Friday, September 22, 2006


That's right, I'm Blog Daddy, soon to be B Diddy, king of the blogs.

I've been sat here for the past couple of weeks wondering why I'm getting no comments. Refreshing the page waiting for a glimpse of appreciatation, whiskey in one hand, the other curled up into an unloved fist. Sleeping with one eye open. The feeling of social detachment washing over my senses like...

Okay, I could be exagerating a little, but I was genuinely wondering about my comments, or lack of. Until today, when I receieved an email from someone with a similar project on the go. In my attempts to link it to my page, which was easier said than done, I came across my comments section, which was full of comments I'd never seen before. Yes, in an attempt to get rid of spam I changed my settings to allow the comments to be moderated....someone could have told me I had to publish them once they were submitted! So if you're wondering why you haven't seen your comments on here, accept my humble apologies for being completely incapable of organizing my own blog.

You can now carry on commenting.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


That blog hasn't seen many updates this past week or so, life keeps distracting me. Hell, I have a life? Some of this must be working! Part of the reason I haven't updated this is the fact that I wanted to put a well considered action plan in here, or at least the start of something constructive. I could easily have posted the same old crap that I've been putting in here up till now, but I think at some point there has to be a beginning. The beginning of something that can potentially change your life, and simply reading a few bits of pieces on SA is not going to do that. Since I've been busy the well considered action plan has turned into a semi-well considered action plan. That said, through my research of late, the discoveries which I have made have led me to the belief that the only action plans that exist out there, are 'semi-well considered' ones. By no means have I come across the ultimate cure, or even anywhere close. So, best start off on the 'semi-well considered' route and get started, and with any luck, it'll become that well considered plan you're looking for.

Before I start, it's important to note, that if you want to make any progress out of this, then you have to apply some of the consideration yourself. Not one person in this crazy world will have the power to fix your social anxiety. Many people will offer it to you, for a grand sum, but none will be able to fix you. That's your job. The knowledge and tools are there, but it's up to you to apply them to your everyday life on a regular basis, with consistency. Otherwise you may as well go and catch up on Lost rather than wasting your time reading this blog. For those still sitting here, carry on.

Automatic Negative Thoughts

This has been touched on already, but it's the grand-daddy of your SA. It's the control centre. If you're a Star Wars fan, it's the Death Star! It's whatever you want to call it, but it's a Biggy. You know the thoughts, the ones that swirl round, telling you your not good enough, that there's people laughing at you or making comments about you. They can be constant, always tapping away, making sure you're still listening and they'll do everything they possibly can to keep you in a negative state of mind. These thoughts are out for survival, doing whatever they can to live and they're not scared to pull out the dirty tricks. Of course, you've tried to get rid of them before, you tell them to go away, and to stop, so what are you going to do now?

The first step is to recognize them for what they are.

The first and most positive step is to become aware of the irrationality in your thinking. If you are suddenly become aware of all your irrational thought, then you will cease to be irrational. To do this, you need to question yourself. If you've found yourself in a situation that makes you feel socially anxious, then ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What went through your mind when you began to feel anxious?
  • What provoked the anxiety?
  • What feelings did you experience?
  • What is it that matters to you, that's so important to make you feel this way?
  • What were you thinking after the situation?
  • Were your thoughts rational?
  • Do you have clear evidence to support your thoughts?
The truth is, the majority of our anxious thoughts are completely irrational. They grab you, kick you, then leave you in the gutter feeling battered and bruised, because you take them for the truth. You then go and analyze the situation over and over (what has been termed the 'post mortem'), wondering were you went wrong. 'Did I do this right?', 'Did I do that right?', Oh why did I do that???'. Are you thinking about this? Then stop. Fact is, you done OK, leave it there. What's done is done, no amount of analysis will change that. What the analysis will do, is ensure it happens again and again, this is why the anxiety is so large in the first place, because your thoughts are putting so much emphasis into these events in your life, it raises their importance to a critical level, and in reality it's not critical at all. Half the time, people don't even notice your anxiety, they're too worried about themselves to be thinking about you, and besides, they're probably not interested even if they did notice it. People don't naturally dislike you, or want to laugh at you, make comments behind your back or whatever, that's all in your mind. You're not up on stage. Now ask youself again, are your thoughts irrational? If you don't believe me, take a risk and have a look around. How many of those people are staring at you? Be truthful, they're more interested in their own stuff, huh? Most people are.

