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Lets begin by having a look at the following flawed generalisation:
“facing your fears is the only way to overcome your social anxiety”
Now – I’m not saying you shouldn’t face your fears.
To the contrary…
You definitely have to face your fears to be able to live a life of peace, freedom and joy.
But there is a much gentler, and far more effective way to go about it.
I’m going to introduce you to a powerful emotional release technique that I used to beat my own social anxiety.
Because just forcefully facing my fears didn’t work for me.
Nor did it work for any of the socially phobic clients I’ve been guiding to releasing their social anxiety in the past 5 years.
Now since the mainstream idea is that the only way to overcome your fear is to grid your teeth and force yourself to “face your fears”, I did.
I personally faced my fears.
I pushed through massive anxiety.
I dealt with prolonged awkwardness, embarrassment and discomfort.
And it did work. But the confidence I got after doing it was ONLY TEMPORARY.
And I did the most extreme things… (I’ll tell you more about those in a moment)
I started facing my fears somewhere before the summer of 2004.
I had discovered something profound through a self-help program. It gave me perspective on my situation.
I found out why I was suffering.
And that there was a way out of the misery.
That was a big relief for me, and inspired me to go for it no matter what.
But there was one problem – part of the solution was “facing my fears”.
And I was absolutely terrified to do that.
The things I feared most back then was becoming embarrassed. Humiliating myself.
Or looking “weak”, “uncool” or “un-confident”.
But even though I was terrified, I was willing to do whatever it would take.
Life was depressing. I saw myself as the biggest loser out there.
I was deeply ashamed of myself.
And I desperately wanted to prove myself not to be a loser.
I didn’t feel confident around others at all.
In social situations it felt like people wanted me to look bad. That they wanted me to look foolish and become embarrassed. And that was one of my biggest fears.
I couldn’t connect with people. I could give off the impression I was fine, most of the time, but I was deeply insecure, anxious and uncomfortable inside.
And because it sucked so much to be around people, I avoided as many social gatherings I could stay away from with a clever excuse. But I felt deeply lonely and hopeless.
I was so anxious in most conversations that it was near impossible to actually listen to what someone was saying.
Sometimes my heart was beating so loud, or I felt so insecure and anxious, that I totally lost whatever was said.
And I just knew they could see my awkwardness.
It even made them awkward, and that then made cringe…
I was constantly monitoring how I came across, worrying about how they perceived me. My mind was preoccupied with thinking of the right thing to answer.
Socialising was hard.
Especially with guys I thought were “cool” or girls I was attracted to.
When I went to an event that I couldn’t get out of (a birthday party, work outing, going out after many cancellations and excuses) I’d come home exhausted. Trying to control the way I came across, making people believe I was fine, took a lot out of me. It drained me.
So because they weren’t enjoyable, but painful, I naturally started to avoid most difficult social situations.
And then when NOT in a social situation there was my mind constantly attacking me. I was constantly worrying about my “reputation”. Doom-thinking about the future. Criticising and judging myself (and others), and making up worst case scenarios (and then fearing it would happen).
This nonsense was constantly occupying my mind.
And I couldn’t stop it.
My mind wouldn’t leave me alone.
I woke up anxious, and went to bed anxious (unless I was drunk)…
So I had sworn to myself I’d keep going until I had complete confidence in all social situations.
Because this self-help program said it could be done. It made sense to me.
But I had to face my fears.
So that meant getting rejected.
That meant talking to girls.
That meant becoming embarrassed.
That means doing the things I feared most.
And looking foolish…
And I actually did it.
But did it really solve my social anxiety?