A Personal Guide To Overcoming Social Anxiety
Learn to cope with and eventually take control over negative thinking.
It seems that particularly in today's world, the feeling of social, or irrational anxiety, can be one only too easy to relate to. And it seems that so many of us have encountered those days where we'd rather stay in bed, shut our curtains and hide away from the world, simply, because we can't face the horror of another day. I'm certainly not saying that these problems didn't exist in the past, they did, I'm saying that in a faster paced world anxiety/depression has increased and only continues to do so. For example, among teenagers, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by a whopping seventy percent in the past twenty five years. I am not a doctor nor an academic. I am simply a woman who has been strong enough to be vulnerable in order to expose the anxiety that built up in her after so many years. I realise how stating my vulnerability as a strength may seem confusing but if you continue to read on, you will hopefully understand what I mean by that. Honestly, I'm just a woman wanting to help those who suffer better their lives or indeed, just get them back. A woman with a passion for drawing, poetry, anything creative, meditation, helping others and hopefully, blogging. I'm here to give a guide and talk about some of my personal experiences. I'm not here to give medical advice. This is a guide to help deal with, look into and learn to control our thoughts and stay anxiety and depression free throughout life. Any medical questions should always be discussed with a professional. But if you want my personal opinion on medication here it is. Yes, is can help ease the symptoms. No, it does not 'cure' anxiety or depression. Why would it? Medication can only do so much, it isn't magic. A lot of medication prescribed for anxiety works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain but it does not magically fix our negative thinking patterns. We have the power to control what we think with or without medication. We should start thinking about meditation and I'll go into that later.
When we are depressed, it's as if we are living in the past. We can't let go or we may have made up detailed scenarios about our future, finding ourselves depressed about something that does not even exist. We have all been guilty of replaying mistakes over in our minds. Or perhaps we have beaten ourselves up over what we 'should' have done or said. This becomes a serious problem when we do it constantly and it starts to limit what we do with our lives. This is when it begins to have a serious, negative impact on our mental health.
How easy it is to let our minds be fueled by negativity. How sad that even stating how easy our minds are swayed by negativity is almost cliché now within the topic of anxiety. But it is true and a good place to stop being run by anxiety is to first notice when you're thinking destructively. Anxiety creeps up when we are constantly questioning ourselves, our lives and the future, so much so that it takes over the only time we ever have, the present. What will people think of me? Will I look ridiculous? or perhaps our anxiety has assumed what others think of us already...Everybody thinks I'm a fool, nobody likes me, I have no future. Many times I've found myself worrying about future scenarios that did not come to ever exist. And the more I worried, the more I found myself feeling depressed about life. In order to overcome this destructive way of thinking we have to start to ask those painful questions like, where did this anxiety come from? When did it start? We must learn how to express our emotions constructively and truly take back control of our thoughts. Sometimes it's hard to believe that the mind's natural state is calm and clear.
Thoughts lead to emotions, emotions lead to actions. Those actions will then determine our next set of thoughts. I overcame social anxiety and I will first tell you that there is no quick fix. Anyone that claims they have a fast 'cure' to anxiety or depression is misleading you or perhaps lying to themselves. There is no magical positive mantra that will overwrite a long-term emotion without that emotion first being understood. I remember when I was looking for a quick fix when I suffered with chronic blushing. I knew better than to believe in quick fixes but I was so desperate for a 'cure'. I found numerous websites stating that they could cure blushing. They were the answer to all my problems! ...apparently. You'd never imagine all they wanted in return was your money. A quick fix may appear to work but ultimately a sufferer will relapse. How many times have you found yourself feeling negative and told yourself that from now on, you're going to do nothing but think positively, only to forget an hour later. And in this case, there is no way I could have ever stopped the blushing until I first looked into my anxiety because blushing was a symptom of my social anxiety. Facing anxiety and depression is a journey that requires patience. If you can learn to cope, you can learn to master, to the point where your confidence may exceed well beyond just 'coping with anxiety and depression.' Luckily I didn't end up buying any quick fix product. I am not saying there are not products out there that help, I've read some insightful articles and books. But I am saying, that it is highly unlikely there is a quick fix. Instead, I like to think of overcoming anxiety as a subject, in which one can eventually master. If you can overcome anxiety then overcoming depression will either follow or be overcome alongside anxiety.
