How to Overcome Social Anxiety

What is the root cause of social anxiety and self-doubt?

Without a doubt, it’s a lack of self-esteem and unwillingness to accept yourself as you are – flaws and all.

In order to be confident around people, you have to OWN your personality, the way you look and what makes you … you. If you are an introvert, or on the shy end of the spectrum, that is okay. But in your mind, you make it not okay. You isolate yourself and feel awkward around others, because you strongly fear their judgement.

What I have learned, after years of struggling with this stuff, is that:

  1. Most people don’t judge you nearly as harshly as you would imagine
  2. You create the reactions you get by the vibe you put out – they are probably looking at you weirdly because you are looking at them weirdly!
  3. It doesn’t matter if people like you. If you are not causing harm to others, then you are a decent human being, and you need to lay off yourself.

I made a YouTube video to emphasize these points, so be sure to check that out right here:

I actually set up a separate channel for High Sensitivity, but given that my existing channel already has a subscriber-base, you are more likely to see me creating content there – so be sure to Subscribe if you want to see more!

I’ll catch you in the next post 🙂

~ Stefan

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Are you having fun yet?

Stefan 5

Hello and welcome to another post.

My last post on Veganism did surprisingly well, receiving many more views and shares than usual. That was nice.

I have been doing some thinking.

About what I should do with the rest of my life. I have too often given into fear and plodded along, feeling safe but dreadfully uninspired and listless – ‘going through the motions’, as they say.

Ever since I left High School at 16, I have felt lost and worked in jobs I despise. All for that small paycheck each month. After High School, I went to College and studied Business and Finance. I only picked the subject because it sounded safe and usable in the real World. Not to mention, I had no idea what else to do. I thought about doing Drama and Film Studies … that kind of thing. But the realist in me said it’d be a waste of time and would get me nowhere.

I did tremendously well in the Business & Finance course (a BTEC National Diploma), getting top grades, but I felt no sense of achievement because it was all meaningless and I was too busy worrying about my health and feeling depressed (having reacted badly to the medication, Roaccutane).

It is surprising how fast the years can go by. Let’s face it – there are things along the way that are changing and keeping you busy, so you don’t always notice what is happening and where you are headed. Suddenly it’s the start of another year, or your birthday, and you realise you are wasting time …

I have been working within Insurance for the past 3 years (working for 3 different employers). I can do it, easy enough. But the repetition, the stress, the workload … where is the pay off? What’s the sodding point?

I realised that part of the problem is feeling stagnant. I am no longer learning and I am terribly bored of it all. A job can suck all of your energy if it isn’t right for you and so I realise it is time to get my act together, before I end up trapped forever.

So, whilst I don’t have a precise plan yet – and I really should have figured all of this out sooner – I am going to learn new things. I am going to follow my heart, because I have rarely done so and it has left me a shadow, barely living.

I think my options are as follows:

  • Study part-time, selecting an Open University course. This would take six years.
  • Or – going to a University and getting a Bachelor’s degree. This would take three years.

I think I prefer the sound of Option B.

So, the next question is what would I study? It’s got to be something I actually WANT to learn and use. I am going to dig deeper, but my interests (that I think I could get a job out of at the end of it) are:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Philosophy
  • Social Work
  • English (Writing)
  • Journalism
  • Counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Animal Science

I think Psychology or Philosophy are the two that stick out the most for me. I don’t really know what job I could get from Philosophy, but I am very interested in ideologies surrounding our existence and around ethics. As I have explained before, and as you may gather with me being a HSP, ethics are very important to me.

But that’s good isn’t it? …

I’m thinking now. Instead of feeling like I can’t make a decision or feeling like my only option is to do what I have always done, I am actually looking into my options. I used to hope that there was an easier path. One where I didn’t have to study. But any time I look at jobs being posted, they are all … ahem, crap.

Without a degree, I can easily get a job in retail, insurance or admin.

But life is too short to sell your soul for a paycheck. I crave meaning and I want to care about the work I do.

I want to make a difference.

If I have to study for a few years in order to secure a better future, then so be it. And I am still terrified. I can still over-think it and worry that a degree isn’t enough to find a job afterwards. Or that I’ll struggle. Or people won’t like me on the course.

But sometimes you have to tell that cynical voice to keep it down and focus on what you want. And you need to have a bit of faith in yourself.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

~ Alex.

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How To Deal With Anxiety (HSPs).

Matrix

This follows on from my last post, where I talked about why anxiety is common among Highly Sensitive People.

You can read that post HERE.

After living with Anxiety (and Depression) on and off for 10 years, I wanted to share what I have learned and how I deal with my crazy little mind.

I spent a lot of money on supplements for a long time, because I was convinced my anxiety and depression were related to a physical problem. I’m not talking about serotonin – I am talking about the negative side-effects I experienced following treatment with Accutane (as previously discussed). I figured I was only depressed and anxious because I felt weak and tired a lot of the time. Or that my body was over-run by toxic medicine residue.

