Role Playing & Social Anxiety…

October 18th, 2012

I was working with a client recently who told me that he ‘suffered badly from Social Anxiety’ and had done for most of their life. We spent some time exploring his personal history and some of the experiences he had been going through.

When I work with a client I always operate from the belief that they actually already have all the resources necessary to solve their problem and it’s really just a question of coaching that out of them and then helping them recognise it without the need for years of continual coaching or therapy.

If you experience social anxiety, no matter how severe it appears at first, there will always have been a time when you didn’t do your problem. Chances are there will also be times in your life right now where you demonstrate everything you need to not have your problem. It may be only fleeting but if you think hard and long enough you’ll find it.

Well it’s in these times and places where your solution lies.

It’s in these times and places that you demonstrate the resources, feelings, thought patterns and belief systems to feel comfortable and confident around people…

Of course if you are experiencing lots of social anxiety then clearly you are not recognising and accessing these resources enough and in the times you want to…The good thing is though, you’re starting from a much stronger position than you maybe first realised.

So when I was delving through my clients personal history I asked him three questions that helped him start to recognise these resources that seemed so elusive to him…

Three questions that i’d thoroughly recommend you ask yourself…The three questions are:

“When is this not a problem for you?”

“What age were you when this wasn’t a problem?”

“What was it like in those times and places?”

By asking yourself these questions you force yourself to examine the ways of being in the world that have always been there only you haven’t been aware of them because you’ve been so wrapped up in the negative stuff…

We explored these questions and other variations until my client began to get a sense of what it was like to not have his problem…

Amongst others one of the answers he gave me was that he never felt anxious when he was at a fancy dress party. When he stepped into the ‘role’ he was playing by putting on his costume all the anxious feelings he had about being around people completely disappeared. He felt completely relaxed and in the moment and thoroughly enjoyed the night and the company of the other guests.

Some people are concerned about playing a role, thinking that they are somehow violating the often cited golden rule that you should just ‘be yourself’.

In my opinion this is nonsense…if you are constantly trying to be someone you clearly are not, putting on social face after social social face because you feel you aren’t good enough then that’s a problem…

However, if you are playing a role to access resources, feelings and parts of you that are normally stifled by limiting beliefs and negative social programming, then this is a good thing…a very good thing.

Try this for example…Imagine you are at a party in a posh bar/restaurant…First of all play through in your mind what it would be like if you were a guest…notice what you see, hear and feel…

Now play through it a second time, only this time imagine you own the bar/restaurant…

How do you feel different? What new resources, beliefs, thinking are you operating from?

Also, how do you communicate with people differently? Are you more comfortable? more skilled?

Most people say they are…

That’s the power of role playing…you’re not doing it to try to be someone else, you’re doing it start accessing the powerful resources that are already inside of you…that ones that you haven’t been making use of until now…

So here’s my challenge for you, pick a new role for yourself this coming week. One that contains resources, feelings, thought patterns and beliefs systems you don’t normally operate from and play out this role for the week.

No-one needs to know you are doing it…see it as a game you are playing and you can go into it as much or as little as you feel is appropriate…

Here are some examples of roles you can try out:

The Carer: Always interested and genuinely concerned for people’s welfare.

The Millionaire: High value, wealthy while at the same time humble about their achievements.

The Explorer: Has an insatiable sense of curiosity about everything. Loves to explore.

The Playful Child: Sees everything from a playful, fun perspective. Is enthusiastic and excitable.

The Stand-Up Comedian: Sees hilarity in everything. Laughs a lot.

All, the best and let me know how you get on…

Steve


Are You Attaching too much Meaning?

October 18th, 2012

A friend of mine was single and had a huge problem. He wanted to meet someone but not only was he shy he was terrified of woman. He seen them as some alien species that he had absolutely no knowledge of and every time he tried to speak to them he crumbled…

To add to his troubles he knew he wanted to meet someone and that this was a hugely important part of his life he had to get sorted…

You’d think this kind of desire would help him overcome his fears but it didn’t…it actually worked in reverse. Because it meant so much to him he piled pressure on top of pressure on top of pressure to get it sorted and it blew what was a relatively simple task (talking to women) totally out of all proportion…

Suddenly it was a big deal…A huge mountain to climb…

We all make things much more difficult for ourselves than it needs to be from time to time and it’s also a common theme with people who experience social anxiety…

By attaching too much meaning to something (especially negative stuff) it can often make things way harder than what they need to be…

We start buying into the whole…

If I don’t succeed here then that means i’m in some way useless…not good enough…unworthy…

This is a lot of pressure to put on yourself and simply isn’t true…It only means that if you decide that it does.

Interestingly enough one of the teachings in Buddhism is to reach a place where you have stripped everything of meaning…This is actually what they describe as the beautiful state ‘Nirvana’. When all your attachments have been let go and you see the world around you stripped of all meaning…

I experienced this myself in some capacity a few years ago when my 9 and 1/2 year relationship ended…All of a sudden one of the largest attachments in my world disappeared and there was this strange void.

Part of me felt terrified but another part felt a weird and wonderful sense of liberation, calm and peace…

I didn’t understand why but I know realise i was experiencing the liberation that comes with have little or no attachments.

As Human beings, we are meaning making machines but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the capacity to ‘act as if’ something has little or no meaning or that we have no attachments. We do have the ability to tap into that wonderful state of nirvana where we have nothing to gain or nothing to lose…things just are what they are…

This is a hugely useful skill to learn and can really help you overcome social anxiety.

Reflect on it for a moment…

What would it be like if you were to let go all of the negative meaning you had attached to how you interact with people?

What would it be like?

The more you think and reflect on this the more you will realize that you would be completely in the moment, responding to what’s going on and just letting it happen…

Now what would it be like if you let go of all the negative associations you had attached to your relationship with people only keeping in tact all the positive learnings you gained from your experiences…

Imagine what that would be like…

You’d be much more comfortable and competent wouldn’t you?

For me it’s about going to a place where you realize both intellectually and emotionally that you actually have nothing to lose…That you are free to just be in the world… You don’t have to live in that place all the time and, to be honest, it probably wouldn’t be useful to do so.

Just having the ability to do adopt this type of mindset is useful enough.

So here’s a game for you to play for the next week…

Take on board the idea that there is no fixed meaning to anything only the meaning that we give it and begin to live your life for the next week through this filter…If you’ve had lots of negative associations in the past then you’ll find this a wonderfully blissful place to live and feel remarkable more comfortable around people…

This might take a bit of practice, especially if you are not used to using your imagination, but the more you practice the better it becomes. Think of it more as an exploration rather than and exercise…

Just remember…all problems are problems of the imagination…and all solutions are solutions of the imagination…

All the best and let me know how you get on…

Steve


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