220: How to overcome social anxiety and self consciousness

220: How to overcome social anxiety and self consciousness

Welcome to this episode of our short daily podcast - A Slice of Therapy.

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With Alun Parry https://liverpoolpsychotherapy.co.uk

Automatically Generated Transcript

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you’re listening to a slice of therapy
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with me alun parry
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[Music]
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can you imagine walking up to the door
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of a building and you can see that the
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building is open so you push on the door
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and the door doesn’t move so you push on
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the door again
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the thing still doesn’t move so you push
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a little bit harder and still nothing
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so this time you really put your
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shoulder into it you’re pushing hard on
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the door
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and yet it still doesn’t move you give
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it one
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final push you’ve got your foot against
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it you’ve got your shoulder against it
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you’ve got both hands
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and the door still doesn’t move and so
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frustrated you take a step away for a
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break and
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you think i’ll try push it again in a
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minute
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and then you notice somebody walk up to
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the door
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and they give it a pull and the door
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opens
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you’d been pushing on this door the
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whole time
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and yet he hadn’t thought to pull
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and it reminds me of an old adage that i
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missed all the kind of
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rings and reams of psychological
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theories that are out there often the
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simplest things make the most sense
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and one of the things that i
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particularly like
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is an old adage that basically says as a
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rule of thumb
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if something is working for you do it
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more
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and if something isn’t working
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try something else
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and the important word there is try
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something else because if something
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isn’t working then you can just
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playfully experiment at something else
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and so when you were stood there with
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the door
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and you’re pushing and pushing and
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pushing
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you could see that it wasn’t working and
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so
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one good idea might be to try something
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else and in that situation
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the thing that you might have tried was
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its opposite don’t push
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but pull and then the door opens
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and this is true as well of social
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anxiety
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now just to define social anxiety social
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anxiety is that feeling of
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anxiousness that we get whenever we’re
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with others
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so when we’re with others and it just
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doesn’t feel particularly safe for us
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now humans of course are social
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creatures and so
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other people are there to nourish us and
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we often get
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a lot of nourishment from being around
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people
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and yet when we’re feeling social
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anxiety it can do the opposite
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because these other people even though
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part of us
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obviously wants to connect
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we’re not seeing them as an opportunity
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we’re seeing them instead as a threat
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and the threat is the in that
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interaction we fear that we might do
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something
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wrong in quotation marks
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so we’ll be in this conversation we’ll
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start to get tense
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and nervous and tongue-tied because
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we’ll be thinking
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what are they thinking of me does this
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person even like me
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am i making a fool of myself am i
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causing an offense somehow
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did i say the wrong thing there am i
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saying something stupid now
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do i look daft and so the whole time
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that you’re meant to be with this other
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person
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you’re focused instead on this kind of
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narrative
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and that narrative is all about
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it’s all focused on yourself and so
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no wonder the
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things start to feel anxious
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you see social anxiety is a state that
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is premised on you
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focusing inward and when you focus
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inward
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guess what you’re going to become many
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of us is going to become
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self-conscious focusing inward is
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actually the definition of being
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self-conscious because
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we’re consciously focused on ourself
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and then when we become self-conscious
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we start focusing inward even more
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and then it gets into this vicious
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circle where we get more and more
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anxious
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more and more tense and this situation
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that could well be nourishing and
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connecting for us
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feels ever more uncomfortable
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and threatening
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and it reminds me of
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that story at the beginning of the
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episode where
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we’re pushing and pushing on that door
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and yet it was only when we stopped
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pushing and did the opposite
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and pulled the door that it opened
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and so the key here i think is also to
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do the opposite
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too so rather than focusing
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on you do the opposite of that
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because going back to that old adage
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what you’re doing isn’t working
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so why not experiment doing something
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else instead now what you’re doing is
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focusing on you
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you’re being self-conscious
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so instead what you could try is to
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focus on
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them and become other conscious
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instead now you might be thinking well
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this all sounds well and good and it
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makes sense not to
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focus on me because then i will be
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self-conscious
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that i could actually focus on them and
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be other conscious instead but how on
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earth do i do them
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how on earth do i do that well here’s a
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couple of ideas
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first one is ask them a question you see
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being overfocused is all about throwing
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that meta narrative that you had onto
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the other person and getting very very
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curious about them
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and so you could just ask them a
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question and you know it doesn’t
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actually matter
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what the question is the very act of
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asking a question
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throws the light outwards rather than
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inwards
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onto you and so you instantly become
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other focused when you ask a question
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irrespective of what the question is it
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doesn’t even have to be a good question
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whatever that is