Did any of those supplements help? No. I literally pissed away thousands of pounds and noticed absolutely NO changes. And when I say supplements, I mean I tried like everything. Ancient Chinese herbs, multi-minerals, other herbal remedies (specifically made for me by a Herbalist). All kinds of nasty stuff, like ‘Chinese Bitters’. Holy cow, they were bad!

At one point, I literally put Coffee up my ass!

Don’t judge me! I was super desperate to feel better and even though I knew it seemed like a long shot, I was advised that it’d help cleanse my liver of toxins. To be honest, it felt quite nice (haha) though those days are now ‘behind’ me.

Get it? ‘Behind me’ … like my butt.

Anyway … it’s totally true that there is a mind and body connection. Stress can literally kill you if you don’t take it seriously. At times, I wonder how the f*ck I’m still alive. Like, I’ve been through some deep shit, man. How has my body not just given up? How have I not got cancer?

Despite some ongoing health issues – which I will touch upon in a future post about Health and High Sensitivity – I am very lucky to have not been struck down with anything life threatening.

But if you lack energy, motivation and generally feel a bit naff, it could be that your mind is having an effect on your body. Just in case anyone is still in doubt or somehow thinks this sounds New-agey, it is pure science. The placebo effect has proven how our mind can influence our body. There are plenty of metaphysical books out there about healing. People claim to have beaten Cancer and other incurable diseases by changing their lifestyles and their minds. I for one believe them, because life is too bizarre to be a mistake.

I don’t think we are supposed to just die for no reason, having not achieved the things we are capable of. Although, having said that, this World is obviously very mysterious and, at times, frustrating and brutal. People die because of other road users, or terrorist attacks, or sociopath cannibals. It is hard to give meaning to some things.

Can you tell I am just writing without a thought? This post may seem a little all-over-the-place, but I’m in the zone!

Let’s get to the point though. Anxiety is a big problem. If you are anxious (or depressed, or just generally feeling like crap) a lot of the time, your body is in fight, flight or freeze mode. I’m sure you have heard this before. The whole Caveman thing, where we are faced with a Lion and our adrenal glands are put to work. Everything is put on hold, resulting in susceptibility to illness, a low sex drive, digestive problems and a bunch of other weird stuff. Your heart might race. You get a throbbing headache. Maybe you feel dizzy.

Here is what I can tell you …

  • The more you fight to change the anxiety response, the worse you feel. Because it doesn’t work like that. You are anxious because you are stressed out and resisting what is your current reality. Continuing to fight, while seemingly noble, will not change anything. If you enter a situation where you feel fear, do not try to change your reaction. You can’t! Allow the anxiety to remain there and slow down. Focus on your breathing and allow yourself to just stop caring for a minute. I mean, Jesus, you can’t carry on living like this all the time, right? It can be hard when you are stuck in a rut. Sometimes you need to get away from the situation that’s bringing you down. But sometimes, you need to accept your limitations and shift your focus.
  • The more grateful you are – for the things that are awesome about your life – the better you will feel. There are some Millionaires who are less satisfied with their lives than those who can’t even meet their basic needs in Eastern Countries, stuck in poverty. Often, what we focus on is what we feel. So choose to be grateful for the things that are good in your life. I guarantee you have plenty to be grateful for. Your current mindset may say otherwise. Don’t believe a word. It’s easy to keep saying you will be happy when you quit your job, you find a loving partner, you go on holiday or whatever. But sometimes things are complicated. Sometimes dreams remain dreams. Sometimes a holiday is not forthcoming. So look around at what you have now, in the present. Nothing can last forever, so remember to enjoy the things that surround you at this moment in time.
  • Exercise is so important for the following reason. Anxiety and stress cause your adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline and cortisol (hormones). This is okay in moderation, but if it keeps happening you wind up feeling like a deflated bag of potatoes. Exhausted. The best way to release that pent up tension is through exercise. Like, for me, I do get stressed more easily than some people. If I don’t get away from the office during my lunch break, I can start to feel more and more pissed off. I need to have some alone time and space from people. I need to get away from buildings and cars. I get to a spot of nature and it helps. Maybe I still feel fed up afterwards, and want to go home, but it’s the best thing I can do. Combine nature with exercise and you’re onto something good. For me, gyms are ugly factories filled with steroid-injecting, mouth breathing meat-heads, so I avoid them.
  • Anxiety is normal. We can’t feel great and relaxed all the time. And our World promotes anxiety through the negative stories in the news – and there is always a new one. The trashy magazines that tell you how you should look are nothing but poison. People on Social Media can seem so happy and all-together. Remember to keep a realistic perspective. Some people like to make our they are fine when they are really not fine. Not everyone in the streets is a murderer. Celebrities aren’t flawless and pictures are heavily edited. Most of all, accept that with this life (that we have been GIVEN) we can’t always have it our way. Appreciate the good times and carry on when things are hard.

Because I guarantee you, if you feel beaten up at the moment, you will feel better and will have a smile on your face again soon. Anxiety cannot survive if you have hope and love in your heart. So choose to believe there is a reason for all of this. Look for the good in things and if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to take the reigns and create change.

I wish you all a wonderful week.

Please share this blog post if you enjoyed it. It isn’t easy trying to reach people when you are only just starting out.

