Do you need some social anxiety help? You can virtually eliminate the last traces of your social anxiety symptoms, even though your genetic predisposition for having social anxiety symptoms cannot be changed with modern medical technology. I know, because I’ve seen people do it. It begins with practice in getting your mind to expect the best instead of fearing the worst.
As a child, I used to contemplate whether a person would be able to fly or move an object with the mind alone if the person could simply muster the faith that it was possible to do so. I reasoned that it would be easier to have that faith if you could just succeed once are twice. Well, it turns out that there is a real application for that concept of belief as an ally in bringing about change. While we may never move an object with our mind, the impact of our beliefs and expectation on our social anxiety symptoms is enormous. In this article, I would like to teach you how to begin the process of harnessing the power of your expectations.
Let me explain a little bit about the problem of social anxiety so that you can understand why your expectations play such an important role. The root cause of social anxiety is a genetic temperament that causes you to be highly aware of the thoughts and judgments of other people. Just having social anxiety is normal, as everyone experiences anxiety about how they are perceived once in awhile. However, Social Anxiety Disorder is only diagnosed once the symptoms begin to interfere with your life because of avoidance or intense distress about the symptoms. Ironically, once you develop this intense distress, your expectations begin to work against you in such a way that your symptoms never resolve spontaneously.
Let’s say, for example, that you have a specific social anxiety symptom that emerges, like a shaky voice every time you want to speak up in a meeting or in a classroom setting. Your tendency to be aware of how this makes you come across to others is going to cause you to “watch out” for that same problem in the future. But in this situation, it’s your mind’s tendency to “watch out” that it going to get you into trouble. You see, your fear of developing the social anxiety symptom is triggered when you find yourself in a similar situation to those that have caused the symptom to emerge in the past. Once you begin to watch for the symptom, your mind ends up creating it because of how our minds work.
As a clinical psychologist, one of the most useful bundles of research data that I ever read in graduate school was bundled into a book called, The Psychology Of Action. One of the research findings described in that book is the powerful tendency for our minds to act on what we visualize in our minds. What you see in your mind’s eye creates a basic template for taking action in the moments, seconds, and weeks following those visualizations. I’m sure you can see now why the process of “watching out” for a recurrence of symptoms ends up creating a much worse situation than you would have otherwise experienced. Before you go beating yourself up, realize that this is part of what it means to be a person with a socially anxious temperament. It’s not your fault. You have a built-in tendency to monitor how you are coming across to others. In many situations this is a great advantage. But when it comes to the actual social anxiety symptoms that sometimes build up momentum in our lives, our tendency to self-monitor becomes a huge problem.
The solution that I am proposing will only work for people who have a fairly high level of introspection (which is the ability to look into your own mind to observe your own thoughts). The solution is to take control of what you expect will happen next. One way to do this is by building up your belief in your own ability to use self-suggestion and mental intentions. I entered into the field of psychology as a skeptic with regard to hypnotic phenomenon, but by the time I was finished with graduate school in psychology I had a very strong faith in the power of unconsciously held expectations to create psychological change. It was spending time working under the tutelage of one of the best hypnosis researchers that changed how I felt about hypnosis. Hypnosis is nothing more than a process of changing what a person expects to happen next. When done by the hypnotist, the person being hypnotized must gradually accept the words of the hypnotist at face value. People who do so are called “good hypnotic subjects.” Other people do not relinquish control of their thoughts and expectations, but they can do hypnosis just as well as the “good hypnotic subjects” by learning self hypnosis, whereby a person uses self-suggestion to change their own thoughts and expectations.
