Stage Fright Answers

How do you overcome social phobia (aniexty)

Hello,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How do you overcome social phobia (anxiety)? I am glad you reached out with the anxiety you are currently struggling with in your life.  I will share some information about social phobia and some self-help tools you can try as soon as today.  I will also send some information on how you can get some support and guidance with your anxiety (social phobia).   Social phobia, also known as social anxiety, is the third most common mental disorder in the United States. There are more individuals who are not diagnosed but still suffer from fear and anxiety in social situations, so the numbers are most likely even higher. Dealing with social phobias and social anxiety can result in physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that can hinder your ability to go through daily life and make it more difficult to have relationships. While there are some things that you can do yourself to help minimize the impact of social anxiety in your life, working with a professional counselor can help give you the tools needed to cope with and overcome it. Individuals working with professional counselors who use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy alone have a high success rate of improving or recovering from their social anxiety. Social Phobia This is when you may feel overwhelmed by thoughts that someone doesn't like you or will think what you say is stupid, unintelligent, or unpleasant. It seems impossible to get rid of these thoughts, so, eventually, you'll start making excuses to friends and family to get out of going to events that you have planned with them. Before you know it, you are only doing the things you absolutely have to do, and you're avoiding everything else that involves social interaction with others. Ways to Overcome Social Phobia Social anxiety can hinder your ability to fully enjoy your life. This makes it hard to have a job. It makes it hard to have relationships. And, it can make it hard to experience the things you used to enjoy. While it may seem like an impossible task, there are things that you can do that can help you start the journey toward overcoming your anxiety. Challenge Irrational Thoughts If you're not speaking up in a business meeting, refraining from attending a party, or not asking for help in a department store because you don't want to speak, then you are exhibiting a social phobia in some way. The first step is to challenge the irrational thoughts that are hindering you from talking with strangers.  Talk to your colleagues, co-workers, friends, and family. Try to eliminate your safety nets one by one. Get rid of your training wheels a little at a time. Stop rehearsing what you will say in your head. Just say it. Don't drown your phobia in alcohol or drugs, as these forms of "courage" will only make matters worse. Rate Your Anxieties About Talking With Strangers Write down what makes you anxious about talking with someone you don't know. Then, rate each of those anxieties on a 0-10 scale. Level 0 would be feeling no anxiety, and level 10 would be a full-fledged panic attack or another intense side effect. Once you rate them, work your way up the scale and address each one. You'll start with the things that only bring you small amounts of anxiety. Once you push yourself to do that activity a few times, you will see that it doesn't put you in danger, and you will start to become more comfortable with that activity.   You can then move your way up to the next item. As you slowly become more comfortable with each action, you will work your way up the ladder. Eventually, you'll be able to take on and conquer the things on your list that used to cause you the most amount of fear. Begin To Practice Mindfulness Meditation If you have social anxiety, mindfulness meditation can help you in multiple ways. The first is that you will learn deep breathing exercises that can help you to calm yourself when you're faced with a situation that makes you feel anxious. Learning how to breathe deeply helps you to slow your heart rate and calm a nervous mind. When you become comfortable with the breathing exercises, they are something you can easily put into practice wherever you are and whenever you feel the anxiety coming on. You will also learn the practice of being mindful. Mindfulness is when you purposely focus your thoughts on something that is either neutral or pleasant. So instead of constantly thinking about the upcoming situation that makes you nervous, you choose to think about the way it felt when you were on the beach during your last vacation. You'll remember what the waves sounded like as they lapped around your ankles, what the saltwater smelled like, and how the warm sun felt on your skin. Then you will picture something like the sun setting over the horizon, and with this relaxing image, you will start to settle down. This works because instead of trying to get you not to worry about something, it gets you to purposefully focus your mind on something that's healthier for you to think about. Talk Where You Feel The Most Comfortable While it's important to help get over your fears of talking with someone you don't know, you can start by communicating where and with whom you feel most comfortable. Email a work request. If you don't receive an answer, then follow up in person or via phone. The more you do something, the more comfortable you will be. Talking more within your comfort zone will help ease you into getting over your phobia by making you feel like you are doing it on your terms. Track Your Successes Tracking the success that you're having is a good way to build confidence and encourage you to keep trying new things. Every time you're able to do something in a social situation that you had wanted to avoid, add it to your list of successes. You can even journal about the activity. When you are struggling in the future, you can look back on these for strength. Journal Keeping a journal can help you sort through your thoughts, help you identify patterns, track your successes, and allow you to recognize when you start to fall into old habits. All of this can be helpful in overcoming social phobia or anxiety. Practice Self-Care It's easy to let yourself go and focus on how you are feeling rather than making sure you are staying healthy. Practice a bit of self-care, such as eating healthy, taking a warm bath, exercising regularly, and other activities that nurture and promote your physical and mental health. Join a Support Group Join a support group that connects you with other individuals who are struggling with similar challenges and gives you a safe space to start working through your phobia and anxiety. One example is Toolmasters International which is a well-known support group for public speaking and can be a good place to meet new people and make new friends. Be Kind To Yourself The most important thing you can do throughout this entire process is to be kind to yourself If you had a bad day, it doesn't mean that you're a failure. It only means that you need to focus on the present and to continue practicing the techniques you are using to overcome your anxiety. See a Therapist If you have tried implementing the techniques listed above and still find that you have social phobia, enlisting the help of an in-person or online counsellor can help give you some new perspective and even new techniques. A therapist will also provide emotional support and understanding as you work through your phobia. BetterHelp Can Help You Overcome  One of the key characteristics of social phobia is a fear of going outside and interacting with others. This is what makes online counseling options like BetterHelp so great. With BetterHelp, you can talk to a licensed counselor via messaging, chat, phone, or video, whichever is most convenient and comfortable for you. You can also do this from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Working with a counselor as soon as you notice you are starting to struggle in social situations can help make the recovery process easier. Through BetterHelp, a counselor will help you find the tools and techniques that are best suited for you and your particular needs.
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to change my anxiety trigger

Dear iMacki,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I’m looking for someone with experience with ARFID / SED

Dear Beka,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What can I do to feel more connected?

Dear Anonymous2543,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I build on my confidence when I'm about to or speaking in public?

Riding Star, thank you so much for reaching out.    Anxiety when it comes to public speaking is pretty common. I don't remember off the top of my head how much of the population deals with it, but it's certainly more than zero. So for what it's worth, you're not alone.    Specifically to your needs. The best way to work with this is an exposure hierarchy. Meaning you build a list of ten things, that is from the "easiest to speak to others" all the way to "hardest to speak to others". So for example in your case, '10' would be "speaking in front of a crowd, a speach that I had prepared". And '1' would be "speaking to a cashier when there is someone behind me in the line".    And then, build all the other numbers between them.    Once you have ten items, in rising level of difficulty, you start by approaching them one at a time. So lets pretend your number '1' (so your easiest) item is really speaking to the cashier while someone is in line behind you. What you do is the following:   A. Sitting calmly in bed or on a sofa B. Imagine yourself in the store C. Imagine yourself as much as possible speaking the the cashier, with as much detail as possible [the snacks near them, their voice, the sound of the people behind you, the airconditioning... everything] D. Think about the parts of your body that are nervous, or that get activated, and imagine breathing to them, giving them a hug, watching those body parts relax E. Imagine it some more F. Actually go to the store G. If your body gets activated, remind yourself to relax, to breath, to hug the body parts that are nervous   And once going to the store and speaking to the cashier is done, or at least 'done enough', you can then move on to whatever number '2' was, as you've chosen.    I'd give yourself at least a week for each item, and move down the list until you get to your number ten, of public speaking for real.    Good luck!! 
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to feel less anxious starting conversations?

