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Hey, welcome to today’s episode. Today, we’re going to be talking about social anxiety as just a defense. What? How dare you? It’s controversial, I know but stick with me. You’re going to find this episode extremely empowering, freeing, liberating so that you realize that you can be who you want to be, be free of the things that might have been plaguing you for months, years or even decades of your life and find your way to a greater sense of confidence, comfort in yourself, more love in your life that I think comes when we’re more confident. We know we can receive more love, we can connect, we can date, have relationships and tons of other benefits of more confidence. So, let’s dive into that.
If you’d like to go learn more about the show as well as get my free e-book, 5 Steps to Unleash Your Inner confidence, you can do so at shrinkfortheshyguy.com, shrinkfortheshyguy.com and if you’re benefiting from the show and enjoying these episodes, please go to iTunes and give it a rating because the more ratings we have, the more the show grows, the more people that we reach and that’s the whole purpose of this thing. That’s why it’s free is because I want to get this out there. That’s my mission, right? Operation Mass Liberation, how to help everyone who’s stuck feel more confident. This is one of the things I’m here to do. So, check out the show online at shrinkfortheshyguy.com and then give it a rating. That would be awesome. And let’s talk about social anxiety as just a defense.
So, here’s what I mean. First of all, do you think of yourself as someone who has social anxiety? Is that something that you think to yourself or maybe you even said to other people or maybe it’s diagnosis you receive from someone official? Or maybe you just self-diagnosed, read about it on the internet or got my book, The Solution to Social Anxiety. Somewhere in your mind, is that part of your identity? I have social anxiety. I’m a socialist person. Maybe I’m a shy person. Just dig around in there and see if that’s something you identify with. And there’s no shame on that. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to get clear like is this something that I’m perceiving myself as? And if so, that’s important to look at because the strongest force in the human personality is to remain consistent with our identity.
That’s what my boy, Tony Robbins says and I think it’s true. The strongest force in the human personality is to remain consistent with your identity. So if it’s like I am a socially anxious person, I have social anxiety and it makes this, this like thing. It’s like this backpack or it’s like … not even that, it’s like a part of you. It’s like a mole on your shoulder. I have this mole right here and I got social anxiety. That’s not going anywhere. And that’s the part that I want to challenge because that’s how I identified for many years. And I didn’t see it as possible that I could be someone else. I thought, well, I can just get a little less anxious and hide it better and maybe somehow get a girlfriend and an okay job, sort of the best I can do as this messed up social anxious person.
Now, I want to have said it with that language but that’s how I thought, that’s how I felt, that’s how I acted, that’s how I approach life and that’s what I want to challenge today. And I want to give you a totally new perspective about what’s social anxiety actually is. What if the entire thing, all of it? The self-doubt, the fear, the people are going to judge me. They’re not going to like me. They’re replaying it in your head afterwards. I’m not good enough. I failed at that. I’m awkward in conversations. I’m not good enough to achieve or get that or receive that love or whatever it is. What if all of that social anxiety, the fear of interacting with others and being seen by others and being ourselves, what if all of that was just a defense and nothing more? And what do I mean?
Well for this, you got to know what I mean by the defense. And this is like old school psychology, Freud noticed in people what he called “psychological defenses.” And what he found is that, people had ways of dealing with pain and defending themselves or trying to protect themselves from pain. Well, what kind of pain you might ask? Well, of course physical pain but in Freud’s era up through today, we face some physical pain but a lot of the pain we feel on a daily basis, if we’re not dealing with an illness or a chronic condition or something is emotional pain. Actually, even with an illness or chronic condition, a lot of your pain is emotional, right? On top of the physical, so emotional pain is what we’re trying to defend our self from. And he found all kinds of defenses. Some of them are classics, you might have heard of like denial. That’s not happening. There’s nothing wrong here, right?
