I’m going to be a bit vulnerable here, but only because someone reading might need this information. I don’t think I have social anxiety disorder, but I do go through periods that seems pretty close. From the social anxiety test I link to below, I can see I don’t really fall fully into the description. But wow. From my experience, how awful it must be to have a more intense case of this!
What? That isn’t Normal?
Some time ago I had a conversation with my two older daughters about what I thought were issues that came from being an introvert. One of them said, “no mom, that isn’t normal. That’s not because you’re an introvert. You should get some help for that.” Oh, wow. This is not introversion. Hmm. As a child, I really didn’t seem like an introvert. I always wondered about that. What a blessing adult children can be. (An aside – learn from your kids. They have something to say that could bless you.)
What I had explained to them was how after a social event, or even just a conversation, I take so much time processing everything that happened. “Oh no! What if when I said that, they thought I meant blah blah? I didn’t really explain that right. OMG, her expression after I started talking. What did that mean? She thinks I’m a little off, but why didn’t she say anything? Oh, well, I must have imagined it. But did I? Why did he look at me like that when I said such and such? Hmm. What an idiot. Why did I say that? Oh no, that could be misinterpreted. Why why did I say that stupid thing?!! Why do I always violate that saying —
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” “I should totally stop talking at all” I tell myself at times.
Just Don’t Talk at ALL
So, in a social setting with many people, I try not to talk too much and just listen to what others are saying. When I have an opportunity to speak up in a more educational or seminar type setting, there are things I want to say. But when I open my mouth, something else comes out. I don’t fully explain myself — something else that isn’t remotely close to my intention. So where on earth did it come from? Sigh. Why?!
I like writing better. I can let it set for a while and re-read it later. I can be bold and make sure the bold statement really says what I want it to say. I can ask for someone to edit it too, and ask for the opinion of someone I trust. I can edit, and re-edit, and delete and re-write to my heart’s content! And when I am done, I can share it with confidence.
So, now I am learning that facebook live is the thing to do. Can I do this and not make a total fool of myself? Hmmm. I don’t know. Or even if I don’t, you can be sure I’ll think I did and I’ll agonize about it. At least I won’t see anyone and wonder about their facial expressions. Haha! Yeah, I should get help for this. See, what happens, is you fear sounding idiotic and so you try too hard and end up sounding like what you were afraid you were going to sound like in the first place! Haha! Laugh or cry?
Finding a Solution With Benefits
So rather than agonizing, I will try to quiet my mind and maybe watch something funny. I love this article about humor and mental toughness. The author says:
Being able to laugh at yourself is a sign of resiliency and mental toughness. And he cites this paper on humor and resiliency.
I feel better just thinking about this — even though I already knew. We do have to remind ourselves of the strategies that have worked for us in the past.
I spend 6 mornings a week smiling at beautiful children in China. Smiling for 3 or 4 hours is very healing. But for whatever I’m going through now, I think I need intense laughter.
Here’s an article and video you need to read and watch. It claims laughing at yourself makes you healthier and helps you remember more!
As for my episodes of social anxiety, I’m pretty sure I can trace it to its origins in childhood — and then some adult relationships built upon the foundation. I have to go get a wrecking ball and start over, go back to the beginning -way way back, when I didn’t have a problem talking at all. My mother said I wasn’t even fully out of the womb and I was talking already – in French and English of course. You believe that right?
If you want to know more about social anxiety and read encouraging words — like, “this isn’t a life sentence,” — here are some articles and resources:
While you’re using laughter as medicine, try not to forget the other free medicine – sunlight, fresh air, exercise, health giving food and clean water! Oops, I forgot rest and sleep! These are all free healers.
So, tell me something funny, or share a funny video!