“The fear of being nervous or uncomfortable in social settings” (webmd.com)
Connecting with other people is so hard for me. And, although I was “diagnosed” with social anxiety. I’ve come to the point where I’m not claiming it. I’m not going to let that define who I am, in the sense that it stops me from living the life I want to live, and it stops me from being the person I was designed to be. It’s not happening.
What is happening, is I’m using that to help me grow. I’m using that to connect with other people who have walked the same or similar path.
I’m thankful for Network Marketing. There’s one company in particular that threw me into Personal Development like no other. If it weren’t for that company, at that time, I wouldn’t have made the progress I’ve made.
I’m thankful for my mom. She helped me say “no” to solutions that were not beneficial for me, and frankly that sent me on a path of creative solutions- teaching me to be resourceful.
I’m thankful for my loving God. For the healing He provides.
Let me set the record straight. Healing comes from many different ways, and healing is different for each person. And for many, if not most, healing is a daily habit- not a once and for all.
Side note: 3 years ago, I made a vision board. One of my areas of growth, that I wanted was deeper friendship. I have a very similar picture to the one in this post pasted on my vision board. 3 years later, I’ve seen how that vision has come to pass in many different ways.
Let’s just paint the picture, real quick, and get a little vulnerable.
I was the little girl who was afraid of light switches. The kid/teenager who timed it right, on most occasions, that other girls/women didn’t see the stall I walked into in public restrooms. I waited in the public restroom for the other girls and women to finish their business, wash their hands, and walk out of the bathroom before I exited the stall. (I’m sure more people saw me than I realized, but I tried really hard to time it just right). Don’t ask me why I did these things. I have no idea. Haha. I’m sure it relates to the fear of social settings, and a need for control of that fear?
I was the teenager who had panic attacks in places like the fair and IKEA. Sweaty, itchy, swelling hands. Heart racing. Hard to catch your breath, panic attacks.
Got the picture?
It affected me in one way or another on a daily basis.
It wasn’t until I started talking about most of these things with my husband (then boyfriend), that I realized these things are not “normal” to all people. (Yikes).
Side note: Normal is a relative term. I’m thoroughly aware that most people have something they struggle with. Anxiety and social anxiety are common. When the anxiety is high, and affects your daily functional level- is not typical of people functioning in their healthy state.
To this day, I still have a hard time looking people in the eye when I am mad, frustrated, angry, or uncomfortable.
Most of the struggles that I have had due to “social anxiety”, I have overcome or at least improved upon.
I’ve gotten much better in many of these areas. I’ve grown so much, and am proud of that growth. I’ve worked hard and overcome a lot for it.
Yet, connecting with people, is still an area that I have to continually work at, process, and improve on, and it feels hard and uncomfortable most days.
So what has the process been for this?
* I don’t think that I really did much growing in my high school and early college years. I just survived the anxiety and avoided uncomfortable situations to the best of my ability.
* Taking classes in college that pushed my limits, helped.
* After I hit my “rock bottom” with anxiety and depression, I started going to therapy. This helped me a ton.
*Pray. Read my Bible. Pray. Bible study. Pray. Go to Church. Pray. Read more in my bible. Pray. Go to all on the conferences at church available, the classes too. Did I mention pray?
* Shortly and also overlapping this time, I was with a network marketing company that valued personal development. All the time spent in personal development, giving my life to Jesus, classes at church, and discipleship school….my friends and family…all contributed to me moving past the debilitating part of social anxiety- into growth and standing firm into who I was made to be.
* I went through a time where answering phone calls, text messages, and emails, immediately, was too much. So, I answered when I could…and sometimes not at all- mainly because the notifications drove me crazy, so I would open, read, and then forget to respond until days/weeks later…or I would just not remember at all.
* Eventually, I came out of all of that, began enjoying hanging out, calling and texting, again.
* Creating a weekly, and then a daily habit of building relationships with my family and friends. If I’m not careful, I could accidentally go weeks to months, before I see the people closest to me, outside of my husband and kids. I can very easily get stuck in a routine of dropping kids and hubby off at work, being at home, and daily pick ups. So, I make a habit out of connecting with other people, in some way. Making connections and building relationships has easily gone from something I dread (you know the part where you have to make yourself go be around people) to something I thoroughly enjoy.
