Help with balance sheet


#1

So, I am doing the therapy second time and I am in session 6 this week. First time I didn’t know how to make proper balance sheet and I improvised a lot. I was doing things I felt were easier first but it didn’t get me to far. I need some examples so I can do this properly this time.

I believe my top point on the list would be daiting as I have strong anxiety in comunicating with girls. I meet a lot of attractive woman at work but I can’t make it clear as sometimes I comunicate pretty good, depending on a situation. Then the next time, I feel I need to make more connection since we chatted already, and then the pressure gets to high. So, I just walk by like I never met the person. This would also apply to people in authority.

Eeg. If someone is asking for help from me, it all goes very well. If I need help, it is not easy but it works somehow, so I need to have realistic reason to comunicate. I just can’t have normal, easygoing chat. Sometimes I can, but I don’t understand why.

Normaly, it is very hard to even say hi. I will do it if there is only 2 of us near by and the other person makes eye contact first. If not, it is impossible to ask for attention just to say hi.

Is there a better, more clear way to see this, please? Anyone has good example of a list I could use to create my own?

What I am doing wrong?


#2

For others reading this thread, just in case there is a question, A Balance Sheet for Facing Anxiety, is a handout in Session 6. The idea here is to balance doing behavioral activities - doing enough, doing something, but not flooding yourself, not doing too much that you’re not ready for. I would like to also note that this handout is not meant for writing out a strict plan of what is rated from easy (step 1) to the highest (step 100) and then following it. First, such a thing would take a long amount of time. Second, as you change and progress, the list will always be changing. We can instead rely naturally on what we know and feel at that moment to be the right way to go about approaching things, to look for the easiest way to begin, and then to look for the next step.

In your post, you point out first the highest “point” on your list - dating. So, we are right back to this huge issue of dating which touches upon all aspects of social anxiety, and, to remind all of us, is challenging for everyone in the world, not just for socially anxious people. You describe jumping into that rather high level anxiety situation, and then the pressure that comes with it and your perceived expectations of what should happen next. Authority - yes, another high level anxious thing.

Later you say “I just can’t have normal, easygoing chat.” Stay away from “can’t” and absolute words. They are untrue, but you are saying them so your brain takes that as the truth, hearing it over and over again. Same thing when you say “impossible”. Rationally why is it impossible to say hello to someone who hasn’t looked at you or taken the first step. In life, we must also take the first step. It is unreasonable to think others will always take the first step and do all the work for us.

So then, how to go about this? Read the handout again. Then read it again. I say this because it is a fairly simple, straight-forward handout. Avoidance is not good. And, flooding is not good. You are already flooding by starting this activity with dating/women and authority examples. But are there ways to start this lower? Of course. Start slowly and plan to do things that only cause mild anxiety. Remember to loosen up. Use rational statements before you do these things, and after. Expect to be a little nervous. Try to think rationally, and then congratulate yourself on just doing it. Then, when ready, take the next step.

-All of that is taken directly from the handout. Simple enough. So how to apply it? Say hello to people in your day. This could be anyone - the person working at some service job, the person you pass in the hallway. Say good morning to a stranger first maybe, then to someone you might know. That’s it. Say just that. Smile to those people if you like. That is a first step.

Notice you did not say hello to the woman of your dreams that you have been worrying about for 5 months. Or maybe you did not say hello to that person in authority. But you did say hello to real people. REAL people, without a problem. You could even say hello, and just that, hello, to your boss and smile, and that’s it, IF you are ready for that. That is a first step. And you may say, well those other people don’t count - they don’t cause me much anxiety. THAT IS EXACTLY THE POINT. They don’t cause you much anxiety but maybe some and you are practicing a healthy, normal human behavior with them, with real people, and that practice will help you move up to doing the same things in other situations and be fine with it. And surprise!.. even just this practice will lead to opportunities for more interaction with those people which will help you. Every time you take the first step to DO something, you’ll feel a difference, and it will give you the opportunity to STOP thinking about it afterwards, to STOP over-thinking how something went, because you’re practicing stopping that kind of thinking.

The next time you might say 2 things to the person. “Hello, good morning.” “Hello, have a good day.” “Hello, how was your weekend?” And this might become very minor small talk. Each step, there are ways to continue and move it up like this.

Small steps are real, effective and make a huge difference. If you don’t take the small steps and think you are going to jump to having a calm, effective great conversation with that feared person in authority, you are likely kidding yourself. But by taking the small steps, yes, you will be able to do just that.

