Happy Hump day everyone! Wow…. I am on a roll today with these blog posts, mostly I give credit to this amazing and unreal coffee getting me through! So I know some of you have been wondering how my last Wednesday session went at my social anxiety group therapy. Honestly, it was a struggle going to this meeting that time. It was a very long day and the thought came into my head, “meh lyss….come on… you can miss just one!?”. In reality guys, you can’t. I mean sure if you really have an emergency or something which is totally acceptable but it’s so crucial going to every single one of these meetings, you literally learn something new every single time. I am so glad that I pushed myself to go. I knew for a fact that I was going to have days like this where I really did not feel like going and then your brain explodes with excuses why it’s okay. So.. shall we jump right into it?
I honestly was not nervous whatsoever this time, literally no nerves at all which I found so surreal. I sat down in a different chair this time and quietly waited for 6 o’clock to hit. There was the same amount of people there as last time and everyone just kept to themselves until the session started. We began with doing some mindful thinking and breathing like the last few sessions. I rather enjoyed it more this time because we had to close our eyes and listen to a girl on an app speak to us and calm us. I actually have this app on my phone and can honestly say I really do love it. There is something about listening to other people speak to calm me down as opposed to listening to my own thoughts. If you guys are interested in downloading the app it is called, “Stop, Breathe and Think“. I remember clear as day, the first time I ever tried this app, I chose “trying to feel more thankful & grateful for things” (you can choose what you want to work on). After listening to the lady and finishing with the mindful breathing, I sent this huge text message to my aunt saying everything I was grateful about towards her, I will never forget that!
So after the breathing was done, I was feeling extremely relaxed and we started getting into the session. We always start by taking up homework that we had to do that week. Of course, I get called upon, but now when I am getting called upon… I really am not tensing up that much as opposed to what I usually would do. We were working on exposures that week and I decided to focus on trying to incorporate more “small talk” with my boss or the mom I nanny for. I had looked at my hierarchy of exposures and basically came to the conclusion that alot of my fears have to do with having a conversation with someone whether it be via face to face or over the phone. I decided to give it a go. I remember that week trying extremely hard to push myself and initiate some of the conversations that I had with my boss. Prior to this exposure, I really tried to keep our conversations really basic and would hope they would finish like that so I would not have to talk as much. I started pushing myself with little questions and conversation starters such as, “how was your week or your weekend?”, “what did you do on the weekend?”, “how were the boys this morning” and so forth. This sparked some nice conversations between the two of us which was good for a change. The mom knows that I am taking part in my social anxiety therapy group sessions, so every Thursday she asks how my session went the night before. Of course, I do not have the balls to say “oh hey I am doing my exposure on you“, so I basically just tell her I am onto exposures now and so forth.
I continued to try to initiate small talk with the mom every single day. I tried hard to push myself to go that extra mile and stayed in the anxiety-provoking situation. I shared this current exposure with the rest of the group and shared that after the week it really felt “natural” to have conversations with my boss. I also informed the group that I really am capable of having small talk with someone, and that I am very hard on myself. This is accurate for someone struggling with anxiety, we are so hard on ourselves and just need to step back and say, “I can do this“. We then went around the room where others had shared their current exposures as well. After doing this, we went right into what we were going to learn that day and what was “skill building“. The instructors asked several questions and read out several statements to us, asking if any related to us at all. One particularly stood out to me and I informed the instructors.
“I am just shy, but others say I appear snobby or better than others”.
“I am just shy, but others say I appear snobby or better than others”. This literally was me to a T. I then shared my story with the group how in my first year of residence, I hardly spoke to people on my floor because I didn’t know anyone and was super shy. I remember hearing that some people on my floor literally thought I was a stuck-up bitch for not socialising with them which was extremely hurtful considering I am so far from that! Often I do feel judged when it comes to my shyness and that is one of the reasons why I am attending this program, to work on it. We then began to talk about skills to help us communicate better and help us with our listening skills, some of these include:
- looking more interested by making more eye contact
- more involvement by asking for clarity
- staying with the conversation
- a response that is honest and supportive
- being open and showing awareness
- do not worry about being perfect
Often there are certain things that I found that interfere with my attempts to listen to someone. I often rehearse everything that I am going to say back to the individual who I am engaging in a conversation with, this can distract me from actually listening to the person. Being an anxious individual, I come off as a closed listener. I try to avoid eye contact at all costs, usually, my hands are wrapped around my stomach or crossed in front of me, I sometimes sit hunched over, or I even have a serious face. So…. taking that into consideration it may come off to others that I am not actually listening to them within the conversation. This week, I have been trying to be more of an open listener. I have been trying to: make more eye contact with others, lean forward, sitting up straight, smiling, and having my arms placed at my side.
For our take-home homework, we had to record down on a sheet different ways we showed active listening. I will let you guys know in my next blog how that went and if I actually pushed myself to engage more so stay tuned! We also had to continue doing some more exposures as well.
Lastly, with the remaining few minutes of the session, we had to get into partners. From there, we had to literally interview each other and ask personal based questions to get a better understanding of that individual and their interests. Some of the questions I asked my partner were:
- do you have any pets? What are their names?
- how do you exercise?
- favourite movie and type of music?
- tell me about your education.
- where do you work? etc…
So we had to take around 10 minutes to ask these questions to each other and write down the answers. After this, we had to share and address to the group who your partner was sharing their answers out loud and introducing them. I will admit, I was pretty nervous for this. I hate anything to do with partner work and I also found it extremely awkward when my partner was introducing me for some reason. I do not usually like being the centre of attention, so I think that had something to do with it. But hey I did it. That was a beneficial exercise to get to know everyone a tad bit better, which was awesome.
Well I hope you guys enjoyed this update on my therapy! As you can see it’s going great so far and I am slowly opening up more and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Be sure to follow my other social media accounts to be up to date with my blogs!
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Much love xo.