Why is it people say 'think positive' when faced with difficult situations? As if it were so easy. And if you suffer with social anxiety and/or depression (but let's be honest, the two come hand in hand) almost every social situation becomes difficult. Something incredibly simple to others may be a complete nightmare to a sufferer. Something as simple as popping to the shop or even leaving their house. The fear of judgement is so strong. I used to be terrified of working because of the chronic blushing problem. The thought of others watching me go red (which for a long time was a lot) made me feel like I'd literally rather die. If I had an appointment at the job centre for example, I'd find that I would actually wish illness on myself. It just seems easier to say 'Sorry I have to cancel because I'm in bed with the flu.' rather than, 'I have to cancel because I can't bare to face being around people in fear I will have an anxiety attack.' How easy it is to chat about our physical health, how taboo it seems to chat about our mental health. Isn't that ridiculous?
Well, thinking positive thoughts actually can be amazingly effective and over time easily done but only so when practised appropriately. It can be effective when we are not only able to deal with the negative but also when we can practise clearing our minds. Positivity which is forced will undoubtedly make way for the negativity to catch up with us. Like for example, binge drinking or eating, we may feel great for a few hours but terrible later. As we can be constructive or destructive with our negative thoughts and emotions, the same can be said with the positive. Positivity shouldn't have to feel forced, it should begin to feel natural and I think this is one of the biggest mistakes people make in life, assuming that forcing positive thoughts will magically eliminate all their irrational anxiety without the need to even skim the surface of their deep negative thoughts and emotions. You cannot continuously lie to yourself if you want true happiness.
We must first be true to ourselves about all the negativity we feel and the negativity we have experienced throughout our lives. We have to use the negativity constructively. Bringing up things from the past can be emotionally painful but blatantly ignoring how we've felt over the years is no way to deal with pain constructively. In fact, it eventually becomes destructive. The first thing we must do is be completely honest about the negativity we have inside us. Dig deep and start to communicate the negativity you hold. Anxiety is almost like a bully, it wants to keep itself a hidden demon that can haunt you whenever it likes. Exposure is anxiety's worst nightmare. When I say communicate I don't just mean orally to someone you trust, (that's if you're lucky enough to have someone) I mean communicate through creative means. Write, draw, paint, doodle, take photos, cut out and create a collage, scrap book. You do not need an Art or English degree to get creative. You do need honesty and you do need to express what you're feeling honestly. This could be writing how you feel in journal daily or doodling on a notepad. Give yourself some creative tools and just let your emotions come out. Even before any sort of self development, you are giving yourself a constructive way in which to release your emotions safely which in itself, can be a huge relief. Maybe you're musical? Next time you practise your instrument, jot down a song of your emotions. Everyone can be creative. Find a way in which you can constructively expose your anxieties. Do not compare your creative abilities negatively because each and every one of us has unique, creative abilities. Each and every one of us can inspire and be inspired.
One of the best things about writing, in any form, and I strongly recommend you do it if you can, is that it can be referred back to. You create physical evidence of how you were feeling at particular point in time, in which you can learn and grow from. This is why you should create something you can look back on. Some sufferers may already have creative hobbies in life which may help ease anxiety but expressing emotions in a way that they can be studied will make it much easier to learn how to overcome the anxiety. For example, one might have a beautiful singing voice but has never written their own song. One might love to read but has never written their own work. By all means the constructive things that do not include keeping a physical record of emotions that help ease anxiety are great and should be continued. But I'm simply saying that keeping a record is a great start in getting to the route of understanding your personal anxiety.
Another great thing about creating physical evidence is that no one can take away from you how you truly felt. Now perhaps that may sound odd, but think about it...Have you ever felt intimidated into having to feel a certain way to fit society's standards? Eg. You're a parent so you have to be strong. You're young so you should be having fun all the time. You have a good family so you should be happy. Or maybe you've felt judged by a friend or family member who has made you feel guilty. Maybe they have a lot of problems and cannot understand why you suffer a mental illness. Your anxiety makes you doubt yourself so much that you may feel like you are not even allowed to feel anxious. Be honest in your expression of emotion, even if that just means writing the word anxious on a piece of paper. A piece of paper can never judge you and provides you a safe way to express your emotion. Being able to own how you felt or feel without the meddling of others and their opinions will help you to start to take control of the emotion.
