Posted by fxckfeelings on November 3, 2015Share This Post
In a society where all the spoils seem to go to the outgoing, being shy or anxious can feel like being cursed. Just because you can’t make direct eye contact and small talk, it’s easy to feel like a failure, clam up even more, and become convinced you’re doomed to a life of banishment. In reality, however, some people are shy and self-critical, no matter how hard they try to become outgoing, and many shy people still find ways to get ahead, no matter how much they hate getting trapped at parties. There may be no real cure for shyness, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a curse, either.
I’m terribly self-conscious. It makes me extremely shy, self critical and lonely. I don’t talk to people much. I’m terrified to speak to a group of people. It takes me too long to do projects since I’m avoiding mistakes. I’d love to say f*ck my self-consciousness, self-criticism and self judgment. It comes over me, however, like a wave and I don’t overcome it. These negative feelings affect me both emotionally (panic, frustration, resentment) and physically (sweating, shaking, shallow breath). I’d rather be social, self-accepting and a more agile and accomplished performer at work. My goal is to be able to tell my problem to f*ck off and become the person I’d rather be.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be gregarious and relaxed in social settings, just as there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a wizard or a viable Republican candidate for president of the United States. What is wrong, of course, is having unreasonable expectations when it comes to how attainable your dream really is (looking at you, Chris Christie).
Unfortunately, some of us just aren’t built to be social animals. Sometimes there’s an obvious cause, like an abusive upbringing or a physical deformity, but knowing or just having a reason often makes no difference. No matter where your shyness and anxiety came from, they’re with you to stay.
As such, if your goal is to become a less anxious person, you’ll just become frustrated and feel like a bigger and more anxious failure. Instead of trying to change who you are, change your approach; learn skills to manage your shyness, anxiety, and self-critical thoughts as best you can while trying to live a meaningful life.
Begin by learning about all the various treatments for these problems, giving priority to non-medical methods such as behavioral therapy, hypnosis, meditation and exercise. Start trying these treatments, beginning with the least risky, and evaluating for yourself how much benefit they provide.
Then, if necessary, estimate the (relatively low) risks of medical treatments for anxiety and obsessively negative thinking, such as antidepressants and tranquilizers. If non-medical treatments are insufficient, or unlikely to be so, then see what medications have to offer.
You will probably never be anxiety-free, at least not without a severe brain injury or a coma. If you educate yourself about anxiety and self-criticism, however, and sample available treatments, you’ll be freer of the constraints that being a shy person put on your life.
“I hate being shy and anxious, but I can’t help it. I will do whatever possible to give myself relief while going ahead with what I most value in life.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname