Social Anxiety Disorder is a big bastard. It keeps me awake til 6am worrying about crap in my head, it makes me feel sick as I leave the house, it tells me I’m not good enough and that everyone is laughing at me or whispering about me behind my back.
If Social Anxiety were a bully I would rather like to smack it in the head, but it’s not a bully, it’s invisible and it’s completely created through my own mind. Technically I’m my own bully, but punching myself in the head would just be stupid.. and I’ve already done that once and it didn’t work. So moving on..
If I can’t punch Social Anxiety in the head, then what can I do? Well, I stand up to it! I challenge it aggressively even. Sometimes it wins and knocks me down, but I fucking well get back up!
— Expose yourself
Ever heard of exposure therapy? This is something I was taught a couple of years ago and it really helped me overcome a lot of my anxieties. I started doing it on a weekly basis, now I expose myself almost daily!
I’m not talking about getting your kit off and streaking through a public shopping centre here, I’m talking about exposing yourself to scary situations that make you quake at the knees.
This is what I want you to do, RIGHT NOW, go and grab some pieces of paper and a pencil/pen/fancy felt-tip.
Either print or copy this Hierarchy worksheet and rank your anxiety-inducing situations from 0-10. I want you to start with the situation(s) that you have ranked 1, try going into that situation and using this Situation Log Sheet to track your anxiety levels and what thoughts you had/what you could do differently next time. Then go into that exact same situation again, and again, and again and so on until you are comfortable with that situation.
Once you’re comfortable with situations ranked 1, move up to 2… and keep going until you have done 10! It may be a long process but it is worth it, and you’ll find yourself becoming more comfortable in other situations that are similarly scary because of it.
It’s good to try and experiment with different coping techniques each time you ‘expose yourself’ and try your very best to drop your safety behaviours in the process. I will post more about these soon, but in the mean time.. happy exposing!