New Series- Unusual Cures to Social Anxiety
These are from my personal experience of things I have learned that have been extremely liberating and big part of what helped me to break free of a social anxiety.
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Hey welcome to today’s episode of the show. Today is going to be interesting. Today is where I’m going to talk about— it’s going to be a series I’m going to do— about Unusual Cures for Social Anxiety. These are things that I’ve done in my own life that have greatly help me build my confidence and break free from social anxiety.
These are for entertainment purposes only and in no way am I advocating that you follow in these exact footsteps and do the things that I did especially anything that may be illegal or against the laws of your country. There’s a disclaimer there, and if you’re enjoying the show, by all means, please go to iTunes and give it a great review that allows me to reach more people and carry out my mission of Operation Mass Liberation. And it helps me reach more people which actually fuels me. And this is all part of what I’m here to do. And that fuel helps me keep doing these for free, so you can benefit.
If you’re looking for something else cool for free, go to shrinkfortheshyguide.com and there you can get my e-book, “Five Steps to Unleash Your Inner Confidence” which will help you do exactly that— unleash your confidence in all areas of life.
So, this unusual cure for social anxiety is something that I’ve experienced in my life, which is raves. I don’t know if anyone even calls them raves anymore. They might’ve morphed into… I guess you would say EDM, Electronic Dance Music show, maybe is the equivalent of that now. Raves have a long history. I can’t say I’m super versed in that. I think I watched a few documentaries. But originally they had a very very underground quality to them, like not sanctioned, not allowed. You had to be in the know sort of thing, and I’ve definitely been to a few of those.
By the time that I really got into them they were already really big, and they were kind of sanctioned EDM shows, in a way. I wasn’t the cool guy in the 90s who was aware of this. I got into them in the 2000 so this is my experience of those.
If you are not familiar with what a rave is, or an EDM show. EDM stands for Electric Dance Music, again. What that is, it is basically a certain kind of music and there’s a rage of electronic music, but a core theme is usually not a whole lot of vocals, tons of bass, and different rates and speeds. But think, a lot of instrumental electronic music and tons of people dancing. Usually a kind of a big area where people are dancing. There’s usually a DJ up in the front and a lot of… I don’t know… anonymity or something. People aren’t really looking at you. It’s different than being in a bar. In bars, you’re standing around, and talking to each other, and kind of looking at each other, and aware of each other. It’s a lot more like free. It’s kind of dark, and there’s lasers and shit, and it’s kind of like you can dance however you want. And I’ll get into that in a little bit.
I found raves to be extremely liberating and a big part of what helped me break free from social anxiety. The first rave I ever went to was after the Love Parade. This was when I was living in the Bay Area. I was in San Francisco in 2005. First year of graduate school. I was going to a friends house before we were going to travel up to San Francisco, and we were going to this thing called a Love Parade, and I didn’t even know if there was anything afterwards. But her roommate at that time, this guy named Brian, who was awesome. I got to the house and I’m just chatting with her, and then she’s like, “Yeah, my roommate Brian’s going to come with us and someone else as well, and you can go and meet them inside.” So I walk into the house and the door to his room was partially open and I look inside and I see this guy with his hair dyed blue, and he’s cutting some synthetic orange fur. And I look at this guy, and I’m like, “I like him.” Instantly, I liked this guy. I had gone to Burning Man two or three times at that point. And so I instantly saw that orange fur, and I was like, “Oh that’s what people at Burning Man always have,” so I knew I would like that guy.
That’s a whole another unusual cure for social anxiety. That’s going to get it’s own episode because that’s beyond raves. That is the ultimate place for liberation, in my experience. Massively helped me shift my social anxiety and gain confidence in so many areas. So, I’m going to do a whole episode… that would be another one in the series.
But anyway, I instantly liked him. We hit it off right away. Brian’s an amazing guy. So I’m hanging out, we go to this Love Parade, and he’s like, “Oh by the way there’s this thing afterwards called something or other, it’s at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. It’s like an all night dance party.” I was like “Ooh, all night dance party you say.”
Now I used to have tons of anxiety about dancing. I used to always judge myself and dislike it. I have recorded an episode about it, but it was very different in these settings because no one gave a shit, no one’s looking at you, no one cared, you can literally just jump up and down with your arms above your head going “weeee” for like an hour, and no one’s going to care. So you don’t have to be good and it was just about really being free.