Most people have the misperception of hypnosis that it is a process of sinking deeply into a relaxed state while the hypnotist gives you suggestions. In reality, hypnotic phenomenon occur just as powerfully in the fully awake and alert state without any relaxation necessary. I will give you an example of how society in the Western cultures have been hypnotized in the fully alert and awake state. I am referring to the fact that drug company commercials have caused the placebo effect to become much stronger during the past decade. It happened because the drug companies have put so much money into advertising their drugs on television. People now have a stronger belief in the power of modern medicine to fix things with a pill. As a result, when people are given a sugar pill (a placebo that has no active ingredients) the positive effect on the symptoms in question is now about 20% stronger than it was 10 years ago. The effect size (which is a statistical measure of the power and significance that a variable has in creating a change) has increased by over 20% for placebo pills in general when averaged out across the many drug studies that used placebos in the past decade. This effect has been so powerful that drug companies are having a hard time getting the FDA to approve their drugs for distribution to the public (because the drug has to do something more than a sugar pill). As a result, there were fewer drugs approved in the past two years than there were back in the eighties despite the huge increase in the amount of money being poured into the development of new drugs. The expectations of our mind are so powerful, that the drug companies ended up losing money by advertising too much. Ironic isn’t it?
Consider the implications of what I just told you. There was never a point when Western society as a whole sat down with a hipnotherapist who was going to change their expectations about how powerful medications are. Rather, people simply absorbed a new belief system over time. What I’m trying to get you to do is to reach for expectations that your social anxiety symptoms will not surface. To do this, you must build your faith in the power of your chosen expectations rather than pouring all your mental energy into “watching out” for the symptoms that you fear. If you adopt the expectation that your social anxiety symptoms have disappeared, and you do so with fierce intensity, you will not need to monitor whether or not those symptoms actually disappear. Rather, you will simply adopt an attitude of blind faith, assuming that your expectation will become reality. If you can learn to pull this off, you can virtually eliminate social anxiety symptoms.
Now try participating in the following experiment that is designed to show you that you can consciously manipulate your mind and body by purposefully generating expectations. Read the paragraph through and then go back and try it with all of your concentration. Imagine a bright yellow lemon with nubbly skin sitting on a small white plate in front of you. Pick up the little knife next to it and cut the lemon in half. Now cut one half into quarters as you watch the spurts of juice from the act of slicing the lemon. Pick up a quarter wedge and bite into it and notice how you begin to salivate a little more as you imagine sour lemon juice running over your tongue and puckering your mouth. Your mouth is salivating because of imagining biting into a lemon. In other words, your body is producing saliva to begin the digestive process for the citric acid that it believes is in your mouth or will be shortly. Your body responds to what you expect will happen next. You can manipulate what your body expects to happen next by using the hologram of your mind to imagine.
The release of extra saliva helps with the proper digestion of certain foods such as citrus fruit. In this situation, all you did was imagine, and your body responded. Your body tends to react to the things that are experienced in the hologram of your mind as if they were actually happening now. If your body response is strong enough to create saliva in your mouth, imagine what happens on the micro level of neurotransmitters in the brain when you imagine fearful events or feelings of well being and self confidence. Now you are beginning to understand why expectations create such powerful self-fulfilling prophecies.
Take this information and use it. Plan on generating more and more confidence in your ability to use your expectations to create a confident and socially assertive way of responding to all social situations. Don’t start with the most difficult symptoms that you face. Instead, build your strength and faith in the power of your chosen expectations by first using your new skills in situations that only cause a very mild level of social anxiety. For example, if you’re worst fear is that you will blush and people will wonder what is wrong with you, don’t start with that fear. Instead, start with building the expectation that you are going to feel very relaxed and outgoing in your next interaction with someone that you already feel fairly comfortable with. Build gradually towards the fear of the blushing problem, or whatever problem you struggle with the most. Remember, that the key is to use powerful expectation by seeing a picture in your mind of what you expect to come next. The intensity with which you adopt that vision is the point that matters the most in developing this ability. When you see a vision of what you do want in the next few minutes as far as your own personal reaction, adopt the strongly held assumption of absolute certainty that your positive vision will be your reality because of having intended for it to happen.
This is the fastest way to overcome social anxiety simply because you can use it today and see a huge change by tomorrow. That doesn’t mean that you can use it and then drop it and live without symptoms for the rest of your life. The degree to which you succeed in eliminating all symptoms is dependent on the sustained mental focus you put on developing a new way of thinking. You will eventually become what you think yourself to be. Start today. Become the person you have imagined.