Now, it's all well and good saying this, but reading through this will not change your life. Reading through this and then going to the supermaket with this in mind will not change your life. Reading through this, thinking about it, adapting it for your own needs and reminding yourself to question yourself whenever you encounter a socially anxious situation, essentially enlightening you to reality rather than your perceived reality, will slowly produce changes in the ways in which you think. You will over time become decreasingly self-conscious, more confident and feel more capable of doing simple tasks without anxiety.

It's a daily exercise. Something you must constantly remember, and that in itself can be tough, but it doesn't need to be. Most of us have mobile phones in which you can program reminders. Simple reminder 'Think about it'. Get some Post Datas dotted around the house, record some audio CDs with a short narrative, get your mum to call and remind you, anything! Just remember to continually question you rationality in any situation, remembering that the irrational side is the stronger force and it will use every good argument it has to trick you. Don't get angry, just be patient when your negative dialogue appears, then see it for what it is. Without your belief, it has no power.

I know I haven't written much here, but you really have to put some thought into this yourself, it's important that you understand it in your own terms. Should I get time I'll write more, until then, remember this! Everyday. The world is not as big and as bad as it always appears to be. Enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Had a little break from the blog this past few days. A little uncertain of the direction I've been taking it. Now, what I've wrote down here already is all good stuff, and it's all important. But let me tell you, I've been reading this stuff for years now and the changes it has made to me are minimal. It's certainly given me a broad intellectual understanding of the issues I face, what goes on in my own body and how I should be dealing with that. The trouble with SA particularly, is that this intellectual introversion is one of the causes. I've spent so many years trying to intelectualize the world in order to understand it, yet I haven't answered one single question. At least not with a definite answer. All the time I've been trying to do this, I've been missing out on the real deal.

If you want to make moves with your SA, you want a better life, then you've got to do something about it, and sitting on your ass thinking about it just won't do it for you. You have to make changes. If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always had. You want something new? You have to do something new. You have to venture out into a brave new world. If you want to fight your SA, then it's essential you set yourself some tasks, and do them, consistently. And consistency is very important.

From now on, I should mostly be concentrating on more specific exercises, hopefully making them as simple as possible. But if you want anything out of them then you have to go do it for yourself. Life's a challenge, and challenges are fun.

Enjoy yourself...

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Someone asked recently about this blog and what I have written here, if I practice what I preach. It's a good question, so I thought I'd answer it here. Everything I have written, do I incorporate it into every aspect of my daily life? No. Has it helped me? Yes.

Knowledge is power, but the full extent of that power isn't unleashed until you've experienced it. I'm an introvert and I spend a lot of time thinking to myself. Needless to say I have spent a good proportion of my life thinking about the stuff that's going into this blog right now. But thinking about this stuff doesn't take you very far. So far, everything I have included is fairly fundamental. Simply knowing it will not dramatically change your life, but it is important to lay down the foundations before you start laying the bricks, otherwise somewhere down the line your house will collapse. I've known all this stuff for a long time, but for those who don't I included it here so that they can build a solid base of which they can work on. That's what this knowledge has given me. Now I just need to play with this knowledge to devise an analytical plan before acting on it. I'm not acting on this stuff in any serious analytical way as of yet, otherwise I wouldn't have wrote about it so generically, but I will get there. So yes, I do believe in this stuff and it has positive effects for me, but I am yet to delve in to the real power it holds. Have patience.