I loved that, and when he told me that there’s this all night dance party, I was into it. So we go to this Love Parade and that’s like just a bunch of cars and decked out floats and stuff, and people dancing on them and celebrating all kinds of love between all kinds of people, and it was great. And it was fun. And then we took a little dinner break, and then we were going to go to this all night dance party. So far so good. I’m having a great time connecting with Brian and really enjoying hanging out with him. And then, over dinner, the topic of substances comes up. And Brian’s like, “So, are you going to take anything tonight?” And I was like, “Uhh… maybe? Depends? What do you have?” And he’s like, “Well I have something called GHB.”
Now, I’ve never done GHB, I don’t even know what it was at that point. So I had him described it to me, he told me about it. And this thing is pretty controversial, so I’m not going to get into all of that. If you got opinions about them, don’t tell me, I don’t care. It can be used in a lot of ways, some of which are really negative. But in this context it was good stuff, or somehow dosed right, mixed with the right alcohol, or something. I don’t know but holy shit it was awesome. I was like… what it was, it was like it eliminated fear, is what it did. Completely neutralized fear.
Now I had been doing a lot of confidence building work already at this point by 2005. I mean I’ve been working on stuff for maybe five years? No. That’s not true. Two years. A year or two. Not that long but I’d already overcome my fear of talking to women. I’ve been able to approach women, all that stuff. But there was still ton of fear there and a lot of self doubt and all that stuff that I have to work through it, and work my way up to it, and this was like… free pass night. I just walk up and say whatever I want. And on top of that, the environment was fantastic. Something about the environment really encouraged— and it wasn’t just the substance— it was the environment. And I’m going to talk more about the environment of these raves and how they transformed my life and some fantastic stories from this rave at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and others. Stay tuned.
So, during the break, did you secure some GHB or some other illicit substance and consume it? Because that’s definitely what I’m encouraging, especially if you are a child. That’s what I want: is all children to do drugs. No. Again this stuff is all about just my experience and you got to make your own choices for you. And I’m obviously not actively encouraging you or saying this is what you need to do, or should do, in order to build your confidence. This is just some stories from my life that I thought you might find interesting.
So, I’m at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, had the GHB, and I’m on fire. It wasn’t just women, it was men too, like being willing to be open with people. And the environment of rave, they have an acronym that was part of it… It was a rave culture, this whole thing where people take a lot of ecstasy at these events too, which tends to be a very opening substance— melt barriers, that kind of thing, and there is this acronym which you might’ve heard of if you’ve done this kind of stuff: P-L-U-R, PLUR. Peace, Love, Unity, Respect. And the environment, it’s like a counterculture movement where people are like, “Hey we want to get together, we want to dance, and we want to be free, and we want to love each other, and we don’t want to be judgmental and critical, and all that stuff.” Accepting, tolerating, kind of community.
You walk up to talk to someone in the real world and they might have a sense of hesitation, fear, like, “What do you want? What are you doing? Why are you talking to me?” Not all the time and if their energy is good, often times people are very open, and that’s what I demonstrate with clients. But there can be kind of a guard up around, and at these places the guard is way down.
People around aren’t like “What do you want?!” They’re just like, “Hey!” It was an amazing experience for me to walk up to beautiful woman after beautiful woman or groups of women, and just experiment with being extremely open! Extremely open! So instead of having to do this little dance of like, “Hey what’s up! I noticed you over there and oh, what are you drinking?” I just walk up to a moment like, “Woah, you are incredibly beautiful.” And the fact that I was on GHB probably helped, right? Like, “You are incredibly beautiful!”
Maybe in the real world, again, someone might be like, “Whaaat?” On guard, or scared or uncomfortable with that. But the environment encourages us and people are jumping up and down and dancing for hours, which totally transforms your state and your physiology and puts you in a much more energized, happy, upbeat, confident state. And my experience doing it, especially because I was very heartfelt with it, and I wasn’t like… I don’t know… trying to quickly seduce them or trick them or something. It was just like about really being authentic and connecting. They felt it and I got tons of positive responses like, “Oh thank you.” And I would take it one step further, I’d be like “Yeah! Wow!” You know? Over-the-top. And then I would get pictures of women and it was just super super fun.
