Why We Really Suffer With Social Anxiety… And How To Break Free Now
Click below to hear this episode!
Discover the core reason we struggle or suffer with social anxiety, self-doubt, or any other painful emotion. You’ll learn a repeatable, simple process that allows you to find your way step by step to more peace, ease, and emotional freedom right now.
How are you today? This is going to be a good one. I think you’re going to find this one extremely valuable and beneficial to help you overcome shyness or anxiety but also something that you can use to just feel a lot more comfortable, confident, and relaxed in yourself. More at peace in any situation about anything. That could be work stress. That could be family stress. That could just be you dealing with some challenging experience in your life. This is going to be an extremely valuable step-by-step plan to help you feel more confident and more at ease. It’s called The Seven Steps to Emotional Freedom and we’re going to dive in right now.
By the way, if you are enjoying this show, go to ShrinkForTheShyGuy.com and you can read more about it. You can look at the show notes, as well as the transcripts, if for some reason you wanted to do that. You could also ask me a question, share comments or feedback about how you’re growing and what you’re getting from the show. All at ShrinkForTheShyGuy.com. You can also get my e-book there, Five Steps to Unleash Your Inner Confidence. That book is powerful and it will help you do just that– unleash your inner confidence. So if you’re benefiting from this show, you absolutely will find that e-book very helpful, I believe.
So, let’s look at this idea of Seven Steps to Emotional Freedom. Let’s start with this: emotional freedom would be, in my opinion, not feeling stuck when it comes to certain feelings. Stuck in fear, stuck in anxiety; maybe you feel stuck with this lousy anxiety that keeps coming up in a certain situation. Maybe you feel stuck with a depressed mood that hits you at different times of the year or at different times of your life. Maybe you’re stuck with a felling of sadness or grief or missing an old relationship, someone that you’re close to like a pet. Some persistent feeling that’s challenging and you feel stuck with it. And I would say, freedom is to feel completely free of that.
Now, when people hear that, they think, “Oh! You mean I feel only positive emotions and am completely happy all the time?” That’s one way of interpreting that. I have not found the key to eliminating all painful or negative emotions that result in permanent bliss and ease. Maybe someone has. I don’t know. But what I found is a much more powerful way to come to more peace and ease around whatever is happening.
This goes back to an old adage that says: What we resist, persists. That is the key behind these seven steps. I’ll give you a little story here to share how I came up with these. Basically, this was just recently, and I was just in a shitty state one weekend. It started on a Saturday morning and I was just irritable. I wanted to be away from everyone. I didn’t want to hang out with my kids or my wife. I was irritated and upset. And I was trying to do my best to work with that and contain that energy and still be a present and loving dad. I think it was that night. I was trying to do something in the kitchen and kids are demanding something. And I just said, “Man, I am so angry right now.” That’s what I said. And my little boy, Zaim, said, “Daddy? Are you angry at me for hitting Manny?” Manny is his younger brother and he hit him earlier that afternoon. And that was one of those moments where I was like, “Ah, dammit. No, buddy. I’m not mad at you for hitting Manny. I’m not even mad at you. I’m mad about something else.” And he’s like, “What are you mad about, Daddy?” And I knew why I was mad, why I was irritable that whole day. It’s because I was feeling a ton of grief. It was an anniversary of something from four or five years before.
Candace and I, when we first got together, she was coming out of a relationship. She was still living with her partner and they were breaking up and we were getting together. And in the first month of us being together she got pregnant. And we decided hastily to have an abortion. I don’t think either of us really knew what that would feel like or what the impact of that would be. But it was very intense. I felt a ton of pain and sadness around it. And a lot of that choice came from a lack of trust. A lack of trust in life. A lack of trust in myself. I’d never sustained a relationship longer than six months up until that point in time, so I was like, “Well, that would suck to have a kid, and six months into it, not be together anymore.” She was just ending this relationship and was like, “Are we going to be together forever?” She was still figuring all that out. So we decided to have an abortion. It was very painful. And every year right around the month that we did it, there’s just a lot of grief that comes up. And especially more this month, I’d say, for a couple of years. I didn’t really let myself feel it that much. And for some reason this year I was feeling it a lot more. So I was feeling it, I was somewhat aware of that but here’s the thing: When we have underlying feelings that we don’t want to feel like fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, and all kinds of weird stuff on top of that, we get irritable at people. We get closed down. We want to distract ourselves. We get tense. We harden in some way. And that was what was happening for me.