Anyways, I have some more generic stuff on another important topic.

Control, you'll find, is often synonymous with anxiety disorders. If you fear the outside world, you try to control it. The more effort you put into doing this the more energy you are wasting on an impossible task. I'll tell you now, there's only one thing you have control over and that's your self.

You can log into a message forum for social anxiety and you'll be bombarded with topics of people frustrated with the way others react to them and treat them because of their SA. That's cool, we all get frustrated, but 99% of the time these people are directing the blame towards someone else. This is something we have all done at some point and will continue to do so in varying degrees. Now, I'm not going to be soft here, but you can shout all you want and the world around you will never change, if someone reacts negatively towards you because of your SA, then take responsibility for it. You could spend days, weeks, months, or years talking to that person, helping them to understand your SA, but as soon as your done you will bump into someone else with the same attitude. That's the way the world is, always has been and always will. Not everyone is understanding, and many will take advantage of you, but no amount of complaining will make any difference. If you continue to hold this attitude, then you will continue to have SA. Why? Because you're relying on external forces to change so that you can be more comfortable with the world. Unfortunately, that's not the way it works, it's the other way round. You're holding an idealist perspective that is not even possible, nevermind will happen. It's a dog eat dog world. In order to get the most out of it, you must salvage the responsibility for your participation within it.

Okay, you could make certain efforts to control your environment, and they may make you more comfortable temporarily, but if this is your approach you will never address the real problem, because the whole time you're doing this you're avoiding it. Not only that, but the control you've dictated over your environment is an illusion. It's not real. You've manipulated certain aspects around your life to fit into your own needs, but you don't actually have control over them. One day they will turn around and bite you on the arse. What happens then? All of this security you have built up is imagined, and rather than building up a really solid foundation of security, what you have done is given away all of the power you hold to deal with the elements that will turn on you. I've always liked this quote, by who I don't know:

'Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding Danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.'

How true is that, 'security is mostly superstition'?. I don't care who you are, I'm sure you can agree that whatever walls we place in our defence we will always face danger. It's inevitable. You can express some amount of creative force to avoid danger, but essentially it is a part of life that we must confront. It will always be, and none of our efforts will change that. If you're looking for stability, then find it within yourself. The external forces will always be unpredictable, they will always be uncontrollable, and you will find yourself repeatedly bumping into them. Take responsibility for your own actions and not those of others. If you can do that, you will begin to sail freely.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Introverts and the socially anxious naturally tend to have self-conscious minds. It is this self-absorption that keeps us intricately focused on our continually unfolding problems and emotions. You know how it is, you're standing with a group, you're fairly relaxed listening to the others speak, enjoying the flow of conversation without making much effort to participate, then someone turns to you and says 'Hey, tell us that story about the...'. Bang! That's it, your attention is no longer nonchalantly following the conversation, it has taken a U-turn and raced down the road to a place far darker. The volume of your inner dialogue has increased and it sounds very agitated. It's speaking to you and it's going to make sure you're aware of all the fears it harbors.

Now, you know this story inside out, you've told it to yourself many a time. Maybe even delivered it to a few close friends, and you are well aware that you have the power to replicate the original events through the medium of the english language. But the inner voice is saying 'No!'. The problem here is focus. The more you focus on and become involved in the thoughts of the original events, the better story you can tell. You will become engrossed in the finer details, almost reliving the experience, and if you can relive the experience you have the power to help others live it right now. That is the power of story telling. In reality, given the situation in hand you lost all focus on the story when your attention became firmly seated in the grips of your negative inner voice. The one that very quickly briefs you on the horrid nature of your position. This is your self-conscious voice, and it's loud.