Another super common avoidance or defense is avoidance. If I don’t look at the problem, if I don’t face the problem then the problem is not here, right? And we all do these things on some level. But I want to suggest today that social anxiety itself, the whole thing is just a defense. And specifically, we’re going to dive into what you might be defending yourself from and then, how to approach it differently so you don’t have to see yourself in this limiting way. And ultimately, you can become more of what you want to be and who you want to be. So, we’re going to dive into what we’re defending ourselves from and how to break free from all this stuff right after this break.
So, if social anxiety is just a defense, what is something we’re protecting? What is it we’re protecting ourselves from? What are we trying to defend against? Well, what do you think? Imagine this, so let’s follow the anxiety to what it’s trying to guide you to do. So think of a situation where you have social anxiety, maybe it’s in a work situation, it’s in a meeting, speaking up, maybe it’s doing something that’s more of a leadership move like volunteering to take on a project and be seen as someone who’s capable, becoming that go-to person. Social anxiety can prevent us from doing that. Maybe it’s in your social life. It’s just conversing with people, going to a party or a mixer where there’s a lot of people. Maybe it’s in your dating life, right? Approaching someone you find attractive, deepening your relationship with someone by being boldly confident and authentic. Noticing where that social anxiety comes up for you and maybe it’s in a lot of areas. That’s where it was for me and a lot of people that are working with this challenge notice that it’s not just in one area. It’s in all areas or a lot of areas. Maybe you got one area handled like, I’m good at work. But then when I dig in with people and then really start asking them questions, they’re like, well good enough but I really want to be a leader but I’m scared, right? So, I think it affects us in all areas. Confidence is the key factor in all our success. But notice the area where you feel it most, right now in your life and just pick one; dating life, social life, work, life.
Now, what is that anxiety? If it was just trying to protect you from something, what do you think it’s trying to protect you from? Do you have a guess? What do you think? So, let’s take an example here. Maybe I was using some work examples, let’s take that. Maybe you’re in a meeting and you want to present a countering viewpoint or you want to take on a project, right? How does that anxiety show up? You might feel it in your body. You might feel afraid or nervous but if you also notice what your mind is saying, it might be saying things like don’t say that, people aren’t going to like you if you say that, you’re going to get fired if you say that countering viewpoint, people aren’t going to want to listen to you, people are going to think you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you take that project on, you’re going to mess it up. You’re not ready for it yet. You can’t actually do that, what if you fail? It’s supposed to be easy and you’re going to mess it up, right? Whatever the stories are, if you follow them to their logical conclusion, if you’re to believe all those stories, what is it saying you should do?
Here’s what I’ve discovered. Across all situations, work, your social life, your friendships, your relationships, dating across all situations, it comes back to “it’s all going to go terribly,” “you’re going to fail because you’re not good enough,” “they’re not going to love you because you’re not good enough so don’t do anything.” Don’t do anything. Don’t speak up. Stay silent. Don’t approach that person, start a conversation. Stay quiet. Stay distant. Pretend like you’re busy on your phone. Don’t ask her out, she’s going to reject you, right? So, it’s saying don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it. So, what is it trying to protect you from? That’s right, rejection, right? Failure, rejection and failure, those are the two biggest ones.
And in a lot of ways, our fear of failure is actually a fear of rejection. We think that, if you fail it, that’s something that everyone at work is going to be like, “What a loser you are.” Or if you fail at something then she’s going to say, “I don’t want to date you, you’re a loser.” That comes back to being a loser, right? So, there’s a fear of failing and being rejected but you know what? That’s actually not what we’re defending ourselves from. It might seem like it but it’s not. Here’s what I mean. What happens after you get rejected or after you fail? What do you feel? How do you feel? Yes, shitty, right? And that is the thing that we’re trying to defend ourselves from, the pain of that rejection.