Hello,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How to feel less anxious starting conversations? I am glad you reached out with what sounds like a symptom of social anxiety disorder and this is causing you discomfort around your co-workers.  I will share some facts about this and then discuss effective treatment options available for you.  I will also share some practical tools you can try by yourself.     Treating Social Anxiety Disorder   The most effective way to combat social anxiety disorder despite the severity is different forms of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has been remarkably effective when treating social anxiety disorder, and with the right therapist and the right program of CBT, recovery is possible for any individual experiencing social anxiety disorder. CBT is the most effective form of social anxiety treatment.   For most people experiencing social anxiety disorder, "dealing with it" and "moving on" aren't options. Those experiencing social anxiety disorder have essentially been "dealing with it" since they were born. What those who feel severe anxiety when in social situations need is a therapist that understands what social anxiety disorder is and the appropriate way to treat it for a specific patient.   CBT, and What It Means By definition, cognitive behavioral therapy is "a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the important role of thinking in how we feel and what we do".  To further expand, "Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things such as people, situations, and events." By implementing a CBT program by a therapist specializing in social anxiety disorder, recovery is possible for those experiencing the disorder in varying severities.   CBT is rapid, collaborative and surprisingly philosophical. When seeking a professional to begin your journey towards recovery, goal-achievement and practicing are two essential components of CBT. Repetition and, essentially re-teaching your brain to behave as you wish in situations is what CBT basically does for patients, giving control over the mind and body back to you.   Choosing a Therapist that Treats You, not Just Your Disorder   It's crucial to complete thorough research when looking for a professional to help treat your social anxiety disorder. Working with a therapist that understands what social anxiety disorder is and what it takes to treat it will help you with a successful recovery. Studies have shown the remarkable success anxiety-specific CBT sessions have given clients, and with the right therapist that has your thoughts and needs in mind, recovery is possible.   Group Therapy: Terrifyingly Ironic?   It might sound scarily ironic that group therapy would be an avenue to take when treating social anxiety disorder but have shown that interacting and developing with others that share your fears and anxieties can be immensely helpful for those currently in treatment. "Face your fears" is a philosophy behind social anxiety group therapy and being in a comfortable and peaceful environment like a support or therapy group enables patients to do just this.     Social anxiety support can come in the form of others that share the same or similar social anxiety symptoms that you do, and these connections can be a key to discovering how to overcome social anxiety.   Know Your Disorder and Take Control of Your Treatment   Being informed isn't just important for your safety, it's imperative to your recovery. You need to feel comfortable with your therapist enough that you can ask questions, even if they may seem silly. Understanding your disorder and your treatment will make the road to recovery that much smoother. Know your symptoms, practice your CBT exercises, and listen to what your therapist advises you to do. Communicate with loved ones and your therapist when setting goals, raising expectations and managing progress.   Here are some CBT-based tips for dealing with social anxiety in the moment:   1. Remember everyone is self-conscious. Social anxiety is common, and many people experience it. If you’re gathering in the break room and feel really anxious about introducing yourself to new people, remember that other people might feel the same way.    2. Pause to examine the evidence. When you’re feeling anxious, take a moment and try identifying the anxious thoughts running through your head. Challenge them by asking questions such as: “What evidence do I have this is true?” and “Is there another explanation for what happened?” If someone responds curtly to you, you may have the anxious thought that “They think I’m boring.” What if you challenged that thought and instead considered another explanation: Maybe they were in a hurry, or maybe they were already on their way to talk to someone else when you approached them.   3. Imagine the worst-case scenario. Often, people with social anxiety think making a mistake will cause far worse consequences than it actually would. If you’re worried about something, such as stumbling over your words, ask what really would happen if you stumbled over your words. Would people really laugh at you? They’d probably barely notice it or quickly forget about it and continue the conversation.   4. Remind yourself anticipation is worse than reality. Often, our worries about an upcoming situation are worse than the situation itself. If you’re worried about striking up a conversation because you think you’ll have nothing to say, remind yourself that you only have to start with “Hello.” Once you begin the conversation, it gets a lot easier.   5. Use a cheat sheet. Before going into an anxiety-inducing situation, anticipate what anxious thoughts you’ll have and challenge them on a piece of paper. Bring this piece of paper with you to work (or save it on your phone). Then if you start feeling nervous, check in regularly with your notes - you can look at it to remind yourself of your thought challenges and calm yourself down.     Recovery, and Beyond   Recovery from a social anxiety disorder is possible regardless of severity of social anxiety disorder. According to a 2007 ADAA survey, 36% of people with social anxiety disorder report experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years without seeking professional help. It isn't necessary to wait to get help for social anxiety.   CBT has an amazing success rate among those that implement and integrate treatment into their lives. By re-training your brain, you can transform how you react to social situations that would typically only offer you fear. Meeting your boss for lunch to discuss a potential promotion or meeting someone special out for a first date will become normal and something that doesn't drive you into a physical frenzy of crippling nervousness. Removing the debilitating feelings of inadequacy from your mind and hushing that screaming voice in your head telling you how unimportant or foolish you are can drastically improve your life whether in a professional or personal situation.   Overcoming a psychological fear isn't an easy task, however, the curability of most mental disorders is sporadic. Social anxiety disorder is a diamond in the rough and can be treated successfully without the mandatory use of medication in treatment. Recovering from social anxiety disorder, with the correct therapist can be achieved through hard work, consistency, and persistence.   Social Anxiety Disorder Doesn't Have to be Forever   Seeking professional help is the best way to begin your steps to overcoming your social anxiety disorder.  BetterHelp offer services providing clients with the help that suits them.   When researching your personal plan to recovery from social anxiety disorder keep in mind the necessity to have an educated therapist helping you design the correct program to help you. Every person that experiences social anxiety disorder is different, and their treatment is unique to them. Working with a trained professional is imperative if you want to succeed and overcome social anxiety disorder, no matter the severity.   I hope you are able to practice some of these tools to tackle your struggles at work and other soical gatherings you may find yourself in.   I wish you much luck with your next step in addressing your worries with opening conversations with your co-workers and soon go home feeling happy and acomplished.     In Kindness, Gaynor
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is it normal to over-think previous conversations with people?