One thing I’ve always heard about… I’ve been studying a lot of pick up artist stuff too, and these guys would always… kind of as a badge of honor would be like, “Yeah I made out with the girl at the bar like two seconds after I met her. Then I made out with her friend, yeah.” And I heard these stories and be like, “I don’t know if I really needed that,” but part of me is like, “Oh I want to do that. If I could do that that would prove something.” But I thought you had to do this weird pickup artist trickery to make that happen and do some sort of mind game with her, and then just do the right sequence in the right way and then it would happen. And I never really learned the sequence or wanted to. I had all of these ambivalence around it. But I remember this was later in the night, I was having just a phenomenal time and the better time you have, your energy changes. And you are like totally confident, totally fearless, totally in love with yourself, and open to other people. It just influences people. Their guard melts.
I remember I was walking one of the hallways between the different stages and rooms, and as I was walking down I saw this beautiful woman with fishnet stockings sitting there on the steps, and she looked neutral. She didn’t look happy or sad, either way. I remember I sat down next to her and I said, “How are you doing?” And I remember something really shifted for me that night. As I’m saying this, I’m remembering that. It wasn’t like… the way I asked that question was very different. It wasn’t like, “Hey how it is going?” And I’m like trying to figure what to say, it was just like I really was curious. “Hey how was it going?” I wanted to know. It’s really fascinating, this different way of relating with women and people where I actually became a lot more interested in them and a lot less scared of what they’re going to think of me, because that fear was gone.
So, I asked her that. We chatted for just a really relatively short period of time and I said, “Can I ask you a question?” She’s like, “What?” I was like, “Can I kiss you?” and she said, “Yes.” And we made out and it was awesome. And it felt really good because I didn’t do any trickery. I just connected with her for a minute and I asked her and I was really okay if she would say “no” too. Because I’ve gotten some Nos that night, of course, just talking to women in general but something really opened up there. And then it shifted about like, “How I had to be in order to get women.”
It’s really an amazing experience. And then I was able to connect with men there more too. I remember I was dancing at one point… they played a remake, an electronic remake of a Rage Against The Machine song. I don’t know the name of the song but it ends… he says this like 50 times, “F*ck you! I won’t do what you tell me!” which is awesome and I remember jumping up and down, the song builds, it gets more and more intense and it’s got an even heavier beat because it’s electronic. I remember I was jumping up and down. The guy next to me, I threw my arm around him, I didn’t know the guy! And then we’re both pumping our fist in the air, and like, “YEAH!”. And I remember talking to the other guys that night and just connecting, and laughing, and joking, and treating them like they were my good friends like Brian, my new friend, or one of my best friends from college. I would be with them and I’d be joking, and shooting shit, and laughing, and I’ll be doing that with strangers that I just met. It was fantastic and liberating. The power of this experience was not just in that night. The power of this experience is what I took away with me. I’m going to share more about that, like how it impacted me beyond that night, influenced how I saw the world, what I did as a result of experiencing that one night and other raves that I went to.
Fun trip down memory lane, of the rave at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, but you might be wondering, “Okay what about the next day? Wasn’t this all you just being high, on some drugs, and having this experience, and you woke up the next day and you felt worse and more anxious and all that stuff?” No! Actually, it wasn’t that. I mean we’ve all had that experience. You get drunk or whatever and then you feel hung over the next day, and you don’t feel great. But I’ve been up all night, I had taken the substance, by all rights the next day, I should have felt terrible, but I didn’t. Because it was such a massive breakthrough that I felt high. I felt like on a cloud for weeks after that. Something popped. These intense experiences, these massive shifts can pop something inside of us. And it was like, up until that point, the last couple years, the growth I’ve been doing, doing what scares me, facing my fear, building up my confidence, it had this effort to it. Like I’ve got to fight my way through my fear in these barriers. I’m going to do it though because I’m so fucking sick and tired of being stuck. And there is this pop, this breakthrough that night, where I was like, “Oh!” I didn’t say it like this in my head. This phrase didn’t come in to my head until years later when I started helping clients, but it was, ”Oh the world is a friendly place.” Now that’s something that I teach and we have it on a banner that we put up in my live events.
