Social anxiety is when you get captured by the experience you don’t want to be having rather than designing the experience you do want to be having.
It’s about who has control?
Do you have control of you or not?
If you’re depressed or anxious your answer is probably: “No, I don’t have control.”
What’s happening is you are being captured by the experience you are having just like when you are engrossed in a film or TV program or trying to think how to respond to something on your phone you don’t see the person who comes and sits next to you until they actually touch you and jolt you out of the experience you’re in.
There are two types of getting captured.
- The first is when you are captured by your thinking.
- The second is when you are captured by your feelings.
Practically it’s not easy to tell the difference between the two as you’re both thinking and feeling in both most of the time. But you can be purely caught by your feelings and not understand why you’re feeling that way.
If it’s the pure thinking type you can get uncaptured just by somatically grounding yourself like when someone touches you when you are engrossed in a film.
But in both cases, the awareness of knowing that you get captured tells you that there is a way out of the experience that you don’t want to be having.
I’m talking about building awareness as a key skill in managing social anxiety.
Because getting captured is a natural process. When you get involved in the story from the film or TV program you are watching or the book you are reading and that story takes over your story. Or you see someone you are attracted to and you’re lost in a moment where you are not thinking you get lost in pure experience.
The way out is building the capacity to know: “Oh I get caught!” And not holding on to this as a critical judgement. And instead relaxing into the enjoyment of the experience because it can be enjoyable and I’ll show you how.
An excellent way to build this skill into your muscle memory is to learn a martial art. “Push hands” from Tai Chi or indeed any of the Chinese internal martial arts because they embody Yin Yang at an energetic level.
But it’s getting Yin Yang is not two things as we often think in the West. Yin Yang is one thing and that one thing is change.
It’s natural to define ourselves by the experience we are having and we make identity level statements like:
“I am depressed.” Or:
“I am anxious.”
We don’t go: “I am change.”
Because if we get captured by the bad things it also has to be true that we can get captured by the good things.
It’s about who is in control.
So what would capture you that you could choose to want to be captured by?
And if it’s true that we’re that good at making ourselves feel bad isn’t it also true we can be that good at making ourselves feel good?
It’s about what you practice because you get better at what you practice.
So how do you design your life to have the life you want, a life you love? Because this is a question where you have control. And it’s no different to going: “How do I design my kitchen or bathroom?”
Because neuroscience tells us we do have control that the brain is neuroplastic. That it changes throughout our life. And that we can change how our brain is growing, a process called neurogenesis. It’s just like looking after your garden because what you feed and nurture grows.
So what if you started to design a practice of getting captured by things you love?
Who would that make you?