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  • #14741

    Odhran
    Keymaster

    This Topic has been opened for member of the current 2013 Group to post any questions they may have.
    Responses are open to anyone current or past.
    Thanks
    admin

  • #14742

    Odhran
    Keymaster

    Hello all!

    I have been attending the group since January, and we are now in our 8th week. After last week’s session, which involved the first of our roleplays (which I was not directly involved in), I noticed a sudden, massive increase in my own levels of confidence and self-esteem, even to the extent that I would no longer describe myself as socially anxious. Up until last week, I had been enjoying the group but had had all but no hope that it could make any difference. But suddenly during that session, everything we had talked about so far came together like the pieces of a jigsaw, and I could suddenly see how it was my safety behaviours, and not my anxiety or supposed inadequacy, that had been ruining my life for 10 years. Since that moment I have stopped engaging in almost all of these safety behaviours and have felt a tremendous feeling of liberation and excitement about life without the awful hurdle of social anxiety. Until last week, I would avoid almost every social situation and interaction that I could reasonably avoid. If I felt obligated to involve myself in a social situation, I would speak as little as possible for fear of saying the wrong thing, or for fear of attracting attention to myself and getting myself involved in a situation where I would be expected to say something (the right thing). But since last week I have been enjoying social interactions and even actively seeking them out, and without any effort my sense of self-worth and self-confidence have increased to levels that I can’t remember having ever felt before. Because of my sudden confidence in my own social capabilities, I no longer feel the intense self-consciousness and self-focus that used to overwhelm me and rob me of my natural ability to think of things to say. I can also see that people will react so much better to me if I say something that is not perfect, than if I never say anything at all, and because I no longer have to worry so much about saying the wrong thing, a great part of my mind has now been freed up to concentrate on enjoying the back and forth of social interaction.

    At the same time, I cannot help but worry a bit that such a sudden colossal change can’t be sustained, even if the groundwork for the change seems quite solid to me. The main reason I’m writing this post is to ask if anyone else currently or previously in the group has ever experienced a sudden drop in their levels of anxiety or a sudden increase in confidence, and if so, is there anything I should be wary of in the future?! I’m aware that there will surely be setbacks in the future and that things will happen that will make me doubt myself, but I am hoping that when such things happen, I will not revert to my old ways of thinking such as: “Oh well of course this is happening again, because you are fundamentally, completely inadequate after all – how could you have let yourself forget that?” But that instead I will be able to call upon new ways of thinking that I have learned largely through my participation in the group, e.g. remembering that no one is perfect and everyone has embarrassing and anxious moments and does not always manage to interact perfectly (or even well) with everyone all of the time.

    I hope that anyone reading this might be encouraged to find hope – and above all I don’t mean to dishearten or belittle anyone who is having a tougher time. Just one week ago, I couldn’t have imagined being any more pessimistic, hopeless and despairing than I was (in fact, I had been plagued with suicidal thoughts after the previous week’s session). Now, I feel that all the positive things about myself and about my life have been there all along, but that they were buried underneath a thick curtain that kept all the light hidden away. I can only hope that I will be able to maintain and build upon what has begun, and that others suffering from this horrible infliction may also find something of their true selves that might be buried underneath.

  • #14743

    patch
    Participant

    Hi, Thank you for getting the ball rolling and starting a discussion on our group session. I always find it easier to get my thoughts down on paper or like this.

    I had mixed feelings when I read your post because you are obviously suffering so much pain with your social anxiety that you are having dark thoughts. I really hope you will go to your doctor or to someone you really trust if you have them again.On the other hand then It was very uplifting to read that you felt that some things are becoming so clear as a result of the dreaded first role play session . I think i might understand where you are coming from though. Its seems to me that we have to shift our focus from our negative thinking and concentrate on what is really going on around us . I have tried to tell myself this over the years but its only when you see it on the video that its actually begins to make sense. It is obvious from the first two roleplays now, that is it our own safety behaviours that bring more attention us than anything
    I am dreading having to do this roleplay but I am not going to be the one who chickens out.
    Anyway this week i am going to do my homework really well and listen and pay attention to whats going on around me and i have a feeling its going to open my eyes a lot. I
    hope you lot all have a good week, and I have to admit i have gone from a state of nervous apprehension at the first session to a state of oh great, its Thursday again. I really hope you all feel the same

    All the best

    .

  • #14744

    rosal
    Participant

    Hi Patch,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply, and I am glad you are finding the group helpful and enjoyable, too. I agree that it is important to focus our attention outwards, and this week I have tried, like you mentioned, to catch myself each time I have been focussing inwardly, and to turn my attention outwards again. Through this process I have come to recognise the feeling that goes along with the self-consciousness, and have noticed that this feeling often announces itself long before the conscious thought. On several occasions I have noticed a general feeling of having done something wrong or exposed myself, and only afterwards have I been able to recognise the thoughts behind the feeling, and often the irrationality of those thoughts. For example, often if I say something that might be important to me but that the person I’m talking to might not wholeheartedly agree with or even react to in the way I expect, I might take this as a sign that I have said something wrong or expressed something unacceptable. In the past, I would have concluded that I should no longer risk exposing myself in such a way, and this would lead to safety behaviours such as “staying quiet”, “not expressing opinions”, etc. But the repetition of such behaviours can very quickly lead to extremes, and one can end up with nothing left to say that isn’t somehow “risky”. This is how I view the progression of my anxiety, at least.

    Now, I am trying to catch myself in these moments and to offer myself alternative thoughts such as “Everyone has different opinions and there is no one “right” opinion; It’s better to sometimes express “controversial” opinions than never to express any at all (Difference is what makes people interesting)”; etc. Before, as soon as I would notice that my contribution hadn’t gotten the “right” reaction, I would instantly become immersed in self-consciousness and would lose touch with what might be happening around me. I would feel not only that I had made myself uncomfortable, but that I had made the other person(s) uncomfortable too. I might simply wait for the conversation to move on and would feel that I had dodged a bullet if it did. Now if such a situation arises, I will make a conscious effort not to shy away from what I have said, and to be ready to back it up. Upon trying this, it has become clear that any discomfort others might feel in such a situation can often be quickly dissipated if I just explain myself more thoroughly and give them more to react to.

    For me, the roleplays so far have had the powerful effect of extracting us from the lived experience of social anxiety and presenting it from an outside perspective that’s more objective and analytical. From this perspective, it’s much easier to apply the principles of CBT and to appreciate their usefulness. While I feel my confidence has dropped a small bit from the high I experienced last week, I now find that I am able to use these tools to help keep the anxiety thoughts and behaviours under control, and with them things feel far less hopeless!

  • #14745

    rosal
    Participant

    Hi all,

    I just came across this fascinating talk about how body language affects the way we think and feel about ourselves. It resonated a lot with me and is an important part of how we deal with stressful and anxiety-provoking situations, I think. What appeals to me especially is how relatively easy it is for us to control our body language (compared to other behaviours, thoughts and feelings). Link below:

  • #14746

    maryc
    Member

    Rosal said

    Hi all,

    I just came across this fascinating talk about how body language affects the way we think and feel about ourselves. It resonated a lot with me and is an important part of how we deal with stressful and anxiety-provoking situations, I think. What appeals to me especially is how relatively easy it is for us to control our body language (compared to other behaviours, thoughts and feelings). Link below:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

  • #14747

    maryc
    Member

    Fascinating, encouraging talk,thanks for posting,am heartened by the idea that conscious changes to some of our behaviours(as also discussed in group), such as body language can create internal change too.I feel all I have read up until now has left me with the impression that real change occurs when you first tackle your thinking.Empowering stuff!

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