Theoretical, Conceptual, and Community-Tailored Support

This Blog supports our commitment to do all within our capacity to facilitate the alleviation of mental complications that interfere with a person’s entitlement to a life of productivity, prosperity, and general well-being. These complications include Social Anxiety Disorder, depression, or other anxiety disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress, or Obsessive-Compulsive, as well as issues of motivation and self-esteem. It should be evident there is no such thing as a successful one-size-fits-all therapeutic response to these complications. Programs must be underscored by a collaboration of theoretical and conceptual constructs and scientific evidence. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has adequately addressed many of these issues for over 60 years but has always lacked scope and imagination. These mental disorders can’t be cured; persons remain stimulated by memories of experiences and lost opportunities. However, the problems associated with these malfunctions can be overcome. The best response to the manipulations of Social Anxiety Disorder is to outsmart it―a factor that must be recognized in any form of therapeutic support.

Cognitive behavioral therapy demonstrates how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are governed by irrational thoughts and actions. CBT has been proven to work for many different mental health problems including social anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and other disorders. CBT is structured, short-term, goal-oriented, and focused on the here–and–now.

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Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was developed to help people cope with unstable emotions and harmful behaviors. DBT is an evidence-based approach to help people regulate emotions. It started as a treatment for borderline personality disorder, and current research indicates it may help with many different mental illnesses or concerns, particularly self-harm.

The key differences between CBT and DBT are validation and relationships. DBT teaches you that your experiences are real, and it teaches you how to accept who you are, regardless of challenges or difficult experiences. CBT teaches you to take responsibility for your current condition and initiate immediate and proactive steps to remedy any malfunction.

Cognitive Behavioral Restructuring (CBR) is original to ReChanneling. It is the blueprint upon which our programs are based. CBT is the foundation, reinforced by aspects of Applied Behavioral Analysis and Acceptance Commitment Therapy. Its balancing beams are the integral components of mind, body, spirit, and emotions; the walls built up through Abidharmic mindfulness and Stanislavsky’s method of emotional recall and control. The hardware that secures the building is the science of plasticity. It may sound complex but, in the overall scheme of things, once you have the blueprint, each home is original, singular, and individually tailored to the occupant’s needs.

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Finally, programs must be community tailored. This is no more evident than in my work with the LGBTQ community. An individual experiencing Social Anxiety already resists new ideas and challenges due to an irrational anathema to risk-taking. Compile this with common symptoms of inarticulation, overarching feelings of unworthiness and incompetence, and unreasonable fear of rejection. My primary work with SAD within the LGBTQ community has shown that these are tips of the iceberg when it comes to centuries of societal rejection, contemporary disdain, and misunderstanding, and the glaring issue of the identity of love. Even though I suffered through decades of self-denigration before 1994 when SAD was recognized and diagnosed in the DSM-V, and notwithstanding my own LGBTQ sexual identity, I found myself unequipped to deal with SAD in the LGBTQ Community, and spent months conceptualizing within these parameters. A divergent and deliberate cultural approach is mandatory for effectively addressing any community. Empathetic interaction requires an intuitive grasp on the other’s holistic being in order to cultivate a genuine connection Empathy is understanding through vicarious participation within the other. Moods, perceptions, desires, feelings, intents, ambitions―all are experienced by subtle interconnectivity. It’s an engagement of the highest level which demands extraordinary cultural sophistication. It can’t be realized in cultural ignorance, bias, misinterpretation, or unappreciation.

ReChanneling.org.

A personal Introduction to Social Anxiety Disorder

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

Social Anxiety Disorder is an emotional virus which, like other pathogens, lay dormant for years before materializing. It’s likely you were infected during adolescence and the potential disorder lingered in your system for years or decades before making itself known. Any number of situations or events could have triggered the initial contact; it might be hereditary, the result of some traumatic experience, and/or environmental. You could have been subject to bullying or a broken home. Perhaps your parents were overprotective or controlling, or unable to provide emotional validation. What I try to address is the solution before the cause. Get out of the rain first; then look into global warming.

The following email, reproduced verbatim, appeared in my inbox on February 2, 2019. It describes, from a personal perspective, the destructive capabilities of Social Anxiety Disorder.

