I’ve read and gone over this section of the therapy many times, but this is one part I do not know how to apply. Not fighting something is more of a mindset , and I like to have something I can practically “do” , or I would like to know what I am “doing” that is causing the “fighting” and how to stop it. This is one part of social anxiety that really sucks the fun out of my life . So to sum my issue up, the instructions “Just don’t struggle with it” or “just let it be” isn’t practical or direct enough for me.
I fought this one for a while. The more you try not to think about it, the more you ARE thinking about it. I think this may somehow be tied to OCD; we begin obsessing over how not to think about it! I was able to get over it by just accepting I have social anxiety related to eye contact. Internal dialogue: "Yep, there’s that reminder I have this problem…it’s just social anxiety talking, but I’m not going to let it win by “feeding it”. Then I just refocus on what I am doing or get involved in something that will get my mind off of it. I think fighting it just makes us think about it more, so do the opposite…let it be okay by accepting this is happening to you right now, but you know you are working on getting better. Somehow accepting it’s there allows your mind to let go of having to think about it. I hope this makes sense. It freed me from the struggle of trying to forget about it. Good luck!
I got over this by fully understanding the balance sheet. Not forcing yourself into tough situations and just allowing social anxiety to be part of your life instead for the time being means you are addressing the problem but you are not trying to do it all at once. Then I learned to take one small step rather than leaping like I did before, and giving my self the chance to get used to a small change over a month or so before taking another. For me this meant not going back to work but volunteering instead until I felt ready to work again. Hope this helps.
"Not Fighting Anxiety Method" - I’m posting this here because it seems to follow on with the thread. This message was sent to me by another community member. I think we all benefit from adding to the community conversation. Below is the post:
**I was reading over the fighting paradox about a week ago and started applying it to my life but I would tell myself not to fight anxiety anytime I felt anxiety. It was doing miracles couples days later I realise I was saying this like every two seconds like I was trying to force my self not to feel anxiety and then it started feeling like the method became less effective and now I can’t stop thinking about it(anxiety and ants.)This happened a couple times with other strategies I would say slow down, who cares, ECT and feel the effect then start obsessing over it and start repeatedly saying the phrase and then bam the method seems to lose it’s affect. I’m obviously not doing something right and wanted to ask you can you please help me out with the situation thank you.**
As the therapy discusses at many points and concerning many different strategies we use, overcoming social anxiety is often a paradox. It’s counterintuitive. We do the opposite of what we think we should do. For example, instead of speeding up as we naturally do, in the beginning we are learning to slow down. Instead of dwelling on thoughts that seem to come naturally, we are telling our brains, not get angry at our brains, that we choose not to have such thoughts. Instead of negative emotions which would come naturally when dealing with the pain of anxiety, we try to choose neutral and positive emotions. I notice that you say above “every two seconds I was trying to force”… and then you say “obsessing”. Both times you then follow that by saying that the strategies don’t work as well. Yes, strategies don’t work as well when forced, pressured, obsessed over. We aren’t learning these strategies in order to bludgeon to death ANTs. We are learning strategies in order to be mindful of how anxiety works so that we can calmly choose not to react the way that anxiety used to make us act. Each time we act in this new way, we are changing the brain. If you apply a strategy with pressure or obsession, that is going back to emotions that will reinforce anxiety, that will reinforce the tendency of an anxiety mind to overthink, to worry, and to dwell on the problem, the fix, and the pressure of not doing this perfectly.
Can anyone else add here some good advice for this topic? Thank you.
I think that when we apply the strategies into our real life situations, they need to be applied gently. I try to talk to myself in a calming, positive way and I also talk to myself in the 3rd person. I feel that this is helpful. But of course sometimes I feel that I have more anxiety when I think too much about what I’m doing or saying. I’m trying to be more gentle with my thoughts. It is hard and sometimes frustrating but I look at it this way: If you are trying to overcome something, it’s not going to be easy. There will be struggles and challenges along the way but that’s apart of changing. We have to be willing to put the practice and effort in. I am only on session 4 so I definitely don’t feel better yet but I see potential. Some days I feel okay and some days I still live in fear and I dwell in anticipation of when I will feel embarrassed again. I have a fear of being fearful, if this makes any sense. One thing I struggle with is making sure I’m not going too fast with the therapy. I worry about making sure I am doing everything step by step. I need to be more patient with myself. I am excited though to see how much progress I can achieve!
Something else I would like to share that may be somewhat helpful… Two years ago I tore my ACL in my knee. I needed surgery. It was a very invasive surgery. I was so upset because I was afraid I would never be able to play the sport that I loved so much: soccer… I had to go to physical therapy 3 times a week for a whole year. It was so frustrating at times!! I had to do certain stretches and excerices every single day! My knee would continue to hurt really bad!! I didn’t see results daily but over time, I could finally see some progress!! My knee started to feel much better!! When I didn’t think about how much pain I had, I actually felt better. It took me a year but I finallly have healed and don’t need physical therapy anymore!! It made me so proud to realize how much time and effort I put in, but I didn’t give up and I now am able to run and play soccer again! I wanted to share this story because I feel it relates to overcoming SA in a way. All I needed was time and effort. This is also what we need to overcome SA. It will be hard at first, but with time and motivation, we can overcome it!! I proved to myself how much power I have inside of me and I feel that I can overcome SA in the same way!! Sometimes in life, we need to have something to struggle with because it only makes us stronger!!
There is a quote that says “ The person who fell and got up is so much stronger than the person who never fell at all” . This quote inspires me. I hope I have left motivation for you all!! Thank you for your time!!