Hey my beauts, I hope you all had a wonderful extra long weekend and did lots of family-orientated things today! So I know that I had promised to keep you guys updated with all of my weekly sessions, so I am going to share with you guys how my second session went. So last Wednesday was not a fully eventful Wednesday let’s just say. It honestly was such a super long day for me. I got off work early and literally had two appointments that day including the social anxiety group therapy meeting. When it came time to go to my meeting at 6 I was literally exhausted and really did not want to be there. However, once the meeting got started it pretty much flew by which was awesome. This Wednesday I was not as anxious as I was the previous Wednesday. I felt more relaxed that whole entire day leading up to my meeting and in the meeting as well. There were a couple people that were missing this time however for what sort of reason. As soon as I found a seat, sat down and grabbed my name tag, I was right away commented on by the coordinator that I looked completely different. I literally did come straight from the gym so I knew I looked like a complete dirtbag let’s just say. I had then mentioned to her that I didn’t have time to put on any makeup whatsoever and that I had come straight from the gym. What I found so weird when looking back to that incident now, is that within that same meeting later on in the hour we learned different types of categories in relation to the anxious thoughts that could occur. One was “mind reading” and that is exactly what I was doing in that moment. When the coordinator mentioned that comment, I automatically thought that she was thinking I looked like complete ass and that I looked like a hobolojoe. In reality, however, I did look completely different. I was wearing a baseball cap and sweat clothes with no makeup. My anxious thoughts however automatically raced to the negative view and outlook of that comment when realistically I just looked different from my last session, and that may not even mean in a negative way. My mind just likes to jump to the negative in a lot of situations, and that is where my anxiety starts to peak. Going off of this incident, we did learn the cognitive therapy aspect of social anxiety. We started to go into depth on the anxious thoughts one may have such as : mind reading, probability overestimations, should statements, personalization, all or nothing thinking, catastrophic thinking, negative core beliefs and lastly selective attention and memory.
As you can see there are eight different kinds of anxious thinking and thoughts that an individual can have. This was honestly very new to me, but once this was looked at and reviewed I could relate strongly to a bunch of these that happen on the daily with me. The one that stands out the most to me is the mind reading category. I often always assume that people are thinking a certain thing, often relating to something negatively. I also can see myself using the should statements such as, “should I do this instead of this“, or even “I shouldn’t have done that“, and so forth. So after going through each anxious thought in depth, the instructors then started to go over different ways to identify the anxious thoughts that are occurring. In order to do so, it is crucial to ask yourself 3 important questions. The first is, ” What am I afraid will happen to me?”, the second, “What do I fear that the other person will think about me“, and finally, “What will happen if my anxious thoughts are true?”. Once you have identified which type of anxious thoughts are bothering you, you can then move onto coping and dealing with those thoughts. We were taught that first you need to examine the evidence within that certain situation. So basically, what is that anxious thought/belief that you are having? You are then going to find support of that anxious thought and also support of alternative thinking. I am not going to go through every stage of the 7 stages for you guys, mainly cause I do not want to bore the shit out of you. But going through each of these 7 stages and understanding how each of them worked was great. One huge stage that stood out to me was stage 6 and that was different coping statements that everyone uses to get through an anxious time. Everyone has different statements that they use and there really is no wrong answer. I often find myself saying and thinking, “it’s only temporary“. Once I say this to myself within an anxious situation, I know that the anxiety will only hang around for a short period of time and that it will eventually go away. Some other statements that one could use could be: “it’s anxiety not the truth“, or during a presentation “it’s okay to be nervous during a presentation, it’s normal“. These coping statements work so well and yet they are so simple and take two seconds to say. I would highly recommend thinking of a coping statement that works best for you.
There are several different key points that I want to address to you guys that stuck with me from that Wednesday meeting and my second session. One of the instructors mentioned that if you are someone who often uses mind reading as a way to introduce anxious thoughts she stated, ” you are the one who in reality is hurting yourself, they are not hurting you. By you thinking that they are thinking negative stuff about you, you are creating those anxious thoughts but in reality, their thoughts are not the ones attacking you and stabbing you“. Even though this statement is so simple it honestly hit me like a tonne of bricks and a light bulb went off. She was so right. Their thoughts are not hitting me, kicking me, causing me pain. In fact, their thoughts are stuck in their minds and chances are… they probably are not even thinking what you think they are thinking about. Another statement that was made within the meeting that stuck with me was seeing things from the other person. People who have anxiety often do not think the nicest things about themselves or speak to themselves nicely… I can highly relate. The instructor had asked us a simple question, “would you speak to your best friend about things that are bothering them the same way you speak to yourself?”. Obviously, I would never say rude things to my best friend and if they ever felt anxious I would try to go about the situation in a more positive setting, so how come we are so negative in our ways of thinking when it comes to ourselves? This is a question that really stuck with me and made complete sense. Or you could go about different situations in the mindset of someone who did not have anxiety or social anxiety. “If I did not have anxiety, how would I go about the situation?”.
Lastly, I wanted to quickly mention the seventh stage that was introduced to us within cognitive therapy. This was the stage of behavioural experiments, and I would have to say… this is the more anxiety provoking stage for sure. This is basically putting your anxious thoughts to the test and experimenting what the actual outcome would be. One anxiety provoking thought could be, “thinking it would be terrible if my hands would shake when I hold a glass of water“. The behavioural experiment from this thought could be to make your hands shake on purpose. You could spill on yourself and see what happens… if it is really THAT terrible. One that I know relates to me is the fear that during a conversation, I will not know what to say next. Something that I could practice could be actually pausing during a conversation that I am having then carrying on after a short pause. This will allow my mind to realise and see that it is okay to pause and collect your thoughts… that it is normal.
Although I did not completely cover in detail the seven different strategies for changing your thoughts, I will list them below for you guys to view:
- examine the evidence
- challenge catastrophic thoughts
- include your strengths and positive traits
- seeing the other’s perspective
- examine the costs and benefits of the thought
- use coping statements
- do behavioural experiments
At the end of the session, we had to get into partners (absolutely hate doing that shit), and go over different strategies that we could try in relation to our anxious thoughts. Overall, it really was not that bad getting into partners, and my partner was very helpful. I did feel slightly anxious when we would run out of things to talk about and created that awkward silence, but hey….. what can you do.
I hope you guys enjoyed this session update on my social anxiety group therapy! Be sure to follow my on my other social media accounts for more uploads in the near future!
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Much love xo.