And don’t let me hear you say, “Oh, but none of that small stuff matters. That practice isn’t helping me.” Y E S… I T… I S. Yes, it is. That’s what it takes. Just a smile. Just a nod. Just a hello. Just those things - that’s the start. Don’t make the silly and unrealistic mistake that “Now I’m doing therapy, I must be able to talk to the prettiest woman I’ve ever seen over there at the coffee shop.” That’s silly. That’s not even the point of this. This is not about dating. This is about you finding a healthy center inside yourself that believes in yourself and that is completely fine with yourself so that social anxiety is not around anymore. Then what you do with your life is completely yours to do with. Then you can talk to that nice person in the coffee shop as would anyone else. Then you can have a human conversation with a boss about work or about the latest book she is reading.

Start small, in the easiest way, but start, and do it. And do the easy things, and then think, okay, I did that. That was great. I did just fine. Now what small addition can I make, what thing more can I do that feels possible also.


#3

Thank You, Mateo, that summary helped calm my chaos and refocus myself.


#4

Hey, @Mateo

There you go again, helping big time in my therapy. Thanks so much, man. I will have to buy you many beers one day.

Well, I am kinda in difficult situation as I am new in this country and my work. Basically, I don’t have many friends here and I rarely see them. There are my housemates with whom I comunicate much better lately. I can try and practice more with them.

At work, I can’t really have a plan. Sometimes I have problem saying something even to people I know well. It is so confusing. Even when I feel safe with someone, there are always other people around and I have to join the conversation or intrupt theirs to say hi.

I was thinking how to plan this but at the moment, I still improvize a lot. I just show up and look for an oportunety to start a chat. Some days are better then others. Today I tried to chat my team up as they are somehow closest to me but it seamed kinda poor. I was hoping to do better as I had better success in the past. Today I also had a setback, first time since I am repeating therapy. I am handling it pretty well.

Then, I randomly say hi to whom ever I can. When I meet someone in the hallway or kitchen. I don’t go if it is to crowded. And, yes, I spoke to the boss who is from my country and always comes to say hi to me. That made me anxious in the past. Today I had to walk past his desk and he was alone. I shook his hand and asked how he is.

Maybe I am overanalising all this but I am trying to share more details. I am wandering, is this a good approach and if I can do something better. If you guys have any ideas, please share them here.


#5

What is the purpose of that handout, “A Balance Sheet for Anxiety”? Read it. Read it slowly. We learn 2 wrong ways to go about dealing with anxiety and behavioral activities in the wrong way: 1. avoidance, 2. flooding. Those things don’t work, so what next? Let’s see what the handout says.

Start slowly, plan to do something, loosen up and relax as best you can, use a rational statement before and even after - to remind yourself of this rational therapy, and the rational truth. This helps you cognitively. Be prepared for some nerves. Don’t be surprised or killed by that. Be realistic. Use the techniques such as focusing out (not in), look around - be out of your own thoughts. This comes from our practicing (ANTs stoppage and distractions) and then applying it now behaviorally. Yes, it takes practice. If you found 1 thing too much to deal with, back off. If you’ve found one thing okay, look for ways to continue foward (doesn’t have to be “now now now!”. It can be next time, tomorrow. And no matter what, focus on the fact that you did it, not your feelings about the supposed outcome, which can lie to you. You did what you set out to do - and that’s it. That’s good. That’s enough. The rest just stop.

Well, I am kinda in difficult situation as I am new in this country and my work. Basically, I don’t have many friends here and I rarely see them. There are my housemates with whom I comunicate much better lately. I can try and practice more with them. Difficult situation or life? We’re all in varying degrees of challenges with this. Each situation can also offer you an opportunity to find one small thing to do. Yes, practice with your roommates! That’s great. That’s what the handout is saying. Guess what? That’s not just practice - that’s real life. You did that. Give yourself credit.

At work, I can’t really have a plan. Sometimes I have problem saying something even to people I know well. It is so confusing. Even when I feel safe with someone, there are always other people around and I have to join the conversation or intrupt theirs to say hi. You can’t plan all of life, right. You might have a plan for one small thing you do in one day, like say hi to one person. That’s a victory. No pressure needed to have a plan for everything. Confusion is what ANTs want. Slow down, choose rationality. Have a rational talk with yourself as much as you can/like, even if you can only go as far as conditionals “maybe/perhaps”. You have to join the conversation? Why? Maybe you don’t have to, and you can be fine with that. You also can and be fine with that. You can simply say hi to people. What you might view as interruption may be viewed by others as normally entering a conversation and just being present. People join groups all the time without saying anything. I don’t think that’s strange.

