Friday, 28 March 2014

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

What are you Looking for?

Hi again,

As this blog is quite new, I want to invite you, yes you, to tell me what you would like to read more about.  There are a lot of topics that I plan to cover in this blog, but I am hoping that new readers who happen upon this blog will help me decide which direction to head in.  Are you hoping to learn more about social anxiety? Perhaps you want me to focus on practical solutions for social anxiety?  Or do you enjoy the personal sharing of one person's struggle with social anxiety to another?  My long-term vision for this blog is that it will be a place that we can support each other in breaking the cycle of social anxiety, so I really appreciate you sharing what you would like to see more of.  Thank you sincerely

Monday, 5 March 2012

Things to Come

Since this blog is so new and shiny, and since you are probably hoping to see more in the way of solutions to social anxiety, I thought I would mention something that I am very excited about offering to you. Cathy MacArthur is a hyponotherapist and core counsellor, who is an expert in helping people to overcome anxiety. She has agreed to offer materials such as hypnotherapy and counselling sessions in formats such as mp3 sessions, videos, and e-books. She has indicated that she will offer these things at an affordable price, and even include a few free resources that I can share with you. To start with, here are some links to her WEBSITE and free videos:
what is hypnotherapy? 
what kind of issues does it adress?
How is your approach different? 
There are lots more if you look along the sidebar of youtube too.

Not Weak. Not a Freak.

One major problem that people with social anxiety often have is to believe that we are different than everyone else - in a bad way.  I remember talking to a counsellor about this. I talked about how embarrassing is is to feel so nervous about everyday situations like eating in front of people.  She reminded me that everyone has their own stuff!  Some people are terrified of things like spiders, bridges, dogs, small spaces, flying, being alone, darkness, intimacy, failure, aging, and about ten million other odd things.  Why do we think that social fears are  so different?  What makes us so much more deficient and worthy of self-hatred?  The answer is of course that we just have particular fears and issues, just like every other human being alive today.  Our fears might be a little more obvious, but everyone has their stuff. You are not a freak, you are just human!

One big step in the process to overcoming social anxiety is to stop beating ourselves up about it.  We can't let it define us.  If our primary identity is "I am someone with social anxiety", we are focusing too much on one detail of our own lives.  If you think that you are weak for having social anxiety, just grab a sheet of paper and write down all of the strengths that you have. Are you kind to people? Are you good at your hobbies, your job, your relationships, readings, writing, math, helping people?  I'm sure that if you write all of these things down and then put "has social anxiety" on that list, you will see that one weakness does not outweigh all of your strengths.  It is the favorite trick of social anxiety, and many other issues, to become our primary identity. In my counsellor training, we learned a great technique to seeing "problems" outside of ourselves rather than an integral part of our identity.  In the future (once I find that sheet I have on it), I will post it on this blog for you to try. It's actually fun, quite humorous, and gives a new perspective of the problem. In essence, you talk to your problem as if it was a separate person, asking it a variety of questions. Sounds weird i know, but it can help a lot.

In the meantime, here is great book on the subject of externalizing problems. It's written for counselling students or counsellors but we are all our own counsellors in some way aren't we? :)

Is Preparation Important?

Hi there,

So now that we know the 3 keys to social anxiety, I'll talk a bit about preparation. If you are like me, you have probably read through a bunch of websites talking about how preparation is the ultimate key to eliminating social anxiety.  The idea I suppose is that if we are getting ready to make a speech or go to a job interview etc, we will not be afraid because we know what we will say.  I will be the first to admit that I thought this was a load of BS.  Just because we have practiced what we will say does not mean that we will be comfortable facing tough social situations.  For myself, I still feel the terror in the belief that I will forget everything and just "freeze" during my interview or speech.  So in this post I will not tell you that preparation is the key to breaking the cycle of social anxiety.  I WILL tell you that preparation helps though!

Think about it this way: Say you have a job interview coming up.  Now a magic genie has taken your anxiety about the social situation away.  If you really look at it, you will probably find that you are worried about what you will say during the interview.  A more realistic example is an e-mail interview.  Say you have only 20 minutes to write an e-mail to an potential employer, who wants to know why you would be an assett for her company.  You are likely to still feel some anxiety about your response, eventhough the social aspect has been removed from the situation.  Thus, what I am arguing here is that preparing can help us to get rid of extra worries and anxietys such as "what will I say".  Preparing takes one more worry off the table and leaves us more energy and focus to work on our social anxiety.

Over the next few weeks, I have to go meet with potential practicum placements and tell them why I would be a great addition to their team.  This is pretty terrifying but a big part of my plan is to plan ahead.  My girlfriend and I are going to write up a basic "pitch" including a bit about me and why I am suited for a practicum position.  We are then going to do mock interviews where I will get used to responding with my prepared answers in a natural way.  That way, I will not just have memorized a set of responses like you would for a history test, but I would become accustomed to weaving these prepared responses into my natural way of talking and interacting. Like I said in the description of this blog, I have learned a lot but I am not some expert telling you what to do. I am in this struggle with you guys, working to break my own cycle of social anxiety.  Please wish me luck as I go into these interviews. I wish all that luck back to you as you face your own challenges!