Hello,   Thank you for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with your question: Is it normal to over-think previous conversations with people? I am glad you reached out for support.  I am sorry you are struggling at this time. I would encourage you to consider starting to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even though you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the Betterhlp Platform therapy process, you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and communicate with your therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you when you find yourself overthinking and also to help you find your happiness during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through your struggles and be able to ask for support from others.   I will share some information about overthinking and share some tips on how you can overcome this.  I would suggest that your affect and mood are perhaps a symptom of you being overwhelmed with the extra thinking work you are doing! Step back and look at how you are responding The way you respond to your thoughts can sometimes keep you in a cycle of rumination or repetitive thinking. The next time you find yourself continuously running things over in your mind, take note of how it affects your mood. Do you feel irritated, nervous, or guilty? What’s the primary emotion behind your thoughts? Having self-awareness is key to changing your mindset. Find a distraction Shut down overthinking by involving yourself in an activity you enjoy. This looks different for everyone, but ideas include:       learning some new kitchen skills by tackling a new recipe       going to your favorite workout class       taking up a new hobby, such as painting       volunteering with a local organization It can be hard to start something new when you’re overwhelmed by your thoughts. If finding a distraction feels daunting, try setting aside a small chunk of time — say, 30 minutes — every other day. Use this time to either explore potential distractions or dabble in existing ones. Take a deep breath You’ve heard it a million times, but that’s because it works. The next time you find yourself tossing and turning over your thoughts, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Learn how to Meditate Developing a regular meditation practice is an evidence-backed way to help clear your mind of nervous chatter by turning your attention inward. There are some very helpful apps available - try Headspace or Calm or similar. Look at the bigger picture How will all the issues floating around in your mind affect you 5 or 10 years from now? Will anyone really care that you bought a fruit plate for the potluck instead of baking a pie from scratch? Don’t let minor issues turn into significant hurdles. Do something nice for someone else Trying to ease the load for someone else can help you put things in perspective. Think of ways you can be of service to someone going through a difficult time. Does your friend who’s in the middle of a divorce need a few hours of childcare? Can you pick up groceries for your neighbor who’s been sick? Realizing you have the power to make someone’s day better can keep negative thoughts from taking over. It also gives you something productive to focus on instead of your never-ending stream of thoughts. Recognize automatic negative thinking Automated negative thoughts (ANTs) refer to knee-jerk negative thoughts, usually involving fear or anger, you sometimes have in reaction to a situation. Acknowledge your successes When you’re in the midst of overthinking, stop and take out your notebook or your favorite note-taking app on your phone. Jot down five things that have gone right over the past week and your role in them. These don’t need to be huge accomplishments. Maybe you stuck to your coffee budget this week or cleaned out your car. When you look at it on paper or on-screen, you might be surprised at how these little things add up. If it feels helpful, refer back to this list when you find your thoughts spiraling. Stay present Not ready to commit to a meditation routine? There are plenty of other ways to ground yourself in the present moment. Consider other viewpoints Sometimes, quieting your thoughts requires stepping outside of your usual perspective. How you see the world is shaped by your life experiences, values, and assumptions. Imagining things from a different point of view can help you work through some of the noise. Jot down some of the thoughts swirling around in your head. Try to investigate how valid each one is. For example, maybe you’re stressing about an upcoming trip because you just know it’s going to be a disaster. But is that really what’s going to happen? What kind of proof do you have to back that up? Take Action Sometimes, you might go over the same thoughts repeatedly because you aren’t taking any concrete actions about a certain situation. Can’t stop thinking about someone you envy? Instead of having it ruin your day, let your feelings help you make better choices. The next time you’re visited by the green-eyed monster, be proactive and jot down ways you can go about reaching your goals. This will get you out of your head and channel your energy into taking actionable steps. Practice self-compassion Dwelling on past mistakes keeps you from letting go. If you’re beating yourself up over something you did last week, try refocusing on self-compassion. Here are some ways to get you started:       Take note of a stressful thought.       Pay attention to the emotions and bodily responses that arise.       Acknowledge that your feelings are true for you in the moment.       Adopt a phrase that speaks to you, such as “May I accept myself as I am” or “I am enough.” Embrace your fears Some things will always be out of your control. Learning how to accept this can go a long way toward curbing overthinking. Of course, this is easier said than done, and it won’t happen overnight. But look for small opportunities where you can confront the situations you frequently worry about. Maybe it’s standing up to a bossy co-worker or taking that solo day trip you’ve been dreaming of. Reach out for help You don’t have to do this alone. Seeking outside help from a qualified therapist can help you develop new tools for working through your thoughts and even changing your mindset.    There is hope.  Recovery is possible!   You do not have to do this on your own - there is help for you.  Consider reaching out to a specialized professional mental health therapist for support and guidance with changing your patterns.  You may want to request to be matched with someone who specializes in CBT interventions. So now that you’ve tried the steps above from eating healthy and regular exercise to embracing the spiritual side of yourself, it’s time to make all of this a regular part of your routine. If you can truly embrace the simple beauty around and within you, then you will be well on your way to internal happiness, solely reliant upon yourself. I hope you can find the happiness you deserve. Happiness and fulfillment are within your grasp, but sometimes just out of reach. Understanding what works best for you is the first step in finding them more often. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in the struggles you have been facing at this time.   I wish you much luck!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Hello, My name is Elda and I have anxiety. Last year in albania happened an earthquake, the first

Dear Alba,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I overcome feeling completely paralyzed by fear?

Hello Mike, Thanks for reaching out to The Betterhelp Platform with your question: How do I overcome feeling completely paralyzed by fear? I will share some information about anxiety and fear and some steps you can take to see if you can make some changes.  I would strongly urge you to consider reaching out to your medical provider for further assessment and maybe for you both to discuss a course of treatment that might be effective for you. How to overcome fear and anxiety Fear is one of the most powerful emotions. It has a very strong effect on your mind and body. Fear can create strong signals of response when we’re in emergencies – for instance, if you were in car accident or are being attacked. It can also take effect when you’re faced with non-dangerous events, like exams, public speaking, a new job, a date, or even a party. It’s a natural response to a threat that can be either perceived or real. Anxiety is a word we use for some types of fear that are usually to do with the thought of a threat or something going wrong in the future, rather than right now. Fear and anxiety can last for a short time and then pass, but they can also last much longer and you can get stuck with them. In some cases they can take over your life, affecting your ability to eat, sleep, concentrate, travel, enjoy life, or even leave the house or go to work or school. This can hold you back from doing things you want or need to do, and it also affects your health. Some people become overwhelmed by fear and want to avoid situations that might make them frightened or anxious. It can be hard to break this cycle, but there are lots of ways to do it. You can learn to feel less fearful and to cope with fear so that it doesn’t stop you from living. What makes you afraid? Lots of things make us feel afraid. Being afraid of some things – like fires – can keep you safe. Fearing failure can make you try to do well so that you won’t fail, but it can also stop you doing well if the feeling is too strong. What you’re afraid of and how you act when you’re afraid of something can vary per person. Just knowing what makes you afraid and why can be the first step to sorting out problems with fear.   What makes you anxious? Because anxiety is a type of fear, the things we’ve described about fear above are also true for anxiety. The word ‘anxiety’ tends to be used to describe worry, or when fear is nagging and persists over time. It is used when the fear is about something in the future rather than what is happening right now. Anxiety is a word often used by health professionals when they’re describing persistent fear. The ways that you feel when you’re frightened and anxious are very similar, as the basic emotion is the same. What do fear and anxiety feel like? When you feel frightened or seriously anxious, your mind and body work very quickly. These are some of the things that might happen: Your heart beats very fast – maybe it feels irregular You breathe very fast Your muscles feel weak You sweat a lot Your stomach churns or your bowels feel loose You find it hard to concentrate on anything else You feel dizzy You feel frozen to the spot You can’t eat You have hot and cold sweats You get a dry mouth You get very tense muscles These things occur because your body, sensing fear, is preparing you for an emergency, so it makes your blood flow to the muscles, increases blood sugar, and gives you the mental ability to focus on the thing that your body perceives as a threat. With anxiety, in the longer term, you may have some of the above symptoms as well as a more nagging sense of fear, and you may get irritable, have trouble sleeping, develop headaches, or have trouble getting on with work and planning for the future; you might have problems having sex, and might lose self-confidence. Why do I feel like this when I’m not in any real danger? Early humans needed the fast, powerful responses that fear causes, as they were often in situations of physical danger; however, we no longer face the same threats in modern-day living. Despite this, our minds and bodies still work in the same way as our early ancestors, and we have the same reactions to our modern worries about bills, travel and social situations. But we can’t run away from or physically attack these problems! The physical feelings of fear can be scary in themselves – especially if you are experiencing them and you don’t know why, or if they seem out of proportion to the situation. Instead of alerting you to a danger and preparing you to respond to it, your fear or anxiety can kick in for any perceived threat, which could be imaginary or minor. Why won’t my fear go away and leave me feeling normal again? Fear may be a one-off feeling when you are faced with something unfamiliar. But it can also be an everyday, long-lasting problem – even if you can’t put your finger on why. Some people feel a constant sense of anxiety all the time, without any particular trigger. There are plenty of triggers for fear in everyday life, and you can’t always work out exactly why you are frightened or how likely you are to be harmed. Even if you can see how out of proportion a fear is, the emotional part of your brain keeps sending danger signals to your body. Sometimes you need mental and physical ways of tackling fear. What is a panic attack? A panic attack is when you feel overwhelmed by the physical and mental feelings of fear – the signs listed under ‘What do fear and anxiety feel like?’ People who have panic attacks say that they find it hard to breathe, and they may worry that they’re having a heart attack or are going to lose control of their body.  What is a phobia? A phobia is an extreme fear of a particular animal, thing, place or situation. People with phobias have an overwhelming need to avoid any contact with the specific cause of the anxiety or fear. The thought of coming into contact with the cause of the phobia makes you anxious or panicky. How do I know if I need help? Fear and anxiety can affect all of us every now and then. It is only when it is severe and long-lasting that doctors class it as a mental health problem. If you feel anxious all the time for several weeks, or if it feels like your fears are taking over your life, then it’s a good idea to ask your doctor for help, or try one of the websites or numbers listed at the back of this booklet. The same is true if a phobia is causing problems in your daily life, or if you are experiencing panic attacks. How can I help myself? Face your fear if you can If you always avoid situations that scare you, you might stop doing things you want or need to do. You won’t be able to test out whether the situation is always as bad as you expect, so you miss the chance to work out how to manage your fears and reduce your anxiety. Anxiety problems tend to increase if you get into this pattern. Exposing yourself to your fears can be an effective way of overcoming this anxiety. Know yourself Try to learn more about your fear or anxiety. Keep an anxiety diary or thought record to note down when it happens and what happens. You can try setting yourself small, achievable goals for facing your fears. You could carry with you a list of things that help at times when you are likely to be become frightened or anxious. This can be an effective way of addressing the underlying beliefs that are behind your anxiety. Try to learn more about your fear or anxiety. Keep a record of when it happens and what happens. Exercise Increase the amount of exercise you do. Exercise requires some concentration, and this can take your mind off your fear and anxiety. Relax Learning relaxation techniques can help you with the mental and physical feelings of fear. It can help just to drop your shoulders and breathe deeply. Or imagine yourself in a relaxing place. You could also try learning things like yoga, meditation, massage, or listening to mental health wellbeing podcasts.  Healthy eating Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and try to avoid too much sugar. Resulting dips in your blood sugar can give you anxious feelings. Try to avoid drinking too much tea and coffee, as caffeine can increase anxiety levels. Avoid alcohol, or drink in moderation It’s very common for people to drink when they feel nervous. Some people call alcohol ‘Dutch courage’, but the after-effects of alcohol can make you feel even more afraid or anxious. Complementary therapies Some people find that complementary therapies or exercises, such as relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, or t’ai chi, help them to deal with their anxiety. Faith/spirituality If you are religious or spiritual, this can give you a way of feeling connected to something bigger than yourself. Faith can provide a way of coping with everyday stress, and attending church and other faith groups can connect you with a valuable support network. How do I get help? Talking therapies Talking therapies, like counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, are very effective for people with anxiety problems, including on line options Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which can take you through a series of self-help exercises. Medication Drug treatments are used to provide short-term help, rather than looking at the root of the anxiety problems. Drugs may be most useful when they are combined with other treatments or support. Support groups You can learn a lot about managing anxiety from asking other people who have experienced it. Local support groups or self-help groups bring together people with similar experiences so that they can hear each other’s stories, share tips and encourage each other to try out new ways to manage themselves. Your doctor or library will have details of support groups near you.   Recovery is possible.  There is hope and help for you.   I hope you consider reaching out for help from your doctor or to a professional mental health therapist.    I wish you much luck! In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What kind of therapy do you provide for social anxiety?

Good Day Ime, Social anxiety is one of the most experienced forms of anxiety sought out for treatment. As you shared, social anxiety can be so difficult it has the potential to affect our ability to engage all arenas of life. There are a few evidence-based treatment models that have been researched with great validity that have proven to be very helpful for social anxiety. Of these are cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. Both therapeutic interventions offer psychoeducation (simply put- helping clients understand the etiology of their condition) which in turns allows the client and therapist to identify symptom management strategies that best offer the client with tools for affective regulation. Additionally, these models help clients identify and learn how to redirect unhelpful cognitions about the feared event. Where the two are different is that exposure therapy does exactly what the name entails, works with helping clients slowly start working on exposure to the feared event by incrementally putting oneself in contact with the feared event.  In cognitive behavioral therapy, the clinician works closely with the client to help them identify cognitive distortions to the feared situation and helps the client learn how to use coping skills, symptom management strategies along with learning how to like activating events, thoughts, feelings and behaviors responses to build the ability to cognitively reframe and cognitive redirect irrational or unhelpful thoughts. There are some therapists who might suggest use of the combination of the two forms of therapy. As a therapist, I find it very important to provide this education on the various forms of therapy for social anxiety. This is important because, as a clinician, I find it very important that my client chooses what type of therapy they feel would be most suiting for them. Living with social anxiety is already difficult enough so I find that my clients are the best experts in themselves and having them decide what they feel would work best for them often times yields great outcomes and overall success. I hope this information has been helpful!  I want to Thank you for reaching out!  Kind Regards, Wendy
(LPC-Supervisor)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Please, how do I overcome my anxiety and stage flight?

