Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety

– mental blankness
– feel incapable of forming an opinion
– anxiety is focused upon social interactions & their unscripted nature (no guide, no protocol as to how to interact)
– affirmations do not always work
– prevents relationship formation

the therapists discuss:
– certain kinds of interactions can un-nerve a person, particularly where they feel out of place/no connection or no social foundation with the people they are interacting with [work functions]
– they note breaking into a group’s exclusivity is difficult, & people react to you as an outsider [he notes, that this is not a personal reaction, but rather a “systemic vibe” or group psychology]
– proximity builds familiarity, but this occurs over time rather than instantly
– anxiety has the broadest variety
– have often experienced social trauma in their past (both within & outside the family)
– the trauma is triggered – they feel like a child again & the feedback loop (feeling freaked out) is reinforced & the retreat from social interaction occurs
– no social skills; loser feelings & poor self-esteem
– with close friends they can talk a lot because they have been pent-up
– whenever, as an adult, entering into a social unknown situation – the person, as a result of a lifetime of reinforcement is thrown into a panic & their mind may go blank
– “cure” or treatment is to “habituate” this (not normalise it as some way of excusing it – for e.g. “everyone gets shy”; or to re-assure yourself that everything is ok)
– habituation is a behavioural technique which involves habituating your brain to the stimulus – that is, habituate yourself to social situations
– this involves slowly “exposing” yourself to the stimulus over days/weeks/months, but at a level where you are not overwhelmed – this grows confidence, & with mastery, more confidence
– this exposure also needs to be sustained long enough to feel fear & notice it passing
– for e.g. Go to a party for 30 mins & talk to two people you don’t know well; next time 40 minutes & 4 people & so on. [balance of comfort/discomfort][stress levels at 2/10] & then next gradation/step
– slower schedules of exposure, means longer to overcome
– this process of habituation is in accord with the motto: No pain, no gain
– the situations you place yourself must provoke anxiety – approx 4/10 (if it is more than 4/10 you re-traumatise yourself
– trick is not to push themselves too little/too much
– remember you need to warm up
– for some people it takes years to overcome their social anxiety, while for people with simple phobias this may take 3 to 6 months

Source: Psychology in Seattle | Podcast date – 21 October 2016

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