Dan Stelter is a lifelong social anxiety disorder sufferer who now lives peacefully and confidently. He now runs a website that offers a safe place for socially anxious people to get the support they need to relax and find happiness, serenity, meaning, confidence, and freedom. Visit the Anxiety Support Network.
Social anxiety lies. All the time.
Whether you consider yourself having “social anxiety disorder,” or just “afraid of people,” your thoughts don’t tell you the truth.
Do you find this perplexing?
But I didn’t realize it until recently. Even though I’ve had social anxiety disorder my whole life.
Can you relate to this example:
For a long time, my anxious thinking created the boundaries that ruined my life. Years ago, talking to a new person was a daunting endeavor.
Subtly, but powerfully, social anxiety told me, “This is gonna be scary. You’ll be anxious. You’re going to screw up. The other person will see you. They’ll reject you. And you’ll be alone. Again.”
When you are young, a lot of your goals are external. School determines what you will learn, how you will demonstrate your learning, and when it will be due. Your parents dictate your goals around the house. Even clubs and lessons keep you to a structured set of achievements. When you get older, you start having to develop internal motivation. You still have social and occupational obligations, but the rest of your time can be used to achieve whatever interests you. For some people, simple works well. These people don’t look for personal growth because it isn’t what drives them, but other people are constantly seeking out ways to improve themselves.
If you are always trying to excel, you have determined what being better means to you. Now, you are working to put that set of values into action. The following suggestions for personal growth are broadly based improvement activities. Some of them won’t fit with your attitudes on bettering yourself, but a lot of them will give you ideas and start you off on a new path for self-enrichment.
Have you ever suffered with a problem simply to be told by others to keep a positive frame of mind? This mantra is used by many to prompt others into improving themselves and their situation. Drug addicts in particular are accustomed to hearing this sentiment, but does it actually have an effect?
The evidence overwhelmingly points to positive thinking as a key to success in most processes. As the adage goes, think you can and you’re halfway there. If you believe in yourself with regards to positive thinking, you can experience physical benefits as well as mental ones.
During the rehabilitation process, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the negative aspects, especially if a relapse occurs. The simple change of view that happens when you look for the positives instead can have a huge effect on your motivation and desire to succeed.
Alan Watts was one of the most influential philosophers throughout the 20th century. He was a huge force in bringing Buddhism and Eastern philosophy into the West during the 1950s and 1960s, and spent much of his life drawing lessons from Buddhism and applying them to modern life.
In his classic book Psychotherapy East and West, Watts compares the goals of Eastern philosophy to Western psychotherapy. He says that each is ultimately focused on the goal of “liberation” from societal conventions.
According to Watts, one of the core delusions that stands in the way of this liberation is the ever persistent “self/other” dichotomy – which he also describes as the “organism/environment” dichotomy.
This “organism/environment” dichotomy is the idea that you are ultimately a separate thing from your environment, and your environment is ultimately a separate thing from you. Watts sometimes call this the “great social lie.”
When we see ourselves as fully distinct from our environment, we fall into the trap of thinking that we are responsible for every choice and every action we make. But the truth is that we are often being heavily tugged in one direction or another depending on how our surroundings influence us.
Watts reconciles this “organism” vs. “environment” dichotomy by introducing field theory, which is the idea that both “organism” and “environment” are interdependent and constantly feeding off of each other.
In this sense, we are not fully distinct or separate from our environment, but highly intertwined. This is a key insight if we want to overcome what Watts calls the “great social lie.”
The rest of this article will elaborate on what this “great social lie” means and how we can live our lives without falling into this trap (including thought-provoking excerpts from Alan Watts’ Psychotherapy East and West).
This is a guest post by Kyle Barichello at Choose Your Wellness, a fantastic site that’s about inspiring people to advance their wellness and create a more fulfilling life. Check it out!
My wife and I see our frequent 4-10 hour car rides, countless dog walks, and moments before bed as moments that provide tremendous opportunity to deepen our relationship. But I always wondered, how do other couples spend this passive time together?
This passive time – or time that we shrug off as just another moment of life – happens day in and day out. By definition, passiveness is not reacting visibly to something that might be expected to produce manifestations of an emotion or feeling. In simpler terms, you’re not actively participating during this time.
When we’re too focused on creating epic moments, we forget about the extraordinary nature of the simplest things in life – the ones that we have to be grateful for. We forget that each moment in life has the potential to be something great.
Couples continue to face the growing challenges of balancing their relationship with the many other important things in life. The difficulty of work-life balance combined with unexpected curveballs makes each moment spent together more precious than ever.
If we are not mindful, the collection of these small moments can quickly turn into years gone by.
It is important in a relationship to have the freedom to develop our own passions but our ambitions can simultaneously take us out of growing together in a marriage.
What I feel makes our relationship unique is that we constantly make use of our passive time. We don’t try to make our time together epic in order to achieve happiness, rather we’re aware that each passive moment can be something much more.
Here’s how we make the most of our passive time.