Social Anxiety, part 5
This post continues the series about Social Anxiety Disorders which started with The Zone of Normality and the fear of standing out, and presents some alternative Cognitive Behaviour Therapy-like approaches to overcoming social anxiety problems.
I have so far written about undertaking a few (almost) conventional CBT strategies. This post is about hybrid, inventive CBT-like strategies using blogging as a catalyst for overcoming social anxiety.
The Shyness Project
The Shyness Project by Brittany Wood is a great practical example of a Do It Yourself CBT-like strategy carried out, although Brittany doesn’t call it that. Brittany started her one-year blog project in January 2011 with a goal of overcoming a range of social anxiety problems within one year, progressively month by month. During that year she systematically worked through her anxiety problems by setting up and engaging in trigger-situations with real people and documenting her progress on her blog.
Brittany’s strategies are easy to imitate (and be inspired by), and neatly organised into the problem categories they target, such as Phone Phobia, Talking to Strangers, Dressing Confidently, Public Speaking and Make New Friends. Her blog contains a variety of musings about aspects of social anxiety and socialising, and include guest posts such as this one, and I can warmly recommend The Shyness Project as inspiration.
Freelancing and blogging as a cure for phone phobia
One of the most effective things I have done to overcome phone phobia was to research and write a blog series about Telephobia. I learned a lot from reading about others’ experiences, and even more from throwing myself into the deep end:
In December 2011, I designed my own mini CBT challenge* inspired by The Shyness Project mentioned above. I took on a freelance phone-interviewer project, where I conducted interviews with executives in overseas companies in a specific industry (sort of a spy job)… and then wrote about it as part of my series about Telephobia.
The strategy didn’t stand alone, of course, it was just one piece in a patchwork of many little phone skill-enhancing strategies; many of which were/are opportunistic and almost sub-conscious. Such as:
- Listen to my husband’s professional phone conversations and learn from his style
- Pay attention to other people’s conversation scripts for professional situations and copy them to the extend they are relevant
- Use ‘sensory imagination’ to process and imitate successful aspects of other people’s communication, particularly intonation, rhythm and useful phrases (a topic for another day).
- Develop voice confidence by singing for an audience
- Notice my own progress and be proud of every phone talk and face to face conversation I do well! (positive reinforcement!)
So do I like talking on the phone now? No. And I still hate when the phone rings. But now at least I can apply professional phone manners when I want to (mostly), so phones are tools and not just a barrier to opportunities. I consider that a very successful result.
Questions to readers
I have been chasing after more well structured therapeutic blogging programmes like The Shyness Project to write about in this post. However, apparently that isn’t something a lot of people do.
Most blogs about CBT praise it so religiously that it awakes suspicion that CBT is actually a lot of blog authors’ livelihood in some ways. CBT is not just a system of useful principles and tools, it is also an industry and maybe even a religion to some. So instead, I’ll ask questions to the readers:
- Do you consider yourself to have difficulties that can be characterised as social anxiety?
- Do you adhere to or create systematic strategies to overcome and/or cope with social anxiety?
- Do you use blogging or other online communication to help you overcome or cope with social anxiety?
That’s all for now …
*I needed work and freelance experience too, so it was a multi-purpose endeavour. Framing it as primarily a CBT project made the work more interesting and meaningful in a personal development-kind of way (because financially it wasn’t) and it was really a big leap forward and away from Phone Phobia
Illustrations from OpenClipart.Org