I time travel on a daily basis!
I’m sure most of you might have, at one point or another in your lives, felt that you were being too harsh on yourself, beating yourself up, most probably because of mistakes you made.
For those suffering from social anxiety, not only are we doing that for mistakes made, we are also being overly critical of ourselves for almost everything we do daily.
Either way, whether you have social anxiety or not, I want to share a therapist’s advice, which I feel would benefit everyone. He shared some advice about being overly critical and making unfair judgement of ourselves.
How many of you tend to over think things? I admit, I do.
I actually engage in time travel! Well not exactly like Back to the Future, but it’s a form of time travel.
It’s because, social anxiety, like many other forms of anxiety, shares the cognitive process of “time travelling,” which means I am often thinking 10 steps ahead of what is actually happening.
I tend to make predictions about the future, which are usually things about myself that are not true.
I am not talking about having a heightened level of awareness. Cos those who suffer from chronic physical or mental pain have this ability to sense danger, which includes knowing when people are not saying what they mean, increased level of awareness of non verbal cues, having “spider sense” and all these types of abilities which we have because of the chronic pain we are battling with daily. Our senses are on overdrive to help protect us from unnecessary danger, things that can worsen our pain.
I’m not talking about these, cos these are true and accurate most of the time.
What I’m referring to are predictions about the future, about ourselves, which are unlikely to be true, for example thinking, ‘they hated me to be around’, or 'I will trip and fall if I walk’, or 'they are going to laugh at me’, or 'I’m going to fail’. You get the idea, right?
Most of you might have thought that way at some points in your life, but for those with social anxiety, this type of thinking happens daily!
The best way to overcome this is to be present! I got to run back to the time machine and set the time back to the present before I accidentally alter the course of the future that I wouldn’t want. If I don’t get back to the present, whatever I’m over thinking about might come true!
So I gotta go back to the present. To be mindful of the present. And one of the ways to do that is to find something neutral that I can find to refocus my attention. And one such thing is actually focusing on my breathing. Once I focus on my breathing, it helps to clear my mind and I will then be able to start being present, to find peace, and strengthen my spirituality and increase my inner strength.
If I don’t do this, if I let my over thinking progress further, I would end up deconstructing each part of a conversation or event, being overly critical of myself, making me more self conscious and making me more anxious.
For example, eating is a common activity isn’t it? But, when eating out at restaurants or at other people’s houses, instead of enjoying the food, the taste and everything nice, I become too focused on how I hold the spoon - is it the right way to hold it, am I eating too fast, am I taking too much food on the spoon, am I disturbing others with the sound the spoon make when it hit the plate?
To prevent such over thinking, I would be in the present. Focus on my breathing. If there is music playing, I would focus on that as well, especially if it’s calming music. So if you want to invite me to your house for gathering or open house etc, do play some music, preferably Boyz II Men songs. Hehe.
Anyway, you can see how social anxiety takes a task that is harmless and draws judgmental attention to small components of the task.
So if you feel that way sometimes, or all the time if you have social anxiety, be present, focus on your breathing, or anything in the present like calming music or scented candles.
And remember, treat yourself well. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. You are doing great. You are doing your best. You Matter and You Are Enough.
I’m still a work in progress. I have lots to work on but Alhamdulillah, I’ve made so much progress.
These tips I shared are for me first and foremost. By talking about it, it helps remind me of what I can do to help me cope whenever I’m in social situations, to help reduce the anxiety.
If you find this useful, do like and share this post. And do follow my page @NoerRazzalieOfficial on Facebook and Instagram, to follow my journey towards my dreams as I overcome my illnesses.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support.
Remember, challenges in life are inevitable, just remember to be in the present, keep moving forward and stay hopeful always.