I was determined to get to the root causes of my social anxiety. However, just when I thought I had broken things down to the most basic level, I would discover a few more under that. Where would it end?
After peeling back countless layers, I was finally satisfied that I was at, or close to, the source. It wasnt easy for me, since I had to dig up my entire life and answer some tough questions.
It all came down to one simple sentence: My interpretation of the world and society was warped.
Well, tell me something I dont know! A simple statement – nothing earth shattering here, but truly the source for most of my grief. I suppose I always knew this, but choose to treat it as a symptom and not a cause.
Struggling all my life, fighting the world and hating the people in it, I felt alone and ignored. I felt sorry for myself and wondered how society could be so cruel. I thought that there must be no one else on the planet that was as different as I was. I longed for a normal life – to have friends – to belong, but it seemed that society was not about to let me join the human race. It was not going to allow me membership to this exclusive club where members forge lifelong friendships, discover romance, enjoy success, and have a sense of belonging.
The reality was that my programming was out of whack. I would interpret things differently than other people. Simple things would set off auto-responses that were unjustified.
Imagine how much information a human being takes in each day. This input must be processed and interpreted. This area of the brain (or sub-conscious) is essentially, one big program. The program is a result of many factors. Things like life experiences and genetics have the biggest influence.
Now, Im definitely not a psychiatrist, psychologist or any kind of mental health professional, so take this with a grain of salt. I am simply telling you how I was finally able to visualize my situation.
Here are the steps as I visualized them:
1. Brain receives input from the outside world.
2. Info is processed or interpreted by a pre-written program.
3. Brain forms an opinion and initiates automatic thoughts. In my case, these were mostly negative and usually false.
4. Feelings of insecurity and negativity feed the subconscious.
5. My subconscious reprograms a small portion of the brains interpretation program – positive and negative, but usually negative – in my case this led to more false programming.
This was what had been going on for most of my life. I didnt think about it because, to a certain extent, my brain was running on autopilot and these auto-thoughts and responses are just that – automatic. I never questioned things – I just accepted them.
So how could I stop this endless loop of self-destruction?
I had to interrupt the vicious cycle that consumed me, and slowly re-program my sub-conscious towards a more realistic interpretation of the world.
Fortunately, this was the only area (social interpretation) that seemed to be in need of reprogramming. Otherwise, I was fine.