For anyone else that can identify with being avoidant


#1

I’m always thought I had social anxiety but more recently I realised that I don’t have problems with presentations or feeling self conscious in front of people. All my issues are about putting loads of pressure on myself not to come across as a loner or as unsociable. When in social situations like work situations I feel very uncomfortable and often avoid unnecessary interaction, this causes me to avoid interaction even more almost as a reflex. I out loads of pressure on myself to talk to people and have made some progress in some situations but maybe all the pressure is the problem. So instead of putting pressure on myself I’m just going to allow myself to avoid in reflex and see what difference it makes. Then I can put the methods of talking to people in a step by step manner as and when it happens.

Is this what is meant by the fighting paradox?


#2

Social anxiety doesn’t automatically mean that you must have problems with presentations, or even self-consciousness in front of groups of people. We have plenty of people who come to the groups who do NOT have problems with presentations. We have many others who do, as you might expect. So this point isn’t an indication of having social anxiety.

If you think about it from one perspective, it’s not weird to NOT have problems with presentations even if you have social anxiety. It depends on what you focus your anxiety on. If one person is worried about intimate, one-on-one interactions, or even small talk, then they might consider a rather impersonal larger presentation to be no big deal. The mind can bend any situation any way.

Pressure and Perfectionism - big ANTs, as you can read from Session 17 in the audio therapy. Here are some parts from that Session:
“Perfectionism always comes along with pressure - 2 negative emotions… The solution here again is a paradox. The more afraid we are of failure, the more we see ourselves as failures… Such pressure only paralyzes me and causes me to become passive and inactive… Perfectionism never solves any problem. It only makes them worse… Striving for perfectionism guarantees you’ll be unhappy.”

Those are all taken straight from the audio portion of the therapy. We discuss the Deserving Statements in that session, also, for good reason.

Yes, take the pressure off yourself. Give yourself, instead, rational, healthy statements. Make your own deserving statements if you need to. Use that handout also.

In a way yes, all of this involves the ideas discussed in the Fighting Paradox. Don’t fight, resist, pressure. None of that gets you to where you want to be. You can be aware and still not choose to fight, resist or pressure yourself. It does take time, and the practice of the therapy, and the choice to follow in this way rather than the other.


#3

Hi Nickygstar,

I think you are getting to the heart of the paradox, but want to add a twist to your conclusion. After playing with both of these options myself- either pressuring myself to interact more or giving up and allowing myself to avoid- I think neither is a good strategy. I think there is a third option- not pressuring yourself, but also not avoiding. I believe you can decide not to be avoidant, to be more friendly, without pressuring yourself and beating yourself up if you are not. Maybe its the difference between feeling you have to vs. feeling you want to. I find pressure to be really subtle- that’s why I love the Perfectionism and Pressure handout. It is such a small shift to say “there is pressure in a situation if I put it on myself- I’m not going to do that any more”, but it makes a huge difference to me. I don’t know about you, but just the idea of not putting pressure on myself gives me such a feeling of freedom. And I think that freedom could allow me to act in the way I would like to, rather than how I feel I should.


#4

I think maybe you are expecting too much without taking the step-by-step approach first. Have you worked on talking to just one easy person, or a small friendly group and started to get comfortable with that first?

Also, there is an ANT there that you mentioned in which you think don’t come across well and people think you’re unsociable. I’m guessing you likely MAY come across better than you think you do and other people aren’t thinking that. I don’t know you personally, but you seem like a nice, friendly person on here. …Keep your mind open to this idea.

But like Mateo also mentioned, pressure never helps, so take some off yourself to do a perfect job in your social interactions. Relax yourself in any way that works for you.