the art of war and social anxiety
Photo: popculturegeek

“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Anxiety itself – whether social, generalized or any other flavor of it – is a strange opponent, very strange.

Not only must we know ourselves intimately to overcome it, but we must get to know it like a best friend, in order to beat it.

Even though I and many others in psychology say don’t fight your anxiety, because it only gets worse – the approach of that which you resist persists and takes total control of you – overall, the reason you are here, in the end game, to win the war against social anxiety.

The Paradox of the Anxiety War

But the paradox is, you must fight the fight “against” social anxiety, without directly fighting against it. Our minds have a very hard time understanding this logically, because it is such an emotional battle.

But with new experiences that include your mind, emotions and body all together, you will begin to feel the hold of social anxiety will start to loosen its grip.

The recovery process will all start to make sense the more you learn to befriend the enemy that is your social anxiety.

You’ll learn to defuse from thoughts and stories that perpetuate this condition; to see a negative thought and say “hey, that’s not true, that’s just an automatic negative thought” and simply let it go.

Certainly you’ll struggle with the process, but you’ll start to learn that what used to be your reality, is not reality any longer.

You’ll see the negative thoughts and feelings for what they are, just thoughts and feelings that continue to generate social anxiety.

These negative processes will fight to stay, but you won’t let them say, because you’ll let them go. You’ll start to guide yourself towards what you want, living from a story of self-acceptance, self-love and what matters to you most.

All you have to do is keep practicing, keep going.

The Noise Starts to Get Quiet

Eventually, all the racket and noise in your head, all the tumultuous feelings of social anxiety in your body will turn down – they’ll become an across the room conversation, then quiet conversation in a corner, to a gentle whisper in the background.

At that point, you’ve won the game.

Truth be told, sometimes this conversations will creep up again.

But once you’ve done the work, you’ll be able to call bulls%!t on old social anxiety thought/feeling patterns creeping around the dark corners of your mind, quickly and get back to your life.

It’s all possible, but there’s no specific roadmap or formula for everyone. Just systems and approaches to help you
along the way.

To Win…or Not to Win

There’s something that’s been on my mind lately, and it has to do with who will benefit the most from working with me and the approach I use here at Social Expression in overcoming their social anxiety and shyness.

I’ve come to realize that not everyone wants to play the recovery game the way I encourage people to play it. Which means asking this question, over and over again:

“How do I win the game of social anxiety recovery?”

If you haven’t noticed, what’s implied in this question is this: you must be committed to the belief at a deeper level that you can and will win, even though you are struggling and you haven’t won just yet.

It’s about the overall mindset and attitude that you won’t give up on yourself and your recovery.

Indeed, my friends, there will be hard times where your social anxiety mind will take control, you will feel hopeless and like all is lost and that’s OK.

Those setbacks will happen and are a sign of progress. But overall your attitude is “I’m going to beat social anxiety, and I’m going to win this game, no matter what.”

I completely understand that not everyone is willing to play this game to win.

I’m OK with that.

As a former sufferer of shyness and social anxiety myself, when I learned I had this condition it was like a breath of fresh air.

All the pain, suffering, lack of confidence, self-loathing for being highly sensitive and introverted, the awkwardness, all those years…everything now made sense.

I finally saw the way out, and I wasn’t going to stop until I got there…or rather here.

Drawing the Line in The Sand

So below is an open letter that will be posted on the SocialExpression.NET community on Facebook. But I wanted to put it here first and let you know where I stand and who I truly support.

I hope it’s going to ignite and inspire those who have been in limbo to get in a more proactive path to recovery; and most certainly it will cause a bad reaction in others, that think that just reading blogs posts here, or my free eBook will get them over social anxiety, or that someone else should do it for them.

Frankly, it’s time I drew the line in the sand, spoke from my heart and soul, because I’ve been half-assed about this for far too long.

So here it goes. Forgive me if some of what was said is repeated below, it was not my intention to be redundant, but I wrote this post and the below open letter separately.



First of all, IMMENSE GRATITUDE to those who have joined, comment, share and like the resources here at the SocialExpression.NET community.

Thanks to those who put in their time and energy, and continue to participate in this community as it grows every day.

I consider anyone here that comes, stays and takes full responsibility for their life and their social anxiety condition moving forward, as someone who truly wants to win this game of social anxiety recovery.

I understand that not everyone does.

Some may say they want to overcome social anxiety, but doing and saying are two different things, and those that really want to recover won’t give up no matter what.

Those who want it bad enough will continue to do the practices and take the action necessary to win this game, in the long run.