“I suffer from anxiety to the point that I have know life and am afraid of most everything and really don’t know why? It keeps me from dating and I really want to learn how to have more self confidence and have friends. and a part time job. I’m 48 and the anxiety seems to worsen as I get older. I don’t want to die alone. I have know family, and I’ve only been living in san fran for almost one year, from North Carolina. What I’m trying to say, anxiety has crippled me, locked me in a cage and has become my master. I want to learn how to be free and be and do the things I wan to do without second guessing myself. I want gay friends and to start dating. I want to love and be loved!! I’m not getting any younger and I’m so lonely on so many levels. With that said, please let me know if I can afford this group, please. thanks and have a great day.” Continue reading “A personal Introduction to Social Anxiety Disorder”

Social Anxiety and Resistance

Resistance is your primary impediment to recovery! Your craftily constructed inflexibility is so inhibiting, only five percent of you will seek immediate help. This is unfortunate but understandable. If your family dentist keeps pulling the wrong tooth, it’s unlikely you’ll trust another. Persons experiencing social anxiety maintain a tenacious resistance to new concepts and ideas because nothing has worked so far.

Nonresistance is a prerequisite for change and transformation. You must open yourself to unfamiliar experience. Resistance is the damn that stems the river’s flow. The universe sustains itself on fluidity: smooth, elegant, and endlessly changeable. Resistance is counterintuitive to growth, prosperity, and the natural order.

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I’m not suggesting you accept every new idea that comes your way; some are ill-advised, most ineffective, and few support your particular needs. But the mindful person regards every opportunity a possibility. You have to be willing to risk the consequences. It’s illogical to insist you don’t like broccoli if you refuse to taste it. Make up your own mind; don’t allow others to do it for you.

Resistance is closure; consideration is opening yourself to alien viewpoints. Resistance impedes both access and egress; nothing comes in so nothing goes out. You can’t give away what you don’t have. You do have a choice, however. You can remain where you are, mired in your perceptions of inadequacy and ineptitude, or you can consider new possibilities.

Refusal

Repression is unconscious suppression of things that prevent compliance―a defense mechanism that prevents certain feelings, thoughts, and desires unacceptable to the conscious mind from entering it. There are experiences so deep and dark, you can’t even admit them to yourself. Resistance, on the other hand, is your deliberate attempt to prevent something by action or argument. Repression is unconscious; resistance conscious and intentional. A person unwilling to entertain novelty exposes inflexibility and parochial bias. When you yield to new ways of thinking, broader dimensions of consciousness materialize. But the light can’t enter until you unlock the shutters.

Resistance is devious; a deceitful entity is a feeble one. Resistance is evasion, underscored by ignorance and gratuitous fear. Ignorance is not a crime; it’s a lack of certain knowledge. Deliberate ignorance is adverse to growth and transformation. Don’t be fool yourself into believing that your intransigence is assertive and dominant when it’s really frightened and impotent. The resistant person gets angry when confronted; nonresistance embraces constructive criticism. Anyone can argue or be contemptuous; the courageous individual listens, contemplates, and concludes. Nonresistance will not deprive you of your individuality or your uniqueness; it only broadens your perspective. Your uncertainty of the unknown will be overwhelmed by the knowingness that the unknown is accessible.

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In this esoteric sense, nonresistance as your doorway to possibility opens your consciousness to the substance of the universe which you otherwise deny yourself. This is not hyperbole. Your nonresistance is testament to your willingness to accept what is fundamentally your inheritance. By dismantling the damn you constructed with twigs of suspicion, fear, and feigned indifference, you open yourself to the orderly flow of the universe. You are no longer isolated but appreciate your inherent role as both inlet and outlet, as receiver and giver.
Overcome the resistance that engulfs you because of your social anxiety and consider the possibilities. You have been thinking and acting irrationally for much of your life. That is the main symptom of social anxiety. Anything you do, think, or say detrimental to your well–being is irrational. You were created to do good things. The natural inclination of all humans is to strive for excellence. Evolution is the escalation of complexity. You are hard-wired to expand, to unfold, incapable of devolution.