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second thing you can do is ask another
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one
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a lot of conversation especially when
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you’re with somebody
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new but also when you’re with somebody
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that you’ve met before or even know well
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is asking questions and people
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love to be asked questions people
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love the compliment of your interest in
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them
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it’s a most beautiful gift to be
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interested
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in another person and they’ll enjoy it
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and so when i say ask a question i don’t
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mean once i mean
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as often as you like and with every
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question that you ask
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you’re throwing the focus outwards and
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you’re waiting on
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their answer and when they answer
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you know get curious about what they say
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get really interested notice certain
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things for instance
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like what do they have in common with
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you
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find something complementary about them
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you don’t even have to tell them
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but you might decide to because again
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that puts the focus
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on that person once more
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you can even if you notice your own meta
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narrative switching
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and focusing on you and saying are you
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saying something stupid here
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you could actually play that out in your
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head only of course
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but direct it more at them well are they
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saying something stupid
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are they making a fool of themself
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and you’ll find that they’re not just
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like you weren’t
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but nonetheless it just throws that meta
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narrative and diverts it in another
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direction
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and so by asking questions and then
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asking more questions and
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noticing things about them like what do
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they have in common with you
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and what kind of things could you
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compliment them
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on or or throwing the meta narrative
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outwards towards them
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basically just getting curious about
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them
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now if you ever notice if you’ve ever
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seen like a bbc wildlife documentary
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with david attenborough
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you’ll notice that david attenborough
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even though he’s in them it’s not really
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about david attenborough
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he’s always very other focused
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and he gets very very curious about all
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the creatures
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or plant life that he’s covering and
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he’ll
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kneel down and he’ll look at this thing
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in intense detail this thing
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that you might have missed he doesn’t
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miss it he focuses
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right in and gets super curious
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and so rather than being self-focused
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you too can be like david attenborough
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and become
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very very curious
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about them instead
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just notice what happens because like i
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say this is an experiment
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notice what happens to the social
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anxiety
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when you’re not focused on you when that
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that meta narrative isn’t
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interrogating you all the time that
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you’re not being self-conscious
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but you’re being other conscious
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because you’re throwing the attention
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out what actually happens when you
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reflect on a conversation where you’ve
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done that
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is it easier was it more fun notice the
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difference
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and maybe give another try if that seems
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to work
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because going back to that old adage
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again if something works do more of it
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and if it doesn’t work it’s a sign that
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it’s time
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to at least try something else
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so let’s recap we saw at the start this
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story about pushing
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and pushing and pushing and pushing the
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door over and over and over again
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and yet the door really needs to be
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pulled we heard that old adage of if
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something’s
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working do more but if it’s not try
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something else
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and we saw how with social anxiety what
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happens is
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that we are very self-focused and so we
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miss the benefits of social interaction
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that should be about nourishment and
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connection but instead
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feel like threat but it only feels like
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threat because
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we become very self-conscious because
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we’re very very focused
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on ourselves we’re asking questions like
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what will they think of me
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am i being silly do i look a fool those
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kind of things
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that puts the attention on ourselves
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which of course is the very definition
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of self-conscious which only makes
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matters worse for us and so we saw that
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just like the push and the pull
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doing the opposite could well be the
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answer
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and so the opposite here isn’t to be
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self-conscious
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but to be other conscious instead of
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focusing
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inward to focus outward on the other
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person
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and of course we saw some techniques for
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doing that as well
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asking questions asking more questions
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asking
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follow-up questions getting really
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curious about the answer
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noticing what they have in common
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noticing the things that you might
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compliment them for
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diverting the meta narrative as it comes
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up
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and thinking about whether they are
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doing those things whether rather than
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whether you
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are and basically being like david
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attenborough
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getting really really super curious
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about this other person that you’re with
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and really really focusing on them and
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giving them that gift
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of your interest and then
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see what happens when you do that
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experiment
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because the likelihood is that by being
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other focused
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and being other conscious you won’t be
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self-conscious
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and you might find that it just makes
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things a little bit easier for you
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so if you like this idea please share it
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around so other people can benefit
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you can work with me directly one to one
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i’m alun parry and you can find more at
13:02
liverpool
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psychotherapy dot co dot uk and you
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don’t have to be local by the way
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because i work online so
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you could work with me whatever your
13:10
location
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13:15
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13:25
with another one

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