I was thinking how to plan this but at the moment, I still improvize a lot. I just show up and look for an oportunety to start a chat. Some days are better then others. Today I tried to chat my team up as they are somehow closest to me but it seamed kinda poor. I was hoping to do better as I had better success in the past. Today I also had a setback, first time since I am repeating therapy. I am handling it pretty well. It sounds like you did a lot of good stuff today and you are not giving yourself credit for it. End. Full stop. Yet, we continue with the self-pressure. Are you expecting to do everything too fast and some definition of perfect that never exists? You tried to chat up your team, which probably means you did chat with them. Good, if that felt too much, back off, but don’t beat yourself up. It was probably fine from their point of view. You say it seemed kind of poor. Don’t trust ANFs - ANTs’ feelings. Feelings can easily be liars. No need to always check in with negative lying feelings. You were hoping - STOP. You did what you did today and that was good enough. You did the best you could right now. There is no reason to compare yourself to anyone else or to yourself at any other point in time, like the past. No solution there. I’m happy that you handled the setback rationally. Setbacks are indeed a sign of progress. That means you are human. Welcome to being one of us - a human being!

Then, I randomly say hi to whom ever I can. When I meet someone in the hallway or kitchen. I don’t go if it is to crowded. And, yes, I spoke to the boss who is from my country and always comes to say hi to me. That made me anxious in the past. Today I had to walk past his desk and he was alone. I shook his hand and asked how he is. Sounds like you did a lot of great stuff today. Again are you expecting too much, pushing too hard, not giving yourself credit, still focusing on the half empty instead of half full? I know the half empty is there in all of us, but we are doing this therapy so that we can tell the brain to stop that. I choose to focus on this side, slowly, gradually.

Maybe I am overanalising all this but I am trying to share more details. I am wandering, is this a good approach and if I can do something better. If you guys have any ideas, please share them here. Yes, you have social anxiety - so by nature, you are over-analyzing. Over-thinking is a habit of an anxiety mind. Tell yourself out loud instead “I choose to stop over-analyzing”. That doesn’t change the feeling overnight or in two weeks, but you keep doing that, and yes, your mind is getting the message, the message you want it to get - I CHOOSE TO STOP THINKING ABOUT THAT THING TOO MUCH BECAUSE I KNOW IT"S NOT HELPFUL. This is not yelling. This is calm, out loud, slow talk. We are not getting angry. You are wondering if you can do anything better? Why? You did just fine. That falls back into judging oneself. We’re not discussing Olympic speedskating here, or the strategy to a particular game of chess where you could indeed have done something differently that may have resulted in a higher score or better “win”. You win today just by doing. Make sure you tell yourself that. Then END. STOP.

The balance sheet is a natural thing - don’t avoid too much, and don’t flood too much and you will be the one to know that in the situation, all the while applying rational thinking before, and after, and applying our calming down strategies before and during.


#6

As I was jogging this morning, my mind was thinking about this post.

I see people here in the groups, and here in this discussion community, doing great things, taking the initiative, being proactive and doing something (behavioral). For example, this past international group, we talked about taking the initiative and doing these small behavioral things, being proactive. Just say hi to the receptionist or the barista, for example. And we discuss some other things each group member can do. The next day, they come back and tell the group how they did indeed do something - they said hello, good morning, or just smiled at a person. That goes with this balance sheet - take one small step, do the first thing.

I hear that great news, or read that good thing here in someone’s post, but then it’s often followed by other comments on what they didn’t do, or didn’t accomplish, or could have done better. There’s also no credit given to oneself for doing that first thing.

Keep that in mind - this is one first step now. You’ve done it, and that in itself is awesome. And you should tell yourself that it is awesome that you did that. You should not forget to give yourself credit. Your brain needs to hear that. Your brain needs to practice doing this easier thing followed by staying rational in order to move to the next thing. You are practicing on each step, and allowing your brain the chance to keep up with those activities. No one can be expected to walk into a super intense situation and apply the therapy rationally without building up to it. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. What you DO deserve is credit for even just that one single thing you did do, and in doing it allow yourself the chance to stay rational. You will then proceed in a way which has you taking the next step, and when you do, the amount of “rational strength” you have will be growing with each step.