Overcome Fear And Social Anxiety

The Secret To Overcome Your Fears

Last week you learned all about fear and how it holds you back. This week, we go deeper into the subject of fear, into the area that can be the scariest of them all. Relationships. Whether it’s fear of approaching someone you find attractive, fear of asking them out, fear of being rejected, or fear of loving and getting hurt, relationships can hold a lot of fear.

But they also can hold life’s greatest joys. Listen below to learn how to break through your fears of creating outstanding relationships.

Click below to hear this episode!


Social Anxiety And Relationships

I’m excited about this episode because this is the first time that we, that’s right you and I, are going to take a deeper look in you and your relationship, your intimate relationship, your relationships with the fairer sex. That’s right you and women and that’s a big area when it comes to shyness and social anxiety that’s one of the major things that trips guys up and that’s one of the major areas that is a source of pain.

Even people who progress beyond basic social skills and social confidence, you might feel like you have a general sense that you can talk to people, that you can feel comfortable in yourself that maybe you have gone past the fear that everyone is going to reject you and you have some belief that people could like you and that you have had positive experiences with friendships and maybe even with women.

But when it comes to feeling attractive, to getting the responses that you want, to feeling like you’re desired and pursued and that women wanted to date you that can be an area that is very difficult to feel a sense of mastery or even competent in and the result is a continual drain on our self-esteem, a sense of “Ugh, I’m not quite good enough. I should be better. If only I had more of this or I was able to attract different women or hotter women or more women, then, then I would be worthwhile.”

Or maybe it’s focused on one particular woman like “If I could get her attention and she could find me attractive and want to date me, then I would feel worthwhile.” There’s a lot of stuff embedded in this and this is the first episode, we’re turning towards it but this is by all and not by any means the last time we’re going to look at it, it’s just the beginning here.

And as I said in the last episode we’re going to be finishing up the interview with Josh. We’re going to be looking at his experiences with dating and relationships. And so this is just the beginning. We’re just priming the pump and getting you to start looking at this area and thinking about this area. Because as you know as we talked about in previous episodes, one of the most frequent ways that we deal with stuff that’s uncomfortable is we avoid it.

We say, “Ah, I don’t really want to look at that now. I’ll do that later.” And so this is going to be a little bit of a forced exposure to look at this area and I want you to just reflect on your own experiences as you listen to the interview with Josh and as I share a story which I’m going to share in a minute. But before I get into that story, we’re going to take a moment to our new segment which is.

Ask The Shrink

So we’re going to get back into my interview with Josh in just a moment, but before we do. I get emails fairly regularly from people who come across the website or read my eBook or just however they find me through the interwebs and they want to ask me a question. Because there are people from all over the world and there’s – sometimes these questions are really simple and sometimes they’re pretty elaborate and I sit down and think about what I want to say and I send them back an email, but I think that some of these would be really good to share. And in fact, if you have a question that you’d like to ask me, go ahead and email to me at DrAziz-at-ShrinkForTheShyGuy.com and you can find that link on our podcast website which is ShrinkfortheShyGuy.com.

But here’s a question that I got from a fellow named Nordi and he said, “Hey Doctor.” And I’m going to read the exact words of his questions. He says:

Hey doctor, I want to quit with a lady who loves me but I don’t know how to do it. I want to know how to quit with her without telling her. But I want the relationship to just fade out.
-Nordi

I really identify with Nordi’s desire for the relationship fade out as I call it and I would be lying if I said that I never did the “relationship fade out”. I’ve done several of those. It’s sort of just the not returning a call or not really pursuing much and then just letting it fade out and it sort of works in the short term. It’s like an immediate gratification thing like you get a brief hit of relief.

I was like, “Oh, thank God. I don’t have to deal with that.” Like when you have to write a paper or something and then you say, “You know what? I’ll just work on it on the weekend.” And then you get that immediate hit of relief. But then what happens? Well, whether it’s a paper or that person that you’re trying to break up with, it just kind of starts simmering there because you haven’t really dealt with it.

And the problem is it doesn’t just dissolve, it actually produces a low level of tension inside of us and so what I strongly believe and encourage guys to do and what I encourage Nordi to do is to be direct.

I think being direct is always better in the long run. Now that doesn’t mean you have to tell her, each and everything that you don’t like about her or list her flaws or something like that. It will be brutally honest in that way. I do think that letting her know directly that you don’t want to go further with your dating relationship is a must. Now there are a lot of unknowns here. We don’t know how long Nordi has been dating this woman, how serious it is. I think the advice shifts a little bit if you’ve been in a multi-year relationship or you’re living together or something like that.