I hear this voice all the time. It speaks to me daily, when I walk down the street, through a shopping centre, at work, even speaks to me when I'm on my own sometimes. Always reminding me of the perceived absurdity of my manner and actions. Snide little comments pop-up randomly: 'You sounded like a gimp when you said that!', or 'You sure you're walking properly, there's people watching you, you know?'. Honestly, this little guy is my worst enemy. I keep telling him to 'shut it!', but he just gets angry and pipes up all the more, the little bastard. The fact is, there's only one reason he talks to me, and that's because I take the time out to listen to him. That's right, I have only myself to blame.

The answer is simple. Don't listen. Of course, answers are never that simple, we have developed a habit of listening to these whining little voices inside. It's time to break that habit. Anything suggested in this blog, or anywhere else regarding social anxiety will take time and perseverance, and if you've got those two ingredients you can learn to ignore this bringer of negative words. But how? Same thing I suggest anywhere else in this blog, you can't forget it's there, but if you focus elsewhere it will go of its own accord.

It's all about where you place the focus of your attention. When Buddhists meditate, they place their focus on something that is present and very real (such as their breathing). This brings their attention to the reality of the present moment, without preconceived ideas of what that present moment is. They become the present moment, seeing it only as it is and not what they think it is. That's all well and good (highlighting the benefits of meditation) but is a skill with many years of practice and dedication behind it. You don't need to go that far, but it is very useful to become increasingly aware of your surroundings in a non-judgmental and unbiased way. If you're wandering down the street and you hear your self-conscious inner voice piping up, divert your attention elsewhere, listen to the sounds, view what you see, but whatever you do, do it with commitment and focus. One thing at a time, putting 100% into what you do. Let yourself become absorbed in your surroundings rather than your inner-self. Any activities you become involved in, let yourself become absorbed in them too. You often hear stories of shy, or socially anxious people making great achievements in their chosen field, perhaps a musician who will freeze at the thought of walking up onto a stage without their instrument. Yet, with their instrument they are able to play in front of packed audiences seemingly without fear. They have found something which they can become absorbed in. This is great, but these people usually revert back to their shy and retiring personalities as soon as they step off that stage, we really need to learn to become absorbed in everything we do. We need to find focus.

Let's go back to interacting with others. If we are self-conscious whilst talking to others, then we become very self-absorbed and aware of the ways in which we are speaking rather than what we are actually speaking about. Now, if we can become more absorbed in the topic of conversation as well as the other person (and this goes back to becoming interested in people) then the self-conscious voice will slowly begin to fade. Keep this up and it'll eventually become inaudible. What your little voice tells you is rarely the truth, it makes far more sense to seek the truth from the actual facts of the situation, and you can't determine these facts if you're not aware of your surroundings. For example, I remember I used to walk around the city often wondering why I got little attention from the opposite sex. It then occurred to me that I never even looked to see if I got attention, so I started an exercise of noticing the girls around me and just giving a little friendly smile. Most of the time they would smile back. I tell you, I was shocked. I thought people just assumed I was some kind of weirdo, but I was getting all of these genuine smiles. If I could only go a step further and start talking to them I'd be onto something!

My advice is this. Let your guard down once in a while, tear a hole in your little bubble, and take a peek outside. It's not as threatening as it appears to be. Once you've done that, embrace it!

Your little voice has kept you trapped long enough. You'll find far more interesting and constructive conversation elsewhere. Go find it.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


What are you doing now? Reading this blog whilst simultaneously checking your emails, watching re-runs of Ironside and making a cup of hot chamomile tea? The relaxation stuff is boring, I know, everyone knows it, and this is going to be my last entry on it for now, but honestly, that chamomile tea is a waste if you're doing all this other stuff at the same time.

We're lead to believe that our lives are so busy in modern western culture that this is the only way we can possibly live. The truth of the matter is, if you set your tasks one at a time and put 100% into each one, then not only will your productivity increase and you will get more done, you will also become increasingly aware of your surroundings. When you become increasingly aware of your surroundings you become decreasingly aware of those trivial anxieties that only exist because of your awareness to them. Think about that one.

Multi-tasking is bad.

