Tag Archives: social anxiety

Overcoming The Fear Of Being Assertive With Strangers

I want to share with you a recent victory I had over the fear of being assertive with strangers, and why it's so significant for me. A few days ago I was sitting on a bench seat in a popular park down by the beach near where I live, reading a book written by my father about his early life. After a few minutes another man walked up and asked “Do you mind if I sit here?”, gesturing to the other end of the seat.

“No, that's fine”, I smiled and said before returning to my book.

Would you like to be more confident about being assertive with strangers?

Would you like to be more confident about being assertive with strangers?

The beach in question is a popular tourist destination and attracts a lot of backpackers from all around the world. This guy looked like he might be one, and appeared to be by himself. While reading my book I started to feel a little guilty for ignoring him, as I imagined him being a lonely backpacker in a foreign land seeking someone to talk to.

In reality I wasn't “ignoring him”; I was just reading my book which is what I wanted to do. But my old caretaker conditioning of putting other people's needs before my own was kicking in.… Continue reading…

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How To Deal With Being Lonely

I recently joined a men's group which now meets at my house once a fortnight. The idea of joining such a group was suggested to me a few years ago by a mentor of mine and they're highly regarded in the men's work movement and in books like Steve Biddulph's excellent book Manhood. A few years back I started hearing about them all over the place and when I start hearing about an idea from multiple sources, I begin paying attention.

You don't need to be alone in your loneliness.

You don't need to be alone in your loneliness.

It's taken a few attempts to find a group that really works for me; this is my third men's group in fact. The first one didn't meet often enough to really get traction, and some of the participants seemed so stuck in their own ways that I found the meetings very frustrating. We spent tremendous amounts of time on situations that had seemingly trivial solutions, like one guy who was in a lengthy and expensive legal battle with his sister. Even on the basis of his telling of his side of the story, we all thought he owed her an apology rather than more litigation. He didn't see it, and instead wanted our moral support for continuing to attack her in the courts over a dodgy property deal that he had engineered.… Continue reading…

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Telling The Truth About Anxiety

I had another reminder last night about the value of telling the truth for healing anxiety. This year has been a pretty rough one for me, with all sorts of anxiety exacerbated by chronic fatigue bubbling up in different situations. I've had a few conversations with my sister about it, who invited me to a talk at The Resilience Centre on overcoming anxious thinking which she wanted to attend because several of her friends suffer from anxiety. It turns out to be a common problem.

Anxious Man

Anxious Man (photo courtesy PhotoXpress)

Part of the talk used the analogy of a sailing ship with demons in the hold. When we sail towards the land representing our goals, sometimes the demons jump up on deck and start going crazy forcing us back out to sea. We often end up avoiding going after our goals to settle the demons back down; but we end up bored, restless and feeling unfulfilled. The key to reaching our goals when we're feeling anxious is to take it one step at a time and learn to deal with the demons that come up without being overwhelmed. Each time we successfully sail closer to the land, the demons get a little quieter.… Continue reading…

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How to Handle Criticism

I've never been a big fan of criticism; even when it's accurate or well-intended, it's all too easy to trigger emotional memories of times when painful criticism was leveled at me as a defense by other people who were avoiding dealing with their own issues. I had a critical mother who often used the phrase “If your mother can't tell you, who can?” to justify perfectionist and often just plain hurtful criticism. My early experiences with her started a pattern of being overly defensive and not taking criticism at all well.

Criticism says more about them than it does about us.

Criticism says more about them than it does about us.

So now rather than reacting emotionally to criticism, I try to respond as constructively to it as I can. For example, there was recently some criticism of The Confident Man Project in a thread on the social anxiety support forums, so I'll use this to illustrate how to respond to criticism.

Notice Your Emotional Reaction

We're all emotional creatures deep down. When we get criticised, our first reaction is an emotional one. Acting on this raw emotion may or may not be the most useful thing to do depending on the circumstances. For instance there may be times when unwarranted criticism makes us angry, and our anger motivates us to stand up for ourselves where we otherwise may let someone else's agenda walk all over us.… Continue reading…

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