I started by drawing and writing. I then started to collect my drawings and writing in a folder. I also started making collages, cutting out images and words I was drawn to from magazines and sticking them on to paper. Collage making can be a great way of expressing your emotions if you're not sure where to start. Simply cut out the images and/or words you are personally drawn to. Just be honest with how you feel. I still mix musical mashups and videos and have noticed that I seem to pick songs that reflect or had reflected my emotions. Just being able to express how you feel can be so powerful and liberating and it's something all of us are capable of doing. Express how you truly feel, from the embarrassing and ridiculous to the overwhelmingly upsetting and disturbing. So start a journal, scrap book, blog...anything that allows you to express your emotions. You can keep it private or you may find you discover the confidence to show it. The anxiety itself will often fuel our creativity. What you express may not even make total sense in the present moment. Express it anyway, it will pay off. I often found myself looking back at a drawing and poem piece and remembering being in a sort of anxious, some what hazed state. I'd only start to learn about my emotions, which I was expressing at a particular point in time after looking back. I had so many revelations. For example, I'd often draw fire or faces with fire without realising at the time how desperate I was to express how blushing made me feel. It made me feel like it was uncontrollable, just like fire. It literally made my face feel like it was on fire. I felt like blushing was destroying my entire life. To have physical evidence of how you felt, what you were thinking about at a particular time is an extremely useful tool even if you don't quite understand it at first. Express that raw emotion. If you can speak up to others about how you feel, that can be wonderfully freeing but unprofessional people concerning anxiety often do not know how to help long-term, seen as though we have so many complex thought patterns and emotions. And seen as though some people can dismiss our feelings, even if they do not mean to do so, it therefore is sometimes not always the safest way of expressing our emotions. It can certainly be a relief but the majority of the time people are only concerned with their own thoughts, so we have to learn to help ourselves. Keep some sort of record. Speaking up can be freeing but mostly and sadly, it is fleeting. Keeping a record of thoughts and emotions is starting to understand how you can be free. If you do have someone to speak to I am certainly not discouraging it but I am saying it is far more freeing to speak to them after or alongside any record of your emotions. It helps that person to understand your emotions.
If we are able to deal with anxiety in a constructive way it will also help keep us away from the destructive route, which sadly, is only too easy to get lost down sometimes. I'm not limiting these things just to anxiety but destructive ways for example, would be alcohol abuse (drowning your emotions), drug abuse (escaping from emotions), violence (releasing emotion), self harm (emotional relief), eating disorders (sense of control), emotionally beating ourselves up, repressing etc. They often offer some sort of relief or coping mechanism at the time but will ultimately not only worsen anxiety and depression but worsen our lives and affect the lives of others. To express emotion constructively and creatively may seem exhausting. In fact, it sometimes is exhausting and emotionally painful. But we are going to be expressing that emotion in some sort of way whether we know we are doing so or not. If not, we are repressing which is horribly destructive. As you are able to deal with the route negative emotions that have lead to the anxiety, you will find yourself being in a much better position to put more practical, day to day exercises like meditation and positive mantras into action. (which I will discuss later). So I'm not saying we must write down every emotion for the rest of our lives (unless this is practical for you, which it may well be) but I'm saying before practical approaches (meditation is my favourite) we really, really must face up to these emotions that we have let ourselves repress and/or take over our lives for so long. To give you a personal example, there is no way I would successfully be able to meditate to this day unless I had first explored my anxieties in order to understand them. In time, you may feel once you have honestly dealt with the route of your anxieties that there is no need to keep a record. You may feel you want to continue, or just do it from time to time and that is fine as long as you truly have understood your own anxieties that held you back in life and learned to cope with them. Learning to deal with your anxieties takes time and patience though. But, if you are completely honest about all your negative emotions then self reflection and development will come naturally. Honesty is the key word here. You should never be made to feel like you don't deserve the time to express your emotions and time for self development. Make the time because you are worthy of an anxiety free life.