I realize this place isn’t for everyone with social anxiety, it’s for those who really want to recover, whether they decide to work with me directly or not.

There are many forums and groups out there that get lost in mood of negativity; places which don’t keep things moving in a proactive, truly supportive and inspiring direction to dissolve social anxiety.

Yes – it’s absolutely OK to talk about your struggles and challenges here; to ask any questions that you like.

But many of these places people go to, so they can connect with others that have social anxiety, to avoid actually overcoming it in their lives.

Social anxiety becomes an identity for them, which only reinforces this as a trap.

This is NOT what SocialExpression.NET is about.

For those who may wish to continually dwell in negativity – denying the possibility of a brighter future and living a better life sooner than later – this is simply not the road to a faster and powerful recovery, and I can’t endorse or encourage this mindset.

It’s my PROMISE TO YOU never to let the mood of negativity take over here, for as long as this community exists. It’s OK to be negative, that cannot be helped at time. However dwelling in it will never serve recovery.

Positive, proactive and forward moving is what SocialExpression.NET is all about and it’s what I stand for.

I don’t have the time or the energy to be in the same space of people that continually choose to live in complaint the rest of their lives; live in the space of “I can’t”; rationalize their way out of having a great life; blame it on genetics or upbringing; for those who aren’t willing to commit and recommit to the difficult process of social anxiety recovery.

If that truly describes you then please consider that this page might NOT be the place for you, and that’s OK.

This isn’t a reflection of anything I’ve seen yet, but it’s likely some will show up that will want to stay in the negative, and appear to want to change, but really won’t.

They’ll want to hold on to their social anxiety for dear life, because it gives them a sense of self that they’re not willing to let go of, let alone the facing up to fear and going through the pain that will have to be gone through to get out of this.

This is tough stuff, and not for the meek-hearted.

As a former long-time sufferer myself, I know this game of social anxiety recovery inside and out, quite frankly.

I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars and years and YEARS reading books, in personal development workshops of all kinds (where I was super anxious and shy, and very awkward but went anyways trying to heal myself); including a very profound coach training, searching for answers anywhere I could, not knowing I even had social anxiety, all this time.

It wasn’t until I came across resources like those of Dr. Thomas Richards, Eastern philosophical practices and variations of Cognitive-Behavior Therapies that the path of recovery became truly supportive and clear to me, and led me to where I am today.

I’m very grateful for all of their methods, care and commitment for putting their work out there. The very fact that you know you have social anxiety, I consider you quite lucky.

There are people out there that used to be like you and me, that don’t even realize they have this demeaning and at times debilitating condition known as social anxiety.

They think they’re fundamentally flawed when they’re not. Some don’t know that they can get help and actually recover.

Let’s hope we can reach them.

For those who truly want to dig deep, change their lives in a profound way, and to play a bigger game…for those people that truly want to win this game, I’m so very grateful you are here.

I invite you to participate as much as you can – though I know sometimes its tough, because of your social anxiety – and I do hope you’ll stay as long as you need or would like to.

Many thanks for already being here, and making it worthwhile for me, every day, to continue running this community; and as a coach and mentor for those who wish to rise out of the suffering of social anxiety and live a better life.

To some I may sound a bit harsh here, but anyone who has worked with me will tell you I can be “gently & playfully irreverent” as I operate out of enthusiasm, excitement and deep compassion for the people I work with as a coach and mentor.

I’m all in when I work with people, nothing less than 110% from me and I ask them same of them. I honor and respect what you are doing on your road to recovery in giving it your all.

I know that’s a lot of you here that resonate with this long, open letter and I’m very grateful for that. You are the people that I believe in, because over and over you continue to believe in yourself.

Even in the hardest of emotional times you fall down, pick yourself up, and YOU KEEP GOING. Again, and again and again.

Not everyone is willing to do that, and I have the utmost respect and compassion for you, and I know what it’s like to be suffering yet keep going.

Gratitude for your boldness and courage to be here, and for not giving up on yourself and your recovery journey.

I look forward to interacting with you here; to us working together directly if that’s what we decide to do; and/or support you in your own proactive, committed recovery path, however that manifests for you.

I truly want you to win because anything less would be fair to what I stand for, or especially to you.

Here’s to winning the game of social anxiety recovery.

David Hamilton

Founder of SocialExpression.NET

For those interested in “playing big and to win” – who want to enroll in the Dissolve Social Anxiety (DSA) program and/or work with me directly, to win the game of social anxiety recovery sooner rather than later, click here to read more about the DSA program.