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Social Anxiety

How Far Have You Come
With Your Social Anxiety?

Let’s be objective with who you are now versus who you were back then & the things you couldn’t handle

Let’s track your social anxiety recovery and see how far you’ve come.

Have you ever looked at an old picture of yourself and couldn’t believe how much you’ve changed?

You probably don’t even recognize yourself, depending on how far back you look! 
Sometimes I feel like the worst mom when I look at my son’s baby pictures because if you line him up on a wall next to 10 other babies, I wouldn’t tell you he’s mine. He looks nothing like when he was a baby.

Looks aside, though, who were you 10 years ago? 5 years ago? Last year? 

There’s no doubt you’ve evolved. You’ve gotten better. You might contest that and think it’s not the case for you, and that may be, but before you put yourself down, let’s shed light together on the facts.

This article is about:

  • How far you’ve come with your social anxiety recovery (we’ll do an exercise for it)
  • The effects of being on the hedonic treadmill
  • The number-one movie in 2013
Most likely, you’ve forgotten the problems you had 10 years ago. It’s good because you don’t want to hang on to those problems while the rest keep piling on from 9 years ago, then 8, and so on. 
That would be a lot of problems you’d be carrying around…

Chances are you resolved many of them, and then new ones appeared. And hopefully, with each new set of problems, you’re better equipped to deal with them, and so forth, to infinity! 

The funny thing with being human is that we’re always on this hedonic treadmill. 

The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the “observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.”

Technically, whatever good happens to you, you’ll get over it. 

So, once you found the solution to your struggle (you 10 years ago), and it disappeared, you probably rejoiced for a while before moving on to another problem, thus forgetting the benefits you got from fixing the first one
After all, whatever held you back, pouf, it didn’t anymore!
So, it should come as no surprise that in your mind right now, you might think you’re not much further ahead with your social anxiety because it’s still holding you back in x, y, and z ways
Maybe you still can’t do small talk. 
Maybe you still overthink a text you sent a month ago. 
But you’re probably ignoring the other ways that no longer appear on your radar. 

Because their benefits are embedded in your life, they no longer stand out.

You must hold hands with all previous versions of yourself to grasp how far you’ve come. 

Each version brought something to the table, for better or for worse. If you hide from these previous versions of yourself because you feel shame or embarrassment, you’re not honouring the person you are today

And you’re taking away the potential of future versions.

Technically, I could even say you have a hard time believing you’re worth knowing if that’s the case.

Here’s an example: 

Let’s say that 10 years ago, all you ever wanted was to find a way to ask that one cute person out because that was the key to solving your love problems. 

Having that confidence would be life-altering and would help with your social anxiety.

Then some years passed, and with trial and error, you eventually did ask (another) cute person to go out with, and they eventually became your wife, husband, or partner (whatever the case may be).

The problem of asking a cute person out has never been a problem since then. 

You cracked the code and got the key. You still possess the key, but it’s in your basement with your old high school football uniform. 

There’s no reason for you to venture down there. And anyway, now you’re looking for the key that unlocks your dream job because you think that with this job, all your problems will be solved. And so on. 

Hedonic treadmill, yo! Always be cracking codes and collecting keys.

It might sound like you’re on your way to winning the game of life, but two things are happening behind the scenes.

The first is that when you’re on the hedonic treadmill going at 20 miles per hour, you’re super busy with the problem at hand because this problem stands in the way of your happiness, holding you back from thriving. 

But then, when you finally crack the code and are off the treadmill, you’re not putting the same effort into appreciating how amazing it feels NOT to have the problem anymore in favor of your problems instead of on the relief from them.

You’re already eyeing the next problem coming on the horizon, prepping yourself to get back on the treadmill. 

While I’m not suggesting you spend every waking hour patting yourself on the back for getting on the other side of a problem if you want to spend more time OFF the treadmill, try to hang on to the initial feeling of relief/joy/accomplishment you had more regularly. 

Be nostalgic about it. 

Appreciate the disappearance of this old problem. 

Rejoice at the number of headaches gone because of it.