An early poem of mine. Expressing some raw emotions.
Alongside keeping a record of emotion, another way to use your anxiety constructively is to research the stories of other sufferers online. There are many stories all over the internet including a few I've read here on Hubpages. I also like the website Pinterest because I can research almost any subject and store photos, stories, basically everything in neat, organised folders. Sometimes just remembering that we do not suffer alone is enough to keep us from going down the destructive route. There are also many private groups on Facebook that are highly moderated where you can speak to other sufferers in a constructive, empathetic environment. One of my favourite online groups is 'Creating Mental Wellness' you can search these groups and request to join. Go for private groups (most are concerning this subject.) Be wary of getting sucked into an online world though, make sure you are concentrating on the recovery of anxiety and depression.
Drawing and writing in a depressed or anxious state, I'd later find myself having revelations about my truest emotions.
I know that I'm not a spectacular artist or writer in the eyes of society but I believe everyone's personal expression of their creativity is beautiful. Truly, I do. It is one of the most amazing practices we can do as humans. I mentioned that when we express emotions creatively and constructively we create physical evidence of how we were feeling at a particular time. I find that amazing and also a brilliant resource to have for personal development. We can look back through our creative work and notice patterns in our behaviour, notice our strongest emotions, learn and grow. We learn from this because we actually take the time to study our emotions. All you need to do is get creative and be honest, and the learning will come naturally. When we are getting creative or perhaps looking back at our work, asking ourselves starting questions like, when did the anxiety first begin? what triggers my anxiety? what goes on in my body when I feel anxious? how does it make me feel? can help us get a deeper understanding of our anxiety. Remember to express how you feel constructively. Even if you don't know the answer to such questions and maybe feel frustrated or confused, express the frustration and confusion. Watch the magic that happens when you are able to express how you feel creatively and constructively.
I have confidence in my art and poems, not because they fit into any expectations but because I can say that they are fully honest expressions of my thoughts and emotions. If you express something honestly, no one can take it away from you nor can that emotion continue to have hold over you. Allow yourself the time to express your emotions.
A couple of my poems about overcoming the majority of my anxieties.
If you start to successfully keep some sort of record of your emotions then the best thing you can do for yourself now is learn to meditate. I'm not going to be discussing any of the religious aspects, I'm talking purely about the exercise of meditation. The religious aspects can be wonderful to research as are the benefits but for the purpose of overcoming anxiety I will talk about the act itself. I love the website Pinterest for keeping track of various meditation tips and articles and would recommend researching mediation because if done regularly, it can put a stop to anxious thinking.The act of meditation teaches us to eventually take back control of our minds and thus our emotions. Therefore it can exceed well beyond overcoming anxiety. Anyone can learn to meditate. All you need is your breath. Meditation allows our bodies to learn the difference between irrational anxiety (eg. social phobia) and rational anxiety (fight, flight, freeze response you need to survive). Your body does not know the difference and meditation will help train the body to learn the difference.
Start by finding a quiet space in which you can find time to be alone. Try to sit down with your legs crossed, on a cushion. If you can't sit on a cushion then sitting on a chair will be fine but keep a sense of alertness about your body so you won't fall asleep. Close your eyes. (You don't necessarily need to close them all the time but it is best to close them if you're a beginner). Start by taking notice of your breath. If you can, start breathing through your nose. If you have a cold then your mouth is fine but when physically well, breathe through your nose. Notice the rhythm or your breath, the way your breath feels, the temperature contrasts between the inhale and the exhale. Focus on your breath in depth and even see if you can notice the exact point where the inhale changes to the exhale. Start by taking a minute just to observe any sensations and/or strong emotions you are currently experiencing. By observe, I mean you are simply feeling emotions/sensations as the physical feeling that they are. Don't become the emotion or sensation and don't add any thought to it. Be present. For example, if you're feeling stressed, observe where you physically feel the stress. If you have strains or pain, try to just observe. You can even imagine yourself breathing into these areas. For areas of pain you are literally renewing the blood flow to that area. Then start to bring attention to the tip of your nose. Notice the sensations around your nose whilst beginning to keep the mind the quiet. The hardest part is keeping the mind quiet. Your mind always wants to take you away on a train of thought so don't worry if you find this hard. If random thoughts appear, let them subside by bringing focus back to your breathing. With practice, it will become easier to ignore thought pollution. Just breathe. Just be.
