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SAD Apprehensions

Apprehensions and Fears Generated by Social Anxiety Disorder

Top Ten List

10. Misunderstood by others (including therapists): No one else understands what it feels like to have social anxiety. Social anxiety remains a relatively misunderstood anxiety disorder, so it comes as no surprise that we feel at a loss when it comes to overcoming it. Many therapists lack the required knowledge to diagnose the disorder properly, and very few structured cognitive-behavioral therapy groups exist in the world.

9. Restricted from living a “normal” life: We feel our options in life are limited. Because we feel unable to engage in common, everyday activities, we feel trapped. A sense of helplessness and lack of control often accompany the feelings of being stuck or trapped.

8. Trapped (in a vicious cycle): We realize that our thoughts and actions don’t make rational sense, but we feel doomed to repeat them anyway. We don’t know any other way to handle scenarios in our lives. It is difficult for us to change our habits because we don’t know how.

7. Alienated: We feel alienated and isolated from our peers and families. We feel like we “don’t fit in” because no one understands us. The more we think this way, the more isolated we become. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. We identify with the word “loner.”

6. Hypersensitive to criticism and evaluation: We interpret things in a negatively skewed way. Our brain’s default position is irrational and negative. Even a minor misunderstanding can lead to a lengthy period of self-criticism. Sometimes others try to offer us advice, and we can take it the wrong way. We avoid events or activities where we can be judged, and this contributes to our lack of experience and sociability.

5. Depression over perceived failures: We replay events in our heads over and over, replaying how we “failed miserably” in our own perception. We’re certain that others noticed our anxiety. We may go our entire lives thinking back and re-living a “failed” experience, e.g., a public presentation, a bad date, or a missed opportunity. We keep replaying these things in our minds over and over again, which only reinforces our feelings of failure and defeat.

4. Dread and worry over upcoming events: We obsess about upcoming events, and “negatively predict” the outcomes. Worrying about the future focuses our attention on our shortcomings. We may experience anticipatory anxiety for weeks because we feel the event will cripple us.  Worrying causes more worry, and it becomes a vicious cycle. Our fear and anxiety is built up to gigantic proportions, the more time we spend worrying about the future. We make mountains out of molehills.

3. Uncertainty, hesitation, lack of confidence: We generally have low self-esteem. We hold ourselves back and avoid situations in life. We don’t participate in conversations as much as we could. We avoid situations because we fear being criticized and rejected by others. The fear of disapproval is so strong that we don’t get enough life experience in social situations, due to our habit of avoidance.

2. Fear of being the center of attention: Being put on the spot or made the center of attention is another primary symptom of social anxiety disorder. The thought of giving a presentation in front of a group of people cripples us with anxiety and fear. We worry that everyone will notice our anxiety, even though we are good at hiding it. We may display physiological symptoms of anxiety like sweating, blushing, shaking of the hands or legs, neck twitches, and weakening of the voice.

1. Self-Consciousness: Social anxiety makes us too aware of what we’re doing and how we’re acting around others. We feel like we’re under a microscope and everyone is judging us negatively. As a result, we pay too much attention to ourselves, and worry about everyone seeming to observe and notice us. We worry about what we say, how we look, and how we move. We are obsessed with how we we’re being perceived.

Courtesy Social Anxiety Institute/Phoenix

Healthy Philautia and Self-Esteem

Healthy philautia serves as a focused revitalization tool for self-esteem.

Healthy philautia is an integrative platform specifically designed to address the deficit of self-esteem caused by our dysfunction or discomfort, and the disruption in human development.

It achieves this through an integration of historically and clinically practical approaches that serve as focused revitalization tools for self-esteem by recognizing and replacing negative self-perspective and behavior. 

Self-esteem. Self-esteem is the self-recognition of our value; value is the accumulation of positive self-qualities that generate our character strengths and virtues. Positive self-qualities (e.g., self-compassion, -love, -regard, -respect, -value, -worth, and other intrinsic wholesome attributes) determine our relationship to self, others, and the world. They provide the evidence we are competent, consequential, and worthy of love.

Psychological dysfunction and discomfort. Both conditions impact our emotional wellbeing and quality of life and can interfere with or limit one or more major life activities. Both are addressed through the same basic processes. The primary distinction is severity. A psychological dysfunction is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnosable criteria. Both are dysfunctions.

How dysfunction impacts self-esteem. The vast majority of dysfunctional onset (or susceptibility to onset) happens during childhood/adolescence, negatively impacting the development of self-esteem. This is best illustrated by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which reveals how childhood physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance disrupts natural human development. The perception of detachment, exploitation, or neglect disenables the child’s safety and security as well as the sense of belonging and being loved, which impacts the acquisition of self-esteem. The adult symptoms and characteristics of the dysfunction continue or augment that deficit. 

Childhood physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance disrupts natural human development.

Why Healthy Philautia? The Greeks categorized love by its object. For philia, the object is comradeship, eros is sexuality, storge is familiar affection, and so on. Philautia is the dichotomy of self-love: the love of oneself (narcissism), and the love that is within oneself (self-esteem). 

Narcissism is a psychological condition in which people function with an inflated and irrational sense of their importance, often expressed by haughtiness or arrogance. It is the need for excessive attention and admiration, masking an unconscious sense of inferiority and inadequacy. 