The world is a friendly place because that’s what that experience taught me. And does that mean that everyone’s going to love you? No. That everyone’s going to want to talk you? No. That everyone’s going to make out with you? No. But it means that when you approach the world with that energy, with that attitude, you get so much positivity in return. And that you can just ask someone, “Hey how was it going?” and be really curious. You don’t have to fight for anything, or overcome anything; and there’s no threat, there’s no danger to even be scared of in the first place. And also what I did that night is massive action and repetition. I didn’t just take a substance and sit in the back and be like, “Whoah man, I feel so free.” Who knows, that could be good too, right? But what I did is I took massive action. I approached people all over the place, did all kinds of things I never would’ve done. So it built up this massive muscle really quickly. It was like momentum. I remember for weeks after that I was just walking up to people, talking to people, having conversations, approaching women, and it was like, “Oh this is how I want to be. I want to be this kind of open person.” And not everyone’s going to like that, not everyone’s going to be on board with that, but it feels so much better than all the trickery and the pickup artist stuff that I learned. And I realized that if your confidence is on, and you do the discipline of confidence, you build up the habits of confidence and you really are strong in yourself and love who you are and not afraid of other people who’re going to judge you, and just show up fully, and boldly, and outrageously sometimes, then man, women want to date you. They want to be your girlfriend, they want to marry you. Guys want to be your friend. People want to hire you. People want to promote you. Everything falls into place. It’s what I realized. So I started to shift and pivot from like learning the pickup tricks and how to do it into like, “Oh how do I get to that state of being just raw fucking awesome Aziz,” because then I don’t need to know what to say to start a conversation, I just boom here I go, I’m in. So that’s how I took it with me.
I kept going to events like that, and kept having experiences like that. Sometimes with the substance, and sometimes not. I’ve always been very cautious around the use of any like that because I don’t want to mess with my emotions too much, especially around chemicals like MDMA. I’ve never done GHB again actually but MDMA is a common thing at raves and so I have a lot of exposure around it, but I was very limited and selective about how I would use it because I had a fear about repeated use messing with my serotonin and other emotional side of things. It’s probably my biggest reason. I stand by that I’ve been pretty limited in how I use that substance. So I also wanted to experience like, “Could I go to these things and have a good time, have fun, and feel free without being on something?” and I did. I did a ton actually. I remember one Burning Man I went to, I didn’t use anything for the whole time. And it was awesome. I had so much energy. That’s great!
But anyway, how does this story help you? What are you seeing? What are you learning? Maybe you are going out to go to an EDM show, I don’t know, maybe not. But what are you taking from this? What are you learning? What could you use in your life from this? Good!
Before we end today let’s end with our action step.
Your action step for today, I would say go and find some electronic music and just check it out. Now that might not be your thing, you might hate it, you might say, “Trance is stupid, anyone can make it on their computer.” I have friends that say that. But maybe just check it out. You never know man. It’s very different listening to it on your on your headphones or on a computer and the music is… you feel it in your body. And just getting in that environment like there’s shows everywhere in every big city. There’s these festivals that happen like Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas now is where it is, and every big city’s got a thing once a year, wether it’s just a bunch of electronic music. There’s stuff maybe more regularly in your city. A particular DJ comes into town. Even if it’s not your thing just go get a ticket, go get a friend to go with you, or go by yourself. Even if you just hang out there for like an hour or two, just notice what it’s like. Maybe experiment with jumping up and down around a group of people. Everyone’s dancing. You just dance how you want to and notice how no one cares. You can do whatever you want. And maybe even close your eyes and know what it feels like just move around to the music and actually get into it and not have a care in the world. Not even have a thought about what other people think. There’s tremendous opportunities. So that’s the invitation for the action step. Do it if you want, do it if it feels right for you. It profoundly transformed my life, and was one of several very unusual cures for social anxiety. I have several coming up, that I’ll talk about in future episodes over the next few months here. One of which is Burning Man, the other one is even crazier and I’ll keep that one a mystery until that episode. 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.
All music is licensed or royalty free.
DeepSound – Rain Clouds
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Ask The Shrink:
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Justin Crosby – Skrillit
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Lokfield – Terra’s Theme Dubstep
(Creative Commons License)