It’s Not Your Fault!

Robert F. Mullen, PhD

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“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI – deliberate, repetitive, neural information.” – WeVoice (Madrid)

It’s Not Your Fault!

“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.” Part Deux
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

We have examined the multiple reasons we resist recovery. Public opinion, the media, pathology, stigma even our families deter us from revealing our social anxiety. These external attributions to our resistance are the tip of the iceberg.

We contribute our baggage as well. We choose to remain ignorant of SAD’s destructive capabilities. We go to enormous lengths to remain oblivious to its symptoms as if, by ignoring them, they do not exist or will somehow go away.

Our inherent negative bias predisposes us to obsess over unhealthy experiences. Our SAD-induced negative self-beliefs and image exacerbate our sense of inferiority and abnormality. We personalize our social anxiety, convinced we are the only ones who feel exploited.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, we continue to blame ourselves for our social anxiety disorder, a false assumption that generates shame and guilt. 

These are only some of our internal attributions to resistance.

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It is Not Our Fault

Cumulative evidence that a toxic childhood is a primary causal factor in emotional instability or insecurity has been well established. During the development of our core beliefs, we are subject to a childhood disturbance – a broad and generic term for anything that interferes with our optimal physical, cognitive, emotional, or social development. SAD senses our vulnerability and swoops in, negatively impacting our quality of life until we take strides to moderate its symptoms. Childhood disturbance is ubiquitous – it happens to all of us. What differentiates is how we react or respond to it. Having SAD does not make us unique or special. Roughly, one in four adults and adolescents experience social anxiety disorder.

We did not ask for or encourage SAD; it happened to us. When we research its origins, we uncover the likelihood no one is responsible. Certainly not he child. We are not accountable for onset. The onus is on us to do something about it. While not liable for the cards we have been dealt, we are responsible for how we play the hand we have been given. 

The negative cycle we find ourselves in has convinced us that there is something wrong with us when the only thing we are doing is viewing ourselves and the world inaccurately. That is a natural response to our symptoms. SAD sustains itself by feeding us life-consistent irrational thoughts and behaviors. 

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. 

We are Not Alone

Roughly, 50 million adults and adolescents experience anxiety disorders. 60% of those have depression, and many fall prey to substance abuse. Anxiety and depression are the primary causes of the frightening increase in adolescent suicide over the last decade. Sexual and gender-based adolescents are almost five times more likely to attempt it.

We are Not Abnormal or Special

Neurosis is a condition that negatively impacts our quality of life but does not necessarily interfere with normal day-to-day functions. One-in-four individuals have diagnosable neurosis. According to experts, nearly two-thirds of those reject or refuse to disclose their condition. Include those who dispute or chose to remain oblivious to their malfunction and we can conclude that mental disorders are common, undiscriminating, and universal. 

SAD is Not the Consequence of Our Behaviors 

Combined statistics reveal that roughly 90% of neuroses onset at adolescence or earlier. Excepting conditions like PTSD or clinical narcissism that impact later in life, the susceptibility originates in childhood. Most psychologists agree that emotional malfunction is a consequence of childhood physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance. It could be hereditary, environmental, or the result of trauma. It could be real or imagined, intentional or accidental. Perhaps parents are controlling or do not provide emotional validation. Maybe we were subjected to bullying or from a broken home. Behaviors later in life may impact the severity but are not responsible for the neurosis itself. There is the likelihood that no one is responsible. While our behavior over our lifetime can impact the severity, the origins of the disorder happen in childhood. This disputes moral models that we are to blame for our disorder, or that it is God’s punishment for sin.  

We are Not Mental

Not only is the description inaccurate, but it promotes hostile perceptions of incompetence and derangement. It is the dominant source of stigma, guilt, and self-loathing. The word mental defines a person or their behavior as extreme or illogical. In adolescence, anyone unpopular or different was a mental case or a retard. The urban dictionary defines mental as someone silly or stupid. It is often associated with violent or divisive behavior. Add the word illness or disorder and we have the public stereotype of the dangerous and unpredictable individual who cannot fend for themselves and should be isolated. Emotional malfunction is not ‘mental,’ biologic, hygienic, neurochemical, or psychogenic, but all of these things.