My process most likely won’t work the same for you as it did for me. All the same, if I did exactly what you did..it won’t work for me.
We were all designed differently.
The most important part, is I took One Thing at a time. Slow steps. When I took on too much, I had set backs and started over again.
The best thing you can do is figure out what One Thing you can do.
Is there anything you can do to connect with other people right now?
Make a list of the areas within relationships that you want to grow. Start with one.
What’s the One Thing you can do? Write it down. Add it to your daily list. Check it off once a week. Once a week will become 2,3,4,5,6x…and then a daily habit. Sometimes, it’ll take months just to make that one thing a daily habit.
Growth doesn’t happen over night. You may not even see it until years later…
It takes a lot of work to get past any struggles related to connecting with people, but once you do….you meet some pretty amazing people.
Cleaning and Organizing.
This has been an area that has been hard to come back from.
I love cleaning. When I am stressed (you know..the good kind), getting everything into order feels great. I love it. I love everything looking nice and neat and having its place….it gives me peace.
When I moved out of my parent’s house at 20…21…I didn’t have much. I had some paper stuff I needed to go through, but I always had the mindset that I’ll do it later when I have time. (Insert shocked face emoji). Newsflash….you will never just have the time…you have to MAKE the time. Remember how I said that in my early to mid twenties I woke up, ate, went to work, school, and slept. There were life events thrown in there, too. Getting married, having kids, spending time with family, friends. Doing things to be busy. All the things, and avoiding all the papers I had to go through. We kept so busy that while I lived in my apartment by myself, my house was a constant mess, and I didn’t make the time to create habits early on. Yikes. That’s ok, though. I’ve learned since then….
Jump ahead to that time of deep anxiety and some depression. All that paper stuff I didn’t take the time to go through and organize and get rid of when I was living by myself got combined with my husband’s stuff when we got married. When we first got married, we lived in a tiiiny one bedroom apartment, and all of the stuff that needed to be organized got stuffed in this one tiny area. We were both still in school. Newly married, and becoming new parents. So, guess what happened? Yup, all our high school and childhood stuff got combined together, and now we were adding more stuff when we welcomed our new sweet baby. Because I never made myself create the habit of going through it….it all just kept growing. And growing. As we moved into our house, and added another kid…it kept growing. I would start organizing it, and that’s when I started working full time as a teacher. My husband was in his second or third year teaching, I was beginning my first year teaching. We were also having our 2nd baby. Now we had two kids 2 and under. With that followed my husband breaking his leg, and it made the perfect storm for a tough year. It’s when all of the things started falling apart. And that meant I didn’t have the energy anymore to do all the things. Including the house work.
Up until that part, I was basically doing all the house work on my own. Not all, but a big majority of it. That’s because while I was working part time, I had the ability and the space to do a lot of the work myself. It was annoying at times, but I had the time and energy, so I did it.
Side note: My husband has said on occasion, that he feels like he is doing all the work. He has felt just as I have. In reality, it’s all about perspective. Each one of our perspectives have felt true to us. The most important part is communicating that and then finding a common ground, leaving each other room and space to grow.
When I started working full time, I just couldn’t handle it anymore with all of the other added stress, so I slowly started letting things go. I didn’t have the energy to care about things being cleaned to my extremely high standards. So, a lot didn’t get done. And things just piled up. And I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until my husband broke his leg. While we were in the hospital my family came over and cleaned the house for us, and that’s when I realized I need to get back to where I was. I just didn’t realize how long it would take.
The one thing that was the key….I had to let go of control. As my husband healed from his surgery, I had to allows myself to break down. All of the anxiety and depression from other circumstances had taken a toll, and I needed to deal with it. I had to learn how to take care of myself, and allow my husband space to do things around the house without my nagging. Granted, maybe I shouldn’t have to ask over and over again….but I also could have handled it differently.
This is the process I went through to build back up. And honestly, I am still climbing out of that hole. I have gotten back to cleaning specific areas daily, weekly, and monthly. But, I’m also having to go through 10+ years of junk that I didn’t have the energy or time to go through. Here’s the process:
*Let go of control. Allow my husband and kids the space to contribute on their time and terms. This one is hard. I struggle with it every day, still. It also means learning how to be ok with your home not looking to your standards daily, and learning to know when to say enough is enough. Eventually, your family will feel it, too and they will know that they love your home to look peaceful.
