A place to make daily notes of successes, no matter how small. Keeping track of the little victories over social anxiety in the course of a day helps counteract the mind's distorted thinking and provides a resource for consultation in times of doubt and discouragement. If it seems like there's no way you could possibly think of a small victory in EVERY day, give it a try for a week. Many people find not only that they're selling themselves short on the courage they show on a daily basis, but also that the more you recognize your victories, the more motivated you are to actively do new things - which is how we beat SA.
Examples of some of the many and varied small victories one can be proud of:
- not looking in a mirror to reassure yourself that you still look ok - going out or getting active when you feel down - giving a potentially promising situation a chance instead of fleeing - being more friendly than usual with friends or coworkers - eating something in a public venue instead of avoiding it - making a phone call without a script beforehand - complimenting someone you'd normally feel too shy to speak up to - being actively positive when inclined to be negative - accepting social plans with people rather than turning them down - talking with a cashier at a store instead of rushing to leave - maintaining eye contact with someone during a conversation - not seeking reassurance when feeling insecure about doing something different - joking back with people's good-natured teasing instead of hiding
Recovery is all about gradually and more and more consistently taking small risks, doing something different from the fear-inspired avoidance behaviours in our lives. I know things are tough for us, but as long as we don't give up, we CAN persevere and achieve our goals... and eventually have a life we're happy with. Stay strong, guys.
Additionally, as a resource for anyone who has done/is doing CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy), here's a reminder list of some typical thinking traps that we're prone to falling into under the influence of social anxiety disorder.
1) All-or-Nothing Thinking - You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure. 2) Overgeneralization - You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat. 3) Mental Filter - You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively. 4) Disqualifying the Positive - You reject positive experiences by insisting they were flukes or don't count, strengthening negative thoughts. 5) Jumping to conclusions - a) mind reading - assuming others are thinking bad things about you, b) fortune-telling: you "know" things will turn out badly so you don't even try. 6) Magnification/Minimization - You exaggerate your mistakes and inflate others' accomplishments, or shrink your good qualities and deflate others' bad qualities. 7) Emotional Reasoning - You assume that the way you feel reflects how things really are; "I feel it, ergo it must be true." 8) 'Should' Statements - You say you or others 'should' do this or that, in an effort to motivate yourself, leading to guilt when you don't live up to 'should' statements and anger or disappointment when others don't live up to them. 9) Labeling - You use negative generalized terms to refer to yourself or others; such as loser, moron, idiot. 10) Personalization - You see yourself as the cause of negative external events that you were not primarily responsible for.