How to Cure social Anxiety Disorder
How to Cure social Anxiety Disorder
Many people who suffer anxiety get anxious at social events especially parties where their expected to talk to other people. A great trick you can use is to imagine you’re the host of the party. Maybe the party is in your own home anyway. Imagine it’s your duty to make everyone feel at ease and at home at your party. When you take the centre of attention away from yourself and start making other people comfortable you will feel a lot better yourself.
You can apply this technique anywhere you just have to be inventive. Supermarket checkouts use to be really difficult for me. I would feel so panicky at checkouts waiting in the queue. But you really can change your thought processes by fantasizing here. Listen to music on your headphones that distracts you into thinking of a great holiday you had, or some sort of music that takes you to other place. The more intense you can get into the music the more beneficial it will be. Another trick at checkouts is to have a picture in your wallet. For some people dealing with the actual checkout operator is nerve wracking. Perhaps the picture is of your helper person and you can imagine them giving you great advice to calm you down. Perhaps it’s a picture of your dog and you imagine yourself stroking him/her. Try to visualize the bond between you and your dog. Imagine what the dog’s hair feels like, how your pet looks at you, etc.
Some people find it helps if they just talk to their panic and fears, and even imagine their fears as a person. By talking and reasoning with their fears you can program yourself to get better. Think how you can cooperate together to get better. Don’t be afraid to challenge your fears. Talk back to your negative thoughts and tell them you are now looking after yourself and they hold no power of you.
Why I like hypnosis cd’s is they hypnotically ask you to connect with your pain area and make it bigger, and then make it small. Once you subconsciously tell yourself you do have control over your fears, it can make you believe you do have power over your body. You can find more information on my Resource page.
There are all sorts of mental tricks you can learn such as, fantasizing you have a force field around you so nothing can harm you, and passing through hoops and each time you go through you feel stronger and more self-assured.
Don’t worry if your thinking this will make me crazy and I will lose a sense of reality. As explained before this is called psychosis and this is a totally different condition.
If you think about it, I’m asking you to dream how you would like to feel and act in a difficult situation. When you watch films you are totally drawn into the story even though it’s just a film. You are perfectly aware of this but yet you watch the film and feel happy, sad, excitement, emotional, etc. You know the whole thing is not real but you buy into it anyway.
Of course when something happens in real life it’s much more powerful because it’s real, but if you fantasize you’re still producing chemical reactions in your body as if you’re undertaking the event you are fantasizing about. New neural pathways are being developed in the brain and new automatic response feelings are being developed.
I love the Einstein quote below. Even one of the most intellectual human beings that ever lived knew that a logical brain can only take you so far.
“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world…… Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”
Remember that it’s normal to spend part of the day dreaming. When we are young we tend to dream and fantasize a lot more and laugh. Somehow as we get older we lose are dreams and life just gets too serious. We have by design a large brain so don’t try to stop your natural desire to dream about things you want. Sometimes our dreams turn into reality. Did you ever fantasize about a holiday and this made you save your money so you could visit that place? Imagining is also how some of the greatest inventions and discoveries have been made.
I must admit I’m a bit of a secret Michael Jackson fan. I love his music and when I was a teenager I bought his HIStory album. On the album there is a speech he makes which was taken from Robert Kennedy although it was originally quoted from George Bernard Shaw – “Some men see things as they are and ask why, I dream things that never were and ask why not.”
Dreaming can take us to magical places where we can heal our bodies.
I bet at the moment your thoughts and imagination are being put to negative use and you are imagining all sorts of horrible things that are going to happen to you. This is conditioning you to fail every time you undertake whatever you fear. On the other hand fantasy when done correctly and with practice, can enhance your performance because you are recreating the way you want to be. You may find you have more resources of strength and confidence then you can imagine!
As I have described before we (anxiety sufferers) often feel like we have a devil type character on one shoulder, telling us we are not capable of doing things. This negative voice says things like, ‘I just can’t take it anymore………….,What will people think……….., What if that happens………,’ etc
On the other shoulder we have an angel type character looking over us, giving us advice which is often drowned out by the devil on the other side. Our courageous self wants to do things and make us believe in ourselves.
The voice which tells you all the negative things is sometimes overpowering because we pay more attention to this and give it a powerful voice. We also imagine it to be right and some sort of all powerful god which we must obey. However there is a little trick you can do to help. Imagine the negative voice as a character from a funny cartoon and it starts to lose its power. One of my favourites is Droopy.