I remember playing with a thought I had about eating a healthy diet. Not a fad diet, a 'lose weight in 3 hours!' diet, or anything like that, but a naturally, healthy, permanent diet. This isn't something which I was ever brought up to be good at. Thankfully I've never had a problem with my weight or health, but I used to eat far too much junk food for my own good. It dawned on me that much of the time I would eat something it would go down so fast while I'm watching TV or whatever that I could barely remember eating it. So, I would want something else! And off I would go, back to the kitchen, rummaging in the back of the cupboards looking for that delightful treat that would give me my contentment for a short time. It never did give me contentment though, I just always wanted more. Back to the kitchen...

When you're preoccupied in all your blistering thoughts, especially so when you're taking part in several activities at once, the food cannot give you contentment because your mind is elsewhere. So, I began pondering on the thought that if you sit down with your food, in a quiet space, rest your mind onto what you're eating, feel the texture and appreciate every last sensation of the flavour entering your mouth, then finally you can achieve that level of contentment you're looking for. And as you achieve that level of appreciation for this gift that sits on the table in front of you, your usual urge to replicate that event over and over again begins to dissolve. Interestingly, a couple of months later I was listening to the radio and Paul McKenna was being interviewed by Chris Moyles (don't laugh at my sources for this blog!). At that time, McKenna was involved in his own TV show here in the UK which was basically showing people how to stick to healthy diets and lose weight. Now, I didn't watch any of that show, but from what he explained on the radio, much of his wisdom (an alleged ten years worth of studying this) was based around what I've just explained above. For anyone who's ever had any problems sticking to a healthy diet and not eating junk every twelve seconds, I'm sure you can understand how powerful that is. But what it isn't is a crap piece of advice like 'Uh, well just don't eat so much!'. It actually goes very deep, to a level where not only are you eating less on the surface, but you're content with what you are doing and you're reaching some kind of state of fulfillment. Which is where you want to be in your life, right?

Is multi-tasking fulfilling? You might think you'll get everything done, but you're not going to get it done in a healthy state of mind. And if your state of mind is not healthy it is not going to be fulfilled. What it is going to be, is cluttered. All the garbage you've just cleaned out with your relaxation (if you've done it), it's all back again! Back to square one.

If you carry on multi-tasking it feeds the abundance of constant negative dribble in your mind. It does the opposite to relaxation. It feeds the anxiety. It doesn't bring on sudden panic either, it's much more subtle than that. It builds over a long time, very slowly creeping up on you while you remain unaware, until one day it grabs you by the throat and throws you to the floor. It's not that you can't still keep up a busy day. My busiest days are usually my best and most satisfying. Just keep it to one thing at a time, with focus and attention on all of your tasks on an individual basis. You'll not regret it.

It is honestly this kind of balance, along with relaxation, coupled with controlling my negativity that freed me from years of debilitating anxiety, agoraphobia and panic.

End of lecture.


I don't care how boring you think this stuff is. I'm fairly bored at the thought of writing it, the amount of times I've seen this stuff, over and over again. Boring? Maybe. But believe it or not (and the term 'social anxiety' may give this away) anxiety is part of your problem and relaxation will reduce this, so here goes...

Note: All relaxation techniques are best practiced without having your body pumped full of stimulants; nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, etc. Give yourself a good half hour after smoking, eating a meal, exercise, etc, to allow your body to calm to a neutral state.


Relaxed breathing comes from the diaphragm situated within the abdomen, and not the chest. Sit (or stand) comfortably and take a slow deep breath through your nose. Watch the abdomen rise. If you're unsure, place the palms of your hands horizontally across your stomach with your fingers lightly meeting in the middle. When you breath into your abdomen your fingers will gently part. It is your diaphragm which partially controls your breathing in a naturally relaxed state. Shallow, upper chest breathing is part of the stress response. You can exhale through the nose or mouth, whichever you prefer.

