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