I would like to share my story with you and I hope this will encourage you with your own progress.
I had tremendous struggles with social anxiety for most of my life. I don't know exactly what caused it to begin with but I am pretty sure it came from my school years where I had some bad experiences.
My brother told me about Dr. Richard's therapy and how he has seen improvements. Sadly it took a few years of him trying to convince me to do it until I finally did. I still remember how I started feeling better, and doing better within the first few weeks of doing the handouts 30min a day, 7 days a week. I started making small talk with supermarket cashiers and asking myself afterwards “where did that come from!”. As if it just came out of me automatically and I was often so surprised at what I started doing and saying afterwards! It felt like I had this wittiness trapped inside of me for most of my life and it only starting coming out as I was working on getting over my social fears. It was the real me starting to emerge.
There is so much to share about how my life has changed since I started the therapy but in a nutshell it goes something like this; I was around 28 when I started the therapy. Before doing it, the only activities I have done for all those years prior was work, playing games on my computer and the occasional socials with a friend or two. I just didn't have much interest in anything else as I was too afraid to get out there and do anything new. My friends were also not very adventurous so if I wanted to do anything new, it meant that I would have had to do it alone.
Since I've started the therapy at around 28, I got my SCUBA diving open water certification, tried archery, completed three outdoor survival courses up to advanced (and doing a desert extreme survival week next year) and also started doing Kendo two months ago. I attended a good number of singles socials and events that would have been IMPOSSIBLE for me to even consider before making the effort to work on my anxiety. At work I started presenting training sessions, made a number of presentations and I was much more able to stand up for what I disagreed with. My boss seemed to gain confidence in me to handle important meetings and client engagements. The funny thing is, I started doing all of these things without giving it much thought. It just started happening automatically in my life, as if I always wanted to do things like these, but my mind unconsciously blocked it out due to anxiety and fear. I definitely went on a path of self discovery as well as I gained the freedom to do the things that I was interested in (without depending on a friend to join me in the fear of doing it alone), and be able to make up my mind as to whether I really liked something or not. My life started flowing naturally in the direction I wanted to go without me realising it. It is when I look back now, this is solid proof that I have overcome a lot of my social anxiety – the proof is in the pudding as it were.
Another interesting change is that I have apparently gotten a lot funnier according to a friend of mine. Perhaps my brain was always so constrained by fear that I couldn't think of anything funny and avoided the lighter side of life.
There are so many positive changes I can talk about but I will sum it up by saying, it is life changing. It is a magical journey and you start getting better as you're doing it.
I do have a confession to make though... I didn't complete all of the therapy the first time. I started from the beginning and went up to about half way. I'm just starting it again now and I want to do it all from start to finish this time. I got into a relationship while I was doing the therapy the first time and lost track of it and never picked it up again until now. I guess I got a bit arrogant and thought that I made enough progress back then. The relationship has ended and I've lost a lot of time before getting back to the therapy again. Lesson in life for me is to keep doing what I'm doing and not to let myself get too easily distracted or get arrogant and think I'm all better now, no need to continue. Perhaps the first part of the therapy was most of what I needed to improve, maybe the last part I need even more. I will only find out if I do it all! I do believe that therapy would work differently for everyone. Some might see big improvements in the beginning part of it like I did and others might only see their biggest improvements toward the end, who knows!
For me this is a truly exciting journey and it is about time that I picked it up again and finished it off.
Best of luck to you on your journey and God bless!