  • Breath in for a count of 4.
  • Hold for a count of 4.
  • Breath out for a count of 6.

There is a good reason for breathing out longer than you breath in, which I can't remember exactly now, but it's to do with balancing your carbon dioxide levels, or something.

Without making this complicated, that's it! It can be used at any time of the day, anywhere. A couple of minutes of focused breathing can reduce your stress levels dramatically and ground your feet firmly on the floor. It will reduce blood pressure, stress hormones, lactic acid, improve your immune system, increase your physical energy...the list goes on.


Meditation is something that most people are aware of, but because of varied media publicity it's not something always well understood. Meditation is an extremely simple concept. For example, the breathing exercises above: do that for 5 minutes and your meditating. It's really nothing complex or mysterious.

Despite the stereotypical image of a Buddha sitting in the lotus position repeatedly chanting 'ahmmmmm' the most common method of meditation is simply to focus on your breathing. You can begin by counting your breath (even if not in meditation I'd recommend the breathing exercises above) but it is not necessary. The main objective here is to focus your attention onto your breathing. I think I've spoke of this before, but you can only hold so many thoughts at a time, you can't forget your thoughts by trying to forget, but they will naturally fade as your focus increases elsewhere. Since your breathing has no negative or positive bias (it's just an event) this has a very calming effect on the body and mind. Because it's a constant and very real event it is actually taking your mind away from your thoughts altogether and increasing your awareness of what is happening outside of your body. Don't get me wrong though, you'll not find this to be too true in the beginning. The constant rampage of garbage bouncing off all walls of your cerebral cortex at an alarming rate is what Buddhists refer to as 'monkey mind'. You may never have even noticed this stuff was there until you try to sit still in a quiet room for a few minutes. But don't worry, it is entirely normal.

Monkey mind is part and parcel of the job. And your job is certainly not to sit for ten minutes telling these thoughts to go away. If they appear, and they will, just accept them for what they are, and once you remember your breathing, simply go back to it. The idea is not to control anything here, but only observe what is going on. As your awareness increases with your breathing, you will find this easier. It will take time.

If you want to make it easier on yourself, you can use a mantra. This can be any word you like, but it's beneficial to choose one with a calming sound, usually ending with the age old stereotypical 'ahm'. You could choose a traditional Sanskrit word such as 'Ahnam' (nameless) or 'Shi-rim' (songs). You can also use everyday English words, a very good one being 'calm'. Now, before you start panicking, you don't have to say these out loud. It just gives you something more to focus on and can help aid your meditation repeating the words quietly in your mind. You can use these how you like, but most people find that they will naturally verse their chosen mantra on each out breath: breath in, hold, breath out 'calmmmmm'.

You can also go further afield and use visual or audio aids for meditation. Instead of focusing on your breathing, or a mantra, you can set your gaze on a candle, or even listen to the sound of the birds. This can however have disadvantages in how accessible and flexible your meditation is.

There's many opinions on posture, but you will find a benefit from any position as long as your meditating. I will say that an upright, relaxed yet alert posture will help to attain positive results in your state of mind, but feel free to do this lying down, slouched in your ragged old armchair or even standing up, as long as you make yourself comfortable.

To start off set your time to around ten minutes and aim to do this twice daily. As you become more comfortable you can slowly increase your time to 20 minutes, twice daily. This is enough, although experienced meditators may wish to increase to 30 minutes. If you really want to go crazy and do this every spare moment you've got, then it's advisable to seek out a teacher because by this time you'll be entering parts of your mind which you never knew existed, and we all have scary stuff hidden away in there!

If you do have any negative effects from meditation, just ease off a little, reduce your times and maybe give yourself a break for a couple of days. You will eventually learn how to balance your practice according to your own individual needs.

Tense and Relax

Sometimes it just seems your body is so tense that it's impossible to relax. I'm not going to go too far into this one, but it's a useful technique for alleviating some of that tension from your muscles.