Hello Diamond,   Thank you for reaching out on the Betterhelp Platform to request some help and guidance to overcome your social anxiety relating to speaking in public.   Please, how do I overcome my anxiety and stage flight?   I will share some information and tips on what you can try to overcome what sounds like social anxiety. All over the world, public speaking (including doing things in public) is the most reputed and accepted co-curricular activity. In every educational institution, it is supported as a co-curricular activity. Most other activities are merely accepted by the institutions but public speaking is something else. Just because this activity will help you to improve your self-esteem and institutional performance. By mastering public speaking, you can do many things – Give better presentation Make understandable speeches Prove your logics to fellow students and teachers Communicate with everyone However, the first step in achieving all these things would be to overcome your fear of public speaking. Ways to Overcome The Fear of Public Speaking Not everyone is able to give perfect public speeches. Some can do it, and most have fear of it. There are many ways to overcome this fear. This is a matter of practice at first. But there are many influential activities that will help you to build up the confidence to overcome the fear. It’s actually not the fear that someone feels but rather a lack of confidence. So, to beat the fear of public speaking and boost your college performances you have to build up confidence first. The fear of public speaking is called Glossophobia and you are not the only one who suffers from it. Always try to speak up in the class Speaking up in the class with the teacher helps a lot to build up confidence. Always try to stand up and communicate with the teacher. This way, you can easily gain a solution to the problem you or the class is facing and you can also overcome the fear of speaking in front of a lot of people. Practicing In front of The Mirror This is a very important practice. Great public speakers, at the beginning of their careers, have tried it at least once in their life. They have said that if you can face yourself while speaking, you can face thousands of other people. Because the fear you’re having is within yourself. So if you can face yourself, you won’t be afraid to face a lot of other people undeniably. Become an English Tutor Becoming an English tutor is another good thing you can do. If you become an English tutor, you can easily overcome the fear of public speaking. As an English tutor, you will have to become fluent in presentations, in giving speeches, in communicating with people. Also, teaching English will extend your own vocabulary and by using sophisticated words you will feel more knowledgeable, thus boosting your confidence. While an English tutor is teaching his/her students, he can easily learn the tactics of communication and make the students understand whatever he or she wants to say. The exact same skills can and should be applied in public speaking. Relaxation There are many other ways in which you can overcome the fear of stage or the fear of public speaking in front of a lot of people. You have to be relaxed in front of them. To be relaxed and patient and calm, you count the seats to keep the adrenaline flow go slower, or you can breathe to keep your muscles relaxed. Also, pausing frequently, while giving a speech will help you relax and choose the correct words, without sounding awkward. Speaking Tips Sometimes just knowing what makes a good speech can help you feel more confident. Focus on some of the following elements and practice them before you have to speak in public.   Develop your own style: In addition to imitating good speakers, work on developing your own personal style as a public speaker. Integrate your own personality into your speaking style and you will feel more comfortable in front of the class. Telling personal stories that tie into your theme are a great way to let other students get to know you better. Avoid filler words: Words such as "basically", "well", and "um" don't add anything to your speech. Practice being silent when you feel the urge to use one of these words. Vary your tone, volume, and speed: Interesting speakers vary the pitch (high versus low), volume (loud versus soft), and speed (fast versus slow) of their words. Doing so keeps your classmates interested and engaged in what you say. Make the audience laugh: Laughter is a great way to relax both you and the other students in your class, and telling jokes can be a great icebreaker at the beginning of a speech. Practice the timing and delivery of your jokes beforehand and ask a friend for feedback. Be sure that they are appropriate for your class before you begin. Smile: If all else fails, smile. Your fellow classmates will perceive you like a warm speaker and be more receptive to what you have to say. However, to be honest, these are not permanent solutions. You must find out a permanent solution for a problem like this that works best for you. Because if severe, this can cause panic attacks or even heart attacks. Eventually, with a lot of practice and experience, you will completely eliminate your fear of public speaking. . No need to Apologize If you make a mistake, don't offer apologies. Chances are that your classmates didn't notice anyway. Unless you need to correct a fact or figure, there is no point dwelling on errors that probably only you noticed. If you make a mistake because your hands or shaking, or something similar, try to make light of the situation by saying something like, "I wasn't this nervous when I woke up this morning!" This can help to break the tension of the moment. It's natural to feel frightened the first time you have to speak in front of others. However, if you fear continues, interferes with your daily life and keeps you awake at night, it may be helpful to seek help from a professional therapist and talk with someone about your anxiety.   A therapist can teach you some effective coping strategies to help you overcome your situation. I wish you the best of luck with your your next step.   Kind Regards, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Why am I so defensive around people?

