Social Anxiety and the Illusion of Separateness
The primary factor contributing to social anxiety’s excruciating discomfort is that it intensifies the sense of separation. Although we all have a connection and are one, it can be difficult to remember this given the world we live in. Whether we are young, when we are teased or divided based on our grades, manners, or gender, the illusion of separation begins. It persists throughout our life and makes us feel excluded.
Your emotional health and well-being depend on you realizing that you are not distinct from others, that you are not alone, and that you are not less than anyone else. It’s not always simple, though. Some of us have difficult memories from the past that make interacting with others and developing friends challenging. Since not everyone is an extrovert, going somewhere they don’t know anyone can feel like torture for some people. Keep in mind that everyone requires friends and a core family. Accept that about yourself and stop using your introversion as a reason not to socialize.
Your social anxiety will lessen and connection will become easier the more you quit caring what other people think and just show up truthfully. Humans are not large, frightful monsters. Be prepared to ask folks more than “How are you doing?” the next time you attend an event. “or “How are you? ”
The feeling that they are alone alienated, and different from others is one of the most persistent and agonizing symptoms of social anxiety that many clients express. High degrees of anguish and suffering in social circumstances can both cause and be the result of these sentiments, along with the perceptions and beliefs that go along with them.
Through years of practice, a very renowned psychologist, Robert Yielding, utilized two very simple yet powerful practices derived from Dalai Lama and Pema Chodron to work with such agonizing feelings of social anxiety that make one feel separate from others. Let’s discuss these practices briefly and how to use them in connection with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Pema Chodron describes a straightforward technique she calls “Just like me” in her book Welcoming the Unwelcome, and I have found it to be tremendously useful in treating social anxiety. It starts with becoming mindfully aware of any worry (or other) feelings that start to surface within you. Next time you find yourself in a situation having anxious thoughts about what other people would be thinking of you or whether they are judging you, tell yourself, “Just like me, everyone else feels uneasy at times,” or “Just like me, others here have felt nervous, insecure, or different,” etc. with an attitude of compassion and acceptance. Your attention and ideas will be shifted away from segregation, assessment, and judgment with practice. Additionally, it makes room for you to refocus on being present in the moment by normalizing your experience and bringing compassion to it.
In a similar manner, the Dalai Lama recounted in one of his many books how he answered the question of how he never seems nervous before speeches and meetings he gives in front of big crowds. I’ve read his straightforward response, “simply human,” to mean that, despite the innumerable variety of people he’s spoken with, they all have the same universal human experiences and share the same fundamental nature, just like he does. We are all flawed human beings who occasionally behave inappropriately in social situations and may even lose the favor of others. Fortunately, we’re not all doing this by ourselves. Furthermore, durable partnerships and fruitful social interactions do not require infallibility or perfection.
Both of these techniques are intended to aid us in letting go of unhelpful beliefs rooted in separation and judgment, cultivating compassion for both ourselves and others, and in remembering the larger reality of our interconnectedness with other people. In order to gain perspective and reconsider harmful and incorrect views about oneself and others in social circumstances, they also work similarly to procedures used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for social anxiety. Examples of prevalent ideas and/or underlying presumptions that contribute to these uneasy sentiments and thoughts include:
- In this case, other people’s opinions of me are more significant than mine.
- I’m sure that some are more at ease and self-assured than I am.
- Others won’t want to interact with me if I make a mistake or say the incorrect thing, or I risk losing the friends I already have.
- In a social hierarchy, others are “above me.”
- Others don’t have the weaknesses that could be “revealed,” but I do.
- Others don’t share this sentiment.
- I’m different and/or inferior to others if I’m feeling worried.
The above-mentioned beliefs and presumptions cause anxiety and dread when faced with social situations, leading us to place unnecessary pressure on ourselves to “perform” in order to connect and avoid criticism or rejection. In the end, the perceived stress and danger of social interaction in this way become overpowering, which causes avoidance of social opportunities and moves us further away from our genuine objectives of connection and engagement.
Practices like “just like me” and recognizing that we are all “just human” can be good reminders to assist step away and embracing more helpful and true thoughts when you are able to recognize when such harmful beliefs are present. In addition, techniques like cognitive restructuring and mindful focused attention support these techniques in achieving liberation and compassion from the erroneous narrative of segregation and judgment that the anxious mind enjoys fabricating.
If you feel that you may use some expert advice, talk to an Online Counselor and a psychologist of your choosing about your struggles. You may connect with the Best Psychologist in India, Online Counsellors, psychologists, and psychiatrists at TalktoAngel with just one click, and they can help you handle your mental health difficulties and take care of your mental health on your own.