I've been slow to write lately and I would so much love to restart writing. I want to write about life and work, not necessary on this blog, but I'll keep you guys updated once I get started somewhere else. This post is another overview of my journey in beating anxiety.
- Educate yourself. The first thing I did was to figure out what's wrong and read a book about it. At the time I realized that I need to figure out what's with me because nobody else can figure it for me.
- Find a buddy. Next, I educated and engaged my immediate family in my fight with social anxiety. I think it is impossible to do it by yourself. Either a family member or a friend or even an Internet forum would work for that. You need a buddy.
- Find professionals to help. The next step was to talk to my doctor and find a therapist. This part took a long time for me because I was also dealing with a difficult pregnancy.
- Identify and stop the emotional dips. When I started therapy, for months and months, we just discussed the latest drama du jour. We wouldn't talk about anything else because there was always some crisis that I was in: work, family, friends, etc. there was drama everywhere. One of the most important things that I did was to drop friends and causes that made me have highs and lows: I stopped talking to friends that were depressed and were pulling me down, I dropped relations that I was too involved in: the kind where you check your email every five minutes to see if there's an answer, I dared to say no to social engagements that were making me uncomfortable. I just gave myself a break! That was a great way to work on SA. Once the main issues out of the way you can tackle issues one by one and take on only how much you can carry.
- Add challenges. I am a fighter, I'm always finding something to challenge myself, so this is not a struggle for me. The struggle is to not drop the ideas after the first disappointment. We had parties and I worked on my relationships at work, but the biggest challenge and the most successful was to start writing this blog.
- Open up. The person that inspired me to start writing the blog, Paul Levy, was the one person that paid attention to me and had a kind word for me throughout my journey. His fight for transparency in his hospital operation taught me that openness and transparency is the right way to work on my own issues. This was confirmed by Irvin Yalom's book. I told friends about the blog. I never got a negative reaction. Some were just quiet about it, but mostly I got some very friendly feedback.
- Ease the guilty feeling. I realized that my worst moments happen when I feel guilty: that I don't talk enough, that I'm too shy, that I'm not doing enough stuff around the house, that I'm not spending enough time with the baby, that I'm not working enough hours. The guilt just paralyzes you and it's useless. Once I gave myself permission to be shy and quiet and nice, and realized that I did spend as much time as I could both working and with the family and that there's not more time than that, things just became easier. I'm shy, so what? I'm quiet, so what? I said a stupid thing! Oh, well, it happens to everyone.
- Define your dream. Spend time to think about your priorities in life, what you want to do. Dream big! Write it down, find things that you can do next week to help you get there, collect pictures and articles about it. Simply allowing yourself to think about your dreams will make you feel better, but making progress toward it it's possible too. It's important to know what's meaningful to you and go for it!
- Drop the fear. What are you fearful of: What other people say? That you'll lose your money, house, car, retirement money? That you will lose your job? That you will be killed? That you will get sick? That your partner cheats on you? At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. We all will live less than 100 years unless you're really lucky. Money is an illusion. Other people mind about their own business more than about you, and if they mind about you for a minute, they will forget it right away. I've been in that anxiety free land for about a week or two and it was great. I aim to get back there.
Good luck to all of you!