“I hate having social anxiety! My life would be so much better without it!”
I know I have in the past. I felt very justified thinking that.
I even agree that my life is better now that social anxiety doesn’t dominate me any longer – there’s some truth to that statement.
But hating and focusing on that fact that my life would be better, and is currently worse only keeps me down.
The problem with this “hate-thinking”
This kind of thinking isn’t the pathway to transforming yourself out of social anxiety into the life you really want to live.
It’s denying your current experience, which is all that you have.
Any rejection of what we are currently experiencing causes us to suffer needlessly.
Here’s one of my favorites that I’ve heard a number of times, and even thought before:
“I hate extraverts and people that are really social, they have it so easy.”
So easy to look at those who are social as the bad guys.
But here’s the thing:
HATING DOES YOU NO GOOD.
HATING GETS YOU NOWHERE.
HATING WASTES YOUR VITAL ENERGY TO LIVE AND DO GREAT THINGS.
That’s right, all that energy you put into hating having social anxiety, yourself or others is precious energy you could be directing towards your recovery.
Plus all you’re doing is reinforcing the negative thought, focusing on the same thing, which just keeps you stuck. It doesn’t make you any worse per say, but you’ll stay stuck.
So how do you stop hating and starting breaking the pattern?
1) Start paying attention to how you feel when those thoughts show up. Label the feeling, nonjudgmentally.
2) Reframe the “I hate” thoughts to shift your attention to a rational statement – something like “Ok, I know that if I hate having social anxiety that does no me good. So instead I accept what I’m feeling and move forward.”
Ok that’s a bit long for a statement, and I’m sure you could come up with a shorter, more powerful statement that relates to you, but you get my point.
3) Breathing mindfully into the feeling of negativity/hate/discomfort
4) Shift your body in a big way – open up your posture, breathe deep
Now these of course are all small suggestions/techniques to give you a seed. I suggest practicing things like these in combination.
Of course it’s not about a particular technique but to literally retrain your brain, body and emotions to respond differently around people.
It’s never about the technique per say, but what it does to reorganize your system.
Sometimes clients I work with learn one technique that makes them feel really good, and that have an “insight leap”.
Now I’m all for insight leaps, but in my experience, it’s just the beginning.
Then that same person will focus on only using that technique only to find it stops working, because they missed the point. The technique will never do the job for you, its part of the retraining of ourselves out of social anxiety.
Another thing that hating does: it causes resistance to where you currently are in your life, what you’re currently feeling.
As you push up against it, it pushes back, and there you remain. Stuck, stuck, stuck.
All of this is a big part of what I teach you in the DSA program, and particularly when I work with people one-on-one over Skype – how acceptance is a huge part of the process of change. Acceptance and change come together, not separately.
I recently had a client who was worried that acceptance would mean that she had to give up on change. I corrected this pointing out that accepting where we are freed up to be different, and to all the possibilities that are around us for a better life.
It’s very counterintuitive but once you get the hang of it, things really start to shift.
Before you go consider this, what if the process wasn’t really about changing or accepting, but both at the same time in a continuous process? I call that a shift.
This is what we are going for to have a dramatic leap or change in our lives where we can navigate the bumps smoothly and in the flow.
Something to think about for the future. I’ll be expanding more on this in the months to come, so stay tuned.