faceless woman with cardboard box on head against pond

Good therapy for social anxiety

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Table of Contents

How a unique therapy for social anxiety worked for me.

(See explanation below about this post.)

0h, no! My social anxiety is on steroids.

Today is the day. The first (my husband’s) of two reunions (mine in two months). We’ve never been to one. We’ve always said if we wanted to see these people we would have made it a point over the years. We’ve tempered our thinking a bit and have decided there were some people we would’ve remained friends with had distance not separated us. We’re hoping they will be there.

We have no idea what to expect. Will the snobs still be snobs or will life have taught them some needed lessons? Will the homecoming queen still look “queenly” or will the years have robbed her of her good looks? Will those who were “most likely to succeed” have succeeded or not? The biggest question is why does any of this matter anyway? But I am anxious and struggle with social anxiety, so I make it matter.

beauty contestants/good therapy for social anxiety

Worrying about my appearance

When I think about it, I wonder if I’ve matured at all or if I’m worried about the impression I’ll make. Really, haven’t I dealt with bigger issues by now than worrying about a high school reunion? And yet I’ve shopped all week looking for the perfect outfit, casual but classy.  T J Maxx is getting weary of my repeated buying and returning.

I guess some of it matters because all the people will be about the same age so naturally there’s that comparison thing going on. Have I put on too much weight? (I haven’t.) Is my hair the right style? (I gave up coloring my hair about five years ago. Turns out it’s a great color-who knew?)

Worrying about accomplishments

But what if someone asks me what I’ve accomplished, what will I answer? I ask myself, have I done the things I wanted to do? Have I realized some of my dreams? In many ways I have but not in the way most people would think. 

Most of my accomplishments don’t involve money, success, or celebrity. But in all the ways that matter, I’ve accomplished more than I would have thought possible considering the messed-up, depressed teenager I once was.

Now that I’ve written it down I wonder why I ever was nervous. This is three or four hours out of the 4,380 twelve-hour days a year. Really?  I don’t even have to stay if I don’t want to. So having got it all out of my system, I’m feeling better.

But I learned about this therapy

Perhaps it’s because of something I picked up in my research on depression. It’s called “acting as if.” It’s a valid therapy technique and very helpful in dealing with certain areas in our lives (like high school reunions).  It sounds contrived and fake but done in the right way, and for the right reasons, it isn’t.

An example that readily comes to mind and which will prove very helpful for me tonight. I don’t like large social functions. But if can walk into a room and act confidently, I trick my mind into thinking I am just that, confident. Consequently, I quit shaking, my hands quit sweating and my heart stops racing. I can talk to people without being self-conscious.

Therapy for dealing with social anxiety

 boy screaming in room/ social anxiety

“Acting as if” might sound very artificial and dishonest, but it isn’t. It’s a therapy that really works well for social anxiety. Barbara Streisand has stated she is terrified every time she gives a concert. Barbara Streisand!

But she does exactly what I do. She “acts as if” she isn’t afraid by walking on stage acting like the star she is. Let me ask you, have you ever noticed her fear? No, because she’s acting as if she isn’t afraid and that process somehow rewires her brain into making her think she is confident. Thus her body and her voice respond to this message because the brain doesn’t know how to distinguish between truth and lies.

It helps us cope with anxiety

“Acting as if” is not meant to fool anyone or cause anyone harm.

It’s simply a way for you to find success in some situations that are important to you and have caused you problems in the past. It doesn’t always work, of course. For example, I can “act as if” I’m a ballet dancer all I want and I’m never going to be a ballet dancer. I might be more graceful, but that’s about it.

What about you?  Is there an area in your life where this technique might work for you?  When I started to push depression back into its dark hole, this was a technique I used when it made sense. The more I acted like a person who wasn’t depressed the less depressed I became.

Won’t work overnight

There were many, many other techniques I used which I will post about on this blog. I don’t want you to think that this technique alone will change everything for you overnight. I wish depression were that easy to give the old heave-ho to. I’ll share much more about how you can manage your depression.

Is there an area in your life where you could try this approach? It might take a number of times before you figure out just how it works. It’s not easily explained in something as brief as a post.

(I’m still getting up to speed in setting up this blog.  I have figured out Zemanta as you can tell.  Yea!!!)

A postscript

This post was one of the first posts I ever wrote. I’m sharing it today because this new book I’m writing is about finding God’s special purpose for each of us. When I wrote this post, I had no idea I would end up writing a book about depression. This post turned out to be one of the chapters in the book, expanded and edited, of course.

My new book is about finding God’s special plan for your life; I believe we all have one. Some already know theirs and are pursuing it. But many Christians don’t believe they have one because they’re not “special” or worthy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It can take a long time to develop our purpose or mission (I use an unusual word to describe our purpose in the book). The point is, finding this post makes me feel really good about this next book.

It’s proof that once God makes our mission clear. He will see us through to the end as long as we continue to follow his lead.

God bless and have a good day.