Hey beauts! I know I know , where have I been with my updated social anxiety group therapy sessions ? I sadly did not make it to my 6th session because it was a very long and bad day I was having ! I was actually surprised that I only missed one session out of my 8… that’s a record for me and I am very proud of that ! I have worked hard these past 7 weeks and have really pushed myself in my group therapy sessions , obviously attending them and trying to push myself further out of my comfort zone . I have learnt so much these past weeks it has literally been insane !! This week was super challenging for me , mostly because the exposures are getting more challenging and they are really trying to test your anxiety levels . I was not nervous whatsoever I was more excited this time .. why might you ask ? Because this is my second last therapy session ! Can you believe it ?! Where has the time gone ? I literally thought that this therapy was going to be a long 8 weeks , but it literally has flown by .
We started off this session by taking up some homework that we had from the week before . We were working on assertiveness and the ability to speak our mind or say “no”. I had been working a bit on this over the week and actually practiced this exposure once . My boss is very flexible with my hours and on st pattys day , she asked if I wanted to work til 5:30 or she could even do 4. I was assertive and asked if she could do 4 instead which was hard for me because I am too nice to go home early! I feel bad for some reason . Meanwhile, this suggestion was completely fine and she said that was perfectly okay. Being assertive is not really all that bad after all ! Saying no on the other hand, will be a completely different story . We then had to go over any exposures on our exposure hierarchy we have been working on. I raised my hand ( huge improvement), and stated that I had attended a party sober . Yes may seem a little funny and ridiculous but for me ,that’s a big deal . I am always afraid that when I am sober attending a party , I will not know what to say to people or be completely awkward. I always usually ensure that I had a couple drinks before I attend a party , so this was on my list. I went to a st pattys day party at my friends and literally went sober with my best friend. I knew it was time to push myself. I basically initiated some conversations and really pushed myself when I got to the party . Yes I was completely out of my comfort zone . Did I keep going ? Absolutely . My best friend stated that she could notice a huge difference in me right away . She could not believe how much I was socializing with people and not under the influence of alcohol at the time , not until later at least ! I did it . I managed to force my anxiety out of the way and actually enjoyed myself , sparking conversations left right and centre .
For today’s session, we went on to discuss the dreaded interviews and interview techniques as well as skills. I literally hate interviews. I think a lot of people develop anxiety over them, I know I do! This was on my exposure hierarchy but obviously, I could not work on this one as I had no potential interviews coming up! When you are discussing potential pre-interview skills, it is helpful to use your anxiety thought record, and predict what will happen. It is important to plan ahead for the interview such as learning about the organization, what are your strengths and weaknesses and so forth. When talking about your weaknesses, this can be super tricky. It is important to try to gear more towards behavioural skills as opposed to different characteristics.
One thing to keep in mind when preparing yourself, is to remember that it is okay to regroup your thoughts during the interview. Nobody is perfect. When it comes to interviews, the interviewer knows for a fact that you are nervous and that it is normal. So breathe. It is also important to practice deep breathing before the interview and practice positive self-talk. Using coping statements such as “ you are going to do great!“, or ” you have done good in interviews before“, will help you out tremendously. When it comes to the actual interview time it is important to be punctual. Arriving at least 15 minutes earlier as opposed to arriving right on time is better and makes you look better as well. It is important to ask questions at the end of your interview, this shows that you are interested and your listening skills are on key. When it comes to the post interview, it is also important to send an email thanking the interviewer. It is also important to write down your interview questions that you were asked just to review them for later on down the road. You can question yourself, what went good? As well as what could I have done differently?
After discussing about interviews, we went onto the topic of public speaking. As soon as the instructor said this my heart sank. I was literally thinking, great. What exposure and activity are we going to have to do? We had to do an in class speech by ourselves. We were given 4 smarties, and depending on the colour you had to answer certain questions about yourself. We were required to speak for exactly 2 minutes, timed, and we had the choice of standing in front of the class, standing at your seat or sitting down. I actually surprised the hell out of myself and went first. I could feel my heart drop as I stated that I would like to stand in front of the room. I knew damn well my anxiety was not going to win this exposure that it was time to face one of my biggest fears, public speaking. Even though it was only for two minutes, it literally seemed like 10. I think the most anxiety provoking thing about it was that I did not really have time to prepare my answers. We basically got our smarties, had to look on the board for our 4 questions, and begin. I always have had a fear of not knowing what to say when put on the spot. But boy did I ever surprise myself. I am actually getting teary eyed typing this because I can not explain to you how proud I am of myself and how proud I was in that moment. Even though I paused sometimes to gather my thoughts, I was shaking, my heart was about to burst, and my smarties were melting in my hands, I was okay. I did it. I started with, “Hi, I am Alyssa, I am 23 years old and so forth“. Before I knew it the timer went off, what a relief that was. I told everyone my smarties were melted and one girl replied, “don’t worry, they taste better that way“. I love my group. I have gotten so comfortable around them and it is sad knowing this is my second last session. I am so fortunate to have been given this opportunity, to challenge a demon that has been hanging around for far too long. My anxiety does not define me. Sure he may make me feel uncomfortable, seem shy in certain situations, and awkward in others, but I am still Alyssa.
We have to continue to work on our anxiety hierarchy form that we work on each week.I am not too sure what I am going to work on this week but stay tuned to find out for my last session! I hope you guys enjoyed this blog post on my updated sessions. Please subscribe and follow my social media accounts to stay informed!
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