Hello Pearl, Thank you for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with your question: Why am I so defensive around people? It sounds like you maybe experiencing social anxiety.  You become defensive around people because you are perhaps feeling exposed, vulnerable, anxious or 'on show'. I will share some information with you about 'defensiveness/defensive behaviors' and share some ideas on what you can do about this symptom you are experiencing.   At some point in your life, someone might have said to you, "Why are you being so defensive?" Maybe you've said similar words to someone else. However, often people talk about defensiveness without truly understanding what it means.   We understand how to use “defensive” in a sentence, sure, but the word has a special meaning in psychology. Here's a brief explanation of what it is, how to recognize it, and what to do about it.     Why Does Defensive Behavior Happen? Your brain is wired to protect yourself against threats. That's a good thing, because otherwise you would be helpless. However, psychological defensiveness can be destructive. It's a very complex type of behavior. It's based on a combination of your beliefs, your attitudes, your feelings, and your personality. People usually start engaging in defensive behaviors early in their lives. When you were young, you may have learned defensive behaviors from others. When you felt threatened, as everyone does occasionally, you found a way to deflect the threat so that you could feel safer. As you got older, you may have employed those same defensive behaviors both when you recognized a threat in your environment and even when you only anticipated a threat. And often, the defenses you rely on aren't ones you need now, but only the ones you learned in the past. One thing to remember is that usually people who engage in defensive behaviors aren't doing it for malicious reasons. Their only concern may be to feel better about what's happening. However, defensive behaviors are usually harmful for both the person doing them and those on the receiving end. In short, defense mechanisms aren’t inherently a bad thing, but sometimes they are employed inappropriately, or in ways that prevent the individual from communicating effectively.   What Are the Consequences of Defensive Behavior? So, if you only behave defensively to protect yourself, how is that a bad thing? What harm can come from it? The truth is that it can affect all your relationships with the individuals in your life and in the groups you interact with. If you often react to others in a defensive way, you might end up in a relationship that becomes unhealthier day by day. If you're defensive with your loved ones, you may create a very hostile, tense environment in your home. Defensiveness at work can make it harder to get along with coworkers and supervisors. It can keep you from doing your best collaborative work, as well. Being emotionally defensive in your social group could make you an outcast, or you might remain at the center of the group but be secretly despised and unwanted. Rather than preventing you from aggression or attack, defensive behaviors can create animosity or distrust towards you that may not have been there before. This can lead to a vicious cycle of defending, frustrating, guarding against future frustration, and causing more bad feelings. All when being clear from the beginning instead of being defensive would have lead to a more positive outcome for everyone.   Recognizing Defensive Behavior Recognizing defensive behavior in someone else is usually fairly easy. You may be trying to solve a problem with them or just trying to have a pleasant conversation. But for some reason, maybe because of something you've said or done or maybe for their own personal reasons, they feel threatened. When that happens, they may respond in several ways. Here are a few of them. They appear to not be listening to you. They make a lot of excuses. They blame you for the problem. They say that you did the same thing that you're unhappy about them doing. They talk a lot about why they caused the problem, trying to justify their behavior. They focus on things you've done wrong at other times rather than the current issue. They try to tell you how you feel.   Psychologists over the generations have identified  basic defense mechanisms that are common used and misused. You may have also noticed that a number of examples of defensive behaviors listed above also line up with common logically fallacies. While they aren’t always one-to-one, recognizing these signs of illogical reasoning can often tip you off to someone’s subtle defensive behavior.   While you might notice these behaviors in someone else, they can be hard to recognize in yourself. A part of the reason is that you justify your behavior in your own mind. Another piece of the puzzle is that you're so concerned with protecting yourself that you don't realize the impact of what you're saying. However, if you want to have positive relationships at home, at work, and in social situations, it's important to think through the ways you behave with others. Only then can you work on changing those destructive ways of interacting with the people in your life.   If you’re worried that your being defensive, opposing others without provocation, and lack of ease with communicating clearly might be hurting your relationships, talking with a therapist or counselor can help you to strengthen these relationships – and get to the psychological root of your defensiveness.   What Makes Defensive Behavior More Likely?   One way of thinking about defensive behavior is that it's as if you come prepared for war in a situation that's basically neutral. You're ready to fight for yourself, even when no one is interested in attacking you.   However, there's more to defensive behavior. Sometimes, the way you behave may precipitate defensive behavior in others. Here are some of the behaviors to avoid if you don't want to elicit defensive behavior from those around you:   Your words and actions are focused on judging, criticizing, or evaluating the person you're talking to. You treat the other person as an object rather than a human with feelings. Your words and actions seem carefully designed for some purpose other than interacting with them. If people think you're being fake to get something you want, they may become defensive. Your words and actions seem to be geared toward controlling the other person. They may be even more defensive if it seems like you're hiding the motives behind your behavior. You emphasize that you're superior to the other person. You're so sure that you know the right answers and the real truth that you aren't willing to entertain the possibility that you might be wrong or even to listen to the other side.   The good news is that there are other behaviors that will create a less defensive and more supportive climate. These are the behaviors that make defensive behavior less likely:   Rather than placing a judgment on the person you're talking to, you merely describe whatever actions, words, or qualities you want to discuss. You show care, concern and empathy for them. Instead of planning out what you're going to get from someone and the words and actions that you think will get it, you stay focused on the present moment and respond to what's happening right now. You don't try to control someone else with your words and behavior. Instead, you try to work with them to solve a problem that's coming between you. You treat the other person like an equal person. Even if you may have certain things or abilities they don't have, you do see them as an equal partner in solving the problem. You take an investigative approach rather than taking sides. You honestly consider the other person's viewpoint.   What's the Best Way to Respond to Defensiveness?   Suppose you're in a situation where the person seems to be defensive despite your best efforts to be supportive. How do you respond? The first thing you can do is to use the above tips to shift the climate to one that's more supportive.   It's great if you can find something to agree with them about, even if it's a small thing. If they resort to extremely childish defenses, you may need to ignore at least some of those behaviors. It's usually helpful if you can remain calm and talk about the issue as simply, directly, and honestly as possible, depending on how close your relationship is and the social setting you're in at the time.   It may help you to avoid reacting to their defensiveness in a negative way to remember that it probably isn’t anything personal. As mentioned above, most defensive people learn the behavior early in life. Sometimes it is because they were the victims of emotional abuse themselves.   How to Manage Your Own Defensive Behavior   What can you do if you realize you're engaging in a lot of destructive defensive behavior?   First, you need to understand that there's a reason you're feeling so threatened. A part of decreasing defensive behavior is identifying the subjects that you feel threatened about. You might be able to discover those subjects by journaling.   Journaling is a common psychological technique that involves writing about your day with an emphasis on how events or interactions made you feel. For many people, this makes it easier to understand how certain things can trigger feelings that you may need to understand better.   Once you understand where the perceived threat lies, you can often find ways to increase your feeling of safety. In some cases, you might decide that it's best to avoid those subjects. However, it's important not to become withdrawn or to emotionally abandon relationships that are important to you.   So, you may need to learn how to communicate more effectively and positively. Individual counseling can help you learn what's behind your defensiveness. Your counselor can also help you develop strategies for decreasing your defensive behavior.   You may also need to work on building up your self-esteem. If you feel comfortable with who you are, you're less likely to feel threatened when someone else doesn't. And if you grew up in a very defensive household, it may be very hard for you to let go of those behaviors.     If you're being defensive with your partner, you may both benefit from couples counseling where you can learn together how to interact more productively. Talking to a counselor may change the way you behave with others and improve your relationships significantly.   You can talk to a counselor to understand and decrease your defensive behavior, learn how to respond to the defensiveness of others, and improve the relationships that matter most to you.    What is a defensive person? A defensive person is someone who shows behaviors that are defensive. Psychology’s “Defensive” definition is important to understand.   One definition of defensive is “devoted to resisting or preventing aggression or attack”. Many times someone is defensive because of criticism they’re receiving. This can be an unhealthy cycle that relationships fall into.   People can be defensive because they struggle with their self-esteem. It’s difficult to handle criticism when you already feel bad about yourself. You don’t want others to point out this behavior in your life as well. It makes you feel even worse.     What is defensive behavior?   Understanding the definition of defensive can help you know more about what it looks like when someone is defensive.  Defenses means “in the state or condition of being prepared or required to defend against attack or criticism”. While it sounds good for someone to be ready to defend against an attack, the word can be used in different ways.   For example, defensive driving is good because you’re driving in a way to keep everyone on the road safe. Defend can mean “serving to defend”. You can see how the explanation and definition of defensive would make sense from that. However, the problem with the definition of defensive is that it really leaves the negative emotion out of it that can be connected with the experience. For example, if a person constantly shows defensive behavior, it’s not a positive thing. This is when someone constantly tries to make excuses for their actions or explain why something happened or isn’t their fault instead of taking responsibility for it.   When this happens long-term it can become a big problem in relationships: romantic, friendships, and at work. If a person feels that they need to be “serving to defend” themselves at all times, they can come across as confrontational. People can get in the habit of feeling they need to defend anything.   Understanding the definition of defensive is important if you want to know how to use it properly in a sentence, particularly in a psychology context. There are actually different definitions of defensive based on what part of speech it is. There is defensive – adjective and also defensive – noun. It’s important to understand meanings, word choice can improve when you know exactly how to use it.     What causes defensive behavior?   A wide variety of things can contribute to defensive disorders. Any time that your mental health or physical health is compromised, it can lead to defensive behavior.   A defensive person may have developed a chronic defensive response as a result of the way they’ve been brought up as it was modeled by their parents or other adults in their lives. In other words, a defensive reaction may be a result of learned behavior. While people that react defensively can be difficult to relate to, chronic defensive communication is highly treatable.   Because the causes of most of these behaviors are social rather than chemical, when you approach an expert about becoming less defensive medicine is seldom the answer. Instead, various forms of talk therapy will attempt to get at the life experiences that led you to adopt this defensive approach in the first place. I hope you consider your next step is to reach out to a counselor to help guide you through this. Someone who can support and suggest some effective interventions so you can push past your defenses.   I wish you mush luck! In Kindness, Gaynor           
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I overcome sexual performance anxiety?