And so I was laying there, actually, we went to sleep that night. And I woke up in the middle of the night – I was wide awake – and I was like, “I’ve got to do something here. I can’t go through all of tomorrow being like this. That was so hard. I have to do something. I know I need to work with this underlying feeling. But I don’t want to feel it. Damn it, I don’t want to feel it.” And I was having all the experiences of resistance that you might know of. And whatever the feeling is: fear, sadness, anger. There’s all this resistance to it, isn’t there? “I don’t want to feel this. I don’t have time for this.” That’s a big one that I tell myself. “I don’t have time for this. I hate this.” And when the feeling comes back, I’m like, “Ah! Jesus. You again? Damn it. I shouldn’t be feeling this now.” That’s a big one. You tell yourself that. “I shouldn’t be feeling this now. I should be over this by now. I want this to go away. This shouldn’t be happening. I felt this way too long. I’ll keep feeling this way forever. There’s something wrong with me.” So, this leads to the irritability, strong reactions, impatience. Let’s call it displaced anger. Misplaced is another word of saying that. And also can lead to anxiety or obsessive thoughts.
I was such a wreck that day. I bought five or six of these Banana Republic T-shirts. They are 16 bucks a piece or something. So they’re 80 or 90 bucks, something like that. And I bought them, and I already had two or three of them that I got recently, and I liked them but they were a small size. They’re right on the cuffs. After they get washed, they’re just a little bit tight. “Maybe I should’ve gotten a medium.” And I was obsessing about that freaking all day. “I should’ve gotten the mediums. Oh man. Now I’m going to have to return that.” Madness. Insanity. But that’s what our mind does. It obsesses over things. It distracts about things. It focuses on something else. All because it’s part of that resistance to feeling a feeling. So if you want to know how to experience emotional freedom, it’s going to be letting go of the resistance to stop. And you might have heard that before. You might have even tried that before. But what I’m going to share, right after this break, are seven steps that I think are going to be extremely powerful and helpful if you put them into practice. So it’s not just some theory, it’s actually something you can do.
And this is what I discovered that night laying in bed. I was like, “I have to find a way to get to that place of surrender and letting go and not resisting this.” And so I’m going to share exactly what I did and how it helped me and has gone on to help many other clients too.
So, to make this most impactful and useful for you, I’d like you to actually notice some feeling that you have that you tend to resist or may not want to experience. You might be experiencing it right now. Maybe it’s tension or nervousness or anxiety. Maybe in this moment you feel relaxed or neutral. And if so, think about a situation in your life that tends to activate that feeling. Think about that loss. Think about that person you miss. Think about that rejection you got in your dating life or at work. Pull something to mind right now to get in touch with the feeling. For maximum impact, save this episode and come back and listen to this part when you’re in the grips of an intense feeling. That will be the best way to really use this.
I’m going to guide you through the seven steps that will help you get to a place of more peace around any feeling. Are you ready? Okay, first things first. When you’re noticing the feeling, bring your attention right to it. So the first thing you need to do is stop running away and turn right towards it. That’s ground zero. You have to do that before you can do any of these seven steps because if you’re running away then you’re not taking any steps towards emotional freedom. So, bring your attention right to where you feel it in your body. Maybe it’s in your chest. Breathe. Maybe it’s in your throat. Maybe in your solar plexus, your stomach, your jaw or your face. Wherever you notice it or wherever you feel it, just bring your attention right there. Good.
Then the first thing we’re going to do is just say, “I consent.” The first step: I consent. Just try that out and notice what that feels like. “I consent to this feeling being here.” Good.
And then the next step is to go a little bit further and say, “I agree. I agree. I agree that this feeling is here. There you are, there it is, I agree.” And breathe as you do this. We’re just noticing your stance towards the feeling and how you experience it in your body. And if part of you resists that, “No, I don’t agree. I don’t like this feeling.” I’m not saying you have to like it. I’m not saying that it’s your favorite thing in the world or that it’s even pleasant but agreeing that this is reality, this is right here and right now. Not denying and covering our ears and eyes and running the other direction, saying, “No, no.” This, “I agree”, this is here, right now.
And the next step, the third step is actually to take it a little further and say, “I’m willing. I’m willing to feel this feeling. It doesn’t mean that I have to like it. It doesn’t mean I have to want to feel it like something I’d choose to feel everyday and all day but right now I agree that it’s here and I’m willing to feel it.” And just breathe as you do that. The deeper you can breathe during this process, the better. More oxygen is kind of always a good thing for us. Just like more water is generally always good. And more vegetables are generally always good for us. Good. I’m willing to feel this feeling. Just noticing what that’s like. How willing are you? Can you be more willing? With each breathe in, that’s right, can you soften, can you expand? Can you be more willing to just feel?
