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Recovery and Rehabilitation
I was wondering if there are many pre-social anxiety sufferers who have recovered since adopting the looking approach, I could maybe talk to and be able to get some idea of whether the looking will actually clear this up for me.
It is as intense as ever. Anywhere I go where there is people, the self-consciousness is sometimes unbearable. Much worse than before I think!
There are many therapeutic methods I could use but the drive to try and become someone different has seemed to vanish, making me feel pretty listless the whole time. I wonder if there is something other than the moving attention exercise i could use. It's hard to move attention when the self consciousness is so strong.
ps. I am 2 and half years into this.
Hi Jim, I have had this. And it is gone, mostly because of the looking. It is amazing. Of course, there are still moments that feel ackward, tense, unknown, intense etc. But I find these interesting, part of life, not threatening at all. It's been about 2 years since the looking. For some time, moving attention to "me" helped.
My social anxiety is gone as well, or rather diminished enough to be inconsequential. I had a terrible public speaking phobia, now I speak in public once or twice a month and enjoy it. I believe the change in social situations is that I no longer feel I have to perform, be witty, or stand out. It may be part of that perception that I have to be perfect. I find I simply connect more with people rather than trying to impress them. I'm still learning how to do this, but I have less anxiety about it now that I don't see social situations as much as a performance. I guess I see situations and people for what they are and if I can't connect to someone or a particular situation, it's okay.
This perceptual change is undoubtedly due to the looking. I'm sorry, but I don't feel that there is anything I did to advance it in any way and the shift was gradual. It corresponds to an overall reduction in anxiety in general. I think the vanishing of the drive to be something different is a good thing and, in looking back, something I experienced. It's a wiping of the slate, perhaps, and allowing something new to emerge. The beginning of naturalness and authenticity.
Jim, it has lessened for me, too. It never was debilitatingly bad, though. Or else I've forgotten it already.
I'm quite the hermit, I tend to avoid people and be quite introvert in any case. I've never done any public speaking and it would probably be terrifying, but then I don't really know. I'm more relaxed about most things now. I still don't have much feeling of connection to people. I wish I did, but for me too, the need to become different has weakened. I have the perfectionist tendency, but along with it there seems to be acceptance of the way things are. I'm generally more at ease with people, but not any more skillful than before, because of lack of exposure and practice in social situations.
For my part, unfortunately I can't give you any advice on handling your anxiety, either, apart from just the attention exercise when you're not anxious. You can't tell when, but I'm pretty sure it will weaken and pass eventually.
Thank you all for responding. I feel quite dumb most of the time because of this. Like there is really something wrong with me. The loss of desire and constant angst somehow doesn't seem like a good thing to me. It's like im in a limbo state of awkwardness and uncomfortable daily confrontation, waiting for it all to pass and yet im not wanting to fight it all and become something bigger like I used to all the time. I feel like I could make more of an effort to socialize through music that I write but that ambitious edge is not there right now. It's just a bit of a weird time for me.
Thanks again. Appreciate reading others' experiences.
Hi Jim. Yes I believe I had social anxiety as well but hid it under alcohol and the facade of being tough and fun. I can relate with Jack's comment of being a social performer. I played up being witty, unique, and people found me interesting. I felt I needed to wow them with my travels or exploits so I could perpetuate the image of being interesting, edgy, and exciting. Most of that along with the social anxiety has fallen away. I sometimes wonder if it's getting older and more comfortable with myself but I think mostly it has to do with the looking.
I went through a period of time were I felt like I shed layers of old outworn skin and was stripped down to my bare bones. It was like I had to wait for my new more porous lighter skin to regrow which was an incredibly vulnerable, exposing, and painful time. It passed. I wish I could tell you something other than time helped. Lots of walks, journaling, and alone time was what I needed. This feeling still comes up usually during a transition but it's not as intense and has become somewhat of an old friend.