Dear killua,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I avoid overexpectations?

Dear Lovie,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand more on how you feel and what you have been going through, especially regarding how you have been interacting with yourself.   Through your words I think we have touched on a very important topic about "should", which could imply a sense of perfection / control and how much we demand ourselves to do what is being expected and have everything figured out or under our control, hence the fear over unknown and the urge to be in control.    Through your words I have a sense that we often match ourselves with some internal expectations that we demand ourselves to be this way or that way...and that can definitely create stress for us and make us wonder if everything / anything that we do are "normal". There seems to be a genuine sense of worrying over the unknown future, meaning that we have a hard time trusting in our ability to cope with anything that happens?   You have mentioned that you had a hard time accepting mistakes / making rooms for failures, because perhaps we have never be assured by others that who we are and what are do are acceptable. This could also affect your relationship where your self-esteem was constantly sabotaged, which goes with the feeling of not good enough. I can understand how much these images and perceptions have impacted you and made you think that you ought to be a certain way or achieve a certain thing.   Meanwhile we are all different and we feel differently. One key to manage these anxiety and stress is to accept ourselves as we are and not judge ourselves over any actions or thoughts that we have. There is no "normal". What is normal to me may not be normal to you, what is normal to you may not be normal to me, what is normal to us may not be normal for others, and what is normal for others may not be normal for us.   This can be especially true when we want to be relieved so much from anxiety and fear. We often compare ourselves with others and we do worry what if we can never live the life that we wanted to live, yet there are so many things that are beyond our control...   We want things to go well for us therefore we try our very best to make that happen. We try to control our anxiety, try to fight off our fear, try to manage our worries...   We get stressed, worried and anxious when we don't know whether or not we will succeed, or where to go from here. That can also apply to how we see ourselves, our life and how we live our lives right now. Often we have this all or nothing thinking that I have to be perfect or otherwise I am a complete failure. Usually this thinking will lead us to unnecessary pressure and stress, which takes away our capacity to enjoy life and learn to adapt when things don't go as planned, or when we have made mistakes.   Perhaps the first step is to give ourselves the permission to be ourselves, and to be in touch with our being including all of our strength and weaknesses.   Here are some words about perfection / control that might be helpful, these are often words that I say to myself over and over and over and over...again.   I am still working on it, let see if we can do this together :)   Here they are:   I don't have to be perfect.   I won't expect that of myself any longer.   I can be weak, I can struggle, I can panic, I can worry, that is perfectly fine.   I can be fine with myself, even when I don't feel fine.   Nobody can be perfect, and besides, there is no "perfect" way of doing anything. I just do things and no longer try to do them perfectly.   If I'm not doing something as good as I'd like, or I'm having problems because of anxiety, I will coolly and calmly accept it. By trying harder and pressuring myself more to do things in a precise and perfect way, I only make myself miserable, and I will actually hurt my performance. I just do what I need to do, and realize there is no perfect way to do them, or no perfect way to feel. I accept it coolly and calmly if I have anxiety or if I don't understand something.   I don't have to be perfect. I won't expect that of myself any longer.   There is only pressure in a situation if I put it on myself. Nothing is that important. It's all small stuff. If others disapprove -- who cares? There is no pressure because there is no exact right way to do things. I repeat, there is no exact right way to do things. There is no pressure because there is nothing I have to do in a given situation.   I can do whatever I want. I can always do whatever I want. Whatever the consequences, they won't be that bad. There is no pressure because I can accept it if someone judges me to be nervous. There is no precise way to do things. I repeat, there is no exact right way to do things. Since there is not a precise way to do things, there is no pressure.   However, whenever I do something or however I act is OK. If I don't do something a certain way, the consequences will always be something I can deal with. There is no pressure because I can do whatever I want. There is nothing I have to do. There is no exact right thing to do. There is no pressure because whatever I do, nothing bad is going to happen.   There is no pressure because other people's opinions do not determine how I feel about myself or whether I am a worthy human being. If I want, I can just accept things peacefully and stare blankly into space and say nothing.   There is no pressure because I don't have to be perfect. I won't expect that of myself any longer.   I am putting a great deal of pressure on myself by analyzing every situation for the perfect way to do it. Remember, analysis = paralysis. When I feel pressured, I'm going to stop thinking and just do it. There is no universal perfect way of doing it, so whatever I do will be acceptable. If after doing something, I think I could have done a better job, I'm just going to say to myself, "Well, I learned something here, and this knowledge will help me do a better job next time.   It's OK. I don't have to be perfect. I am satisfied with my efforts.   My self esteem is not determined by how I perform at a certain task or whether others judge me as being intelligent, competent, fun to be around, or good-looking. There is no pressure because I can accept it if someone judges me to be nervous.   If someone judges me as a failure in a certain regard, I will be able to accept it, because I don't need their approval to sustain my self esteem. My opinion of whether or not my work is good is more important than theirs. My opinion about whether my attitude is good is more important than anyone else's. My comfort with how I carry myself and what I do is more important than anyone else's.   And there is no pressure because as a human being I have the right not to have to justify what I do.   I can accept the fact that sometimes I am nervous and anxious. Just because I don't feel perfect, and sometimes experience more anxiety feelings than other people, doesn't mean that I am less valuable as a person or that I should feel ashamed. I have some tough feelings to deal with but I will keep using the techniques I am learning with cool, calm, confident, peaceful determination.   I will do things for my own enjoyment and growth and not for other people.   Thus there is no pressure, because if other people look down on my performance, looks, or the way I conduct myself, I can still be happy because I am doing things for my own personal satisfaction, not for other people's. I have the right as a human being to say "I don't know," "I'm not good at this task," "no", or "I don't care". I'm going to avoid using words like "should", "must", "can't", and "have to", because they make situations very rigid and pressuring. I will avoid worrying thoughts like "what if ____?" I will do whatever makes me happy.   The more I try to pressure myself into doing a perfect job, the more problems I cause for myself and paradoxically the more my performance suffers.   Pressuring thoughts are ANTs thoughts (Automatic Negative Thoughts).   Pressure is a lying ANT because no matter how I perform, things will be OK.   I don't have to be perfect. I won't expect that of myself anymore.   I won't pressure myself anymore. I have nothing to prove to anyone else or to myself.   Thus, I won't pressure myself anymore. There is nothing I have to do. Anything I do is OK.   I am who I am, and I am beautiful. Why? Because that is what I define myself with. It does not matter what the world thinks about me, what matters is who I see myself in the mirror.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What are some ways I can calm my anxiety other than things like deep breathing?

