Thursday, September 21, 2006

MAKING A START

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.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mico how are ya.Its noothmay here from nomorepanic.Just thought Id tell ya that a former suffer of anxiety who fully recovered by using David Johnsons also has a blog spot.Check it out at www.willstarritt.blogspot.com

9:55 pm  
Anonymous Maxine said...

Wow, i have just finished reading all of your blog and i have to say you have hit the nail on the head so to speak!

I shall continue to keep an eye on this.

Keep up the good work Mico ;)

10:13 am  
Anonymous Ted said...

Mico,

I'm very familiar with what you're talking about here. I've been using it for a while now and have seen big improvements. Due to a combination of ADD and OCD, I was especially challenged with the awareness part. It was really tough to capture my thinking in the heat of the moment. I first started with everyday thinking and have progressed to where I can now remind myself on the spot, occasionally even preempting these thoughts or feelings. In everyday thinking, some of these automatic negatives can be rationalized but just aren't productive. I think it's important to actually replace these thoughts with ones that address the issue in a productive way. This will give them resolution (it still takes a lot of repetition) and force you to establish agreements with yourself that later give you easy opportunities to strengthen your thinking while taking away the power these once had over you.

9:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the very basis of self improvement:

"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."

You could have the answers to life itself sitting in front of you, but if you don't use them, then they are just a paperweight on your desk.

Good stuff, Mico.

2:55 pm  

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