Droopy moved slowly and lethargically, spoke in a low monotone, and although he was hardly an imposing character, he was shrewd enough to outwit his enemies. When finally roused to anger ("You know what? That makes me mad,"), he was capable of beating adversaries twice his size with a comical thrashing (usually after the adversary laughs at him). He always made me laugh. When I think of all those negative statements in his voice it brings a smile to my face rather than fearing them.
Another way to imagine the negative voice in your head is think of it being said by someone who you cannot take seriously like a clown, (unless you have a phobia of clowns!). Perhaps you want to take this one step further and imagine the clown telling you “I must escape out of here” whilst he’s sat on the toilet. Just try lots of things until you find something that works for you. It’s like playing mind games with yourself to stop you going down a path of negativity which leads to anxiety.
Remember these negative thoughts in your head are all bluff, there is nothing wrong with you and the least notice you give them the better you will be. What’s better than making yourself laugh over these meaningless thoughts. They say laughter is the best medicine anyway.
“Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever.”
Why controlling your body during anxiety doesn’t work?
Most people who start to feel anxious and panic think the best solution is to control themselves by exerting a tight grip over their bodies. The more they try to ‘whip their body into action’ the better they think they will be. They believe by sheer will power and determination they can overpower there panic feelings, but as you probably know this does not work.
The more you tense up the worse you get. The more attention you give all those unpleasant symptoms the more they play up. The more you tell it one thing the more it does other things you don’t want. In many ways it’s like a bad behaved child, always being naughty.
So you may ask how do you get the better of a stubborn child who wants their own way? Well it’s pretty similar to those programs you see on TV like Nanny 911. I personally find the advice useful when I watch these programs as children don’t come with a manual and nor does anxiety.
They teach if your child is naughty you send him to the naughty step and ignore them. Without your attention they have no power. Anxiety is similar. Your reaction to the feelings of anger, annoyance, bewilderment, etc; is what drives the behaviour. Along with other things like poor diet, lack of sleep, being tense, etc; which I deal with in the Golden Rules.
The next time you feel anxious let it come. Accept the feelings and openly tell yourself you want more. Why am I telling you this?
BECAUSE THEN YOU WILL NO LONGER FEAR IT
This is a powerful tool which kind of neutralizes the panic attack and stops it in its track. It helps to reduce its power and stops its ability to develop into a full blow attack. It’s less effective on general anxiety but over time if you follow the program this will diminish as well.
Hoping to get what you least want is kind of paradox. It seemingly has no logic. But if you think about it when you don’t hide or run from something and face it full on, then the reality is never as bad as what you imagine.
If you get panicky at traffic lights when there red, hope for them to be red. Tell yourself that you want to have a panic attack now! If you feel your legs buckling underneath you in a queue then say ‘buckle now and do your worst.’ If you’re at a social event and find you can’t swallow when eating then don’t force it down, just chew. After a while when the pressure has died down you will just naturally swallow as it’s in built in us to swallow after chewing.
I would like to say I have invented this way of thinking but I’m not that smart. It was actually invented by Viktor Frankl. He called it logotherapy.
Viktor Frankl was a second world survivor of the concentration camps and I would thoroughly recommend his book man’s search for meaning. I read it may years ago and it’s a very powerful book. It describes how he put his life in fate’s hands and ultimately survived.
The notion of Logotherapy was created from the Greek word logos ("meaning"). Frankl’s concept is based on the premise that the primary motivational force of an individual is to find a meaning in life. The following list of beliefs represents the basic principles of logotherapy:
- Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
- Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
- We have freedom to find meaning in what we do and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.
According to Frankl, We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways:
(1) By undertaking a work or doing a deed;
(2) By experiencing something or encountering someone; and
(3) By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering" and that "everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances" On the meaning of suffering, Frankl gives the following example:
"Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now how could I help him? What should I tell him? I refrained from telling him anything, but instead confronted him with a question, "What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?" "Oh," he said, "for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!" Whereupon I replied, "You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving and mourning her." He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left the office.
By recognizing the purpose of our circumstances, one can master anxiety. An example of the use of logotherapy is given by New York Times writer Tim Sanders. He uses its concept to relieve the stress of fellow airline travellers by asking them the purpose of their journey. When he does this, no matter how miserable they are, their whole demeanour changes, and they remain happy throughout the flight. Overall, Frankl believed that the anxious individual does not understand that his anxiety is the result of dealing with a sense of “unfulfilled responsibility” and ultimately a lack of meaning.
