How to Escape Social Anxiety Loop
Anxious kids and their polar opposiites
As a person that had to constantly jump over social anxiety hurdles over the years, especially during challenging teens, I admired the kids who seemingly had more courage than I could ever have, or comprehend.
Meeting new girls and boys was something they welcomed with open hands, as their goal was to branch out their social groups and enhance their importance and influence in them. Whatever was hiding behind the next corner was tantalizing and intriguing, and if it ended up being something unexpected, well, it got dealt with at the spot and seemingly without a hint of stress and fear.
Then you have youngsters that I could relate to. For them, meeting new girls and boys was something they looked to avoid, while their aim was to keep their small but close grope close to themselves.
That group is often treated as a shield, and not as a wall with a door in it that lets selected people in. To that young person, meeting new people can resemble torture, while those surprise corners got avoided altogether. The logic seems to be: If you keep your distance, nothing can come close enough to harm you.
A slippery slope
It's a horrible thing to get lost and lose control. It's tough to feel like life is a dull, painful, endless cycle or a tape that rolls and rewinds over and over again until everything finally falls apart. Feelings of this matter should certainly not be ignored, and if some really do feel this way, the issue should be seriously reviewed and looked at, and preferably shared with some other individual or a group of people.
That's the beauty of talking to friends - those conversations need no particular subject to be beneficial, relaxing, and enjoyable. You just feel good after these interactions, and not even a silence is awkward.
I always had my issues, but I realized how deeply embedded they were only after my close group started to feel distant. This problem manifested after my friends went to their preferred colleges in cities many miles away. Suddenly, the only people I was comfortable around had a feel of a stranger.
So, what happened after we saw each other after many months had passed? To me, it always came down to breaking the ice. It was apparent to me that it got built up too quickly, and I was getting tired of smashing through it over and over again. My energy got drained even thinking about it, so more often than not, I picked avoidance.
A good example of this is hanging out with people, and I'm sure many had this experience. You get nervous before you see a person, for various reasons, you eventually see that person, you realize that anxiety was unjustified. Then you feel that if you met them tomorrow, everything would be a lot easier.
But you don't see that friend the next day - you see your friend in two or three weeks - and by that time you realize that the ice is right back where it once was. As a result of that, the next encounter is just as nerve-wracking.
Does that sound familiar?
So, what helps?
I'm not about to claim expertise, but I did manage to dig my introvert-self out of the hole, even though I did found out I could never fully replace my initial software. All I can do is to keep searching for decent patches and applying them so the system would run into as little errors as possible.
The things I did are actually very logical, and it involved making a promise to myself. I had to recognize and I had to react. I had to fight almost every single urge to cancel social gatherings, so my new goal in life involved fighting my instincts. Common sense and intellect were always there, I just had to find strength the override my knee-jerk reactions. The good news is, it became easier with time.
So to anyone willing to listen to my advice, I say this: What we are experiencing is a life-long struggle, and as soon as you realize this will always be present to an extent, you will have the power to mitigate the consequences of the anxiety itself.
Invite and accept invitations from people - that is the key, and this is the only way this will work. Maybe this doesn't sound fair, but this life is all about leaving your mark and making sure you are missed every time you are gone.
Take my word for it, there is no bond in this world that will not be diluted if too much time is allowed in-between. No matter how strong the relationship is, people get used to living without each other, and the human brain does let everything slip. As a result of this, you end up forgetting how enjoyable someone's company really is.
So don't forget people you care about, and keep yourself fresh in other people's memories, too. Be the kind of introvert the extrovert would like to be.
Question for the reader
Do you suffer from social anxiety?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Ina Ferenčić