Social anxiety disorder has been a problem for me since early childhood, but its only recently that Ive discovered it is the result of bad programming and bad habits. I apologize to anyone that thinks Im over-simplifying matters. As always, Im relating my discussion to my own personal experiences.
Ill talk about bad programming first.
Its obvious to me that I have certain beliefs about who I am as a person and how the outside world functions. Most of those beliefs are self-destructive and damaging. Not only are they counter-productive, they are false and misleading.
This bad programming is deeply entrenched, and it has taken a lifetime to develop. Its at the root of my social anxiety problem – Im sure of that.
Habits are closely related to beliefs. If I believe that I am unworthy of friendship and that I am a social outcast, then I will develop habits around those beliefs.
My own habits included things like, avoiding people, staying in the house, staring at the ground in public, assuming a passive role in conversation, analyzing every word I said, having the dont speak until spoken to mentality, and always backing into my own thoughts instead of interacting with the world.
The human brain likes habits. Once something is on auto pilot, it frees up resources to use elsewhere – or maybe, deep down, our brain prefers the easy route.
I guess what Im saying is that people can live their entire lives being guided by a brain that may not have their best interests at heart. I spent 30 plus years following my instincts and habits – never questioning whether or not they were right. I was following an inner voice that constantly told me I was strange, ugly, different, and disliked by all. I listened to this voice tell me that I would never live a normal life.
Is it possible to re-program your beliefs into something a little more realistic? Absolutely, but, it takes a massive amount of determination and effort to see even the slightest change. I cant emphasize that enough.
But it is doable – It is possible. I have experienced the results first hand.
The company Christmas party was the absolute proof I needed that things are getting better. I felt a new sense of strength, as I sensed that my old social anxiety thoughts were in trouble. Yes, social anxiety disorder took control in the beginning (as usual – nothing new), but this is the first time Ive ever been able to recover from an episode like that.
The confidence I gained from that one experience is entirely foreign to me. Im still trying to process it. One thing is certain though: I definitely feel as though my ability to deal with this condition is improving.