Hello everyone, happy Tuesday, and happy Valentines day.
Sending lots of affection and appreciation for you all being here in this space :)
A big and central part of the experience of social anxiety for many is a fear of being judged.
This fear is no joke, no matter how we try to intellectualise it.
It can be physical, it can hold us back from doing things we really want and might enjoy, and it can also be extremely stressful and exhausting.
A gentle set of questions to ask ourselves when we notice this fear is: is someone else's judgement of me really so catastrophic? Is there a way in which it could actually be OK that people sometimes judge me? Can I see this as their business, and not mine?
Even shifting a little bit towards this kind of acceptance can be useful.
Even moving 2% towards freedom to do things with more confidence is useful.
Even moving 2% towards worrying less what others think, is useful.
(As a side-note, an interesting idea in mental health generally is that often, what is useful is often more valuable than what is true.)
An idea for a small experiment:
The next time you’re feeling judged or afraid of feeling judged, try to practice accepting it rather than going with the habit of immediately trying to “fix” the situation by redeeming yourself. You don't have to, even if you've done it many times before. You are free to pause and to let the other person judge, without needing to do anything (I am saying this as someone who needs this reminder daily).
Therapists sometimes give their clients challenges to make small mistakes or embarrassing things to see that nothing bad happens:
One example is wearing a t-shirt inside out for a day.
Another is taking a selfie in public.
A third is making eye contact with someone you don't know.
While it can feel terrifying for the client at first, their fear of making social mistakes gets weaker when they see that it wasn’t as bad as they thought.
A gentle challenge for you:
Pick the example above that feels least fear-inducing for you, and try it tomorrow.
While remembering to be kind to yourself and supporting rather than pushing yourself.
Rooting for you!
Lots of love,