The second effect is that if you jump from one problem to another, you’re depriving yourself of acknowledging the skills and strengths you brought to the table to make that problem disappear. 

There’s no time to debrief, assess, and recuperate.

So when asking someone out, you probably had to be thoughtful, caring, vulnerable, and so on. Traits that you had a hard time tapping into at one point. 

Again it’s not about resting on your laurels but putting your keys on display.

Kind of like when you unlock a new level in Duolingo and know exactly why and how you did it. Maybe because you finally learned to say “de meisje drinkt melkproperly after 24 tries. 

The best part is that if you practice reminding yourself of all the keys you’ve collected, it will inspire you to think of all the future versions of you you’ve yet to unlock

Versions that you’re currently working toward. Granted that you persevere and pay attention to how you’re overcoming your current hurdles.

5 quick ways to manage social anxiety

5 Quick Ways To Manage Your Social Anxiety

There’s no substitute for effort, but you can speed up the process if you understand and take these 5 ways seriously. This is your starter pack; what you do with it is up to you.

Ok, now that we got the theory out of the way, let’s move on to the practical aspect of it and do an exercise. 

Let’s shed light on your evolution and all the keys you possess.

Pen and paper out (although I know you’re not budging) and think back 10 years ago. I know it’s all a blur. I never understand older people who use dates and years in a conversation. 

If I don’t sit down, do the math, and count backward to how old I was, I would have no clue wtf happened in 2006 or 1998. For me, those years might as well be one and the same.

10 years ago

Ok, so, 10 years ago, we were in 2013. Means nothing to me. Does it to you? Let’s bring out the pop culture of the time to refresh our memories.

It’s sometimes easier to place ourselves alongside cultural events as they take us back in time.

In 2013:

  • The movie Frozen came out
  • Thrift Shop was the #1 song of the year
  • Iron Man 3 was the highest-grossest movie of the year
  • 12 Years a Slave won the Oscar for best movie

The biggest stories of the year were the NSA leaks (remember Edward Snowden?) and the Boston Marathon Bombings.

In 2013, I was 25 years old. Living in Florida. By that time, I had one year of work experience. This means that I was working at a Fortune 500 as a Financial Analyst.

Now, the next thing we need to dig into is the struggles.

If I put myself in my own shoes at the beginning of my career, I remember walking the grey corporate hallways hiding behind my computer, and pretending I was typing to not engage in any small talk on the way to a meeting. 

Because, of course, we all walked to the meeting rooms as a team.

I remember hating what I did but not knowing what else was available because I didn’t dare ask anyone around me. 

I had an intense yet distant manager who was never available, so whatever I had to do, I had to mostly figure out on my own, which was pretty stressful. 

I had difficulty asking questions or getting feedback because I wasn’t confident in my abilities and believed I got the job out of luck.

Hopefully, as I tell you my story, you’re thinking of yours. 

Here are some of the struggles I had 10 years ago:

  • I couldn’t ask a question without worrying someone would find me incompetent at my role (which I was)
  • I had no idea how to stand up for myself and what I wanted
  • Small talk made me sweat, so I refused to take the elevator should anyone I know be in it

I know you probably haven’t grabbed a piece of paper, but I highly recommend you do so it comes into perspective. We can’t work with what we can’t see.

Now let’s look at 5 years ago. 2018. 

Also doesn’t ring a bell.

  • God’s Plan was the #1 song of the year
  • Avengers Infinity War was the highest-grossest movie of the year
  • Green Book won the Oscar for best movie (never seen it)

The biggest stories of the year were the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (did not tune in for that) and the World Cup in Russia (ahem, different times, huh).

Ok, so given that I did not watch, listen or participate in any of these things, it’s not information I can hold on to jog my memory. But I was 28, and at 28, I had a one-year-old boy. 

I was still working at the Fortune 500 company but found my way out of Finance and into IT as a Product Manager. I enjoyed it more and felt more comfortable in my skin. 

This was the year I started putting out content for Honestrox without a handle on it.

