Anyone finding it tough to squash ANTs, focus on slow talk, and maintain your train of thought while having a conversation? I’m finding it a bit challenging. Wondering if it gets easier with time?
Let’s look at it another way. Do you think it should be easy?
Personally, I’d want it to be easy/easier. Who wouldn’t? In my case it was 30 years of developing social anxiety and it becoming more severe. Worried about looking nervous in front of others in any moment, small conversations a problem, big center of attention situations a problem, silly anything anywhere stuff a problem. 30 years of getting my mind to function that way quite well, quite irrationally and awfully well at tormenting myself.
Well then I found the therapy and started. It wasn’t easy. I’d say it actually is a sort of pain or exhaustion in the brain to try to change it, to make it behave differently than it wants to. It took time. Plenty of time. Things got better, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Sometimes setbacks, but things gradually got better, and yes, easier with time. I had my own ups and downs, but at least I did stick with the therapy. I think I owe my current mindset to that. I owe being able to identify and stop ants, and thus not having as many… being able to slow down and focus more… being able to be myself in conversations… not getting caught up in worries or nonesense… I owe that to the therapy, and again - it took time.
Your topic is good for us all to remember. No matter how rational we can be with knowing that it will take time, we don’t want it to take time. We’re frustrated now. You’re pressuring yourself now. It may get old to hear this, it may not be what you want to hear, but remember that this pressure or these expectations are not helpful, not realistic. Try to stop that line of thought, try to stop those ANTs just as you would others.
Thanks and agree with your feedback Mateo. No expectations that this will be easy. I’ve learned after dealing with SA for decades now this it takes time and persistence (albeit gentle) to make progress. Was more curious about others keeping their train of thought during conversations while focusing on slow talk and catching ANTs. These are the situations where they start crawling out of the woodwork for me. “What is the other person thinking? Am I saying something stupid?” etc… at this point I start to lose what I was saying which adds to the anxiety.
There are many comments / threads on your topic - this idea of how to focus outwardly, slow talk, slow down, while in conversations and in the moment of anxiety - and how to keep it all “together”. I suggest you read what others have posted on this just to get a feel for different people going through the same situation.
The answer again is that you perhaps cannot do all that you say. And certainly you can’t because you’re still full of ANTs. We practice therapy at home consistently and persistently so that it becomes more accessible when we need it in the outside world, in these situations. You have to do this therapy habit a lot before you start being able to tap into it, so that it can be realized in the moment. Do not expect it to just happen in the moment after a relatively short time of therapy. REMEMBER - you’re in session 3, only.
I’d recommend to keep practicing Slow Talk, calming down and slowing down. We all need this more than we think and this is such a crucial part of being able to control our emotions and adrenaline. Practice slowing and calming down every day.
What is the other person thinking - ANT. Am I saying something stupid - ANT. Of course you probably know that. So make that a daily part of your therapy to tell yourself in a general way about mingling and small talk that you will have ANTs and you choose not to believe them. But again, do not expect to become perfect at this at this stage. YOU’VE JUST STARTED. So, why put all that pressure on yourself to line up all the ducks perfectly in a row and breeze right through this? Impossible. We haven’t even gotten to those points in the therapy yet, if my memory serves.
Great advice. Thank you!
I have been occupied over many weeks with reviewing the therapy series. As I was reviewing a session just now, it brought me back to think about this post here.
Many posts lately, and often new users of the series will have the same set of questions. I do encourage looking over the questions already asked and answered. There’s a lot of good stuff to read from many different folks who have gone before you. But, I do encourage you to also ask. That is proactive. Posting on a community discussion forum can be very proactive for all of us - you know exactly what and why I say this. I don’t think I need to explain why to a group of people who know well what SAD does to us, how it controls our habits.
But, back to my idea - the above is not my intent here. My intent is to repeat the message that while we do this therapy, do not get ahead of ourselves. Do the best you can NOW on the session material NOW. Yes, we have many questions and want to get better NOW, but again - that is not the way forward. I know it’s hard to calm down and just be here now, doing the therapy now, without worrying about the larger life out there and the “problems” we see in our life that are still happening, or feeling like they are happening. Yes, I know. But, you also do yourself NO good by chasing after that too fast, worrying about it all now, asking about it all now. If you’ve gone through the therapy, even as suggested, but with a mind of always looking forward and worrying and not really getting the ideas down in the moment, then of course you will arrive at a place where you aren’t fully satisfied with the result. If you go through the therapy even daily, each week on a session, but with a mind that continues to race and continues to worry and doesn’t really focus on even the basics of slowing down and identifying ANTs or other concepts that come in the early sessions, then you will end up in later sessions not really being able to benefit as much as you would from those later sessions if you disregard what you’re doing now.
To be fair, and to go along with the process, we all will end up at the end of the therapy not fully where we want to be, and thus we will repeat the therapy and/or continue to be proactive in our lives, continue applying the therapy in order to continue overcoming social anxiety. And given that you will arrive at a better permanent place. But, even 25 weeks is a relatively short time. So, we will not be masters of any one session now when the one week is finished. We will not be masters of all these techniques before we move onto the next session. We can’t be masters in one week of anything such as this. And yes, we will continue to move on even though we are not masters because we do need to keep up the momentum and we know that we can’t learn it all in just one go. So, we will repeat this process. Nevertheless, again, I just want to suggest that we all keep in mind to try to focus on what the session is saying NOW and to be honest about practicing those things during that week. The therapy really does build on itself and really does wrap back around to discuss the questions that most of us have early on. It reviews many topics at many times throughout the course. That’s how CBT must work because that’s how the brain will work to get better. With that in mind, let’s try to at least calm ourselves down with what’s involved in the session we are on, doing that, knowing that all won’t be clear or perfect even while doing that, but releasing the pressure and unhealthy expectations or frustrations that naturally will be there.
My guess is that if you are practicing Slow Talk during that session and you really practiced that through and through, and yes you will continue using this the whole series… but if you did that, and if you’re asking yourself what good that did or well, I don’t feel any change, but “XYZ I’m worried about now”… then - I understand the worries and pressure, but it won’t be clear to you now just how much good you have done yourself by doing this seemingly simple thing. Because many people go through the series, perhaps they discount the practicing of something as simple as Slow Talk, and they get to later sessions where, I can tell, they display through their questions and descriptions that Slow Talk is still something that they need to consider more often, that would help them, and perhaps they weren’t focused enough on that moment in the therapy as they could have been.
I will say, still a job well done. A therapy habit is no small deal. It’s a big deal, so good for you. All of these things take time, all require repetition. I hope it can help you in some ways to know that what you are doing NOW, in this moment, with this therapy, at YOUR session in time is indeed something that is a part of the bigger picture and it is worth you spending time on it. Not only does it not really help us to get ahead of ourselves, it doesn’t actually even work out. When we do, the advice is always to come back to where we are now and apply what we can do now.
I sound like a broken record for a reason. I tend to give the same advice. I’m not going to give advice or opinions that I don’t see as true for myself and for people in all the groups that I’ve been involved with here at the Social Anxiety Institute. It may not be trendy or cool to give you answers or advice like this, but I will continue with advice and solutions that I see as real, attainable, and correct for overcoming social anxiety. I will not give you unreal expectations or “Top 3” lists of ways to overcome this disorder that has taken most of us years to work ourselves into. You can be sure that such lists are clicked on more and it is human nature to want those types of answers more. I can be sure that those lists have nuggets of truth that all sound good, but that don’t serve people with real social anxiety looking for real, permanent answers in their lives.