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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Strawberries don’t bleed … (Why I’m Vegan)

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There is definitely a link between being Highly Sensitive and going Vegan.

I challenge any HSP to watch Earthlings or learn about animal agriculture and NOT go Vegan. We are naturally highly empathetic and, trust me, once your eyes are opened, you can never see things the same again. It is like you escape the Matrix.

My eyes are scarred from the things I have seen. Years ago, I had no idea how cruel Mankind could be. It seemed so normal to eat meat every day. And I LOVED eating meat.

Most of us are brought up in a way where we are so disconnected to the reality of mass farming and slaughterhouses.

Becoming Vegan has changed me for the better.

I have been Vegan for around 4 or 5 months, which really isn’t very long. But some people claim they couldn’t go a day without meat – let alone without any animal products. Whilst this is obviously untrue, people don’t want to have to change their habits and imagine a plate of whatever they usually eat, less the meat. It’s no wonder the idea of going Vegan seems unappealing and difficult.

And I won’t lie. There are some challenges in becoming Vegan.

It has become a lot easier as time has gone on, but most restaurants are not catering to Vegans. To me, it’s crazy to see how hard it is to eat without supporting such cruel industries.

Once I made the connection in my mind that I was paying industries who profit off of suffering, it was easy to go Vegan. I was paying for animal cruelty, and yet I called myself an animal lover and would never dream of hurting one myself.

And with that said, this blog post could become terribly long. There is so much to say and so much to explain to those who – like me once upon a time – are unaware of why Dairy is cruel. Or why the Egg industry is cruel. People believe what they are told and are too busy to look into things themselves. And so ‘Free-range’ or ‘Organic’ must mean the animals are treated well … right?

Sigh.

If only it were true …

I am not going to be able to say everything I want to in this one post, so if you have any questions please do ask and I promise to come back to you.

My heart is irreparably broken from what I have discovered.

The greed of man. The evil man is capable of. The way these poor animals are exploited and used. They are treated like nothing – just a number. Nothing is given back. All we do is take, take, take. We are destroying the planet in a way I never understood before I became Vegan.

Did you know it is estimated our Oceans will be Fish-less by 2048 unless we rapidly start to implement big changes?

Did you know that Livestock covers 45% of the Earth’s land? Animal agriculture is the cause of the largest mass extinction in 65 million years (which might not sit well with anyone who believes the Earth is only 3000 years old and Eve was made out of one of Adam’s ribs).

A farm of 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as  a city of 411,000 people. And we are told to recycle some pieces of card and to turn of the standby light of our Television. What a joke.

1-2 acres of Rain-forest are cleared every second because of animal agriculture.

More than 150 BILLION animals are slaughtered every year – not including those killed in laboratories for drug/cosmetics testing.

Some scary, but very real, facts right there. It can seem hard to imagine.

Being Vegan means far beyond just eating a certain way. It is no fad diet – and there are plenty of those going around. It is a belief that life is precious and should be treated with respect and compassion. It is a stand against oppression and cruelty. It is an understanding that you cannot put the words ‘humane’ and ‘slaughter’ together. It is an awakening of the soul. And that awakening can hurt.

When you realise what humans do to animals – for food, entertainment, fur, leather or just sick pleasure … it’s all very upsetting. I have lost sleep over these things and I feel I can never be truly happy again.

I want to share a video that made me cry.

I should mention I hardly ever cry. I usually just feel numb when I get depressed. I can enter a state of derealization, where everything feels distant. Probably an in-built coping mechanism to deal with intense emotions.

But the man in this video is a real life hero. And being a hero in real life doesn’t come with glory. Being a hero doesn’t mean you were built with monster strength or superpowers. It means you are brave enough to face what one should never have to face. It means you risk your life and accept the chance you might die for something you believe in so deeply and know is right.

Let me introduce Marc Ching from the foundation, Animal Hope & Wellness. Here is a real man, with a heart the size of Everest. He went over to China to fight against the indescribable cruelty within the Dog Meat Trade. Because China (or some people within China) have some very broken traditional beliefs, they think that the meat tastes better if you torture the animals before killing them. You might already be aware of this because of the spark of outrage over the Yulin Festival.

However, the Yulin Festival is just one small segment of such cruelty.

Tens of Millions of dogs are killed throughout Asia each year for food. They also kill dogs and cats for leather, so FYI – if you wear leather, check the label. If it says ‘Made in China’, you might be wearing the skin of a dog. Not that this should be any more sickening than wearing the skin of a cow. Many people – the one’s that even stop to think about it – think that leather is produced as a result of the meat industry. Nope. Cows are killed purely for leather. I know this information may be a lot to take in, or maybe you are waiting for a silver lining …

I just want to raise some awareness about the injustice in our World. Animals are the most oppressed and nearly all of this stuff is kept hidden in our culture. All so little Timmy doesn’t have to question where his Happy Meal or McNugget’s came from. If little Timmy happens to ask, his Mother will tell him lies because she is too ashamed.

