Reporting on an experiment, chime in if you have suggestions


#1

Because I don’t have a local support group it occurred to me it would be nice to have a place to report on experiments and get feedback.

I did an experiment today and here are the goods and the bads of it.

I signed up to be part of a community event that my work was putting on. Even though I normally work with the public this was different in that I am usually in control, and I was not here. It was outside my comfort zoneThere was a crowd of about 130 from the community and 8 people that I work with. My job was to stand at the door and welcome people and hand them paper and pen if they wanted it and afterward to answer any questions they had. The easy part is the public. The hard part is the coworkers, none of whom I know very well, but a little bit.

So the good first:

  • I offered my services to do this on a volunteer basis and I went to it with little anxiety beforehand (great progress for me!)
  • At no time did my anxiety totally overwhelm me
  • I made a comment in a group setting (6 of my colleagues in a circle) which is something I have almost never done before in my life, at least without beating myself up.I didn’t even blush
  • Even though my comment was sort of negated with a “yes, but” comment by someone else I didn’t get very anxious about that
  • I was able to calm my thinking down on several occasions
  • I carried on dialogues with 3-4 different colleagues, individually. (hard for me, but easier than group settings)
    *I’m not beating myself up now!!! a major miracle. I am able to just calmly evaluate the good and the bad. I can acknowledge that it was not a total wipeout just because I may have made a mistake or two. ( a challenge for me in the past, too)
  • I can usually make good eye contact with people.
    *I used distraction: walking around, straightening the table etc. Though I hope I don’t have to use that for long—what I really want to learn to do is be engaged.

Thats a pretty long list of goods! I’m proud of myself

Here’s the list of things I’d like to improve on
*at times my mind was racing with ideas like “I don’t know what to say; I’m the only person who feels awkward here; I stick out like a sore thumb because I’m not engaging with people; other people are probably wondering why I volunteered for this when I don’t say much; etc.” the BAD is that although I was able to calm myself by taking some deep breaths and distracting myself I never remembered to say “STOP these thoughts are not healthy of helpful for me.” There was so much comotion in my mind that this never explicitly occurred to me, although my subconscious was telling me my anxiety was only going to escalate if I didn’t get a handle on it.
*Knowing how to end a conversation without being awkward is something I need to learn how to do. I have heard suggestions of how to do this, but none of those seemed appropriate in this situation. I find that conversations often peter out because I have exhausted all the ideas I have for asking interested questions and the other person never asks any interested questions. I would like to learn savvy ways to tell people about myself even if they don’t ask. Sharing myself is something I have had great difficulty with in the past.

Questions I have after today’s experiment: In the heat of the moment how can you squeeze in the thought to say “STOP!…” How do you get it to come to you when the brain is overcrowded? I calmed myself down but because the social situation still felt so demanding (and exhausting) I never even had the thought to tell my brain I wasn’t going to think like that anymore. I practice this at home in non-pressurized situations and its easier then.

Where can I learn about how to share myself and my ideas without being asked an open question? It feels very awkward to me. I’ve only done it a few times in my 54 year old life!

Where can I learn non-awkward ways to end a conversation


#2

First off, congrats on the experiment. You sound like you did a really great job. Be proud of yourself for doing it and learning how to be relaxed in the situation.

A good thing to remember is that your not the only one who has these thoughts. People, in general have the “spotlight effect” We as humans always think in terms of our own little world. The spotlight effect is the phenomenon in which people tend to believe they are noticed more than they really are. Being that one is constantly in the center of one’s own world, an accurate evaluation of how much one is noticed by others has shown to be uncommon.

Slow your brain down whenever you feel like it’s moving too fast. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that you are in no immediate danger. You are actually very safe. No actual harm is happening to you. It’s irrational anxiety.

There is no right or wrong way to end a conversation. Just end it when you want. Simply excuse yourself and walk away. I’m not sure of any savvy ways to talk about yourself. My advice is if you want to say something, just say it. Even if it’s only a sentence or two.

Practice is the key here. The more experiments you do, the more you will feel more confident and eventually, it will become natural to you. It is hard work no doubt. But you are definitely on the right track.


#3

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and guidance. I like what you suggested about ending a conversation and sharing my thoughts with others. I am going to practice those things.

The audio therapy has been so helpful for me,and I am making progress but it sure helps to have a human on the other end of my thoughts sometimes! Thanks again.


#4

Hi Ciellle

I totally get what you mean - it’s one thing to be able to put the lessons into practice when you are safe at home, but when they are REALLY needed, it’s inherently because you are in a situation where there is a lot going on, so everything you practiced just goes out the window!

But I think that’s the point of all the repetition… to make these good habits SO automatic that you don’t have to focus on them. I do think it’s harder with ANTs than with slow talk, since it requires a certain amount of awareness to recognize the ANTS in the first place… but it sounds like you are making great progress so I say just keep practicing on your own and in as many situations as you can, as revisoryorchid also suggested.

As far as telling other people about yourself… maybe start with asking them questions about themselves and see if they reciprocate. Or even if they don’t ask directly, you can use their responses to segue into your own. “Oh, you just got back from Hawaii? I’ve never been, but I went to Europe this summer and it was amazing…” (of course, show interest in their responses too!)

Hope that helps and keep up the good work :slight_smile:


#5

Something I have done to get the “stop” in my head or any other positive thought in my head is meditate on it. I have never meditated in my life until recently. I just looked up some meditation music and started sitting in a dark room, eyes closed for 30 mins. I initially took a short statement that was easy to repeat and focus on. “I am in control of my thoughts and actions”. I would say it over and over again and then picture in my mind spelling the whole thing out in a sentence. I would say it over and over again. I like the rational coping statements that are given in the handout, but i think they are too long and I think that you need to make them your own. Just my opinion. But anyway, after meditating on these statements for a few days, it started popping up in my mind all the time. And when I was anxious it was the first thing that came to my mind. You may try this method and see if some of these automatic Positive thoughts come to mind in a time of need. Also, on ending a conversation and conversation in general. The more free of my anxiety that I get, the more i realize that conversation is simply awkward between humans a lot of the time. Human beings are funny. I have friends that will hang up a phone conversation without saying “bye” or a closing statement. I know other people that will just walk off when they are done talking in a conversation. I have other friends that are really absent minded and are always looking around the room as you are trying to talk to them. Even people that are really confident communicators tend to talk about themselves too much at times. People are imperfect communicators and you have to realize in a conversation that when they do things like i stated above, that it isn’t because of you. It’s because they themselves haven’t perfected the art and are also in their own little world. Just some thoughts. Keep on Keepin’ on, you are doing great.


#6

i love this !!! thank you i’m going to try it!