Products of my aching brain

Dad duty is over. Today’s events include bicycling and trivia night at Rhodeside Grill and some work, just to keep things moving forward at the office.

And lunch. Must eat lots to deal with the upcoming staving times when there isn’t enough time to cook.

Just about finished reading Painfully Shy. This book, much more than another book I’ve read on social anxiety really reminded me of myself–painfully so.

So now I have a couple more labels for myself: occasional depressive, social anxiety sufferer, avoidant. The depression part sometimes gets triggered by the social anxiety part–when I’m down to just myself, the world is gut wrenchingly depressing. On the other hand, talking to strangers is as joyful as pounding nails into my hands. To the extent I’m better than I ever was, it is because I’ve increased my tolerance for the pain of pounding nails into my hands.

Now, lest I be too hard on myself, I should point out that I do manage to get out and socialize at least once a week, and about twice year I manage to go into a socializing frenzy and get out to place where I can meet people nearly every other day. (Believe me, not as fun as it sounds. Not as scary as a trip to the movie “Saw”, but as gruesomely painful as pounding a lot of nails into my hands.)

I’m just so ineffective at it. To use a life insurance salesman analogy, I’m a bit like a life insurance salesman who, much disliking his job still knocks on lots of doors, yet gets only token sales each month.

Well anyhow, I guess I should review the book.

Painfully Shy suggests that people who are shy should use a variety of methods to do what needs to be done, including powder milk biscuits.

Change & Goal Theory. Doing anything about being shy is a project of personal self transformation. It’s a goal and goals are more likely to be followed through if they are publicized, have suitable motivation, etc.

Cognitive Therapy. Watch your thoughts, make sure they aren’t sabotaging your mood and your efforts to reach out to others. Tools include thought diaries, expectation-actual results worksheets, internal debates with unuseful automatic thoughts, and so on.

Habituation to the Fear. A big part of being shy is the physiological reaction that happens when reaching out to others– progressively habituation either by planning more and more aggressive social stunts or by imagining them (when scheduling a progressively more involved social event isn’t possible, like habituating oneself to how to connect to others at a funeral.)

Drugs. Personally, I only use SSRI’s in the most extreme cases, I can’t stand the side effects.

Tension treatment. Being in good health, especially with respect to being able to stay calm can have good side effects. Social anxiety gets worse when there are valid causes for other real life anxiety going on.

Religion. Religion is a bunch of ideas that everyone has opinions on, but aren’t answerable, like the idea that everything will work out in the end. Its very applicable in socializing, because before heading out the door, picking up the phone, there isn’t any particular evidence that it will end well, or that even the next twenty parties will end well. All there is a faith that the universe is not cruel and capricious.

What would the Buddha have to say about social anxiety? He’d probably advise compassion for the people you are reaching out to, detachment from the final results, equanimity towards oneself and he’d probably advise a bit of irrational faith in the possibility of happiness.

Comments are closed.