But the way he phrased it, I’m just going to assume that this is someone that you’ve gone a handful of dates with, that you’re not living with, that it’s not that serious, and you’re realizing that you’re not so into her and there’s nothing worse than the uncomfortable “I’ll just keep doing this because I don’t want to hurt your feelings and I don’t want to feel like I’m a bad guy and I don’t want you to get mad at me. So I’ll just endure this.”

You know I had one client I was working with who said that he stayed in a relationship for two years. It was a four-year relationship and he said he stayed in it for two years at the end and the whole time he knew that he didn’t really want to be with her and he eventually would break up with her but he was just too uncomfortable and scared about how she would react and how it would feel and so he just didn’t do it.” And of course, he suffered a lot. He was kind of depressed most of the time.

So I think it’s incredibly important to be direct and clear and it’s really kind of like pulling off a band-aid. It’s not comfortable but you just got to do it directly and clearly. And there are so many different ways and I don’t want to read a script or something like that.

But just to give a few examples of assertively ending a relationship, you could say, “I highly recommend the face to face as the best option.” It was a little more of newer relationship and you haven’t spent always time together. I say over the phone could also work. I’m not a big fan of the email breakup or the text breakup. I think it’s kind of lame. It’s a little bit cowardly. Get up and have little balls. Look her in the face, at least talk to her over the phone and just say, “Hey, I’ve been thinking a lot about this, but this isn’t quite working for me.” Or “I really appreciate you and I’ve enjoyed spending time with you and I’ve decided that I don’t think we should date anymore.”

Something like that and those aren’t the exact scripts that you should use, but just to give you an idea about how you can be directed. You’re not going to crush her, you’re not going to destroy her and that you can just be clear in that way. And I think that the key other piece that I’ve advised that I would give Nordi and I give to any guy is that we have to be congruent in this.

We have to be congruent with what we say and then what we do. So often I see a guy will break up with a woman, say I’m not that into her and be direct, but then “yeah, we’ll hang out again” or “let’s just hang out as friends,” or “why don’t you just come over and spend the night, we’ll be just friends with benefits.”

And man, I find those experiences to be fraught with peril even if you agree on it and she says, “Yeah. It’s fine.” You might be opening up yourself up to a world of hurt where its friends of benefits but then all of the sudden, you find that she’s getting upset about something and you say, “Wait a minute. You can’t get upset about that because we’re just friends with benefits.”

Our emotions don’t work that way. And I don’t think anyone’s emotions work that way but especially for woman that’s connecting with you through sex, it’s kind of confusing. If you say, “We’re broken up but then you still act like you’re dating.” So I would say really be congruent in the relationship and respect her by having a boundary and moving. Eventually if we want to reconnect these friends down the road, there might be a possibility. But I really say be congruent and fully end that relationship.

Expert Interview – Overcoming Social Anxiety In Relationships

Aziz: Welcome back. We’ll just jump right back in to our interview. I know that recently you have been using online dating site. Is it Okay Cupid that the one you’re using?

Josh: Yeah. It’s Okay Cupid just to attract women.

Aziz: Okay. Yeah. That’s a fascinating topic because I think there are lots of guys who are shy and their hope is that “Well, I will avoid having to approach women by going online and meeting them that way.” And I see pros and cons to that. Pro is that maybe you’ll have a lot more interactions with women. The con is that there are certain fears that are going to rear their ugly head yet again. And very common experience I hear is that guys who are really shy or uncomfortable to approach woman in real life go online and don’t have much success. They don’t get responses. They don’t really find a lot of opportunities and so that was an idea that I had about online dating until I start hearing your stories and it sounds like you don’t seem to have a whole lot of problems meeting women online and get – seems like you’re going on dates fairly frequently.

Josh: Yeah.

Aziz: So what’s your strategy there? How does that work?

Josh: Well, the strategy is very straightforward and I wrote a profile that was a little brief and pretty authentic picture where I’m at and I get a lot of positive feedback even from women that actually either don’t respond or I don’t end up going to a date with me, do not message or women actually like what they read and just having an authentic picture of yourself and where you’re at.

Because people are used to reading the same profile, written a thousand different ways over and over again in online dates and everyone is laidback and fun and open-minded and funny and sounds like they’re the most promising I see on there. But people infrequently speak to their a little bit of vulnerability or maybe a little bit of transparency and we know their actual experience in life in what they’re looking for in a person.