I would love to hear from you. What makes you feel most relaxed? What are your anti-anxiety tips?

Peace and love,

~ Alex.

Anxiety in Highly Sensitive People.

Stefan 4

I have lived with Anxiety ever since entering Adulthood – around 10 years ago (I am 26 as I write this).

I was shy and sometimes anxious when I was a child, but when our eyes are opened and we are told the truth about some of the things that happen in our World, it’s hard to go back to that state of innocence and naivety.

I mean, let’s be real … it was much easier to relax and have fun when we thought that Santa Claus was real. We loved that guy purely because we wanted some gifts.

Now, if an overweight man with a beard came down our chimney and entered our homes, we would call the Police. We would also probably wonder how an overweight man can actually fit down a chimney. Oh, and if they want to invite Children to sit on their lap, be sure they aren’t a pedophile!

I think I’ll tell my future children from the get-go that Santa is a lie. I’m not having some fictional fat-ass take the credit for the Playstation 6 (let’s hope that they come up with a new name by then) that I bought ’em!

Oh, and with regards to the Tooth Fairy, what kind of weirdo is paying to collect some second-hand teeth?

Anxiety is something that everyone has to deal with, but some can suffer chronically, until it takes over their lives and makes everything appear very hostile, dangerous and bleak.

I would say the highly intelligent and highly aware are those most likely to struggle. Ultimately, I think we HSPs are much more prone to becoming anxious (and depressed – but more on that another time) because we feel things deeply and it’s hard to find distraction when we are constantly trying to live with purpose. Sometimes life gets in the way and we are not able to achieve the things we dream of achieving. It can take a long time to get anywhere.

And some people may be happy to settle for whatever lands at their feet and then they enjoy their social lives or watching TV soaps when they get home from work, but for the Highly Sensitive we crave meaning and depth- more than can be offered by ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ or ‘America’s Next Top Model’.

And hey, I’m all for finding a healthy escape.

I enjoy watching shows on Netflix (maybe I’ll do a post on the kind of things I watch) but I can find it hard to relax when I feel I am not achieving what I would like to be. Or other things are at the front of my mind, such as the hopeless lives Farm animals are born into. I feel a duty to get involved with fixing this dreadfully broken World, because I am no longer in denial that things are okay.

Things are actually pretty shit. And that becomes apparent as you mature and learn about our reality.

I have learned to take better care of myself, but I do have to be extra diligent, or else I can fall into a pit of fear and apprehension. Things are stimulating for us, and so loud noises and crowds of people naturally wear us down and can leave us a frazzled mess. On top of that, if we skimp on sleep and eat poor diets, we suffer the consequences pretty quickly.

It can feel as if we are alone and separate and this, again, causes us to feel anxious. We feel like the odd ones out and can sense people’s judgement. We overthink things and end up worrying that people don’t like us, or think we are boring, quiet or even rude because we don’t quite fit in to the status quo.

As an introverted Vegan, I do feel very alone out in my every day life. I feel like I am more evolved than others, without meaning to sound like I have my head stuck up my ass. I roll my eyes (in my mind) when I hear people’s small talk or superficial conversation. I feel frustrated with my job and long to feel at peace. I get bored and agitated with monotonous routine.

Sometimes it can feel like I will never get there and that everything is just pointless (falling more into the category of depression here) …

If we don’t allow ourselves to live in line with our core values, we will feel like crap. We will feel like something is missing. We will have difficulty resting and sleeping through the night.

Given that I have dealt with these feelings for a long time, I have read hundreds of self-help books and spent a lot of time looking into treatment of Anxiety. I will share what I have learned soon, but please know that there is no ‘cure’. There are lots of little things we can do to help ourselves, but while the World remains as it is, we will feel pain. In our lifetimes, there will always be fear because things – if they are ever going to change – are not going to change quickly.

There is always the threat of another World War, and it can seem inevitable when Donald f*cking Trump might actually be elected as the next President. The new Prime Minister of the UK – Theresa May – has gone on record to say she would kill thousands of innocent people with a nuclear bomb to show ‘we aren’t afraid to use our weapons’. Pretty scary stuff. Of course, this was all said hypothetically and I don’t think it’s as simple as pressing a little red button behind a capsule, but you have to wonder what our future will look like.

Sometimes, although it is hard, we need to let go of feeling responsible for everyone else’s problems and look after ourselves. As I write this, I am feeling a burden. I feel like I could be doing more for the animals. I feel like I am responsible for helping them. But I also feel exhausted. I feel like my spirit is weak, because I have been focusing on the negative a lot.

I am a pessimist, although I sometimes think I am just being realistic.

I need to learn to let go of that which I have no control over and let people make their own choices – good or bad. Because telling people to stop paying for animals to be slaughtered isn’t guaranteed to change their mindset. In fact, most people become defensive and immature when faced with reality. They can get angry at you for asking them to change and argue that it’s a personal choice to murder innocent beings.

Anyway, I’m going off on a Vegan rant so I will end this one here.

P.S. I set up a YouTube channel and put up my first video, so be sure to check that out HERE.

See you in the next post!

~ Alex.