Me, social anxiety, and a little night out (self-help books)

Over the years I have tried so many self-help books that I’ve lost count, I don’t even want to know how many there have been.

I’ve tried Claire Weeks and her “Pass through Panic” CD, the “Linden Method”, Paul McKenna books and CDs, online CBT courses, you name them – I’ve probably tried them. I’m not knocking them, I know these have worked for many people, just not me. Perhaps it wasn’t the right time.

Most of the programmes I’ve tried have been along the lines of starting with something which only brings moderate discomfort (e.g. for me, tea and cakes), and, as that situation becomes more comfortable, trying the next step up the ladder until that too becomes comfortable. This was ok on the first rung of the ladder, but I never got past the first rung because I didn’t have the confidence or skills to move on. I struggled because:

• It was too big a step – how do you move on from a café to a restaurant? Or from a cup of tea at someone’s house to a full meal? It was too daunting.

• The steps were too far apart in terms of timings. I needed to be able to build on these steps every day, or I’d be back to square one again. But how do you invite someone out for a cup of tea one day, then tea and cake the next day, then a meal the next day, without them thinking you are totally crazy? (for me the answer has been several things – by admitting I struggle, by blogging about it and receiving so much wonderful support, by building my confidence with my counsellor, and practicing mindfulness – learning to switch off the panic button).

• Authors would say I needed to drop my safety behaviours, such as having mints to stop me feeling sick, a valium in my bag in case of emergency, taking Mr Silver Linings with me, having an escape plan. The thought of this meant I couldn’t face it, I need these things. (However, my counsellor says that these are all fine, they’re not unhealthy, the important thing is that I get out there and try things).

• Claire Weeks (who has helped a lot of people), asks that you don’t escape anxious situations, that you stay and wait until the anxiety subsides. Escaping and avoiding are two things I am very, very good at.

My problem is that I’ve been BATTLING anxiety for over a decade. I’ve gritted my teeth and made myself attend things I haven’t wanted to attend. And none of this battling has worked – I figured I lacked the willpower and courage needed, and so I beat myself up even more!

The next post will look at the counselling I’ve had, and how it turned out I was doing it all wrong. No more battling, no more teeth gritting!

 

Post-it notes and positive prompts

When my friend was learning Italian, post-it notes sprung up around the house in the strangest of places. I soon knew the Italian word for a myriad of kitchen appliances. I couldn’t help it, the words were all around me.

Now imagine if you replaced the Italian words with the words of positive emotions that you want to increase or work on. Before you know it, the fridge reminds you that you’re a great parent, the telephone reminds you that you’re a great listener, the front door reminds you that you’re beautiful, just as you step out into the world. (These are a bit random, but you can make them your own).

image

Even better, get someone else to write out positive post-it notes about you so that you get a regular reminder of all the wonderful things that they see in you!

My post-it notes include:

  • You’re strong
  • You’re beautiful
  • You’re loved
  • You’re courageous
  • You’re awesome!

What would yours include?

Act yourself confident aka a week in the life of Amy Pond

How many times have I looked at people and wished I could be that confident? And it isn’t just the confidence, it’s everything that comes with it, mainly, the opportunities. Whenever I see an opportunity, I automatically run through all the things that could go wrong before it even becomes a possibility. By the time the opportunity may eventually arise, I’m long gone.

But here’s the thing. Apparently you can act yourself confident, i.e. the more confident you act (however tiny you feel inside), the more confident you become.

So this week’s challenge is to act confident. I am going to imagine myself into the shoes of my confident alter ego, Amy Pond (Dr Who’s former assistant), and for one week I’m going to act as Amy Pond would act.

Source: BBC
Source: BBC

Here’s how to fake it ‘til you make it:

  • Walk tall, shoulders down, arms uncrossed
  • Smile, lots
  • Say yes to great stuff
  • Say no to not so great stuff
  • Go wherever the action is (this may or may not include time travel)

 Move over Miss Silver Linings, say hi to Amy Pond!

Starry moments: day 19

Today’s moments that made me smile:

Waking up in the arms of the guy I love, that feeling of belonging, and of not having to go to work! Bliss.

An invite for another crafty wedding afternoon. I love doing crafty bits, but never quite find the time. This way I know I will make the time, get a great girly catchup, and make pretty things, perfect! The whole thing also makes me feel a part of the family, which can be a tricky one with step families. Anyone else have a step family?

Spotting a line of seagulls, one on each post by the river. It would have made a brilliant photo if we hadn’t been in the car. It really tickled me.

Cuddling the two FLUFFIEST cats on the planet, a friend’s two ragamuffins. I could have happily buried my face in all the fur, I had to drag myself away… (If you’ve seen the little girl in Despicable Me when she shouts “fluffy!”, that’s me).

Last but not least, seeing my old house in the city before Adrian and I moved in together, in the country. I miss the convenience of the location, but I didn’t feel sad. That house belongs to another era, it was a great house with happy memories, but now it needs to look after its new inhabitants. (To put this in context, I moved into that house when my ex finished with me after 12 years, my first house all on my own, so leaving it was hard, but the future has been so much better).

This will be my last daily “starry moment” post because I can’t keep up! But (and a huge thank for all your support and suggestions), I’m now going to do a weekly update, which will hopefully free up my time for all the other posts I want to write...

Starry moments: day 17

Today was a HUGE starry moment in my relatively small world.

For most of you, the next bit will probably sound odd, as in, what’s the big deal? But for anyone with social anxiety – get this – I went for drinks and food with people I don’t usually socialise with, in a pub I’d never been too. I’m so chuffed with myself.

This weekend I’m going to write how I did it, as a reminder to me and hopefully some help to others.

Starry moments: day 16

In no particular order:

A fox scurrying through a hedge

An invite to a house party

A blog award

Appreciating my glasses, because without them I mistook this jumper for my cat:
image

The moon (one day past a full moon, but a clearer sky tonight, even if my phone doesn’t do it justice, pop out and have a look):
image

A bottle of snowball waiting on my desk because I said I’d never tried one!wpid-IMAG1917_1_1.jpg

The power of a password

How many times a day do you type a password? Each time you log onto your laptop or work PC, to look at your emails, to update your blog…

According to The Telegraph (2013), the most common passwords are:

  1. Password
  2. Paswword1
  3. 123456
  4. Qwerty
  5. Pet name
  6. Place of birth
  7. Iloveyou
  8. Monkey
  9. Name of a loved one
  10. Yourfirstname1

Imagine if every time you typed your password, you were reinforcing positive thinking? It needs to be a word that is important to you, that you want to see more of in your life.

  • Mindful
  • Positive
  • Awesome
  • Brave
  • SilverLinings

Do you think you might try this? What would you choose? (Perhaps given an example, it’s best not to share your actual password!)