There is no logic in self–denial; shunning new experience only aggravates your hopelessness. A rosebush without water withers. There is no logic in self–abuse; making yourself miserable is irrational. But you continue to self–destruct because that’s how SA sustains itself and that’s all you know. Your social incompetence, substantiated by supposed inadequacy and ineptitude, confirms your perception of worthlessness. If you have no value you are undeserving of the things other people take for granted like prosperity and happiness. SA thrives on this sort of irrationality. You are being asked to change concepts and ideas you have accepted for years because they are wrong; who wouldn’t be resistant to that? But consideration of new ideas and concepts is the most rational and intelligent thing a human can do. And rationality is poison to social anxiety.

Your resistance compels you to settle for insufficiency even though you’re disillusioned by it and secretly desire your entitlement. These dual modes of desperation manifest in an inner contradiction, pitting fear against desire. In essence, you shut down, unable to give and unworthy of receiving, disabling any motivation to participate. This manifests in avoidance, defiance, hostility, and self–sabotage. You persuade yourself that your intransigence―the refusal to compromise or to abandon your old concepts and beliefs―is assertive and courageous when it is actually foolish and depriving. You must open yourself to new thoughts and concepts simply because the old ones haven’t been working.

Experiencing Social Anxiety? Meet Your Subjugator.

Social Anxiety destroys lives.
39 million U.S. adults suffer from Social Anxiety.
It’s time to take it seriously.

Let’s put a face to this thing we call Social Anxiety. A visual representation might help us better understand the complexities of its possessive power. We’ll call him Schemer. Schemer is a high–level Director of Big Brother, Orwell’s repressive agency in1984. Schemer exists as the embodiment of Social Anxiety, his power derived through the complicity of those living under the political regime that is Oceania. Schemer’s all-powerful department feeds on the fear and negative self–reflection common under subjugation. Its role is to shatter any thought of resistance through methods of severe reprisal. Imagine yourself a “citizen” of Oceana, subjected, daily, to assaults of mindspeak propaganda: ”slavery is freedom,” “ignorance is freedom,” “you have no value”.

Irrationalaty

Schemer despises your complacency; he is contemptuous of your emotional instability and self–disparagement. He fantasizes wringing your scrawny neck while whispering in your ear like a spiteful over, “You are nothing without me. You can’t function without me. You will always be a failure. And there is nothing you can do about it. Freedom is hopeless.” That’s the objective of social anxiety: control through subjugation. It closes the door on alternative, shuts the windows to possibility, and stokes your reticence to opportunity. As only water can destroy the Wicked Witch of the West, Social Anxiety can only be defeated by rational thought and action By self–affirmations conducive to your prosperity and self–reliance, convictions designed to counter decades of wrong–thinking and false perception. Only by recognition of your inherent strength and determination can you overwhelm a lifetime of propaganda designed to keep you from that to which you are inherently entitled. Only by reclaiming your birthright can you reclaim what social anxiety has taken from you―the promise of a life of productivity and prosperity.

Big Brother

This is how you defeat Schemer and his destructive propaganda. You revolt. You refute his authority. You not only oppose what he stands for, you use every opportunity to challenge his legitimacy. You stop feeding him with your false self–perceptions. You reclaim the qualities that celebrate your uniqueness and rechannel your self–destructive, false perceptions into pride of your individuality. You consider the value and wisdom of anything and everything counter-intuitive to your current condition because every belief, concept, thought, and action you held or acted upon while under the spell of social anxiety is wrong! If they held any logic or validity you wouldn’t be suffering!

Social Anxiety can be overcome. “robertfmullen.com”

Robert F. Mullen, Ph.D.

THE FLUID PARAMETERS OF RESPONSIBILITY

SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER

In publications and workshops, we emphasize that anyone committed to positive change must shoulder unequivocal responsibility for his or her condition. While not responsible for the cards dealt, we are responsible for how we play the hand given. Those of us resolved to modify our behavior or condition cannot abrogate responsibility to another. That being said, there are limits to this responsibility. Let’s explore this using social anxiety as our point of reference.

Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. It is the debilitating fear and anxiety of being negatively evaluated and judged. It is a pervasive disorder that affects multiple areas of a person’s life. It keeps people in self-initiated solitary confinement. Fittingly, its acronym is SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder). SAD is chronic because it does not go away on its own―but it can be remedied. Since less than 37% of those suffering choose to receive treatment, the nickname, SAP (Socially Anxious Person) suggests that a person with SAD is, indeed, a SAP if he or she chooses to avoid successful methods of recovery and continues to wallow in misery and isolation.