Sit comfortably. Start your breathing, and if you like repeat a mantra or positive statement to yourself. It could be something like 'I'm becoming more and more relaxed'. The trick is then, to breath in, hold your breath, and just as you do that tense your muscles individually, then let them relax as you breath out. Start at the bottom and work your way up. Breath. Hold and tense your calves. Breath out and relax. Keep moving up, to your thighs, your buttocks, abdomen, back, shoulders, upper arms, forearms... All the way up to each muscle in your face.

It helps to be able to become aware of how your muscles respond, sometimes you're just so tense all the time that you're not even aware of that tension since it's a normal occurrence to you.
Audio Tapes and CDs

All of the above are very useful tools. But sometimes when you're overly anxious, agitated and restless it is very difficult to hold down a routine. It's difficult because it's hard to concentrate on what you're doing when you have so much other stuff floating around in your mind. The restlessness takes over and you simply give up.

This is when audio guidance is an extremely useful tool as it is far easier to follow, and once you start the tape you're committed to doing something.

There's so much available on the market though: guided meditation, guided visualization, hypnosis, subliminal messages. If it helps you to relax, then go for it. Right now I've just started listening to Paul McKenna, Supreme Self-Confidence (or something like that). Now, I'm not a firm believer in hypnosis or subliminal messages bombarding my brain, tricking it into a state of 'supreme self-confidence', but that's the only CD I have that's sent me to sleep on numerous occasions. And, If I'm honest all the talk of confidence does make me feel slightly better by the time I've finished listening to it. For this reason, and the fact that my short attention span at the moment is making my efforts of meditation pretty fruitless, I have given myself the aim to listen to this CD everyday throughout September. After the month is up I will re-evaluate, perhaps going back to meditation as my general restlessness fades.

The bottom line is this. If you're really struggling, and no matter how much you try you still can't hold a routine with the techniques mentioned above, get yourself some audio help. It's worth the money. Paul McKenna isn't a bad choice since there's a lot of crap out there and this guy has a genuinely soothing voice, which I find important.


There still other stuff out there, for example self-hypnosis. I really feel I've wrote enough on this for one day though. If you want to learn more, then I suggest you pick up some reading material. A couple of recommendations off the top of my head:

The Book of Meditation - Patricia Carrington (Founder of Clinically standardized Meditation)
Self-Hypnosis - Brian M Alman & Peter Lambrou
Mindfulness - B H Gunaratana (Buddhist meditation)

It is important to keep relaxation as part of some kind if regular routine and not only when you get anxious. Even if it's just once a week it's a help, but it's also worth noting that it does become a lot easier to keep up with once you're into the swing. This is mainly because you feel less restless in your everyday life and more comfortable sitting still for a few minutes.

That's enough for now. Phew...

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Originally I was going to follow up on my last entry and elaborate not only on making friends, but some of the psychology surrounding what I've previously written. I sat down to do just that, yet I could get no further than the title. Not because I didn't know what to write, I have ideas oozing out of my pores for this blog, I really didn't realize I knew so much about this stuff! It was because of something entirely different. You know how it is when nothing seems to go right and everything in the external world appears to be picking on you, mocking and laughing at you. Well, that's my life right now, stuff's been getting on top of me and I'm stressed. I could've jotted down that last entry, but it would have been full of subtle negatives, reflecting my state of mind at the time. To cut a long story short, I've been a moody bastard.

The reality is, I couldn't carry on being a moody bastard and make progress at the same time, neither could I help you make progress from that negative state of mind. So, I took the decision to change course and write something which I always intended to write but neglected. It was neglected because it's so well covered elsewhere that I really didn't want to patronize people. However, my own recent experiences have only served to reinforce my longstanding beliefs on the sheer importance of the subject, yet it is one overlooked by the majority, which often includes myself. I know I'm always stressing the importance of stuff, but this one is prime, it has been on my occasions my savior. I'm talking about relaxation. It's time to refresh yourself.