To the early civilizations, mental illnesses were the domain of supernatural forces and demonic possession. Hippocrates and diagnosticians of the 19th century favored the humours (bodily liquids). Lunar influence, sorcery, and witchcraft are timeless culprits. In the early 20th century, it was somatogenic. The biological approach argues that disorder is due to our brain’s physical structure and functioning. The pharmacological approach promotes it as brain chemistry imbalance. The first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (1952) leaned heavily on environmental and biological causes. 

We are not mental but conditioned by the simultaneous mutual interaction of mind, body, spirit, and emotions. Social anxiety disorder is an emotional malfunction, and its symptoms can be dramatically moderated. If we choose to go that route.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

We are Not Hopeless, Helpless, Undesirable, or Worthless

Three of those anxiety self-designations originated with Aaron Beck, the pioneer of cognitive-behavioral therapy. The concept of undesirability revealed itself in my SAD recovery workshops. While we remain conjoined with our social anxiety disorder, we continue to be guided by these self-destructive beliefs. 

Of course, we are not helpless unless we choose to be. Multiple resources are available to anyone with the motivation and commitment to recover.

We are not hopeless. Once we recognize the irrationality of our fears, we see them for what they are. SAD-provoking abstractions, powerless without our participation.

We are not undesirable. SAD compels us to view ourselves inaccurately. It reinforces or justifies our negative self-image, convincing us our assumptions are the truth of a situation instead of emotional interpretations. Our fears and anxieties manifest in how we think about ourselves, how we think others think about us, and how we process that information. Assuming we know what others think about us is illogical and narcissistic. 

We are not worthless but integral and consequential to all things, the ultimate, dynamic, creative ground of being and doing. We are unique to every other entity; there is no one like us. We are the totality of our experiences, beliefs, perceptions, demands, and desires with individual DNA, fingerprints, and outer ears. There is and never has been a human being with our sensibilities, memories, motivations, and dreams.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

Yet, we continue to beat ourselves up for our perceptual inadequacies. We blame ourselves for our defects as if they are the pervading forces of our true being, rather than symptoms of our malfunction. We are not defined by our social anxiety disorder. We are defined by our character strengths, virtues, and achievements. When we break our leg do we become that injured limb or are we simply an Individual with a broken leg? 

To moderate our social anxiety, we identify the situations that provoke them. Further self-examination unpacks the associated fears and corresponding negative thoughts and behaviors. We need to know what adversely impacts us to rationally respond. We cannot fix the complexity of our thoughts and behaviors unless we know what is broken. SAD is the most underrated, misunderstood, and misdiagnosed disorder. Nicknamed the neglected anxiety disorder, few professionals understand it, and fewer know how to challenge it. One has to experience it to know it and examine it to understand it. 

We dread situations that provoke our fears of criticism and ridicule. We anticipate being judged negatively. We reject overtures anticipating rejection. Unless we are fortune tellers or mind-readers, assuming to know what another person is thinking or planning is irrational. It is a symptom of our condition.

We worry we might do or say something stupid. Fretting about something that may or may not happen is illogical. If it happens, it happens. We learn from it and move on. Avoiding doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment eliminates opportunities and diminishes possibilities. These are not reasonable concerns. SAD sustains itself with our irrational thoughts and behaviors.

We define ourselves by our symptoms, rather than our character strengths. virtues, and attributes. We gravitate toward the negative aspects of a situation and exclude the positive. Why? Because we are more invested in our condition than in seeking a way out. 

Tough love is loosely defined as love or affectionate concern expressed in a stern or unsentimental manner to promote awareness of self-destructive behavior. I’m going to project some tough love, here, because I know, from experience, we coddle ourselves. We feel sorry for ourselves. We blame our condition on all these external and internal attributions when the only genuine disservice is in our unwillingness to do something about it.

Once we know ourselves and know the enemy, there is nothing standing in the way of recovery It is rationally incomprehensible to choose otherwise. The process is theoretically simple. It is time-consuming, repetitive, and personally revealing, but it is not difficult. The choice is obvious. Seek recovery or do nothing. 

SAD sustains itself by inflicting anxiety and fear, but anxiety and fear have no power on their own. We fuel them; we give them strength and power. We control our emotional well-being and quality of life, and only we can compel change.

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional malfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

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