When we are able to clear our minds, we are able to challenge the irrational and repetitive thoughts associated with anxiety. If there is no negative thought, there can be no negative emotion from it, therefore where anxiety is concerned, we start to break the repetitive pattern of anxious thinking by stopping the thoughts. Do not replace them with positive mantras straight away if it feels forced. There is a time and a place for mantras and they should never feel forced. We must first learn to observe and control the negative thinking. This is why I first stress expression of the anxiety for a deeper understanding. If we try to meditate without first an understanding of our emotion and thought patterns through the years, we may find it far too difficult to even begin to quieten our minds. We may feel a strong, persisting emotion that makes meditation uncomfortable or even too much, making giving up on the whole idea seem easier. Of course, even if we haven't dealt with previous emotions, it's not to say that meditation is impossible. It is just that, particularly when long term anxiety is concerned, an understanding into our own emotions will prepare us for mediation better. It will help us to succeed at making it a daily practice.
Another useful tip to help clear your mind is imagining the tip of your nose as a base. You can always bring yourself back to the tip of your nose if you find yourself starting to think destructive thoughts. Remember our minds are always active and easily distracted but we have the power to chose what we bring our attention to. Bring yourself back to focusing on your breathing. Observe. Once you start to truly focus on your breathing you will be able to build up a steady breath. Keep your breathing relaxed but most importantly, keep it comfortable for you. There is no need to take in big, uncomfortable breaths. You may meditate by simply observing the breath alone but I prefer to do a body scan. I spend a few minutes focusing on each individual part of my body. I start with my feet, move up to my lower legs, thighs etc. If you do this, again just observe any sensations you feel. Can you notice the temperature? Or the way your muscles, skin or clothes feel? Do not attach yourself to any particular sensation as they may vary from time to time. Simply observe. Feel what is there in the now. Be completely present in the moment. You are taking back control of your mind and body. If thoughts persist remind yourself, 'I don't need to think about this right now.' or in fact, 'I don't need to think about this at all.' You can even imagine yourself putting thoughts away into files or boxes to keep yourself from actively thinking about them. Remember when you use your imagination to always bring yourself back to your breathing as to not get carried away on a train of thought. Just allow yourself to be in the moment.
If you find meditation difficult to do yourself then there are plenty guided meditations online you may find useful. If you type 'guided meditation' into YouTube you should be able to find a video that suits you. Meditation is exercise for the mind. It will keep your mind healthy. Commit to meditation and it will change your life. It will help you to control all other emotions like anger too. It will encourage you into deeper thinking and take you beyond overcoming anxiety.
Try to aim for a few minutes everyday to start with and aim to build up to twenty minutes. Remember though, no matter how hard it is, one minute of meditation is still better than not trying at all. Although meditation has numerous amounts of benefits, both physical and emotional, it is important to note that occasionally painful emotions from the past can arise during a mediation. This is why again, I firstly stressed the importance of exposing feelings constructively because if a painful emotion persists, it's as if your body is usually saying 'I need to get this emotion out'. So draw it, doodle it, write it, type it, paint it...express that emotion constructively and honestly. Don't allow any negativity to bury itself within you. Stop it by exposing it and you should start to move on from it.