Think about where you were in 2018 and what your struggles were.

Here were some of my struggles:

  • I wanted to find a way to help others with social anxiety, but I was terrified of sharing my thoughts online
  • At work, I couldn’t muster up the courage to confront a co-worker going around my back doing work. I told them not to, so I ended up going to my manager so he could resolve it for me
  • Every conversation had to be planned out in my head
  • I couldn’t handle running into the same neighbour twice in one day
  • I had a hard time being in someone’s company for more than an hour

Last year

Now, let’s look back at last year. It should be easier to come up with 5 things you struggled with last year, so I don’t need to bring up the pop-culture signposts.

For example, the things I struggled with were:

  • Using my voice when unjustly reprimanded
  • Believing I bring value to the table
  • Knowing what I want vs. what I think I want
  • Grieving the versions of me, I’ll never be

Ok, so if you have the timeline in front of you, it should look like this: Each year has its struggles or problems, and as you crack the codes, you accumulate the keys.

Do you notice anything that stands out? For this exercise to work, you must think hard and be honest. No one will see what you write down. If you’re having difficulty thinking of things, I can help.

What are the things you need to crack the code on? 

For example:

  • Have you been trying to get promoted for years, but it hasn’t happened because you’re told you’re not speaking up enough?
  • Are you increasingly lonely because you’ve given up on reaching out to people?
  • Has your love life plateaued because you’re not willing to be vulnerable with someone else?

Challenge your social anxiety right now!

Join the free 5-day challenge and you’ll get one task each day to complete. There are 3 difficulty levels so you can set yourself up for success. 

Now, as you do this exercise, two thoughts might pop up:

  1. Wow, I’ve come a long way; I don’t struggle with any of the things I did
  2. Dang, I still struggle with all or some of these things

Don’t beat yourself up if your thoughts lean more towards reality #2. We all have problems that are recurring, dormant, or perpetuate throughout the years. They might not be associated with social anxiety, per se, but we all have them.

For example, I still have a hard time making genuine friends. 

That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on trying or accepting that it will always be like this because, for the past 20 years, it’s been a struggle, but it’s an important point to be aware of. I can be aware of it without adding judgment on top of it.

Whatever the case may be, accept that it’s a struggle. 

You can choose not to admit it, but will that do anything for you? Remember that you’re trying to hold hands with all previous versions of yourself and unlock the future versions.

You’re not trying to stuff them all in a duffel bag and throw them over the bridge, are you?!

Your goal should be to:

  • 1. bring to light what’s holding you back 
  • 2. work towards cracking the code 
  • 3. reap the benefits
  • 4. acknowledge them regularly 
  • 5. tackle new challenges ahead

Let’s call this the evolution cycle.

Get on it, and you’ll feel more content and fulfilled with your life because you’re paying attention to the good you added to it. 

And by paying attention, I mean that the keys you’ve accumulated in time are on display as a constant reminder that you’re holding hands with all past versions of you and reaching for the hand of the future version of you.

Now, another thing to consider, especially if you are the type of person that likes to journal. 

Here are some prompts related to past versions of yourself to keep focus on the keys you’ve collected:

  1. 1. Write about a moment when you found yourself struggling and thought the struggle would never end. Detail the struggle, how you felt, and where you stand now.
  2. 2. What is one good you feel you’ve absorbed too fast and didn’t enjoy? How can you bring that good back to your life and appreciate it?

These are just some things to think about to bring your progress to light and feel good about the direction you’re going into. It’s all about perspective when it comes to tracking your social anxiety.

We’re doing an exercise to be objective with how far you’ve come with your social anxiety. We’re going back 10 years, 5 years, and then taking last year into consideration as well. 

I'm Roxana

I went from being scared to ask a question out loud to hosting summits online. I love coffee, french crepes, and working from home. My mission? Help others build their social confidence to make friends, have conversations, and be comfortable around people!

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5 quick ways to manage social anxiety guide

There’s no substitute for effort, but you can speed up the process if you understand and take these five ways seriously.
5 quick ways manage social anxiety

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