Some thoughts about social anxiety.
Generally, I find it more helpful to remind myself that it is OK to be anxious and allow myself to feel those uncomfortable feelings rather than using "tricks" to try to shut the feelings down. Deep breathing, relaxation exercises and all the other approaches we could discuss can
all help, but only in a limited way, at least in my experience. That is, limited if they are done a devices to try to control the anxiety rather than devices which allow us to experience it without freaking out. Because the disputing phase of REBT can be so rigorous and "combative" sometimes, it may not always be obvious that much of what REBT-CBT is about is teaching us to accept reality (before we deal with it proactively), in this case accepting the reality of what we are feeling.
I find that paradoxically, allowing myself to feel anxiety rather than resisting and fighting it
(1) makes it more bearable and
(2) allows it to pass more quickly.
Obviously, the opposite of "I must not feel anxious!" is "though uncomfortable, it's OK to feel anxious." That is an exercise in Acceptance (with an intentional capital "A") that has
deep philosophical roots in both Eastern and Western philosophical
"I must not feel anxious!" by resistance makes you feel more anxious as well as guilty.
"And since I feel anxious, as I must not, I am a wimpy, inadequate, incompetent fellow (not at all like these people around me who seem to
be so poised and confident" makes you feel like a wimpy, inadequate, incompetent fellow.
If you already understand understand these principles somewhat, now it is time to practice applying them. Do this with pencil and paper.
(1) In your imagination, go back to your most recent awkward social experience, get into it a little bit and let yourself re-experience all the unpleasant emotions as vividly as you can.
(2) Write down what you are feeling.
(3) Write down all the thoughts you are thinking associated with this unpleasant experience; just before, during and after. Especially, look
for all the shoulds, oughts, musts and awfulizing and written them down.
(4) Begin to dispute these IBs & distorted thoughts one at a time.
(5) Replace each distorted thought with thinking that is cooler, less inflammatory, more rational and helpful.
Hopefully, you will come to the place where you can honestly say something to the effect that while it is a bummer to feel anxious, it is not the end of the world
(1) It is not the end of the world,
(2) You will not die or "go crazy" from experiencing some anxiety
(3) Although awkward and embarrassing, you can function and complete your task even though anxious.
Khon Kaen, Thailand
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Originally posted 2013-04-22 21:06:21.
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