Start meditating! :)
When I meditate I personally like to include Loving-Kindness meditation which is called Metta meditation. Most do this separately to routine meditation but I like to do it all together. Metta meditation involves wishing light (positive energy) upon all others. From people we love to people we may dislike. Practising Metta meditation will begin to free yourself from the judgements of others - something anxiety sufferers know only too well. Practise Metta mediation after regular meditation or anytime that feels right during meditation by imagining you're inhaling light. As you inhale, the light grows larger. The light you breath in is love, happiness, bliss, kindness, all things positive. And as you exhale you let go of all that is negative. Imagine yourself glowing with this light. Start to use your imagination and picture someone you love. Imagine the light spreading to and surrounding them. Remember just to picture this and to not allow your mind to be distracted by any thoughts. The mind always wants to grab on to a thought. Remember each time you focus during meditation you are taking back control of your mind. Then the harder part. Picture someone you dislike, if you don't dislike anyone perhaps picture someone you do not know very well. Like you did the first time, picture this person surrounded in that loving light also. No matter what this person thinks of you, you still wish them happiness, freeing yourself from any opinion they have of you. Whether it be their own opinion or one you have assumed, you free yourself as you picture them surrounded in the light. It does not matter what people think of you anymore because you have full confidence in your happiness and kindness. This helps us to become more empathetic also. Forgive, even if you are not met with the same courtesy. Be kind and be loving because being kind and loving attracts positive energy in to your life naturally. We cannot expect to be happy if we cannot forgive and be kind. If we cannot be kind to others then we cannot be kind to ourselves or expect it from others. Anyone living a cruel life that appears to be happy is not, or they have some false sense of materialistic happiness that always catches up with them. And that kind of happiness simply does not even compare with true, blissful happiness.
As you practise meditation, you practise clearing your mind. As an anxiety sufferer, your mind is usually so used to thinking about the negative. With meditation you can think of it as resetting your mind to neutral before you can begin to think more positively. And as you practise clearing everything from your mind, you will start to feel calmer and therefore more drawn to positive thinking. In any kind of social situation where you feel yourself begin to think negatively you can bring attention to your breathing because having learned the basics of meditation. You now know how to focus on your breathing successfully, as opposed to many hearing from others 'just breathe' without actually knowing why it is useful. You are stopping yourself from fueling the negative thought. Let the negativity subside as you focus on the breath. You can even visualise the negativity leaving your body as you exhale. You can do this anywhere. The more you do this, the more you will allow yourself to think in a positive manner naturally. You control what you think and when you know how to take control of what you think, the possibilities to positive thinking are endless. Remember, don't spend the rest of you life fighting the negativity, learn to let it subside naturally and positivity will find you.
My own guided meditation if you wish to use it.
More useful information on meditation.
- Meditation & Mindfullness ∞ on Pinterest | Meditation, Mindfulness and Eckhart Tolle
Explore Carly Malcolm's board "Meditation & Mindfullness ∞" on Pinterest, the world's catalogue of ideas. | See more about Meditation, Mindfulness and Eckhart Tolle.
Take up and commit to yoga (If you haven't already). Yoga can simply be a way to stay flexible and fit to some. It can involve exercises to prepare the body for certain meditation poses such as the lotus position or it can be meditation itself for those who find it hard to sit still. Since we focus on our breath in yoga, it is a way to exercise the body and mind at the same time. Allowing ourselves to exercise both mind and body results in building and maintaining a healthy mind and body. I personally do both yoga and meditation. You can find many free yoga exercises all over the Internet. Check out some on YouTube. The great thing is that there are so many different yoga positions so that even if you are limited in some areas of your body, you'll find exercises that suit you.
When we do not find a constructive way to deal with the stress anxiety brings it often takes it out on the body. Resistance pain can build up from repression. Stress can take its toll on our joints from too much adrenaline in the system. Blood flow to certain areas can become weaker. Headaches can develop from anxious thinking. When we practise yoga we are not only replenishing the blood flow to our entire body (like in non moving meditation) but we are actually building a physically stronger body. Any type of exercise produces endorphins which are known as the 'happy chemical' which also help to fight stress and if done regularly help overall confidence. Take care of your body as well as your mind. Start to find ways to eat healthier. Remember that you don't need to make drastic changes. Generally with anxiety, motivation is low for most activities, so make small, constructive changes at a comfortable pace. Again I'm going to mention Pinterest which is packed full of healthy eating tips and recipes.
Remember, Do not force yourself into positive thinking or try to overcome anxiety in a few days. I personally believe little steps are better than big leaps because most anxiety sufferers cannot deal with the big leaps. For example, I remember I used to hate phoning anyone. I would force myself to do it because everyone told me the more I did it, the easier it would get. I did this with work, day to day activities like shopping and it never got easier, in fact it gradually got worse. This was because I wasn't dealing with the anxiety. It may have helped for maybe an hour (if that) then I was right back to feeling anxious and more anxious about the fact that forcing myself to do things just wasn't working. In fact I'd personally say that forcing oneself to just 'get on with it' falls into the destructive category of dealing with anxiety.
