Social Anxiety: Past and Present
In the past, when I was asked to introduce myself in a group setting, I’d freeze up and could barely speak.
Now, I still don’t enjoy introductions, but I can get through it. I utilize the strategies I’ve learned to free up my racing thoughts. I focus on an object across the room, take some deep breaths and ignore the negative thoughts.
In the past, I would obsess all day long about my social anxieties and how they would limit me in my job.
Now, I no longer feel debilitated by my anxiety. I know that I will keep working up my hierarchy until there is nothing left to work on.
In the past, I hated meeting new people because I dreaded the thought of talking about my job.
Now, I like meeting new people, and am fine talking about my job. I still don’t enjoy it, but I don’t pay much attention to it either.
In the past, I dreaded having to speak to people on a conference call at work, especially if I had to lead the conversation.
Now, I am completely ambivalent to it -- it‘s just a standard work practice.
In the past, I was too self-conscious to be able to act silly in front of a group.
Now, I’m still somewhat self-conscious, but I can actually have fun by acting completely silly in front of other people. I make great animal noises in front of the whole group (I specialize in hogs) and I Karaoke to the Beatles (my rendition of "Yellow Submarine" has attracted a lot of attention!).
In the past, I loathed staff meetings -- where, going around the room, each person would give an update on their work. (My anticipatory anxiety was so intense that I’d have to write down exactly what I planned to say, just in case I froze up and couldn’t think).
Now, I still don’t like these meetings and I don’t know if I ever will. They are long and boring. But, I no longer have the debilitating fear that I once had.
In the past, I’d get anxious whenever I heard ANYONE mention the word "presentation".
Now, I hardly notice it. The thought of having to give a presentation is not half as scary as it once was. I know that I’m ready to start nudging myself to give them, first in the group, then at Toastmasters, and eventually at work.
In the past, my negative thoughts would run freely through my mind, controlling my thoughts and actions.
Now, I can usually catch myself when these thoughts occur. I stop, turn my attention elsewhere and they usually disappear.
In the past, I never thought that this would be possible to do.
Now, I am learning more and more about the power that I have over my thoughts.
Now, I am the one in control.