To watch the video presentations of the 1st 2 articles in the series, click on the below links:
In an article that I wrote several days ago, Living with a Brain Injury and Overcoming Social Anxiety I spoke about several realizations. I realized that everyone experiences anxiety when interacting socially. I also realized that I could manage my anxiety. In my article Social Anxiety, Understanding and Finding Freedom from Bullying I spoke to bullying, as bullying relates to social anxiety.
What I realized changed my life, as I began to discover that I could learn how to manage my social anxiety. Having these awareness’ helped me to be more gentle with myself. Through understanding that everyone experiences anxiety in social settings, that there are bullies and that I have deficits and limitations, I am better able to take care of myself. Better able to be aware and better able to take care of me, in social settings. Better able to take care of myself through these realizations by respecting my deficits and limitations. Better able to stop berating and beating up on myself for having anxiety in social settings.
By taking care of myself I discovered that I could stop beating up on myself for matters that are out of my control. By taking care of myself, I began to realize what I could do to manage my anxiety, and in the process, enhance my experiences as I interact socially.
Compassion for my Anxiety in Social Settings
After writing and publishing the article Living with a Brain Injury and Overcoming Social Anxiety, I was asked a good question. “Your article is helping me build some perspectives on things. But just to make sure, have you overcome your social anxiety or is it an ongoing battle. Thanks so much again.” I really appreciated this question as the question helped me to sort through my own experience. In today’s article, Brain Injury, and Learning to Manage Anxiety in Social Settings, I would like to share some of the strategies that I have learned that help me to manage the anxiety I experience in social situations. My learning to manage my anxiety in, social settings took a long time. It took a long time because I bought into the notion that there was something wrong with me and that I deserved to be anxious. What I discovered helped me to begin to accept myself as I have sought to interact in different social settings.
What I discovered helped me to begin to accept myself, socially, as an individual living with the impact of a brain injury and an invisible disability. What I discovered helped me to realize that it was my responsibility, not anyone else’s responsibility, to take care of me.
With owning, my responsibility, I became aware of what I was experiencing. With my awareness, I discovered what I needed to do to take care of myself. What I discovered was that I needed to examine why I was feeling anxiety in social settings. Being anxious, in social settings, was a symptom. By examining the symptom — my anxiety — I discovered that I was afraid of being ridiculed for not being enough or for being different. As I looked further, I began to realize the under my fear, was the belief that I not OK without the approval/validation of other people in social settings. What I also discovered, through owning the responsibility to take care of me in social settings, was that I needed to learn to be OK with me. Be OK with me, despite my deficits and limitations, (visible and invisible) and my idiosyncrasies. I am not suggesting that being arrogant or having the attitude that” this is just the way I am”, but instead seeing myself…
Seeing myself as a work in progress. By seeing myself as a work in process, I am given hope. Hope to realize that I can do something about the anxiety that I experience when I interact socially.
What I Discovered about Myself and Social Settings
I do not know if I would call what I experience as social anxiety. I am fairly gregarious when I am out and about. The extrovert part of my personality feeds off of brief, but positive interactions with people I meet at the Y, at the store and as I go about my business. I believe what I experience is a degree of frustration in knowing how to engage in substantive conversation, as I have not learned the “art” of small talk. I have also come to realize that many of my interactions with people are like “2 ships” passing in the night and that is OK with me. I have also come to accept that interacting with groups of people can be taxing for me, so I limit the amount of time that I spend with groups of people. I do much better one on one, otherwise I “graze” in groups, so to say; as I interact with individuals in the group. If I click with one person in the group, I have longer conversations. If not, I am cordial with other members of the group and leave.
I realize that I need to learn how to learn how to engage in small talk, but I try to practice easy does it with myself on that front.
I have learned how to respect my limits and thus reduce the amount of anxiety I have when interacting socially. If I feel like I may have been misunderstood, because I did not read a non-verbal cue or social nuance, I ask the person if I overstepped a boundary. By doing so I am able to manage my anxiety if I feel like I am being misunderstood. So to answer your question concerning whether I experience social anxiety, I do at times, however, I am learning how to manage my social anxiety by respecting my limits and asking questions to gain clarification. If there is someone in the group that I respect, I may ask them if I am feeling anxious to give me feedback. I also have a mentor that I run things by and get his insight and feedback given situations in which I experience a degree of social anxiety. So, being aware, asking a friend in the group if I am reading things “right” and by “running” things by my mentor I manage my social anxiety.
What I Realize about the Process and Myself
This too is a process for me and I do not do it perfectly. I need to be gentle with myself in the process and realizing that I need to ask for help. I need to ask for feedback from the people I trust and those who not going to shame me for not getting things “right”, as I am learning. I also am realizing that there are people out there, who I am never going to be able to “fit in socially” because of their cliché mentality. No matter what I do I am not going to “break in” or be a “part” of their “group” or “cliché”. And that is not about me. It is about them. I am always going to feel “excluded” by them for whatever reason. As I spoke about in my 3 Part article on April 2013, Is the Group that You are In Hurting You? — Are You Being Bullied? I need to remember that there are individuals and groups of individuals who will bully me if I allow them to bully me. With my awareness, I am able to make better choices for myself, as I interact socially.
Please Share the Strategies You Use
Above I shared what I have learned that helps me to manage my anxiety in social settings. Please share what helps you to manage your anxiety as you interact socially. You may share what you have learned with me by using the “leave a reply” section below this article. I look forward to learning from you.
I have also created a video presentation of this article, which you can listen to and watch by clicking on this link: Brain Injury, and Learning to Manage Anxiety in Social Settings Video Presentation
As you have questions, please send those questions to me. All questions are good questions and all questions are welcomed. Please leave your questions in a comment below. I will respond to you in a timely way. You have my permission to share the articles that I present here on Second Chance to Live, however, please attribute me as being the author of the article (s) and provide a link back to the article (s) on Second Chance to Live. Thank you. Copyright 2016.