Often when people try to help themselves overcome social anxiety they look inward to their thinking to try and make changes to their thoughts. They are often acutely aware that their thinking is causing them stress and many people think that this thinking is solely responsible for their social anxiety. But usually it is not just one’s thoughts and thinking that is causing the problem.
From my experience of working with people and helping them overcome their social anxiety, it became obvious to me that the mind is only one component and it is often focused on WAY too much. In fact, often focusing just on the mental aspect of anxiety actually increases ones struggle with anxiety.
Social anxiety has a very physical component that needs to be addressed. And this is especially important if the social anxiety developed earlier on in life. The anxious experience that you feel is a physical experience. However, many people out there, so-called experts, will tell you that this sensation is coming from your thoughts and they say, your thoughts cause your feelings. But I believe it's a two way road, sometimes your feelings affect your thoughts and sometimes your thoughts will affect your feelings. So every time the physical body is locked in a defensive mode it will cause BOTH a thinking and feeling pattern associated with it..
It might sound silly, or even very obvious, but when working with someone to help them overcome social anxiety the social aspect needs to be addressed and this can't be done in one’s own thinking or from the comfort of a private room or just by talking with someone. Why? Because this creates an artificial environment separate from many aspects of everyday life. It has to be explored in the real world in social situations. But please keep in mind that what one does need to do, is to learn a new way of being in your body and explore a new way of being able to process incoming information around you in a way that does not trigger that old anxious response.
After someone has learnt a few effective strategies for a new way of being - social situations become different. All of a sudden, from within you, out comes new healthier ways of responding. And pretty soon, quite quickly, you develop strategies that are embodied and this becomes unconscious, so no matter where you are - if you're on your own, or if you're in with a group of people, or surrounded by a group of strangers, because of your ability to access a new level of inner peace and strength within yourself you will be free from the clutches of social anxiety. And, believe it or not, this has everything to do with your nervous system and your spine.
At our clinic we help you by addressing and unlocking the defensive and reactive patterning that is anchored into your spine and your nervous system (which directly affects BOTH your thinking and your experience in the world). As we help you become aware of how stress and tension is locked into your body and spine and how this is keeping you anchored into old patterns of defensive and reactive ways of being, we will also help you to create healthier new strategies which makes living life more easier and more enjoyable.
Most people come to me seeking help are unaware of why they are feeling anxious in the first place. They have no idea about why they go red in the face, or why they start sweating in certain circumstances. They simply know that they have this undesirable experience or intense feeling triggered by social situations. For many people, even the idea of thinking about going to a new situation creates distress, so they build more and more stress and often go out less and less to avoid the uncomfortable sensations in life.
If you have started doing less and less, perhaps withdrawing from social situations or situations that make you feel uncomfortable and, as a result, have started enjoying life less, you will be probably like most people be unconscious of what's going on, particularly on a deeper level – of spine, nervous system and your physiology. You probably just have a label that you have social anxiety - but this label can't help you get well!
What needs to happen is you need to learn new strategies about how to become socially comfortable. So my suggestion is for you to start thinking about how you would like to feel in social situations physically, emotionally and mentally, and how you would like to feel when surronded by others people. Start thinking about the many different scenarios and picture how you would like to feel, do this as if you were a movie director and someone was acting out your world.
If you would like some help to transform your life and overcome social anxiety I would be more than happy to help you. Please contact us at [email protected]
I am the owner of Inspiring Wellness, a wellness and personal transformation clinic in Auckland CBD and the Author of "Wellness Words, how to think speak and feel great" and "How to Break free from Anxiety". I love helping my clients take back their lives and regain their health and get a whole new higher quality of life. If you are curious if we can help you, please contact us. We are here to help you.