Hi all, my psychotherapist asked me to practice mindfulness. She gave me an audio tape to listen to her asking me to feel the sensations in each part of my body, look with my eyes, listen, etc. I feel that it doesn’t really help much. However, rationally, it should work, as she’s a psychotherapist and she should know her stuff. Also, I found several websites online that said that mindfulness is helpful for social anxiety. I don’t know what to do as i feel I am wasting 10 minutes of my life everytime I do this. But I’m really scared of social anxiety and how I feel when I have it. I feel that mindfulness is useless for me, but I’m scared not to do it. Can someone please advise me?
Hi Joseph. There is a particular mindfulness program (for which you can find a course online for free) called MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction). It is an 8 week program and has been scientifically proven to help reduce stress (there is even a study that shows it was proven to be better than aerobic exercise for stress reduction is people with SA, look it up!). Personally, I am on the 2nd week now (and I’ve done mindfulness / meditation in the past as well). From my experience, mindfulness by itself is not going to help with social anxiety. However, I think it can a very useful supporting tool for the therapy we are doing! Being more mindful and aware of your thoughts will certainly help you better be able to catch your ANTs, and then apply the strategies we are learning here. So it works kind of synergistically with the therapy, but by itself I’d say it is indeed a waste of time.
thanks for replying
With all the competing ideas and everyone trying to grab your attention and your money, I wish everyone would stick to the therapy itself and double down on it. Mindfulness, in context, is built into our cognitive therapy. Everything that relates to “calmness” and “slowing down” is a facet of mindfulness. We have just incorporated the part of mindfulness that is useful for social anxiety people into the program. We just state it is part of cognitive therapy – because it is.
You do not need to go out looking for additional pieces to the puzzle. No, psychotherapists who have not lived with social anxiety do not have any idea what social anxiety is like. They are not in a good position to devise therapy or give you advice about therapy for social anxiety. All they do is give very general advice for anxiety, which is not based on having successful social anxiety therapy groups.
AGAIN: This is something we obviously incorporated into the series, but like everything else, it needed to be translated into specific therapy for people with social anxiety. You are already doing mindfulness therapy, as well as a bunch of other things that all fall under the umbrella of what we call “cognitive” therapy. You will have additional “calming” and “peaceful” handouts in the series, and you should not forget our first strategy – slow talk, which is a very good way of calming down (getting the adrenaline under control) and, in addition, becoming mindful in the process.
You do not need to look for outside sources to overcome social anxiety. Most every time this will slow your progress and make it harder for you to reach your goal. The internet is wild and crazy with every hype and con job known to humankind – but you know that the extract of irradiated prunes (which you can buy online) is not going to help you overcome social anxiety. Please stick to the series and then go over it again. You will be happy with the results if you just keep going and keep applying the therapy like you’re doing.
Nothing worthwhile is gained easily, but if you persistently keep going – you will reap the rewards. The more you emphasize a strategy, the more it will make sense and work. But it only works if you keep doing it, over and over again.
Please don’t get distracted from the real social anxiety-specific therapy you’re working on. I encourage you to keep moving forward, keep making progress, and give yourself credit for it. You deserve it.
Hi Dr. Richards,
Do you think practicing meditation for 10-20 minutes per day would have a negative effect on this series? I understand mindfulness is worked into the program as well, but couldn’t the two act together to help beat ANTs and anxiety rather than counteracting each other?
Also, would talking to a therapist once per week halt progress in your opinion? I understand that this program is about fixing things in the present rather than digging into the past, but if you have enough time to do this series every day and incorporate things like typical face-to-face therapy (not a CBT program, but just normal talk therapy) and meditation, would it be good to do those things as well, or do you feel it would be harmful?
Thank you for the series! I’m only a few weeks in but you speak about SAD in a more clear and understanding way than I’ve ever heard.
We always encourage calming and peaceful additions to the therapy. Meditation that is done in the traditional way is a good adjunct. Sitting down with a therapist that doesn’t understand social anxiety and wants to dig into your past may not be a wise thing (I am not there: I do not have a final answer specifically). You can make that judgment yourself. Keep in mind psychologists are NOT trained in their graduate classes anything about social anxiety except what it is (definition). There are no specific classes in social anxiety group therapy in graduate school. So, please keep going with the social anxiety-specific therapy in the series. If you add something peaceful, that is usually a good thing.
At times, it can be difficult to know whether something is helping or not. It depends a lot on your expectations and the metrics you use to assess your conditions.
And rationally also, even if a psychotherapist knows her stuff, it is also worth noting that no therapy (or techniques) can bring improvements to everyone who uses it. You can say that a therapy has a great chance of helping you yet note that there is still the small chance that it wouldn’t. The caveat here is most people didn’t try the therapy long enough to reap the benefit and prematurely judge that it’s ineffective.
Thank you for getting back to me!
Besides meditation, what other healthy changes would you recommend someone could make to their lifestyle while going through this program to try to get better?
My daughter has SA and has been to 3 therapists and not one of them had a clue about how to treat SA. I have been encouraging her to do Dr. Richard’s therapy program but she has been extremely resistant I think because of all the ANTs she experiences. Even though I did it and was helped by it she was not convinced. I think she has finally come around to it and has been doing the reading for about 6 days. I’m hoping that she can stick with it for the long haul because I don’t know what other help there is for SA.
Congratulations ! For going to a psychotherapist !
Can you do the mindfulness before you get up in the morning ?
How many times did you do the audio tape ?
What is 10 minutes a day in a lifetime ?
Some guided meditations are 30 minutes.
Thank you for the reply .
Can you see changes in yourself with
the day before you started ?
When I look at what I want, I feel dissapointed.
When I look at what is changed in me, I am proud !
Meditation . There are so many ways meditation can help you beat shyness, here are 3 :
#1 — Meditation releases “feel good” brain chemicals. Researcher, neuroscientist, and pharmacologist Candance Pert, Section Chief at the National Institution of Health, found that meditation can contribute to the release of endorphins, which give you a “runner’s high” — just making you feel naturally good. When you feel great about yourself, diffusing social awkwardness is super easy .
#2 — Meditation has been proven to boost the “happy feeling” brain region . Brain researcher Dr. Sara Lazar compared the brains of those who had practiced meditation for several years with those who had never practiced. She found that well-experienced meditators had thicker areas in the brain’s “happy” pre-frontal cortex ; and were especially thick in the areas known to process positive emotions. When we are happier shyness becomes near impossible .
#3 — Meditation melts the dysfunctional thought patterns that lead to shyness & social anxiety . In order to quickly stop worrying what other people think of you, you must harness the subconscious layers of your mind. Once meditation melts all of the layers of worry, anxiety, depression, and fear clogging up your thought processes (the root of shyness), your new-found mind-mastery, with crystal clear thinking stills the racing thoughts, making shyness a thing of the past.
I hope your daughter gets better
I appreciate your good wishes.