The next level is surrender. I surrender to this feeling. Because the truth is, you may have been fighting this feeling for days or weeks or years. Running away from it, hiding it, resisting it, yelling at it, banishing it, criticizing yourself for having it and on and on. Has that actually made the feeling go away? Has that actually worked? Has it stopped the feeling? At best, we can temporarily not notice it because we’re distracted by something else. At best. But it doesn’t go away. Surrender is when we acknowledge, “I don’t have power. I don’t have the control that my mind would like here to just flick an off switch.” This feeling is stronger than me. Here it is, here you are, you win. I bow to you, you win. Now I just surrender and let you move through me as you need to, as much as you will. I surrender.” Surrender to the feeling. Good.
The next step I found was, once I surrendered some, I started to become more curious. I stopped fighting it. The battle was over. I surrendered. Then I got really curious: Wow, what are you? What does that feel like? Where is it located? Ah, it’s right there. It’s a lump in my throat. Oh, okay. How strong is it? How big is it? It’s achy, squeezing, burning. Okay, huh. Getting really curious about all the sensations as I just breathe and just notice it. So much of the resistance drops once we surrender and get curious. Good.
The next step is: I honor and respect you– to the feeling. I honor and respect you. Like we bow our heads to, not in supplication or something but just a nod of acknowledgement. Like, “Ow, okay. I honor you. You have value. You are valid. You belong.” Because we can spend so much of our life in such a battle with our feelings that we try to banish or alienate a part of us. “I hate you. Get out of here. I hate the anxious part of me. I hate the sad part of me. I don’t ever want to feel that again.” And we turn on ourselves and we attack this part. We try to banish it. We don’t treat it with respect. We don’t honor it. That doesn’t work. We just get in this perpetual tension. That’s where depression often starts. It’s not sad feelings. It’s not grief. It starts with this weird blockage that starts to happen when we don’t let ourselves feel sadness or anger or fear. We don’t surrender and just really let ourselves feel it. And there are all kinds of fear around feeling these feelings. In fact, one of my teachers, Christian Nicholson says, “All our fears are just fears of feelings.” We’re so scared but you can handle them. You can handle this. You’re big enough for this and the more you do this, the more you realize the truth of that. “I can handle any of these feelings.” I honor and I respect you– to the feeling. Good.
Now the last step is saying to the feeling, “I love you. I’m sorry to have pushed you away. And I embrace you.” What would it be like to feel that feeling right now in your body and say, “I love you” to it and, “I’m sorry to have pushed you away.” And breathe as you do this. You don’t have to over-think this or make something happen. You’re just staying with as much attention as you can right there on the sensations in your body with these gentle prompts of: I consent, I agree, I am willing, I surrender, I am curious, I honor and respect you and I love you. Just staying in that place for a moment and noticing what effect that has on the feeling. What effect that has on your body and your nervous system. Good.
As I did this process that night, I found that I would take big full breaths as I did this. And I would stay on each one until I felt this softening or relaxing. The next layer of resistance melting away. And it really got to that place of really feeling that I’m sorry to have pushed you away. Really embracing that pained part of me, that sadness, that aching. And when you do that, it’s really interesting. The sensations in your body might not disappear. If you have an ache in your heart or in your throat, or tightness in your belly or your sola plexus, it might not just completely disappear. But what happens is, I find the rest of my body is no longer in some sort of constriction trying to fight it off like it’s some sort of venom that’s inside of me– like a threat. And instead, my body feels relaxed. Like there is no threat and I can still feel that sensation but it’s often surrounded in warmth. I just feel more at peace. Even though I might still have some discomfort. Just like you can stub your toe and be in complete rage about it and yelling and kicking and screaming, so tense in your body. Or you can stub your toe and your body can be totally relaxed and you can just feel waves of sensation or pain pulsing up your foot. It’s the same with our emotions. You can just be with them. And the more you do this, the more you practice this, the better you get at it, and the more spacious you become, the more your capacity to handle uncomfortable feelings magnifies.
That brings us to our action step.
Your action step for today is to go through this process. You might write down those phrases that I shared. You can also just, once a day or as needed if you’re having some challenging feelings, just listen to that segment of the show again and again and go through that process. Once you go through it a few times with me guiding you, you’ll get it. And then it’s a tool you can have for the rest of your life.
But if you’re ever in a place of struggling– you’re frustrated, you’re angry, you’re sad, you’re depressed, you’re anxious– and you want to break free, the fastest way to get there, the fastest way to emotional freedom is going to be to surrender, to let go of the resistance. These seven steps are a little walkway, a little pathway, that will help you get from a place of tight and constricted and upset about it, to a lot more open, a lot more free, a lot more relaxed and a lot more at peace with what’s happening. So use this in your life. And I’d love to hear more about your experience. Go to ShrinkForTheShyGuy.com and share more there. You can also go to Facebook.com/SocialConfidence. There you will be able to share more about your experience or ask questions or just talk about you’re own journey to confidence. So, until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome. I’ll talk to you soon.