November 26, 2013

Personal Practice Week 7 of 10: Social Anxiety

This week I realized that I get social anxiety in anticipation of being in a large group of people who want to know about my personal and professional life. In other words, family.
There were many social events packed into this past weekend and I recognized that I was starting to get anxiety about being "on" for all of them. Anxiety is the advance-concern of what could happen as opposed to being in the moment and experiencing what is really happening.

Recognizing that I was developing anxiety, I used some NLP techniques to identify the mental and physical reaction I was having to my concerns. As a result I was able to release the anxiety and prepare myself for components of the experience instead of feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of it all. It came down to me thinking that I have to be "on" for every interaction. In reality, I could be receptive and not reactive.

My motivation was that I wanted to get past this feeling that I get before socializing with people who I think are expecting me to engage in details about my life that are difficult to summarize in a 10-minute social interaction. I end up shutting down and running away into a quiet corner. This is an old behavior I want to change. 

I think that part of the anxiety is that in these social interactions I have a tremendous amount of empathy for people and I become too sensitive to all the emotions in the scene. So, this time I tried to relax and not worry about what everyone was thinking and feeling. 

Social Skill
Ultimately, I did a better job of releasing the anxiety than I have in the past. However, I also did take a numerous naps each day to unwind and perhaps hide. I feel very conflicted that I missed the final party of the weekend because I preferred to stay with just one person and not join in the social scene. I think it hurt people's feelings and that gets me into the anxiety-empathy loop. Instead I want to have compassion for myself and that I need lots of alone time.