I know, I know, you've tried it and it doesn't work.

Think again!

The most common complaint is usually this: 'I had a panic attack and I tried deep breathing and and everything, and like I was still panicking, and like it didn't do nothing for me...' Trust me, if you're having a panic attack there is little you can do other than sit it out. Took me a long time to realize, but after several years of trying to control them it finally dawned on me that they're an uncontrollable force. It is usually your efforts to control which fuel the panic, but anyways, at the top you will find a very crude chart. This chart briefly explains some of the mechanics of panic. The black line is your average happy-go person who is rarely inundated with anxiety. The green line however is the sensitive person who commonly feels anxious. You'll notice the same two people pose the same trends. The only difference being that the anxious person has a higher general level of anxiety. When a fright is incurred their anxieties peak in the same fashion, but since the sensitive guy already has a high level of anxiety, so when they encounter an unnerving situation their anxiety is already on the verge of panic. Of course, this isn't a thorough analysis of the situation and far more is involved (such as associative thoughts) but it does provide a good example to how relaxation can in fact help people who often suffer from panic attacks. Where most people go wrong is that they try to relax through the panic, which is near impossible, rather than making relaxation a regular routine through their lives, lowering the general level of anxiety so that they can reach a state closer to that of the black line. This essentially will reduce the chances of panic occurring, and that is exactly what we're looking to achieve.

Anyhow, I didn't come here to talk solely about panic attacks, I don't get them anymore (this stuff works). What most don't realize are the vast array of improvements that can be made throughout all aspects of your life through simple relaxation. Yesterday, I was ready to blow. Today, I'm calm and cheerful. And I have only one thing to thank for that.

We all get bogged down in our lives. We all have our numerous problems catching up with us. Then to top it off we've got all this stuff yet to be done. Modern culture, although can be very satisfying, throws so much stuff at us that we just can't keep up. Sit and listen to your thoughts for a second and it quickly becomes apparent that there's about ten different voices in there telling you to do ten different things. It's really no wonder we so often feel we can't cope. This is when the stress begins to rise, the anxiety rises, the moods, the fears, the depression, they all begin. And as they begin we're in no fit position to take on any new challenges, which includes dealing with your anxieties. First thing you have to do, is STOP!

Seriously, just stop. You'll make yourself ill. Not only will you make yourself ill, but regardless of how much determination you've got you're taking on too big a fight. You're swimming upstream. It needless be that way. What relaxation will do for you, is calm your thoughts. You'll become less restless and you'll be able to focus on individual tasks with increased productivity.

All this garbage that's circulating around your noggin will begin to evaporate through regular practice. Half of that garbage is your problems, the ones that keep reminding you of how difficult your life is right now. You'll slowly begin to realize that your biggest problems are often your smallest, most insignificant molehills. Relaxation is an energizer by anyone's standards. It's like having a wash of all your dirty thoughts. It's the spring clean. It throws out the trash and leaves you with the truth of your reality. Ok, I'm getting carried away, I don't want you to leave here with the assumption that it's going to turn you into an immortal, God-like figure overnight. It'll never do that. It's not even a cure. What it is, is a very powerful tool to help you along the way. It may not change your life solely on its own, but it will help to discard the negativity you carry with you daily and give you the motivation and rejuvenated energy to carry on. It's the first port of call. It's the refresher. It gives you the perfect place from which you can start.

Learning to balance levels of stress is the fundamental backbone of keeping a healthy state of mind. It is one of the very things that helped me to overcome years of debilitating anxiety, yet I still don't use this tool to anywhere near its fullest potential. I could continue to list all of the benefits, but this would become an extremely long post. If you still think it can be a negative or useless exercise, get back to me and I'll put you straight with a full explanation of why you're wrong. There are times when I'm so relieved this concept exists, without it I'd be a shattered man.

I'll tell you how to go about it next.