Tuesday, October 2, 2007

BE BRAVE: Day 5: Therapy Breakthrough & Yoga Class

BE BRAVE, otherwise known as "Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You", is the title of the month-long project inspired by Jessie. I am participating daily for a month. Today is Day 5.

Well, initially my one scary thing today was going to be going to an actual yoga class. Classes, and most groups in general, terrify me because I experience extreme social anxiety. Plus I love being a homebody and a nester. I have been struggling on my own to do yoga, but not had much success, and knew I wanted this class with my past yoga teacher, who creates a safe and relaxing space. She hasn't taught in a year, but decided to start this class tonight.

Earlier in the day I saw my therapist. When he found out about "Do One Thing Scary Every Day" we decided to go to a biweekly schedule of visits instead of a monthly schedule. I have been happy in many ways, but stressed by facing my fears and getting ready for NaNoWriMo (next month's National Novel Writing Month in which I plan to produce my first rough draft of my novel), and of course, somewhat depressed despite all of the good stuff in my life right now. So my therapist is concerned that I may take DOTEDTSY too far, get desperate, and force things (because of my perfectionistic qualities), instead of being gentle and letting the whole process unfold. He is right! So I am taking a softer approach, and am going to pace myself by allowing my daily "one thing" be smaller steps, or larger...just whatever unfolds as the day goes on. All of this pressure is from me, of course, no one else, and it is how I approach things in general. Other than changing my therapy schedule, he's on board.

Well, as part of the therapy session, we figured out why I was so afraid of social situations that involve groups. Apparently, I've internalized thoughts that people will be negatively evaluating me in such situations, for a variety of different reasons---everything from how I dress, how I look, how I act, and what I say. It makes no rational sense, but to my unconscious mind it made sense, based upon my upbringing. Just unmasking this hidden belief helped me to ease the anxiety, and I ended up having a great yoga class tonight, met some nice people, and most importantly, I didn't feel uncomfortable.

I can see how this belief has been pervasive and has caused me to think that I "hate groups" and "hate social situations" when in reality, I simply felt uncomfortable based upon what I projected these groups to be thinking and how I expected that they were evaluating me.

I know that all of this is irrational, but it was buried so deeply that I didn't even realize it was there!

So in the next several days I will have lots of opportunities to experiment with breaking down social situations to see what I'm really afraid of, evaluating those opportunities for their rationality, and then challenging them.

Whew! It's been a long day but a profitable one...

~Picture by LoveHubbie Mark


Lisa said...

Whew! You are doing some hard work, my friend. I'm sending you lots of hugs. I'm going to start a yoga class soon, too. Let me know how it goes!

Angela said...

Wow. So good for you! You may find that uncovering that unconscious belief may go a long way towards taking care of that social phobia. Glad you had a good experience at yoga. I don't think you can learn it all alone, and it's lots more fun with others!

Kikipotamus said...

Congratulations on your breakthrough, Olivia! Big hug! Those fears can be so crippling, it doesn't matter how irrational. I have a big problem using the telephone to call people. I imagine I am interrupting something important, and so the dread sets in. It helps me to know we are both working on cognitive distortions at the same time.

Olivia said...

Thanks, Lisa...Yes I am, I'll take that :)

Yoga class went SO well. I went in and was comfortable in class, tried to make others feel the same way. There were only 7 people there. I don't remember ever feeling so at ease at the start of any class, let alone a "new" class.

I am going to be taking it every week because it felt so good to my body. Actually, it felt hard and my body felt stiff, but I had a kinesthetic memory of a couple of the poses, and I want to go back with my body to where they felt good and comfy. So overall---GREAT!

Namaste, O

Olivia said...

Yes, thanks, Angela. I think that just uncovering it will go a LONG way. I mean, I had NO idea that was there. As Kelly calls it, a "cognitive distortion" was there that was TOTALLY unconscious. I will keep challenging the new ones that pop up, which should be even easier to focus on with DOTEDTSY.

I'm glad to be able to tap into the "fun with others" part of a group (which I did last night) since I wasn't all focused on myself :)

Blessings to you, and love, Olivia

Olivia said...

Kelly, I do like that term "cognitive distortion". Yes, it is "neato bandito" that we are both working on them.

Yesterday, my therapist really exaggerated the ridiculousness and irrationality of my distortions so that I could see how silly they were. It seemed to rob them of their power, just by being unmasked. I want to keep challenging them as situations come up.

This weekend I'm going to a swanky conference for my husband's work, so I should have lots of chances to challenge them. I was dreading it, but now I'm a little excited, viewing it instead as a workshop and fodder for DOTEDTSY!

Love, love, love, O

Patti said...

I'm reading your posts backwards, so I'm ahead of myself! Yoga is so good for implementing change and forming new habits, so it will help you to let go (It's often what you let go of that sets you free)of sugar and alcohol. I find it helps me to sleep well too. I think you're on a winning path here Olivia!

Olivia said...

Thanks, Patti. Gosh I surely do want to be on a winning path instead of a "struggle path". I do think that the yoga class I took Tuesday night reconnected me with my yearnings for better health. I think that it will help me stay on a good path, too.

Thank you for your great support, Patti. Much love, O

Leah said...

oh, i have similar fears about groups, that feeling of being judged is so awful! (and usually untrue!) i'm loving reading about your journey with the be brave project!

Olivia said...

Leah, I'm so glad. You're right it's so untrue. Let's keep challenging it! Luv, O

Jessie said...

this is something that i've found myself worried about also: what if i push myself too far, too fast and end up doing something that i don't really want or am not really ready for? mostly i think about this in terms of my job hunt (which was the major reason that i started this "scary project" in the first place!).

i've come to the conclusion that the best thing i can do is up the anty, by not only doing something that scares me every day, but also only do things that speak from my heart and that honestly feel like harmonious actions. this, of course, can be difficult and usually requires ample amount of contemplation. but, hey...it's the best i can do. sometimes doing something scary means being gentle with myself. it's all just one big learning process, don't ya say?! :)

lots of love to you, Olivia. I am truly loving everything that you have to say.

Olivia said...

I'm so glad, Jessie. And I'm really glad that you started this project and are leading it onward. I have benefited so very much, even after this short time.

Love right back to you,