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Monday, June 14, 2010

More Social Anxiety Issues

Dear A. B.

Thanks a lot for the comment

I was very quiet at that party, many people looked at me because they noticed in me that I suffer something. Focusing, and participating, and talking to people was my issue. F__________

Dear F_______________

Not to worry. Our greatest failure is the very thing that can be harvested to grow our greatest wisdom. In a social situation, don't be all uptight and try to "save face" when you are feeling awkward in a group. Just relax, stop all the effort to impress people, (nobody is ever impressed anyway and they always know exactly how you feel about yourself--you're the only one in the dark). Tell yourself that however you seem to be awkward and embarrassed, that this is the highest level at which you are able to function at this moment, and fully accept that about yourself. Then, later, you can move forward with commitment and improve your social skills and self-understanding.

Actually you have an advantage because of being from another country, you probably have an accent and people will know you didn't grow up in the culture so they'll give you some credit for that, and likely forgive some "differentness."

But mainly, of course, your life is up to you to take charge of and not count on others giving you a pass for things that you could improve upon. But before you begin to improve your social skills, before you can be a person of self-understanding and self-awareness, you must accept yourself completely.

You will find that when you can sit there, in the midst of some truly embarrassing situation, where you have unwittingly made yourself the object of ridicule to those all around you, where your whole body is shaking with nervousness, where you can hardly breathe, and, certainly, you could not come up with a respectable comment that anyone would consider worth listening too, when you realize that you look like an ass, simply surrender your whole self up to what is happening. Say to yourself "okay," this is really happening. This is really the best I am capable of at the moment, I look like a jackass, can I take it? Yes. Okay so I'm going to sit here and feel the whole pain of my idiocy. Maybe it will kill me. Okay. Here I am. Stupid, ignorant, unworthy. Okay. This is me. Can I stand it?"

And then "stand it." If you have really played the fool before someone else, you can even go so far as to admit it to them. "I'm really an idiot, I know." Or, "As you can see I'm kind of a social idiot." Or, "I guess I look like a jerk, I'm not good in a group." And then shrug your shoulders. Sit there and feel the pain of it. That's all. You don't have to elaborate on something that is painfully obvious. Of course this takes incredible courage. It's like skydiving (although I admit I've never done sky diving but I have done the "look like a fool meditation." It's in my book Depression is a Choice.) The pain that you feel when you do this is the repressed fear that you have been carrying all your life. It's time to let it go

You will find that the total surrender to "what is" to "who you are at this exact moment in time" standing before the judgment of the whole world, is much more powerful than any fear, because total surrender is the same thing as total love, and total love is the power of the universe. Bon Voyage on your journey of self-discovery.

You will find that the very thing you fear about a crowd has no power once you make your awkwardness into a meditation. Life is so interesting. It is not about beating it. It is about surrendering to it. It's not about winning. It's about accepting "what is." Then reality can happen. And reality is always a surprise. You can't plan reality.

And don't forget that everyone else in that crowd is fighting some hard personal battle. Nobody gets a free ride. They may be in denial, but sooner or later they will either wake up or be a "dead man walking" dulled with anti-depressants or some other form of self-medication, and of course those people will be hard to talk to--they will want to "best you" so they feel good about themselves.

So find another humble soul who just wants to pass the time of day with some pleasant chat. Learn to approach people in the spirit of a fellow traveler on the dusty road of life, make some pleasant remark, find out something about them. Let them impress you. Everybody has their story. It's the way human beings connect with each other--telling each other our stories. And read Dale Carnegie's book "How to Make Friends and Influence People." A lot of wisdom in that book.

1 comment:

Ginger said...

Yes, F., most people are more interested in impressing you than they are in finding you impressive!

As A.B. said, "Let them impress you." That's one way to take the focus off of yourself.

Someone is dressed "to impress?" Ask them where they shop for clothes. Ask them to help you shop for clothes!

Most people enjoy having their abilities, talents, or accomplishments observed and taken note of.

If someone brushes you off or behaves rudely, that says more about them than it does about you, doesn't it? Afterall, you were showing interest, making conversation, and being kind & polite. What's not to like about that?