Treatment of neurosis
THE TECHNICAL EXPLANATION
Frankl cites two neurotic pathogens: hyper-intention, a forced intention toward some end which makes that end unattainable; and hyper-reflection, an excessive attention to oneself which stifles attempts to avoid the neurosis to which one thinks oneself predisposed. Frankl identified anticipatory anxiety, a fear of a given outcome which makes that outcome more likely. To relieve the anticipatory anxiety and treat the resulting neuroses, logotherapy offers paradoxical intention, wherein the patient intends to do the opposite of his hyper-intended goal.
THE LAYMEN EXPLANATION
A person, who fears not getting a good night's sleep, may try too hard to fall asleep, and this would hinder his ability to do so. A logotherapist would recommend that he goes to bed and intentionally tries not to fall asleep. This would relieve the anticipatory anxiety which kept him awake in the first place, thus allowing him to fall asleep in an acceptable amount of time.
Much research has been done on this including a Russian scientist by the name of Aleksandr Luria whose work is well known on the study of brain function. He concluded that with practice you can alter and change your automatic nervous system. So how did he prove this? He studied people who by practicing could make their hearts beat faster or slow down, dilute their pupils, contract or relax their muscles.
How did they manage this? Well they learnt that by imagining themselves being late for work and running for bus, they would evoke a response from there nervous system. If they imagined themselves on a deck chair at the beach with the waves lapping in the background and the sound of seagulls, their heart rate would slow down. Also their breathing would be deeper and their blood pressure would drop.
There is no magic formula for doing this; it’s just plain imagination at work. By practicing and using as much detail and senses in the imaginary as possible, one can exert control over their automatic nervous system by non-aggressive means. I am amazed at the power of the human mind over our bodies.
By indirectly tapping into your energy flow (for example by meditation) and pushing it in the direction you want, slowly but surely your body will start to react how you want. Again it’s a bit like the child analogy. If you smack a child it’s doesn’t work in the long run. If you gently push and motivate them down the right path, they will eventually learn for themselves this is the correct way to be.
The Placebo effect on Anxiety and Panic Attacks
I’m quite a fan of Darren Brown. This is mainly because I can’t work out his tricks. Darren Brown is a British illusionist, mentalist, trickster, hypnotist, writer and sceptic. His website is here. One of his shows in 2012 was called fear and faith. It was about Darren Brown proving that fears and phobias were in the mind rather than some physical ailment. He basically gave phobia sufferers a tablet which he said would help them when they were confronted with their fear or phobia. His subjects had success in various degrees. Probably the most impressive was a young man who was afraid of bridges/heights, but by the end of the show he was standing on the handrail looking over a bridge which was very high. Darren Brown then stated the pill did not of any medical significance (I think it was a water tablet), but that didn’t make any difference to the young man. I can’t claim this was exactly a scientific study but it proves our imagination and thoughts are so important to our health. What we believe, we are.
On a more scientific note Dr David Clark a British psychologist based at Oxford (you can find more about him here), did a similar experiment. I stated earlier that giving Sodium Lactate to panic prone individuals causes them to have panic attacks.
Dr Clark had two equal groups of individuals who were panic attack sufferers. To one group he gave them sodium lactate to which 90% suffered a panic attack. To the second group he said something along these words – “I’m going to give you a substance that is perfectly normal to your body. It may cause your heart beat to speed up and your breathing to increase, but don’t worry this is perfectly normal. The effect will wear off after a while and you will be fine. In this group only 30% had a panic attack.
‘Mind over matter’ is everything with anxiety. This is why I see so many people who believe they have a huge list of illnesses, and whilst they think like this, they will never get well. Imagine yourself well again this is where your salvation lies.
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.”
OTHER ARTICLES YOU MAY LIKE -
The Anxiety Nervous System Stress, Cycle of Fear, Causes of panic attacks, Sensitized, Balanced Life, Sympathetic, Parasympathetic, Autonomic and voluntary, Vitamins Minerals
What are the Symptoms of Panic Attacks Panic Attack Symptoms
Why do people suffer from Panic attacks? Triggers of Panic attacks, anxiety, cycle of fear, out of the blue panic attacks, pregnancy panic attacks, drugs, premenstrual, diet, nervous system
Diet For Anxiety Anti Anxiety Diet, Which Foods cause Panic Attacks
Like What You Read?
If so, please join to receive exclusive weekly tips & tools to overcome anxiety and panic attacks, and get a FREE COPY of my eBook, How to Recover & Cure Yourself of Anxiety & Panic Attacks!