I'm also struggling with the ambition part. I'm self employed and I need to drum up new business to get clients. It's hard to hustle and market when I don't feel particularly ambitious. Part of it is dealing with some anxiety around putting myself out there and talking to new people. But on some level it just feels like normal anxiety not anything debilitating that I can't move through.
Hang in there. It will pass then maybe come up again and pass again each time with less force than before. At least that's been my experience.
Interestingly, behind my social fear were also great talents. I am very good at giving talks, connecting with people, and getting the attention of the other sex. With the social fear the suffering was even greater because I wanted so much to realise my potentials but felt trapped. Now, that changed and I start to enjoy.
And I think this could be true for most with social fear, that these people are really good. So it might be rough now, but there are good chances it will turn around, triggered by the looking.
Thank you. Thank you. Yes, it makes it much worse knowing that there are talents that are hidden by the angst around people. Last year I decided to try and create a band as I had written a number of good songs, so I found a willing bass player and drummer but found even playing and socializing in a studio with these new people was too much, so god knows what would of happened in a gig haha. atleast I can laugh about it. But it's always so frustrating and right now I wonder whether losing the backround of fear was ever a good thing. I don't have that angst that made me want to change like before. I have had periods of great 'egoic' confidence over the last five years so i became aware of my ability to perform to others.
Another thing is my inibilty to get excited about stuff. I don't look into the future much anymore whether it's to worry about stuff or get excited. polar opposites of the same kind of energy maybe.
I was pretty much bought a house today which I'm going to be moving into in the next couple of months and although I'm pleased, I just couldn't get excited. People round me might think im being rude or trying to act cool but it's not true. I just think there is something wrong with me.
I also have this lack of excitement, and it is liberating. The excitement came from anticipation, that one could finally reach fullfillment in life because something "good" happened. Birth, engagement, marriage, graduating, buying a house - all this events are tied to "feeling good", to being one step closer to happiness. After the looking, these bandaids become obsolete. Why reduce the richness of life and confine certain events to handy and tasteless pieces? And the same applies to bad things. Using an image from Marx, reducing life into such pieces of fast food is opium for the masses, similar to religion.
Yes, it makes it much worse knowing that there are talents that are hidden by the angst around people.
I would even go further and say that the fear was triggered by the talents. People around you, your parents, your peers felt unconsciously threatened when you wanted to express yourself freely. And talent always seeks new ways of expression, not conforming to "how it is done", and may appear a little awkward initially.
Is there a problem with being self-conscious? Is there is a problem with being you? What experience has left you feeling bereft of love? Where did you get the idea that your innocence is guilt? So that you become so afraid you find it hard to breathe. After looking at me who do you think is found? Who is continuing to live? Who persists in looking as you have already found me? We are not guilty for being alive no matter what you have heard. We are just us you and me.
Spot on, Paul.
I also experience this, you describe it well. Just when I think I'm over something and it's smooth sailing, another thing has to be undone., and I unravel again. I think I underestimate how pervasive fear is and how it so thoroughly wove itself into my life, my personality. The roots go almost to the core in some cases and pulling them is painful and upheaves many things around it. But it's satisfying to get those taproots out, despite the deep ache that goes with it.
Speaking of addiction. My fifteen-year long smoking habit just died out following the looking. I have quit before but then it has been a conscious effort and a real struggle. This time it was totally automatic and painless. I just ran out of cigs and it was done with, lol.
I smoked at least a pack a day of Camel non-filters for more than fifty years. In 2006 (ten years after accidentally getting a glimpse of the feeling of me) I was, as was my habit, having a Camel on the back porch before showering and going to bed when a thought floated through my mind: "I should quit smoking, but it's probably too late," followed by: "Well, it may be too late, but it is certainly NOT too early."
That was my last cigarette.
By the way, my recovery from the fear lasted much longer than most. It took more than ten years after that accidental glimpse of the feeling of me for the mental fog to lift enough for me even to begin to understand what had happened to me.
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