*Pick one chore that I can do. Likely, the first one will be one that has to be done. My mind says…I don’t know about alll of those other things, but this one has to be done and I can do it.
* Day in, day out. Make that chore a habit. Until it becomes something you just do. Now, look up. Look around. Look up. That’s when I tend to notice the next thing that causes the most tension, and then get to work on adding in that chore into the routine. Day in, day out.
*Repeat. There have been times where energy is low. I get used to doing most everything, again. Or just because I have time, I do it all myself. I just have to remind myself to go through the process of allowing and encouraging my family that this is a team effort, and adding new projects to my routine.
If you’re thinking “how can I ever do this?” Trust me. You can. Take it moment by moment. Breathe by breathe. Day by Day. Eventually, you will be able to see past your current storm. You’re building perseverance and resilience. You’ve got this.
In writing my post about “One Thing” , I came to the conclusion that the concept of doing one thing at a time to help cope with anxiety/depression, can very easily be applied to other aspects of our lives.
I began thinking about all the ways I feel like I have failed or not succeeded, or at least in the way that I thought I should have succeeded. My gaze was at the top of the ladder I was trying to climb. My mind was focused on how I haven’t reached the top, and I definitely wasn’t recognizing each individual rung that I have achieved on my journey to the top.
This made me realize that we need to recognize each step of progress we make to get to where we are going.
Celebration of each small step we take is just as important as our idea of the final destination.
I began contemplating on parts of our lives right now…parts that I have prayed and hoped, tirelessly for.
And I’ve come to realize I have been more successful than I give God and myself credit for.
As I was contemplating all of this, I realized that I would love to share on the different areas of my life, where I have done “one thing” to make progress.
So, what ya’ll will get is a series.
I hope that what comes is able to bless at least one person in some way.
In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday. I’m certainly enjoying the rainy, fall weather, here in Texas.
Never in all of my life have I seen snow like this in Texas. Power outages, limited water supplies. And the grocery stores look like early pandemic days. Strangest thing ever.
Also- we have experienced cold winter at least once a month since September.
It’s safe to say, this Texas gal has had enough Winter to last a decade. Bring on the 100+ degree weather!
I don’t know if it’s the funk of these last couple of weeks or what. . . But, I’ve been having a hard time trying to finish this series. Maybe because I haven’t been super cheerful. Sometimes, it can be a lot harder to write about something, when you’re feeling the total opposite. But, you know what, that’s exactly why I need to push forward, and wrap this up, as planned-ish. Haha.
I’m a big believer that talking about our struggles, and sharing how we overcome those are some of the best ways to shine light to those who need it.
And, whether or not I’m feeling particularly cheerful. . . the world still needs kindness. We all still need to keep spreading kindness, despite how we are feeling at any given moment. With that being said, let’s continue:
Day 16: Remember to show yourself kindness. I know we’ve done this before. And. . . It’s so so so important that you are showing yourself love and kindness first, and foremost. Without knowing how to do that, and show up for yourself, it’s going to be extremely hard to pass that along to others. Being kind to yourself is something to do on a daily, and regular basis. Do something, today, to show yourself kindness. Are you speaking to yourself negatively?! Turn that around to positive self talk?! Are you being hard on yourself about something?! Take a deep breath, and let it go.
Day 17: Show your community kindness. What is something your community needs?! Is there a road you drive by that is filled with liter?! Get you a trash grabber, some gloves, and a trash bag. Go clean up the side of that road. Of course, take safety precautions, and do your research! In some ways, meeting needs for those in your community may look different, right now. . .But, again, do your research, think about the skills and resources you have, and go show some kindness to your community.
Day 18: Clean up after yourself. Going out to a restaurant?! Tidy your table before you leave to make it easier for the wait staff to clean up after you!
Day 19: Send a friend flowers, and a thoughtful note.
Day 20: Send a struggling friend a care package filled with some of her favorite things.
Day 21: Do something to support a friend’s business.
Kindness is contagious. Spread it like wildfire. Expect nothing in return.