Wednesday, December 28, 2016
6:37 pm est
"I know what people think of me."
6:35 pm est
Do you believe this? People with social anxiety do. Is it even possible to read people's minds? Of
course not. But there is a good indicator whether someone is comfortable being with you. It's very simple: they stay
with you for 5 minutes. It's not a question of whether someone is comfortable or uncomfortable around you. It's a question
of degree, not all or nothing. The question is how uncomfortable are they. Are they uncomfortable enough to matter?
If they're still with you for 5 minutes then they're not "uncomfortable enough to matter." Or "they're
comfortable enough" to want to stay with you. The other question is how frequently are they uncomfortable enough to matter.
If they're sometimes staying and sometimes leaving it's a pretty sure bet they're generally comfortable with you. Everyone
has competing priorities for their time and also have obligations or other friends they also wish to see.
the bottom line is this: People would have to leave you most of the time after just a minute to prove that they're uncomfortable
enough to matter. And what would you have to do to make them want to leave you consistently most of the time? It would
have to be something extreme. You'd have to scream and threaten them, punch them in the stomach, or consistently curse them
out, not shower for a month, or sleep with their significant other.
So this begs the question: why are
people willing to spend time with you, despite the ordinary risk of them once in a blue moon feeling uncomfortable with you?
Read future posts to this blog to find out.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Why is making friends so hard?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? People with social anxiety do all the time. They place extreme demands
on themselves to be accepted. They think others somehow have cracked a code and know exactly what to do. They think
others are interested only if they know what to say, are smart, attractive, humorous, friendly, outgoing, a good listener,
successful, have similar interests, backgrounds and values, etc. It's daunting; it's also not true.
11:08 pm est
Monday, November 21, 2016
YOU CAN ONLY GET BETTER
We cross the street every day
without thinking we could be hit by a car. Does that guarantee we can't be a fatality? Of course not. Accidents
happen all the time. We've learned to live with these everyday risks not because we've been reassured, but because we
simply are habituated to it. The good news is that if you've overcome fears of these everyday situations--learning to
ride a bicycle, learning to swim, etc.--then you WILL also overcome the anxiety that has put your life on hold. You,
and millions of people going through the same thing, can be hopeful of overcoming this problem once and for all!
6:57 pm est
Thursday, November 17, 2016
The natural way of overcoming fear
By contrast, we know the more
we avoid uncomfortable things, the more we become fearful of them. In fact, we could make you afraid of something simply
by telling you to avoid it, even if you never actually encountered it. Isn't it surprising how fearful people can be
of others who are different from ourselves or who live in other countries, despite never even meeting them? That's because
they grew up being told to avoid certain types of people. Yet when we are exposed to them long enough, we become more
comfortable around them. In fact people can be quite comfortable with even negative people and negative situations,
for better or worse, simply through exposure and familiarity. As long as they know what they are getting themselves
into, good or bad, they're comfortable.
12:07 am est
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
9:55 pm est
In fact, it is physiologically impossible to remain
fearful of anything with continued exposure to it. Think of firefighters, police, soldiers, doctors, and pilots. They
weren't born fearless; they slowly became that way by exposure to successive approximations of their occupations. Sadly,
this is true even of people in war torn countries. We are dumbfounded watching people go to work, school, hairdressers,
and weddings while bullets fly over their heads. They've been exposed enough times to become desensitized to it.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
OCD, panic, PTSD, and social anxiety are just like other common phobias.
3:34 am edt
Exposure is the natural way people overcome fear of anything. Even the most primitive
animal organisms eventually habituate to uncomfortable stimuli through exposure. We all know people who have phobias--flying,
dogs, darkness, tall buildings. (I have a phobia of mice!) We know that people overcome these common fears just
by gradually getting closer to and spending more time in those feared situations in small baby steps. But those baby steps
eventually add up to a dramatic difference. OCD, social anxiety, and panic are no different from these phobias, except
it's harder to avoid thoughts, people, and travel. But it's the same thing and is equally treatable.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
How do I know I will get better?
4:30 pm edt
Practically anyone can do exposure therapy and
get rid of excessive anxiety. Exposure is the only therapy that is endorsed by all national anxiety organizations, whether
it is OCD, social anxiety, agoraphobia, panic disorder, PTSD, and phobias. If a therapist does not use exposure as their
main technique, they will not help you. It is not sufficient if they say they use CBT. CBT is a very general term
that includes dozens of techniques, including many that are not helpful to anxiety and some which will make it worse. Exposure
is a special CBT technique specifically for anxiety disorders.
Moreover, you've been doing exposure
your whole life and successfully overcome hundreds of fears. It's normal to be nervous or fearful in a new situation--the
first day at a new school or job, the first time you met your significant other, the first time you did a new activity. Yet
you overcame your initial fears by continuing to do the uncomfortable activity; that's exposure! Some have even become
sources of great joy---a new sport or career, a happy marriage, etc. (to be continued)
Sunday, September 7, 2014
New article on Wall Street Journal
Here's a follow up on an article I was quoted on 4 years ago. http://online.wsj.com/articles/where-are-new-yorks-bedbugs-now-1409337589.
4:31 pm edt
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Check out this article on HOCD on ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/homosexual-ocd-straight-men-fear-gay/story?id=22589452
4:20 pm est