For the most part, I manage my social anxiety pretty well these days. I wouldn’t call myself a party animal by any means, but I don’t avoid socialising anymore simply because it makes me feel uncomfortable, anxious or panicky.
That’s not to say that I don’t experience these uncomfortable feelings still though; that I don’t have to listen to and sort through my thoughts, binning the really useless ones; that I don’t have to work on myself to get myself to say, “yes”.
And even once I’ve actually made it through the front door, as I mentioned previously, I will occasionally catch myself puffing up, like a Peacock, or shrinking away, hiding. Remember a few days back, when I mentioned Research Professor, Brené Brown’s mantra for authenticity?
“Do not shrink. Do not puff up. Just stand in your sacred ground.”
I’ve found this really useful. In fact, I’ve found myself repeating it in my head, again and again, especially when I’m interacting with people outside of my ‘tribe’.
Something else that I’ve found to be incredibly useful is to set an intention: an intention of being authentic.
It’s not like at previous social gatherings I’d set an intention of bragging about myself like a (*insert your preferred expletive here*) or like I’d pre-planned to minimise any achievements so that no one else could accuse me of being a (*insert your preferred expletive here*)
Of course I hadn’t! I just hadn’t set any intention at all.
And so without that sense of direction, my brain just did what it has done previously. It followed the path of trying not to be found out; of puffing up, to look better than I think I am, or shrinking away, so as not to be seen at all.
I’ll talk more about this tomorrow. But for now, do me the favour of considering any social situations in which you’re guilty of this kind of unauthentic behaviour, particularly ones which fill you with dread. Then…