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I have read that the only way to get over social anxiety is

to get out and do...
I have read that the only way to get over social anxiety is to get out and do things. I have an opportunity to do just that in a relaxed and non-threatening setting this evening. Consciously, I know that I can go to this thing and leave if I don't like it. I also know that my subconscious is running my life and, even if I had a to take a tranquilizer, I could do this as I have done this sort of thing before about a month ago. I went to a low key event and everything went fine.
However, after this event, even though I felt good about going, I went into a spiral of feeling "not good enough" and it's like my mind was torturing me. I know from my background that I have low self-esteem. I also have bipolar and, given the chance, I will fall back on that as an excuse not to do social things.
My question is: I really don't want to go to this event coming up, mostly because the thought of it causes me much painful anxiety. Can't I just let myself off the hook and accept the fact that I like being alone with my cat and my books, because, really, it takes me weeks to recover from any social situation or any situation outside of my usual rigid, controlled environment routine. You may ask why I care so much. If I'm really happy, I wouldn't be torturing myself. The thing is, I don't feel good enough if I do things, and I don't feel good enough if I don't do things. I want to take the path of least resistance. Please absolve me from "having" to get out there and have a good time.
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Answered in 1 hour by:
5/2/2011
TherapistMarryAnn
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5,897
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Verified

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like you may have a few different things going on. One, you may have mild social anxiety. Two, you may be introverted in personality. And three, you sound like you have some self esteem issues.

First, social anxiety is a severe anxiety about embarrassing yourself in front of others. Most people with social anxiety go through great lengths to avoid any social situations, particularly if they feel threatened by them. In any situation you feel you might be criticized, judged or watched, you avoid. It is above and beyond the normal nervousness people get in front of others. Here is a link to help you understand social anxiety:

http://helpguide.org/mental/social_anxiety_support_symptom_causes_treatment.htm

Second, you sound like you might have an introverted personality. An introvert is someone who prefers to avoid social situations in favor of spending time alone. They find socializing very draining and need a lot of time to recuperate when they do socialize. There is nothing wrong with being introverted, it's just a preference.

Third, self esteem issues can interfere with your ability to feel good about yourself. It is the evaluation you give yourself on your own self worth. Most people with self esteem issues learned at one point or another in their lives that they are not as worthwhile as others. It is learned usually from a parent or difficult social situation in childhood.

You may have all of these issues, or just one or two. But either way, resolving these problems is just a matter of determination and a little bit of work on your part. Therapy is a good place to start. But since you have been in therapy and found it not helpful, you may want to consider switching therapists. Try this link to find a new one:

http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/

You can also try these resources to help yourself:

The Courage to Be Yourself: A Woman's Guide to Emotional Strength and Self-Esteem by Sue Patton Thoele

Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques by Gill***** *****

The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney

You can find these books on Amazon.com or your local library may have them for you.

I hope this helps,

Kate

TherapistMarryAnn
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5,897
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Verified
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Thank you!!! You have given me peace of mind and lots of references to utilize. Thank you for not telling me to get out there and set the world on fire. Wow. This was an excellent answer. I'm really glad I got you. Thanks for taking so much time and for responding in so much detail. I am an introvert who has been trying go against my own nature. On the other hand, my anxiety and self esteem do need work, even if I don't decide to get out there all the time.

Thank you so much! I am deeply touched by your feedback and I'm very glad I could help. Let me know anytime if I can be of more assistance.

Kate

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