Aziz: Yes. So what I’m hearing what you’re saying is that people are presenting a very common picture which might be aside of themselves that they think is going to be attractive and it might have those traits but at the same time, it doesn’t ring as true. It’s not as authentic and not as revealing as to who they really are and somehow you are conveying that in your profile that sounds like by being different, by being authentic.

Josh: Yeah, yeah. And just knowing who you are and what you’re looking for and I’m pretty obvious about my intentions. And that’s so important. The thing is that I think people, and this is going to sound cliché, but I think the things that people find attractive are not like your job and your income level and your height which everybody looks that, but it’s kind of understood that you’re not going to be 100% all the time. The things that I think people fall in love with are your idiosyncrasies or your maybe your shortcomings – in the way you get short tempered in traffic, you don’t drive a car or you don’t like this type of food, so you’ll always call ahead or whatever the things to make you a little bit more flushed out, a little bit more human. Other things that people really appreciate.

Aziz: Yeah. And I think that is so good for people to hear that not only do believe and do that but you’re actually having lots of success living that is because one of the most common ways of dealing with a sense of shame or not being good enough and that’s the kind of their root of social anxiety is to try to hide our flaws and hide our idiosyncrasies or anything that we think might be unattractive and what the result is we don’t present a full version of ourselves.

And I know spent many years working not only to hide my flaws but then also actively trying to eradicate them, trying to become a better awesome person and there’s nothing wrong with personal development. I think it’s an amazing pursuit. But if it’s in the service of I really don’t like myself and if I really just change, then I’ll be okay.

I remember I had a teacher David Burns who taught me a lot about cognitive therapy and everything and several times he told me, he said, “You think that people are going to love you for your achievement and amazingness but they might admire you for that, they might be drawn to you in some way. But they’re not really going to love you because you’re not human, you’re not complete.

And in fact, you might find that people actually suddenly resent you or feel insecure around you and want to bring you down a notch and that they’re not really going to love you until they can bond with you by saying, “Oh, this guy is like me. He has flaws, too.” And ever since I really got that, it took me a couple of years. I started to include that in any video I do, anything I write. I reveal my own weaknesses and it’s amazing how positively people respond to that. So we really dispels this idea and I’m really glad that you’re sharing, that that actually has an effect and helps you get women because hey, not a lot motivates guys more, single guys, than the idea that they could potentially date more women as a result of being authentic. I think that’s a great message.

Josh: Yeah. It is. And it’s like being somebody who used to struggle with their personal, their self-perception. It is kind of highlighted that I come from humble beginnings and I always teach myself. When it comes to relating people, I would say, “Yeah. They might be nice but they don’t know what it is like to be me. They haven’t suffered. So they’re not – their story, their idea is not going to resonate with me.”

But if you can reveal some of your struggle, you humanize yourself so quickly in the eyes of not only who you’re trying to reach professionally but personally, I like women and that I’m attracted to, attractive, too and also kind of disarmed by a level of honesty about your personal life, my personal struggles and things that I dealt with. The more vulnerable you get, the more you can enhance the other party, give the woman a sense of safety and you can go down to very intimate places very quickly in that fashion.

Aziz: Yeah. And I think that paves the way, whatever level of connection you want with a woman whether it’s your wanting someone to spend time with every other week and it’s mostly a physical connection or more deep intimacy in a relationship with the girlfriend. Whatever direction, I feel like the – using that vulnerability and being revealing what you want, you can set the stage for a lot better and healthier of a connection and I think that’s where some of the pickup artist field which has provided a lot of really useful information falls short because there’s a – in many ways they lack level of vulnerability and authenticity that I think you’re describing and that it really works for you and I think that is a good sign and hopefully an inspiration to some of the guys listening.

Josh: I hope so. I’ve definitely only really had a dating life because of online dating. I’m kind of workaholic and it creates a space of my life and I’ve been kind of neglecting, developing, strong into the relationship but know that’s and probably one of my few friends is looking to get tied down for the next year or so. But because of my – because OKCupid basically and just asking for what I want and sharing what I was ready to give, what I had to offer. I was able to. There are very great people and some of them turn into great relationships and some are didn’t. But I think that every guy should try it. If you want to try it, you can get out of your comfort zone level and be who you are.