Anxiety disorder is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults or about 18% of the population. In the LGBT community, somewhere between 30 and 60 percent deal with anxiety and depression at some point in their lives. That rate is 1.5 to 2.5 times higher than that of their straight or gender-conforming counterparts. Our San Francisco based, gay social anxiety workshop generated over 300 participants in the first year. You are not alone!

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SAD Defeatism

Let’s assume you are a person with SAD. When you enter a social situation, you are affected by the unsubstantiated criticisms of others. These feelings are aggravated by your own self-defeating narratives. You worry about your appearance, what you might say, how you are perceived by others. Your Integral Human Complex (body, mind, and spirit) is overwhelmed by self-doubt. Physically, you may hyperventilate, your stomach in knots, as you avert your eyes and sidle to a safe zone. Emotionally, you’re consumed by self-doubt and hesitancy; spiritually, depression and isolation overcome any sense of belonging. The irony is, you have far more to fear from your own distorted perceptions than the opinions of others. Your imagination takes you to dark and lonely places. Upon leaving an event or situation, different self-esteem issues emerge as your imagination creates false scenarios and you obsess about your prior behavior.

Your neurosis underscores a degree of self-absorption that borders on narcissism, the psychoanalytic definition of which is self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external object―from the reality of the situation. This is a common characteristic of SAD. Narcissism does not have to be a disorder, however. To clarify this abstract assertion requires an understanding of classicist definitions of love.

The Greeks’ delineated eight types of love including sexual passion, brotherly love, puppy love and so on. Philautia describes a type of love that can be either selfish or selfless. The adverse is self-centeredness―a destructive preoccupation with the perceptions of others. Healthy philautia, on the other hand, is the kind of self-affirmation produced by an inveterate sense of inner-worth and value―the emotional competence that allows you to embrace your capacity to empathize. It is extremely difficult to accept love unless you have the ability to initiate and reciprocate, and that ability is generated by your own sense of self-assuredness. In the throes of your illness, you immerse yourself in the selfish aspect of philautia. As you recover from SAD, recollection of your own suffering encourages you to become increasingly sensitive to the needs and conditions of others.

Perceptions

Conditioning is an individual’s current state of being as consequence of his or her reactions and adaptations to experience and circumstance. Each of you is blessed with the qualities and uniqueness of your conditioning. It is these sensitivities that dictate your beliefs, peculiarities, fears, aspirations, and so on. They define you and you are defined by them. They unremittingly adapt to, and are augmented by new experience and circumstance. No individual can truly grasp at your totality because you are in constant flux. You are subject to your unique conditioning. Perceptions are, at best, uninformed and biased speculations. We emphasize this to illustrate that opinions are specious and inaccurate reflections of individual, singular fears, prejudices, affections, disappointments. They are perpetually flawed and not worth a proverbial tinker’s damn. Only your opinion of you is an opinion worth examining.

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It is your own negative self-worth that permits you to be negatively affected by the opinions and thoughts of others. Accepting their impressions and opinions as certainty is a self-defeating existence. It is your uniqueness and individuality that is of import and, if your condition is flawed or distressed, then it is up to you to seek remedy for your own self-mortification.

Not Your Problem!

When we expose ourselves to others in social situations, we subject ourselves to three correlating forms of feedback: first impressions, reactionary opinions, and post-impressions

First Impressions are meaningless. Initial reactions are prejudicial and gratuitous consequences of an individual’s condition. No one can make a well-informed assessment of someone they see for the first time. Yet, it is your own stuff, your personal negative narcissism that legitimizes these non-constructive impressions corrupted by another’s experience and circumstance. You may physically remind someone of an abusive ex-lover or an annoying teacher. An obese person may be affronted by your figure. In any case, one thing remains constant. An assessment generated by first impression is meaningless. It is Not Your Problem!

Reactionary Opinions are assumptions made during or immediately following interaction with a person or group. Best-selling teen author, Simone Elkeles writes “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one but they think each others’ stink.” They are emotional reactions to scattered aspects of your presentation. Your presentation is the way in which you present yourself and any reaction to this presentation is perverted and distorted by condition. Your personality may conjure images of a mother-in-law or a teenage bully. The tenor of your voice may bring an unconscious memory, your race a bias, and so on. It is imperative that you recognize that you are not responsible for someone else’s uninformed and meritless opinion. If you are attempting to be as authentic as you can be in your current condition, there is no reason in-the-world to assume responsibility for unsubstantiated perceptions. It’s Not Your Problem!

