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Social fear, still

Say what you will about moving my attention to breath, and sooner or later all my angst will be gone... What is still here and very real and difficult for me, is this social anxiety that's plagued me all my life. I got rid of it last year, so it seemed. I took meds, got drunk and stoned and numbed the emotions. I think what happened is that I just put the whole thing on pause. Now, It's nothing to do with my minds stories about it, so the breathing techniques are irrelevant I think. It's the instant, sensual, interactions with others in the world which is hard. Why isn't it effortless yet? When I first joined the forum someone said they felt like they were learning to talk from scratch, all over again and that it was effortless and easy, after four years they said.

I am over four and a half years post looking. I can see that my perception has changed in some extraordinary way, but that alone hasn't freed me of all this inferior stuff. I can do the focused attention or zen mindfulness all I want, the tension and feelings of not being good enough and anxious when I talk to people is still here. I need to wait? I must just do something else I suppose. I guess my intention to get this out is to correct my last reports of everything being fine and experiencing no problems. Just not true for me now. I feel stuck again.

I spoke with Richard Lang, who teaches headless method, and he said he experienced some really difficult self conscious times twenty years after doing the looking. Kind of diminished the idea of a gradual recovery into a sane and happy life for me. Shit doesn't want to go away that easily. Maybe he repressed it, maybe it's a good thing it's still here with me?

Hey Jim, I hope someone with more experience will chime in with advice. I have been doing the SDA practice for a little over a month. Because of various circumstances in my life, I am compelled to do the SDA exercise quite a lot - usually 1-3hrs cumulatively in any 24hr period. I am also a performer. I notice, in the last week or so that I feel somewhat more relaxed when performing and in social situations. Yesterday I noticed when performing and just interacting with different people I was more relaxed than usual. If you look at long time Buddhist meditators, you can observe nothing can really 'ruffle' them at all. And the SDA practice and the breath following mindfulness meditation are the same vehicles...the same mechanics of practice..but with different intentions. Conversation 9 on youtube with John is wonderful in explaining this. Hope this is of some help and someone who has been doing the SDA longer than I have will have more helpful things to share. All the very best, Lex

Jim Glover

Now, It's nothing to do with my minds stories about it, so the breathing techniques are irrelevant I think. It's the instant, sensual, interactions with others in the world which is hard. Why isn't it effortless yet? When I first joined the forum someone said they felt like they were learning to talk from scratch, all over again and that it was effortless and easy, after four years they said.

Are you sure about that? Wouldn't it be the mind stories acting instantaneously as you're interacting with others? I mean, happening so fast your not consciously aware of it?

Darn it Jim, what a drag. Not sure if this is relevant, but I see a difference between meeting new people and re-shaping my already established relationships. The latter is generally harder, but in both cases I often struggle to find a balance between "giving" myself and "hearing" the other person. Not a huge issue I would say, more like a work that needs to be done every time. Further, when a group's larger than say three-four with people myself included I become quiet and hang back unless I know everyone very well - then I'll be very active in my role in the group instead. A person or a group of lookers is always easier to relate to, and find my role with, no matter where in the process they are. Like I said, I'm unsure of the relevance of this to your situation. It's good to see you though, cheers!

My situation is different but it's ok, thanks roed. I feel like this post was really just an unproductive wine. And thanks for your responses Ljazztrm, I recognise your enthusiasm having recently found this. I wish you luck with the attention work and I'm sure you'll begin to see yourself in everything before you know it...

All is well. smily

Here's my prediction, Jim. (If our recoveries are similar). You will begin to have this odd sense that you don't care as much about being anxious despite being very anxious. Your anxiety ABOUT your anxiety will begin to diminish. This may go on for awhile, and it may be happening now, but after awhile, without the meta-anxiety kicking in the after burners, the social anxiety will diminish.

I still get anxious socially sometimes, but I don't really care about it, it doesn't bother me. It then fades away and I don't even know when it goes. All those built up judgments and recriminations about how you should and shouldn't feel is the meta-anxiety stuff and when this goes, and I think it will, you're left with plain old autonomic arousal which is kinda boring without all the mind drama behind it. These patterns run deep, but even these old ruts become smoother with the healing of the mind.

Look for that odd sense when you don't care in the midst of an anxiety attack.

Best, Jack

The way you describe this really resonates with me Jackx. It corroborates some things I have heard other people who have had experiential understanding of their true natures, at least to a higher degree, talk about when describing various situations that had bothered them in one way or another in the past.

I can relate to this social anxiety problem. One of the reasons I began drinking in social situations was because the intense fear I felt around people I didn't know and even people I did. I don't know that there is a quick solution to this. I've been doing the looking for some 3 years now and though I am much more at ease with people (put another way, when the anxiety pops up I'm not so easily upset by it) I still in some way prefer a measure of solitude. If that's the way I am, I'm OK with it. I don't feel as isolated as I used to and when I want or need to reach others I can do so. I felt when growing up a lot of pressure to be "sociable" to be a "nice guy". All of that has vanished. The key point is really the fear which the Looking addresses directly and will eventually do away with. Another is the reaction against the anxiety itself. The self-directed attention exercise enabled me to be at ease when that anxiety arose and somehow not feeding it with your attention seems to lessen its effects. It was like, "OK, I'm anxious so that's there." Tensing against the fear only makes it worse. Some therapies speak of this but only after doing the Looking and having some ability to shift attention away from certain thoughts did I see any real change.

Cheers

 

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