Anxiety is something that everyone struggles with. Although some anxiety is actually very healthy and helpful for us there is anxiety that is very damaging to us or difficult to manage. Of course, some of the best and most common skills for managing anxiety are found in deep breathing, calming skills, or mindfulness practices however, these don't work for everyone.   A mindfulness skill that I have found helpful for clients who don't even like mindfulness is a grounding technique. Grounding techniques are skills that you can utilize to keep you present and in the moment. The specific grounding technique that I find to have a great deal of success is "The Rule of 5". If you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed stop and go through your five senses. Identify 5 things you can see; 4 things you can hear; 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. By practicing this it can instantly take you away from the worry of the beginning stages of a panic attack and bring you back to the moment. If "The Rule of 5" doesn't work or you want another skill, something I have found to be very helpful with clients struggling with anxiety, but find deep breathing or mindfulness skills have not been very helpful is trying to utilize "thought stopping" and "thought challenging."   "Thought stopping" is when we find that we are experiencing a negative thought such as "Everyone is judging me" and we actively stop the thought by bringing up something else. We would follow this by "Thought Challenging."   "Thought Challenging" is when we take that thought we just stopped "Everyone is judging me" and we challenge it with more rational thoughts such as "How can everyone be judging me when I am just sitting here like everyone else."  The idea Is to take that anxious thought, recognize it and give ourselves facts that would make that anxious thought not true.   It is hard to do this in the beginning and it takes a lot of time to recognize and come up with a challenge for an anxious thought however, the more we practice it the easier it becomes for our brain to identify anxious thinking and automatically follow up with a reason for us to dismiss that anxious thought.
Answered on 01/21/2022

I have a problem of speaking in public. Am a student at college and am facing challenges in class

Hello Seliann, Thank you for reaching out on the Betterhelp Platform to request some help and guidance to overcome your social anxiety relating to speaking in public. I have a problem of speaking in public. Am a student at college and am facing challenges in class If you are a student just know that to overcome and conquer this fear is possible, you just need to take a step forward with a positive mindset! I will share some information and tips on what you can do to conquer this! All over the world, public speaking is the most reputed and accepted co-curricular activity. In every educational institution, it is supported as a co-curricular activity. Most other activities are merely accepted by the institutions but public speaking is something else. Just because this activity will help you to improve your self-esteem and institutional performance. By mastering public speaking, you can do many things – Give better presentation Make understandable speeches Prove your logics to fellow students and teachers Communicate with everyone However, the first step in achieving all these things would be to overcome your fear of public speaking. Ways to Overcome The Fear of Public Speaking Not everyone is able to give perfect public speeches. Some can do it, and most have fear of it. There are many ways to overcome this fear. This is a matter of practice at first. But there are many influential activities that will help you to build up the confidence to overcome the fear. It’s actually not the fear that someone feels but rather a lack of confidence. So, to beat the fear of public speaking and boost your college performances you have to build up confidence first. The fear of public speaking is called Glossophobia and you are not the only one who suffers from it. Always try to speak up in the class Speaking up in the class with the teacher helps a lot to build up confidence. Always try to stand up and communicate with the teacher. This way, you can easily gain a solution to the problem you or the class is facing and you can also overcome the fear of speaking in front of a lot of people. Practicing In front of The Mirror This is a very important practice. Great public speakers, at the beginning of their careers, have tried it at least once in their life. They have said that if you can face yourself while speaking, you can face thousands of other people. Because the fear you’re having is within yourself. So if you can face yourself, you won’t be afraid to face a lot of other people undeniably. Become an English Tutor Becoming an English tutor is another good thing you can do. If you become an English tutor, you can easily overcome the fear of public speaking. As an English tutor, you will have to become fluent in presentations, in giving speeches, in communicating with people. Also, teaching English will extend your own vocabulary and by using sophisticated words you will feel more knowledgeable, thus boosting your confidence. While an English tutor is teaching his/her students, he can easily learn the tactics of communication and make the students understand whatever he or she wants to say. The exact same skills can and should be applied in public speaking. Relaxation There are many other ways in which you can overcome the fear of stage or the fear of public speaking in front of a lot of people. You have to be relaxed in front of them. To be relaxed and patient and calm, you count the seats to keep the adrenaline flow go slower, or you can breathe to keep your muscles relaxed. Also, pausing frequently, while giving a speech will help you relax and choose the correct words, without sounding awkward. Speaking Tips Sometimes just knowing what makes a good speech can help you feel more confident. Focus on some of the following elements and practice them before you have to speak in public.   Develop your own style: In addition to imitating good speakers, work on developing your own personal style as a public speaker. Integrate your own personality into your speaking style and you will feel more comfortable in front of the class. Telling personal stories that tie into your theme are a great way to let other students get to know you better. Avoid filler words: Words such as "basically", "well", and "um" don't add anything to your speech. Practice being silent when you feel the urge to use one of these words. Vary your tone, volume, and speed: Interesting speakers vary the pitch (high versus low), volume (loud versus soft), and speed (fast versus slow) of their words. Doing so keeps your classmates interested and engaged in what you say. Make the audience laugh: Laughter is a great way to relax both you and the other students in your class, and telling jokes can be a great icebreaker at the beginning of a speech. Practice the timing and delivery of your jokes beforehand and ask a friend for feedback. Be sure that they are appropriate for your class before you begin. Smile: If all else fails, smile. Your fellow classmates will perceive you like a warm speaker and be more receptive to what you have to say. However, to be honest, these are not permanent solutions. You must find out a permanent solution for a problem like this that works best for you. Because if severe, this can cause panic attacks or even heart attacks. Eventually, with a lot of practice and experience, you will completely eliminate your fear of public speaking. . No need to Apologize If you make a mistake, don't offer apologies. Chances are that your classmates didn't notice anyway. Unless you need to correct a fact or figure, there is no point dwelling on errors that probably only you noticed. If you make a mistake because your hands or shaking, or something similar, try to make light of the situation by saying something like, "I wasn't this nervous when I woke up this morning!" This can help to break the tension of the moment. It's natural to feel frightened the first time you have to speak in front of your class. However, if you fear continues, interferes with your daily life and keeps you awake at night, it may be helpful to see someone about your anxiety.  I wish you the best of luck with your journey in mastering this skill. Best Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to get rid this anxiety

Dear Ten,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

how to get rid of feeling nausea and vomiting when cofronting emotional situation in relationships.

Dear James,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Do I have social anxiety?

Dear Tsukushi,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I am always insecure and afraid from talking in public even when I am with my friends, why!?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with social anxiety and talking in public.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific anxieties you have around talking with people.     Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of grief of speaking anxiety.            As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/21/2022