I have gone off on a bit of a tangent, but my emotions are firing off as I write this. Please watch this video, where Marc Ching is interviewed about his Foundation and helping to save dogs in China. If there is a more inspirational man than Marc, please tell me who:

This video should have Millions of views, but people would rather watch Zoella and Nicki Minaj. If everyone would come together to fight to injustice and cruelty, we would see huge change overnight. But people are scared to confront the truth and to see how messed up our World is. It’s painful.

Marc has sacrificed his own sanity and peace of mind in order to help rescue and rehabilitate animals who would purposely have their legs cut off, or be boiled/skinned alive for a meal at some ridiculous festival.

But let’s go back to the Western World.

Pigs, cows, lambs, ducks, chickens and more …

People don’t really care so much about those animals. Slaughterhouse workers are obviously maniacs and yet people want to believe the animal had a good life and was treated with at least some dignity. Before slaughter, what conditions were those animals in? It’s shocking when you find out – but what do you expect? The planet isn’t big enough to let all the animals run freely like the cold-hearted companies would have you believe.

Because of the working pace within a slaughterhouse, it is well documented that the animals are often not correctly stunned (not that it sounds much fun to have electricity jolted into your brain in the first place), so these farm animals often have their throats slit while fully conscious. I have seen undercover footage where pigs are having their hair removed in boiling water … fully conscious again. That sounds familiar doesn’t it? Yet, people that love ‘Bacon’ will become hostile about the injustice of what ‘those people all the way over there in China’ are doing. If you are not Vegan, you are handing over your money and paying for these atrocities.

But let’s say you let the animals live outside on a field, as 1% of the animals raised for food do get this privilege. They have a nice time relaxing in the Sun. Maybe they face some rain here and there. They grow to a satisfactory size within a few months or years. They are ready to be turned into a burger, or bacon, or whatever.

If the animal has a bolt applied to its head and then its throat is slit while unconscious – so it doesn’t feel anything – is that okay?

Would it be okay if that pig was you? It almost makes it worse to take the life of someone who was happy and healthy, but ultimately I want to get the point across that murder is not humane or okay. Just like rape is not okay.

Humans like to argue, ‘But Lions eat other animals … other animals eat other animals’.

That’s true – some do. And yet we do not have the same instincts as a Lion. We do not sniff each others butts or salivate when we see a cow in a field. We do salivate when we smell fruit though. And strawberries don’t have to be gutted. They don’t bleed or scream. We are not carnivorous and have no biological need for flesh. Our bodies match that of a Gorilla – and they are naturally ‘Vegan’.

I used to be worried that I would suffer for cutting animal products from my diet. It’s so silly … Nobody really thinks Vegetarians are weird now. But once you stop breast-feeding (drinking cows’ milk) and eating chicken’s menstrual cycles, people label you as a weird-ass hippy.

There is so much social conditioning and if we were raised in a different culture, we may also think it’s okay to cause animals pain in order to make their flesh more tender.

Please open your eyes and think for yourself.

Please share this post if you connected with it in same way.

There are so many myths about protein, calcium, iron … it’s ridiculous. As if everyone is super healthy on the diets heavily based around meat and dairy, right? Our hospitals are all empty because everyone has it figured out. Not that I’m saying meat and animal products are the ONLY problems with out diets and lifestyles. But, like we really are all going to become calcium deficient if we don’t have a pregnant cow on tap at all times? C’mon, use some logic, Jesus!

Please do further research by checking out ‘Cowspiracy’, ‘Earthlings’ and ‘Forks over Knives’. There are plenty of great YouTuber’s who can help you to understand the benefits of going Vegan (avoid ‘Freelee The Banana Girl’ and ‘Durianrider’).

At first, it was weird for me to eat a meal without meat on one side of the plate. But now, it’d be repulsive to have it there. I stopped drinking cows’ milk a couple of years ago, because I always knew dairy didn’t make sense. Once I realised the cruelty involved in Dairy, it was easy to stop buying cheese. I still have chocolate, but buy either Dark Chocolate or some bars from the ‘free-from’ aisle. It honestly tastes great. You can get these Hazelnut ‘Vego’ bars online, which are kind of expensive, but they honestly taste better than anything you’ve ever had.

I also stopped eating Red-Meat a couple of years ago, so the transition was pretty gradual for me.

I eat very healthy the majority of the time, because my health is important to me. Everyone has their own definition of what foods are healthy, but we can all hopefully agree that Fruit and Vegetables are the number 1 and 2 things we should be consuming every day. The variety in colour is appealing to our eyes for a reason.

I have a YouTube channel I have been running for a few years, which is separate to my new HSP-related channel. I have plenty of videos on Veganism (and mental health, and other things) if you want to check them out.