And I actually talked about this in my book, The Art of Extraordinary Confidence, which came out recently. It is powerful. It is awesome. It’s my favorite thing that I’ve created ever probably but I talk in there about internal versus external rejection. And there’s the outer rejection, she says no. They say, “No, we’re not going to go with your idea. No, we don’t want to buy from you. No, we don’t want to hire you, no, whatever.” Then, there’s the internal rejection and that’s the thing that we’re scared of; this crushing feeling of I’m a loser. I’m not good enough. I am a failure. I am unlovable. I am unworthy. I am a sub-par human. Way back when, when I was working and doing purely clinical work and I had a bunch of different patients, I worked for this one kid who is just so painfully shy. I mean just really … not agoraphobic because he could leave the house but almost.
Like he would stay at home and live with his mom. He’d go to the store and be anxious at the store and go home again. No job, no friends, he’d walk the dog too. That was it. And he referred himself, this is terrible. He referred himself as a subhuman. I mean he actually had a great sense of humor. He’d kind of had a smirk on his face when he said it but there’s a lot of pain there. And that’s were trying to protect here. I mean he was living in that 98% of the time. But a lot of us who are maybe more functional than that or have a higher level of some confidence, it’s still there what, 50% of the time? Maybe you don’t feel it when you’re hanging out with your wife or husband or whatever but then you feel it when you’re at work. Or maybe you don’t feel it at work. You feel confident at work but then go approach that person that I don’t know, oh my God. I’m not good enough, right?
So, somewhere, that feeling gets triggered and it’s that crushing sense. It’s like shame, unworthy, bad, that’s what we’re trying to defend our self against. And that’s what we need to learn how to break free of. And not defend our self and learn how to work with that and break right through that. And we’ll talk more about that in just one moment.
So, how do we work with this feeling that we’re trying to defend ourselves from and what if you didn’t defend yourself anymore from that feeling? What? Blasphemer, blasphemy. So, here’s the deal. The most powerful way to get over anything is to go through it. And the most powerful way to overcome any fear is what? That’s right, exposure. It’s facing the fear, is feeling the fear and working through the fear. If you avoid something, it only gets worse. I know, I’m probably preaching to the choir here. You probably know this but we all need to hear it again and again because there’s a human quality that we all have. Our default is to want to avoid what’s uncomfortable and avoid fear and avoid potential pain especially emotional pain. But we’re going to need to shift that, we’re going to transform that if you really want to be free of this. Not just manage your social anxiety but transform yourself so you no longer identify with that. That’s not who you are. And so sometimes people ask me, they’re like, “Well, do you ever have social anxiety anymore?” And I say, “No, I am a superhuman and I no longer deal with such petty emotions like fear and anxiety, worrying about what other people think of me.”
No, I said, “Of course. Of course, I feel fear in social situations sometimes.” I mean that’s … if there’s anyone that says they don’t ever, ever, ever… give me an hour with them. Give me 30 minutes with them and I bet we’ll find something. I’ll make him anxious. No, I’m just … I would dig. I would mind. I would ask questions. I’d find out about their experience and look, it’s a human. It’s a human thing to feel this fear. But, if you were to say, “Aziz, do you have social anxiety?” I’d say, no. And say, “Are you a socially anxious person?” I’d say, no, right? I can feel fear or anxiety socially around people, that’s just a passing state. That’s just an experience. That’s not who I am. And guess what, that’s me trying to defend myself. That’s me being scared of rejection or failure. More specifically, that’s me being scared of those feelings. And guess what I do when I’m scared of these feelings? I go right into them. And trust me this takes more courage than anything else. And this is what I do when I work with people. And this is why people want to work with me and not just read a book or not just listen to the podcast because I can tell you how to face the feelings and to face the feelings. But doing it is fucking scary and uncomfortable and hard. And that’s why I work with people one on one, that’s why we have these groups where people actually are … those are even more powerful because we’re helping each other, and on the weekends. And we get into an environment or a group or a situation where it’s like, great. And that’s what I’ll do.