Healthy philautia is the recognition of our value and potential, the realization that we are necessary to this life and of incomprehensible worth. To feel joy and fulfillment at being you is the experience of healthy philautia,and such feelings cannot be boundAccepting and embracing our self-worth compels us to share it with others and the world, to love and be loved. 

The deprivation of our fundamental needs caused by our dysfunction detrimentally impacts our acquisition of self-esteem. It is not lost but hidden, undeveloped, subverted by our negative self-perspectives. The rediscovery and rejuvenation of self-esteem is an essential component of recovery. ReChanneling advocates and utilizes a Wellness Model over the etiology-driven disease or medical model of mental healthcare. The Wellness Model emphasizes the character strengths and virtues that generate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to function optimally through the substantial alleviation of the symptoms of dysfunction. 

Among the integrative approaches utilized in the reacquisition of self-esteem are:

  • Positive affirmations and CBT. Positive affirmations and the cognitive aspect of cognitive-behavioral therapy are deliberate, repetitious inputs of positive thoughts and behaviors to replace the negative, unhealthy ones habituated by our dysfunction. Practicing repetitive positive affirmations increases activity in the self-processing systems of the cortex, which counteracts the negative input that threatens self-esteem. The behavioral component of CBT involves activities that reinforce the process.
  • Neural restructuring. Our neural network automatically responds to stimuli by transmitting the hormones that sustain and provide us comfort and pleasure. Deliberate repetitious stimuli compel neurons to fire repeatedly causing them to wire together. The more positive input, the more our brain responds. The more repetitions, the quicker and stronger the new connection. Hormonal rewards of comfort and pleasure motivate us to continue the repetitive practice which, in time, reconstruct our brain’s neural pathways. 
  • Mindfulness. The dual components of Mindfulness–awareness and acceptance–identify the occasions and situations we fear and in which we lack confidence, impacting our self-esteem. Clinically proven questionnaires and surveys assist in discovery, and mindfulness exercises and techniques are examined. Practicum activities assiduously address these fears, while introspection and meditation are vigorously recommended for the home environment. 
  • Abhidharma is the ultimate checklist of our relationship to self, others, and the world. The Buddhist psychology of the eightfold path is a profile of the requisites for rational living. Right views, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration have an additional implicit component, that of right choice. Evidence suggests we experience a physiological reaction when choosing to do something irrational or self-detrimental because it conflicts with our inherent awareness of what is beneficial to self and community. Through mindfulness, we learn to recognize this physiological reaction and its impact on our self-esteem. 
  • Positive autobiography helps us focus on our life experiences of achievement, triumphs, and other prideful events and occasions. Our dysfunction sustains itself through irrationality, so we devalue these experiences by disallowing our conscious mind to entertain them. Mindfulness and the Recovered-memory process are especially helpful in unlocking this information. 
  • Positive psychology can be defined as the science of optimal functioning. Its objective is to identify the character strengths and virtues that generate our motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recover. Mindfulness of our attributes generates the psychological, physical, and social wellbeing that buffer against dysfunction. The objective is to achieve our potentials and becoming the best that we can be. Research shows that positive psychology interventions improve overall wellbeing and decrease psychological distress in persons with anxiety, mood, and depressive disorders. Studies support the utilization of positive psychological constructs, theories, and interventions for enhanced understanding of and recovery from our dysfunction. 
  • Recovered memory process is utilized to recall hidden memories and the emotions they embrace. Our dysfunction sustains itself on our irrationality and negative self-perceptions. It encourages us to repress feelings, thoughts, and desires unacceptable to our conscious mind, storing them in the archives of our memory. It is useful to retrieve and address the emotions hidden in these repressed memories. The prideful ones fulfill our Positive autobiography and support Neural restructuring. The unhealthy ones allow us to view them from the multiple perspectives of emotion, decreasing the power of their negativity. Stanislavski developed a method for authentic stage-acting that retrieves and deconstructs our volatile memories and emotions. 

The rediscovery and revitalization of self-esteem is an essential part of recovery and cannot be second-tiered. Due to our dysfunction and subsequent disruption in natural human development, we are subject to significantly lower implicit and explicit self-esteem relative to healthy controls. One-size-fits-all methods are inadequate to a multiple pronged approach. Our recovery practicum incorporates activities such as roleplay, interactive exercises, and games. Clinically proven self-esteem exercises, questionnaires, and scales are utilized. Immersion therapy is ideally practiced in a public environment setting but currently remains in-practicum, postponing public immersion for the duration of the pandemic. Utilizing the platform of methods outlined, we collaboratively create a blueprint that emphasizes our inherent strengths, virtues, and attributes to implement the crucial reacquisition of self-esteem and its positive self-qualities.

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Why is your support essential? ReChanneling is dedicated to research and development of methods to alleviate symptoms of psychological dysfunction and discomfort. Our vision is to reshape the current pathographic emphasis on diagnoses over individual, which fosters a deficit, disease model of human behavior. Treatment programs must disavow ineffective, one-size-fits-all approaches and target the individual personality through communication, empathy, collaboration, and an integration of historically and clinically practical methods. All donations support scholarships for workshops and practicums.