Positive mantras - Positive mantras, or affirmations, are words or expressions we says to ourselves or out loud to help us think and feel more positive in life. They can be great to use but only when they're not being used to simply cover the anxiety. So telling yourself to be or that you're happy and calm when really you're far from it, may actually do more harm than good. You need to be able to believe it and we are far more likely to believe it when we have dealt with our route anxieties in a constructive way. I'd say start to use mantras after you've began looking into your own emotions, then perhaps use them after meditating. Then you'll be able to put these mantras into practice in day to day situations. You'll be in a calmer state and you'll actually believe yourself. If you use the mantras simply to try to cover or force out the negativity that's been with you for so long then I doubt they will work long-term because that way of thinking isn't sustainable. Remember that negativity when used in a constructive manner can be your best friend when it comes to self development and long-term progress. This is not to say that if you've been improving with confidence constructively and have a day where you feel negative that positive mantras will not work unless you've fully understood the negativity. No, not at all, I'm saying that with self understanding first and practising meditation, you are in a much better position to believe the positive mantras. You must be able to believe yourself. One of my favourite mantras I say to myself when I feel I want to or when I feel a little stressed is simply, 'love' and repeat the word love in my head for minute. Simple words like love, happiness and peace can be used. Personalise them to suit yourself. Don't just repeat one you've read online. And I always stress the expression of negative emotions first when talking about the anxiety that has taken over our lives because anxiety is usually built upon years of neglecting to look deep into our emotions. For example, I could be struck with doubt in my own confidence say, out and about in town, having to go to place I've never been before. I allow myself to feel the doubt and let it subside because I have studied the long term doubts that held me back from living a normal life. I can stop it from taking me away on a train of thought by bringing attention to my breath. I'm not denying the doubt but I am allowing it to pass. I can say positive words in my head to bring my focus to the positive because I'm not fighting the negative. And trust me doubts, down days and negative thinking will reduce the more you work on self development. It will stop being hard to live a positive life because you haven't denied the negative, you have simply learned to deal with it and let it go.
Finally, it is so important that you are never made to feel like you have to compare your problems to the rest of the world. You ever been told you're so lucky in life and should be helping those who aren't instead of complaining? When comparing is encouraged, instead of helping an anxiety sufferer, it will only instill guilt and shame. And similarly, it so important that you do not do this to others either. Those destructive emotions only add to the anxiety, leaving sufferers feel more isolated and in an even worse position to help people than before. Helping others is a great way to challenge anxiety but we will never be able to help others until we help ourselves and deal with our own emotions. Have you ever felt bad because children were living in poverty and you cannot work because you have anxiety? Or has anyone ever tried to make you feel bad because their problems are worse than yours? How do you deal with this? It's important to remember that a person trying to make you compare will have destructive, negative energy within them. They will actually be suffering with their own negative thinking. A happy, content person doesn't try to bring others down or make them feel bad. Instead of allowing any new destructive thought to be born, wish light upon them. Wish light upon the world if and when you feel helpless. Allow nothing but positive energy spread from within. Imagine any negativity disintegrating when it comes into contact with your light. It does not deflect onto others, it simply disappears. We are strong enough to summon and spread light. All of us. This is not to be compared to repressing any personal, long term negative thinking but a good exercise to stop any new destructive thought to be born. Again, this will free you from the judgments of others, any negative hold anyone has over you will be gone. If you find it hard to wish light upon others in this way then go back to expressing. Express why you find it difficult. But again, the more you practise this, the more natural it becomes to you. True forgiveness is liberating.
Did you know Kristen Stewart suffered with social anxiety?
Remember that overcoming anxiety is never easy. And even on your very worst days just remind yourself, that even if it isn't easy, it is indeed very possible. Remember, 'this too, shall pass.'
Thank you so much for stopping by. I do apologise for any errors that I haven't noticed. I did have dyslexia as a young child, and as a teenager I struggled to pay attention to school work due to the anxiety. But fear of making a mistake will not hold me back, even if that does sounds a bit heavy-handed in a blog. Take care.