Aziz: It’s a great message in its simplicity and that sounds like something that you might read in a book of wisdom which reminds me I want to do address that you, probably more than anyone that I know, read voraciously — books, information, articles, ways to learn about, from a wide range of fields including your specialty which is physical health and the body, but then also mental health, spiritual health. You’re just always taking an information and I’m wondering what is your philosophy around that. Why do you read so much?

Josh: Oh, that’s a great point. I’m addicted at this point. I think that the reward for me in reading is overcoming obstacles and I just love information and I’m trying to figure out, I know when I started this journey, when I really started reading personal developments, spiritual stuff, kind of mindset books, what would I call them, I was just looking to get a better map of the world that serve me better and be able to better deal with problems that I was confronted with. I had a very toxic script, the way I was very youth and even in the army now, I know a little bit army is not exactly the place you mellow out. And I just kind of had a fierce ax to grind and it didn’t serve me well on lot of my personal relationships and really I have it in my life it definitely kind of accept for everything I did.

So I try to just adjust my point of view and learn and a new way to see things and deal with things. A method is just out we’re so profound and felt helpful. It was like a glass water to a thirsty soul and I just kind of addicted to, kind of refining my own mind and body. And now, I usually read about specific things that I’m interested in but if you didn’t know as much as I did know then you really couldn’t have got a day without learning something.

Aziz: Yes. It’s difficult because I’m such a scholar that it’s hard to find something that I haven’t read at this point.

Josh: Or know, for that matter.

Aziz: That’s right. Well, I think it is – and what you’re saying is what I would describe as a love of learning which is a strength from strength-based psychology standpoint. One of the list in the strengths is a love of learning what that does is that it motivates someone to seek out information to help themselves in their lives and it’s something that I had discovered just like you by having a problem I was facing and I’m going to break it first on a self-development thing I came across with something called voice therapy. I was probably about 21 and it was the idea that every thought that you think isn’t necessarily absolutely true and that sometimes you think thoughts that are downright out there and false, and you can actually challenge them and come up with better thoughts that support you, and it was mind blowing.

And I just progress from there in every stage in my life, if there was something I was struggling with, I would read about it or listen to seminars or workshops or other things and you know from books like Feel the Fear and do it anyway up through the most recent books I’ve read about actually becoming a father because I have a little son coming in the next five or six months. And so anytime there’s a stage of like I don’t know what the hell is going on. I got to learn. And you can find books or other sources of information audio, read it and listen to it and apply it and it greatly helps you. It’s one of those things that I marvel that more people don’t take advantage of it in a way that I think you do, Josh, and I think it really reflects not only strengthen you but also has helped you achieve what you have and in your life and kind of propels you forward.

Josh: Hey man, I totally appreciate that. But have you read Viktor Frankl’s Man Search for Meaning?

Aziz: No, no. Sad to say not. It must be one of the one books I haven’t read. But yes, it’s referenced by so many people and it sounds like it’s a pretty powerful read. Would you recommend that?

Josh: Yeah. I would recommend that. I just finished it about a week ago and it’s very easy read. One of the things we’re talking about earlier is you know your flaws and kind of your pain and hiding them so to speak and one of the things that Viktor Frankl states is that your character and your strength of character is revealed but it’s inspiring the people, how you handle unavoidable suffering. The kind of mentality and approach you take to taking something that’s very painful that you can’t get away from and the grace so much you have that let us, is what attracting inspires people to you from an external standpoint. And also the thing about that internally, how you handle your pain and how you persevere is very attractive from your own perspective. If you look in the mirror, think about the times that you suffered that you can easily withdrawn to your personality and your own strength, if you just reference to your – to the things that you’ve been through and overcome.

Aziz: Absolutely, which is something that I think unfortunately most people don’t do is especially most guys is really take the time to reflect on things they’ve done well whether it’s an actual outward achievement that society say is worthwhile or as you’re saying really looking at something that you’ve been struggling with and saying, “Well, I’m handling this well. I’m managing in my life in spite of this, the suffering or this challenge.” And drawing a sense of self-esteem and self-worth from who we are in the world is a lost art. And I’m glad you mentioned that because I think it can remind guys who were listening that you can build your self-esteem simply by noticing ways in which you handle things well and regularly calling your attention to that.

Josh: Boom.