Here’s a link to one of my videos. I will let you look through more yourself if you wish to:

If you made it this far, that is incredible. Leave a comment saying ‘I like puppies’.

I call myself Alex on the Blog because I wanted to keep it private and un-searchable by my Employer and other people.

I like to be able to talk with complete honesty and openness.

Thank you for your time today,

~ Alex.

 

I’m an INFJ.

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Hello again.

I hope you are having a nice day.

As well as being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), I am also an INFJ. If you are not familiar with the term or the Myers-Briggs personality test, I highly recommend you give it a go yourself here. I have found it to be very helpful in understanding myself.

I expect it is somewhat common among HSPs to also be INFJs but, out of the 16 personalities, this is said to be the most rare – especially for men. Also known as “The Advocate” or “The Romantic”, INFJs account for less than 1% of the population.

This might explain why I nearly always feel like the odd one out. Like I don’t fit in anywhere. Like I am different.

But maybe being different is okay – good, even.

Because is the average person happy? Does the average person drink and smoke to deal with their problems in life? Do they find fulfillment and connection or are they merely a consumer of the media and over-priced clothing and material objects, chasing status or fame?

As an INFJ, I have a very high sense of morality and am extremely idealistic. Think of Gandhi, who was thrown into this category. On the positive side, we see what is lacking and what needs to be changed – we want to make the World better. But our desires for change can be met by much resistance, as many people would prefer to do things the way they have always been done. Some people don’t think there is anything wrong with this World…

It isn’t a coincidence that I found Veganism – but I will save the talk on this topic for another, more in-depth post.

At the core of the INFJ is a desire to make a difference to this World. To spread happiness and kindness. Hostile environments make us tense and we feel the need to leave those situations so we don’t become overwhelmed with negative energy, which is hard to absorb. People beeping at each other in traffic can make us feel on edge. An argument with a spouse can leave us feeling drained of energy. We have a ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ mentality, which could be considered naive given the state of our World.

We should probably recognise that most other people aren’t born with the same set of values as us. But it can be hard to have any empathy for those who chase money and power while hurting those who stand in their way. Or for those who cheat on their partners, or manipulate them for their own gain.

Speaking from my own experience, I very much lack empathy for those who act selfishly and hurt others in order to get what they want. Relating this to being Vegan, I can feel extremely angry if I see a video of someone hurting an animal ‘for fun’. And while this is the natural reaction that many other people would share, I find it hard to let go as I want so much to see justice and retribution. I sometimes create fantasies in my mind where I catch the perpetrator and torture them in painful ways. I mean, I seriously beat the fucking shit out of those horrible bullies!

In reality, this isn’t useful as I have yet to find myself in a position where I can carry out such acts. And who is to say I would be able to in reality? But seriously – hurt an animal and I will go Liam Neeson on your ass.

INFJs are known for their creativity. The ‘I’ stands for introverted, so we spend a lot of our time turning inwards and thinking. This can be great, but if we are in the wrong environment, we can become chronically stressed and negative. Anxiety and Depression are common, because there is always a need for improvement – in ourselves and in the outer World. We are very perfectionistic and expect far too much of ourselves. We focus on what went wrong instead of what went well. Something often feels missing and so – most of the time – we feel discontent.

Personally, I find it incredibly difficult to conform to rules and one-way approaches too. My current job in Car Insurance is unfulfilling to me, because it doesn’t offer me the opportunity to be creative. Everything is rigid and lacking in any personality. I don’t like to use technical jargon like ‘on a without prejudice basis’ or ‘knock for knock’. I would prefer to speak in real, animated ways. Just speak plain fucking English! Every now and then I will get a letter from a ‘third party’ solicitor and they really can talk some old bollocks.

INFJs – as well as HSPs – are prone to becoming overwhelmed and burned out, because things are rarely ‘good enough’ and so much needs to be sorted out. Being an introvert in itself can be challenging given the work-structures of nearly every company, but combined with the high expectations and over-stimulation we face in crowds or when in a situation we feel trapped by, one can sink into some very low moods. This is likely why I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which I am still very hopeful to resolve.

Despite the difficulties I face on a daily basis, this way of being has made me very spiritual and – in the good moments – I feel very connected and at one with the Universe. I must monitor my energy levels – physically, mentally and socially – so I do not become ‘that guy’ who I don’t like so much. All of this is a journey and the more we understand our needs and meet them, the happier we can be. Whatever our personality type, we need to understand ourselves as best we can so we can make the right decisions in life – whether that revolves around Career, Hobbies or Relationships.

You can read all about INFJs in more detail here.

Thank you again for taking the time out of your day to read my thoughts. Please do follow me for further posts on being a Highly Sensitive DUDEEEEEEE. Don’t forget to like the new Facebook page for updates > BOOBIES!!!

I will try to make time to record some more videos for the YouTube channel soon.

Peace.

~ Alex.