high school life trying to get back that confident. Occasionally, I'd feel confident and I'd go ,"I"M BACK!" Then the next day, bam it's gone. WTF? But that confidence will never come back and my self confidence was living off the past, rather than now. Which made it so fragile. Then I discovered CBT, and now I'm trying to rebuild my confidence back up from scratch.
 

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heck yes. This is what therapy has shown me, for me it stems from a longing to be praised from my father who has never praised me my entire life. That and having very critical parents and coming from a very critical culture (I'm from the Caribbean originally) so combine all the above with having a naturally "thin skin" and what do ya expect! :)

I'm learning to build my own self confidence and not look to others for approval/praise.

Aries: Good for you for discovering that on your own!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wow - great replies everyone. Thanks for sharing!

What kind of things did you do for your self-esteem?
Basically, I am focusing on myself and realizing that all my life I have tended to focus on other people and things to give me happiness. I have taken a serious inventory of my shortcomings and faults. I have been manipulative in my life in order to get me happiness and this is destructive. A lot of this realization has come out of this book I read called "Co-dependency No More" by Melanie Beattie (after a breakup I picked it up). Codependency is basically relying on someone else for your happiness. One of the main points inthe book is each idividual alone is responsible for their own happiness. This really empowered me. I started to look inwards towards what I am lacking, what makes me happy, etc. And I have started being true to myself. So I've been working through a social anxiety workbook, small steps, talking to people more at work. and reading and learning more on subjects that I feel I have been embarrasingly ignorant of for years. I try to initiate coonversations more, hold firm to my opinions and statements, and am learning to be okay with being alone more. I am learning to enjoy my alone time. I also am learning to feel the feelings of things like loss, rejection, fear...and am learning to accept them as universal feelings and not freakish things that only I experience. If i endure something bad - in a way it's good, because it means I am actually living and taking chances. anyway,, thats probably more than you wanted to hear....

How have other people learned to gain self-esteem? Have any books helped you?

aww.. and thanks Trini :)
 

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Sounds like an good book, hope my library has it when I go down tomorrow. I guess I've gained self-esteem pretty much the same way as you. Putting and enjoying my own priorities and treating myself as an equal. Instead of telling myself I don't deserve better because I haven't attained something. I shouldnt feel guilty to do something I like. I love myself, so I treat myself how I would treat another loved one.

Not sure what the next step is. Simply seems like for me to keep at it and eventually it'l become habitual?

I don't know if you're a male or female, but the book I learned on approval was No more Mr.Nice Guy by Robert clover. I don't consider myself to really be a "nice guy" but it was geared towards approval addiction. Okay maybe i am a nice guy. I can see its insight helping both sexes, but females could be turned off.

Also this post helped me learn about approval. Maybe it can give you more help. Talks about the difference between approval and validation on the 2nd page.

http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/f26/validation-or-just-being-damn-well-listened-to-43508/
 
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