Sorry it has taken a week for me to get back to you, I've had loads of uni work -first graded essays to be precise- and I have been quite overwhelmed and caught up in the rush of getting everything done that I've had not much space in my head to think about anything else.
My conception of being perfect socially is pretty simillar to yours. Always having witty/interesting/intelligent to say, being confident in every situation, not showing signs of nervousness or even being nervous, being a strong person, able to cope with anything etc. I also realise that I don't have the same standards for others as I do myself, in fact i don't think I expect much from others socially, Im too preoccupied with what they think of me! It's like I see myself as being responsible for the interaction going well, the conversation being interesting etc. But i am increasingly catching and labeling these thoughts as irrational ants lies.
I can totally relate to the idea of trying to 'be an entertainer', and I think that is one of the things that is perhaps in the way of self-acceptance. What I mean is, always performing for others almost seems like placing yourself as inferior to them - their approval is some desired thing that you have to earn - it's like saying 'i'm not good enough just being myself, I need to perform' when of course we are good enough just being ourselves.
As far as groups go, it really depends on the nature of the people in the group. If there are some confident characters who are quite forceful with their opinions it might make me nervous and feel more inhibited. However, if its quite a quiet group I can be reasonably confident in giving my opinions. Group situations are somthing Im having to do every week now with tutorials at uni - where a small group of you, lead by a a phd student, discuss lecture materials, so it does give me plenty opportunity to practice and develop new ways of thinking. Slow talk definately comes in handy in those situations! Sometimes we have to go round in a circle, giving our opinions on an article, most of the time it goes well, but I did have one occasion where the anxiety just built and built, (I was the second last in the group to speak so it was a long wait) mouth dry, worrying about not saying anything good etc, but what I did was just fully commit (it took a few attempts!) to focusing outwardly on what was being said by others and not on the ants rubbish in my head. By the time it got to my turn to speak I was a quite a bit more relaxed, still tense, but the slow talk really helped in that situation - I think I probably sound pretty chilled out!
Thanks for the tips , active acceptance definitely sounds like a great thing to practice, reminds me of mindfullness, don't know if you have heard of it? The idea of accepting events as they is are is definitely an important one for me! Its like I want my interactions to be like something out of a movie or somthing, without any of the natural social 'fumbles' that are part of real life and really are NO BIG DEAL!
Hope your doing well, how has your week been? are you still planning going to the arizona group therapy? Might be a bit far away for me! I live in Scotland.
Do you have any particular rational statements you say to yourself that you find really helpful? Also, do you have any tips on dealing with setbacks? Lots of questions! don't feel you have to answer all of them!