Post-impressions: once you have left the event or situation you, obviously, have no control over what people think. What’s done is done. You can’t revisit the past. You can’t change it. Yet, more often than not, this is when your fragile psyche subjects itself to the greatest damage. Why did I tell that joke? Did I drink too much? Why didn’t I talk to him? Did I wear the wrong color socks? It’s called Second Guessing Neurosis (SGN). SGN is defined as retroactively changing the construction and outcome of a situation or event. In colloquial jargon, it’s fantasizing a different result. So you made a mistake, called someone the wrong name, said something inappropriate. Join the club of this too shall pass. Learn from it and move on.

One more piece of irony. Not only does your insecurity seduce you into rewriting reality, it compels you to subvert the positive. In other words, because you doubt the probability that you made a good impression, you dwell on your perceived gaffes and errors-in-judgment. No matter how good an impression you make, you pervert the experience by tearing it down. It’s characteristic self-destruct by the SAP. You have the choice between darkness and light and you choose to blindly walk into walls.

Overall, you worry too much about what someone else thinks of you. In the film Bridge of Spies, Rudolf Abel, the Soviet agent faces the possibility of the death penalty. His lawyer, befuddled by Rudolf’s impassive demeanor, whispers, “Aren’t you at all worried?” The convict shrugs. “Would it help?”

Rather than bemoaning, why did I do that, rechannel the emphasis. Why did I do that? What persuaded me to react or respond in that way? Everyone makes errors-in-judgment, says something inappropriate, tells a bad joke. A good comedian will take the ‘bomb’ and turn it into humorous self-deprecation. A teacher who is not getting though to a student will instinctively try a different approach. A politician will change the subject. Although they make it appear spontaneous, they have rigorously trained themselves to do so. Rather than obsessing about your mistakes and miscalculations, use them as learning tools. You’re only allowed to blame yourself for your mistake if you ignore the lesson―if you don’t learn from it. You’re not stupid or an idiot or a jerk for making a mistake or acquiescing to your fears―you’re human! (You are a few fries short of a Happy Meal, however, if you don’t attempt to fix the problem.)

Change Your Focus

Your being, your totality is blessed by three separate yet complementary components―mind, body, and spirit. It’s important for your health to find a balance amongst the three, and to learn to use them in support of one another. For example, when you perceive yourself being attacked, learn to rechannel that sinking sensation with something positive. Mentally replace the injury by going to a familiar place of confidence. Rechannel your emotional reaction by intellectually affirming that unjustified criticism has no validity. Temper your angst, spiritually, by closing your eyes, breathing deeply, or taking a short walk. Simply stated, train yourself to instinctively replace the maladaptive behavior or reaction with one of positive and superior value. Rather than feeling persecuted, control the situation.

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Step outside yourself in your tiny world, and visualize the situation as an outside observer or film director. Analyze your presentation from an intellectual perspective. Study your behavior, evaluate it. Compliment the things you did well and work on what you perceive are deficits. That’s cognitive behavioral therapy in a nutshell. In simpler terms, know yourself.

You are unique. You have distinctive DNA, different experiences, beliefs, sensibilities, tastes. Some of you are great at math, some nature lovers, some like astronomy, some are intuitive. There is no one like you, you are one of a kind. That makes you special. Reexamine the qualities that celebrate your uniqueness and rechannel any perceived lack of self-worth into pride of your individuality. If you are doing your best and truly desire to tap the kindness and strength resident within you, then you have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to fear.

ReChanneling is a method of recovery and revitalization for those who struggle for self-affirmation. It is a program designed to assist in developing ways to replace negative addiction and maladaptive behavior caused by your neurosis through cognitive-behavioral therapy and auxiliary learning techniques―mechanisms constructed to teach you to rediscover your innate value and self-worth.

Creator and facilitator of ReChanneling, Dr. Mullen suffered from SAD for many years. His recovery is illustration of the dynamic potential inherent in all of us.

ReChanneling
ReChanneling@yahoo.com
robertfmullen.com
415-305-5895