Challenging Social Anxiety
I am wary of these techniques that look so straightforward and tidy and easy in theory. Activities like challenging negative thoughts are fine and dandy as a paper exercise, but I find they have no impact at all on my daily life : I'm 49, have suffered from social anxiety all my adult and adolescent life, and the associated beliefs and behaviours are a deep, central part of myself.
Exposure to the phobia? Well, life forces that upon me at every turn and there is little control on my part as to the level/intensity of the exposure - social situations (by which I mean nearly all interaction with other people) come upon me thick and fast and most of them I cannot avoid. Every failure on my part to behave appropriately in these situations is another twist of the knife in my self-esteem.
I've tried. One of the things I really hate is going to pubs, going out for a drink and a 'chat' with work colleagues. Now I get along fine with my colleagues in a work situation, and quite often they will go for a quick drink after work. So on a few occasions I have steeled myself and decided to be sociable and make the effort. And always, within five minutes, I realise why I hate doing it. I am like a fish out of water, a gasping, flapping helpless thing. Where the hell do people find small talk? How do they do it in such a relaxed manner? How and why do they actually enjoy it? It is totally beyond me. And I have to escape as soon as possible.
Communication skills? Fine. But what if you have nothing to communicate, no desire to tell about yourself to others and no desire to hear their trivia?
So I come to the conclusion that I am just not built right. I cannot enjoy, or conceive of enjoying, social situations. And I cannot even fake it convincingly. This social ineptitude of mine has been at the root, I am sure, of my failure to make a successful career despite my intelligence and abilities, and at the root of my depression which is only a logical result of my failures in every theatre of life.
If you can't interact socially in this life, you're lost. And I think I'm in way too deep to 'challenge' it now.
Sorry to sound so negative, but - and there is nothing personal here - I get tired of reading about these techniques that seem so glib and easy.