Ever avoided making a phone call, returning an item, attending a party, or using a public restroom because you were too nervous at the thought of doing it? Have you ever passed on asking someone out, participating in a conversation, or giving a presentation because you didn’t think you would handle it well? Maybe just thinking about doing it even caused you to feel panicky or sick? If so, this post is for you!
Last week, I covered the topic of Facing Fears naming social anxiety as one of the most common issues I help clients with in my practice of hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming. As Halloween draws closer, with more holidays to follow, the opportunity for pleasant or painful social experiences draws nearer. There are many dynamics that go on at parties and family gatherings which can create the potential for good times, or the worst of times :/ I help people integrate internal strategies (keeping calm, confident, outwardly focused, acting assertive when necessary, etc.) to ensure their responses and interactions with others are from their most resourceful state – no matter how others are choosing to interact with them.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines social anxiety as, “a strong fear of being judged by others and of being embarrassed.” It is the most common anxiety disorder out there. Recent epidemiological studies in the U.S. rank social anxiety disorder as the third largest psychological disorder in the nation (following depression and alcoholism). Currently, an estimated 7% of the population suffers from some form of social anxiety…that’s about 20 million Americans! The likelihood of a person developing a social anxiety disorder in their lifetime is 13-14%. (Richards, “What is Social Anxiety?”) The Mayo Clinic has a pretty thorough list of typical triggers, as well as emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms as seen in children vs. adults, with a recommendation of when treatment should be sought, if you’re curious.
Personally, I believe that if you have an uncomfortable thought or feeling that recurs automatically about something, and it interferes with your life to any unwanted degree, it’s a good idea to find out how to clear it up as soon as possible. I don’t see how I would ever have turned to a hypnotherapist/NLP practitioner if I hadn’t been utterly desperate, and without the recommendation of the Mayo Clinic in Florida where I was being treated for my PTSD, anxiety, and conversion disorder. Thankfully, I experienced life altering results within a single session (watch me share my story at TEDx Rainier).
I’m often asked, “Really, you overcame all those symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety- traumatic grief, nightmares, panic attacks, non-epileptic seizures…in just one session?” I have honestly never had another seizure since June 20th of 2009. I can think of two times when I have sensed the beginnings of a panic attack, and I was able to calm myself down. Nor have I had any of my previous symptoms to any degree that could be recognized as a disorder. The repetitive nightmares that I feared every night, and the grief stricken fog that greeted me every morning, vanished. Sure, my life has had it’s ups and downs since that session. I’ve certainly had my moments, and I’ve also done more therapy (on myself or with a professional), but I’ve handled challenges with more resourcefulness and less struggle. I’ve recovered from trials and tribulations more quickly, thanks to everything I took away from that one session.
One of the most profound lessons that I walked away with on the day I met Dr. Jon Connelly, was a better understanding of how my mind and body worked, and how I, or a professional, could instantly help it work better and reinforce that work overtime. This helped dissolve the shame I held around my mental health diagnoses. It obliterated the fears I felt that my symptoms were stemming from some form of “self sabotage” or character flaw. It also restored my trust in my unconscious mind and body which I’m sure was directly responsible for my instant and maintained recovery. I had been thinking of my diagnosed disorders as my identity. Looking back, I see how that contributed to the perpetuation of my cycle of symptoms.
How does my experience apply to those of you also experiencing difficulties with social anxiety? I offer my case as an example of the benefits in brain-plasticity and working with a practitioner who is competent in clearing trauma. I believe (from my own personal experience having seen six therapists before seeing Dr. Connelly, founder of Rapid Resolution Therapy) that it is important to work with a professional who is solution oriented vs. insight oriented. If you’re in need of a therapist, it’s best to find one who will encourage the mindsets and practices that build on the behaviors you wish to increase. Introspection is one of the most frequent and common symptoms of a person experiencing self consciousness or depression. One of the most common traits of a person who is mostly content, with healthy self esteem, is less ego or thought of self and more engagement with his or her environment, activities, and people that make them feel their best!
I use hypnotherapy and NLP to train your brain – putting you into a state of “beginner’s mind,” with ease of access to any of your internal resources as you need them. This means you’ll have an attitude of openness, eagerness, and freedom from preconceptions when approaching anything, including social situations. It is possible for you to feel better, and enjoy the experience of being yourself around others!
If you or someone you know is interested in clearing the symptoms of social anxiety, you can find more information about how my services may be of help when you go to MyMindTalk – Social Anxiety. If you’re looking for effective hypnotherapy and NLP in the Seattle area, click here to book your appointment now. If you’re not local, you can still contact me and we can consult to see if phone or video sessions are right for you! Call 206-552-8374 if you have any questions before getting your desired results.
Clinical study on hypnosis as a sole treatment for social anxiety:
“To our knowledge, there is only one randomized controlled trial testing the use of hypnosis as a sole treatment for social phobia. In early attempts to view the potential of hypnosis to treat social anxiety, (Stanton) randomized 60 adults seeking help for handling their anxiety. Anxiety levels were assessed by the Willoughby Questionnaire. The author compared a hypnotic procedure consisting of positive suggestions and mental imagery to another group that listened to quiet music (movements from Mozart symphonies) and to a control group. Both experimental groups met in their respective groups for 30 minutes for three weeks. At the end of treatment, both experimental groups experienced a significant reduction in their anxiety, whereas the control group saw minor changes in their anxiety levels. Moreover, the reduction for the hypnosis group was larger. Finally, the therapeutic gains were maintained for the hypnosis group at six month follow-ups.”
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “What is Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)?” Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorders. N.d. Web. 24 June 2015.
Richards, Thomas A. “What is Social Anxiety?” Social Anxiety Institute. N.d. Web. 24 June 2015.
Stanton HE. A comparison of the effects of an hypnotic procedure and music on anxiety level. Australian Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis. 1984;12(2):127-32.
*Image Credit: Sean Cooper