And so, this is a mastermind call. And there’s someone that’s like, “I’m scared of … I spoke up and I’m afraid that everyone there thinks I’m stupid.” And I’m going to work with them on their perception and probably seeing that in some ways they’re exaggerating it and not everyone is thinking about them that way. But you know what else I’m going to do? I’m going to want to help them heal that at the deepest level. So I’m going to say, “Great, that idea that everyone thinks you’re stupid?” When you… like let’s go into that. Let’s not try to run away from that. That pain, that part of you that is like hurting at the idea that someone could think negatively of you. Let’s go find that place in your body, in your heart, in your stomach, wherever it is where you feel that argh and let’s go right into that with courage, with boldness, with willingness, with openness and face it,” and we dive in. And I help them feel it.
And I do this in my own life too. I’ll feel it. I’ll sit there. I’ll do nothing and I’ll just feel it and breathe. And at first, guess what? It gets worse. It gets way worse. Like oh God, no. I got to check my email. But if you don’t run away in your thoughts and try to escape and you just face it and feel it, it gets worse. It feels uncomfortable but you meet it with love, you meet it with acceptance, you meet it with openness and things start to shift. Things start to open up. You start to feel completely differently.
And if you want a crash course like Masters level course in this stuff, check out my program, The Confidence Code where I teach deep self-esteem transformation and I guide you to these exercises, we do them together. That’s the next best thing to coaching with me. That’s why I designed it. It’s like, okay if somebody wants to coach with me, this is what I would do with them so let’s help them and it shifts everything so you can go way deeper with that program. It’s yourconfidencecode.com to get it. And I think I have to have an eBook too for free when you go there and sign up. So, that’s a great way to get started for free and then if you want to get the program, there’s opportunities to do that.
But whatever it is, you’ve got to face that feeling on some level. And you know what happens, you start to heal up that part of you that thinks like you’re not enough. And you start to feel more whole, more complete. And then, you stop identifying with I’m an anxious person. It’s just like, oh yes I am afraid of getting rejected here. Okay, guess what I’m going to do? Take the action and potentially get rejected. And the more that you do that, the more this identity starts to melt away. Because how that even make sense to say, “Oh, I’m a socially anxious person or I’m hell.” It’s like no, I’m doing so many crazy bold things a week, a month, a year. It’s insane and the same is true for you. It’s just a matter of shifting this and getting into that action, changing that momentum. And speaking of that, let’s get into action right now.
So your action step for today is to answer this question, are you ready? What would you do if you didn’t have social anxiety? No social anxiety, no fear around others, around for anything. What would you do? Really pay attention to that answer. If fear rushes in, we’d be like, “Don’t find an answer because shit, then we’re going to have to do it, right?” That’s your safety police. Let that do its thing. It’s trying to keep you safe but face it, go deeper. What if you didn’t have social anxiety? What would you do? You’re not committing to force yourself to do it, although maybe you will perhaps and find it easier and more successful than you imagine. But for now, the action step is just to ask yourself that question. Maybe you just make a practice of that this day, this week. In this situation right here, at work, or in this party or there’s someone attractive over there or maybe with your … or maybe you’re in a relationship. I mean shit, confidence doesn’t stop.
You don’t need to stop needing confidence when you’re in a relationship. You need more confidence to feel worthy of that person, to feel not be jealous if they’re going to leave you for someone better, to have a hard conversation, ask for what you want, negotiate, give love when you’re scared, reveal something else about yourself that is true but you think they’re not going to love you anymore. I mean shit man, creating an extraordinary relationship, that is an even higher level of confidence. Wherever it is, what if I didn’t have social anxiety right now? And then just let your mind explore, see what you would do. Who you would be? And then as you’re ready, step by step, moving into that, being who it is that you want to be. That’s how you transform. That’s how you become a completely different person. So, you transform your identity and ultimately, all the results that you want in every area of life. Thanks for being with me today, thanks for listening, thanks for diving in, thanks for having the courage to show up and 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.
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