Aziz: And there’s one other thing I wanted to ask you actually is how do you see, you know a lot of people that I worked with, we don’t get a whole lot into the physical realm. I’d like the idea of doing it, but I’ve still have yet found ways to integrate it. I mean, maybe I’ll have people move and use their bodies in session but I think on a deeper level, there’s a much stronger link between how someone feels in their body, how they look, the health and vitality they have and their level of confidence, their ability to go pursue what scares them. There’s a certain energy that’s required for that and it’s going to be a broad question. But just speak to however you would like, but how do you see the relationship between someone’s physical body and health and their ability to be socially confident in themselves?

Josh: Well, I think that the mind and body are one. So your doubts and fears have a physical body. They have a physical counterpart of some sort inside you. The way that you feel about yourself is going to be reflected to some degree and some to be physically. And it’s a great way to enhance confidence is to progress to your own body through any movement. Yoga is a great practice. I like strength training because it’s fun, it’s very direct. You can see direct results. You can see the weight go up.

You can see somebody who couldn’t do a pushup before who can do a perfect pushup now. But anytime you just take your body through a progression at all and see how it changes and adapts and reveals kind of instability to be strong that changes the way that you feel about yourself and it enhances your kind of self perspective and that is also the physical components. Just like fear has a physical component.

So there’s confidence and so there’s courage and when you just use your body and take it through a progression and like I need to have a video on this because I’ve been in the fitness business for a long time and I’m just amazed that how quickly people can would never set foot into the gym and they’ll have no upper body training, how they can just through the right amount of stress and three or four weeks to do pushups on the floor, cracking pushups, pushup on a box and I’m really impressed and I’m also marveling how simple and elegant the body is and what it does with your asset build.

Aziz: Yeah, yeah. And I like the idea of progressing in something and I think a lot of what provide social confidence and its root is a sense of self-esteem of valuing yourself and I think nothing builds that like investing ourselves in something and then seeing that we can do it, that we can progress even if we’re not going to become a bodybuilder or something extreme. Just saying, “Well, I can commit to something. I can show up. I can use my body in this way.” And it can really add a sense of self-esteem to our general wellbeing.

And so I think that you’re also describing is about the awareness of wear the emotions are in the body is, is a huge topic as well and that’s – it’s worth noting but I don’t think we have time to get into that because we’re running a little low on time now. But I want to say that if people are interested and if obviously if they’re in the Portland area, they can come see you in person but perhaps people who are in different regions, perhaps even different regions of the world, is there anything that you offer that people can learn more about your ideas on health and anything else through a website or something on those lines?

Josh: Absolutely. I’ve got an eBook so you can download for free at pdxtraining.com and you can also email me josh-at-pdxtraining.com and I will give you my read lists or my favorite go to resources for any sort of body experience.

Aziz: That is great. That read list is probably maybe 17, 18 pages by now perhaps?

Josh: It’s more of a library. I should just have a number or so.

Aziz: Yeah. That’s great man. Well, thank you for taking the time to share some of your experience and you ideas and I think it’s going to be incredibly beneficial for people just take one of these ideas and apply it with consistency. I think it can be life transforming. So I really appreciate you taking the time and sharing your ideas, Josh. Thank you.

Josh: Hey, my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Time For Action

Today’s action is actually going to be another reflection or internal action. Later on, we’re going to give some actions that are external missions in the world, things to do, but today’s action is going to be to look inwards. Because as we ever reflected on this episode and listen to Josh talking about this, re-talking about it before the interview about dating and relationships and you can’t listen to this episode and not reflect on yourself.

So my action step for you is to become very aware of what happens in this area of dating relationships in your daily life. You tend to ignore it. You tend to kind of close off to it like I don’t want to think about that, forget that, I’m not open to that. I don’t even want to go there. I don’t even care. Or do you tend to kind of go into it and beat yourself up. Like, “Oh, God. I’m so pathetic. I wish I have a girlfriend. Oh, I should have talked to her. Oh, everyone else has a girlfriend but I don’t.” And you kind of have this inadequacy story of not being enough and kind of getting down, critical on yourself. But perhaps your way of dealing with it and the background was kind of anxiety. “Oh, what if I never going to find someone? I never going to figure this out. I can’t do this.”

So whatever it is for you, it could be something I didn’t mention. Those are just some of most common ones that I’ve seen in myself and the guys that I work with, but just think about that. How do I deal with this area? And what does it feel like to really turn towards it? What is it stirs up in me to do that? And next week, we’re going to get more deeply into dating and relationships. We’re going to start talking about some of the major hang-ups that we have in dating relationships, where they come from and how to start breaking free of those. So stay tune for that until we speak again. May you have the courage to be who you are.

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