Why do we have emotions? Wouldn’t life be simpler without them? No, like everything else in human makeup, emotions exist to keep us safe and alive, and able to thrive. Contained in the word “emotion” is the word “motion”. And emotions get us to move, either towards something or away from it. OK, but what does this have to do social anxiety?
Well, we all have the same basic human needs – warmth, security, love, connection, food and shelter. We also have further needs for status, significance, attention, stimulation, creativity and so on. Some emotions draw us to things we feel will meet these needs, and continue our survival. And other emotions drive us away from experiences or situations which, we feel, would do the opposite.
But sometimes our feelings direct us the wrong way. Our emotions mainly get it right and drive us toward what’s good for us and away from the bad. But not always.
Your basic human needs draw you towards social contact – but social anxiety drives you away
Someone with social anxiety both wants and doesn’t want social contact. Their feelings are pulling and pushing them in different directions. A socially anxious person instinctively knows, as we all do, that they need social contact, but at the same time they fear and avoid it. We avoid what we fear – but we then start to fear what we avoid.
Furthermore, the more you avoid something, the greater the fear becomes. It’s as if your ’emotional brain’ looks at your behaviour and thinks: “We’re avoiding this situation so much that it must be really dangerous. So I’d better ramp up the fear some more, to quite make sure we keep avoiding it.” So we avoid what we fear, but we can also come to fear something just because we avoid it so much.
To complicate matters further, you can fully believe something is good for you but still flee from it. Likewise, you can fully believe something (or someone) is bad for you but it, or they, continue to attract you. It’s primal emotional conditioning geared towards survival that drives our fears, rather than ‘faulty thinking’. So they don’t respond much to reasoning. It’s more effective instead to access and modify these primitive drivers through hypnosis.
Social anxiety treatment with hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy offers a safe and relaxed way for someone to experience a situation they would normally avoid. For someone with social anxiety, a party would be a typical example.
If you can experience what it would be like to feel relaxed and spontaneous at a party a few times while in hypnosis, this is a sufficiently strong indication to your emotional brain that this situation isn’t dangerous. This kind of social event can now be reclassified as one you can go safely towards, it decides – before you’ve even been to an actual party. Likewise, someone who hasn’t left their house for years can, under hypnosis, “experience” going outside before they walk out of the door in real life. The process is under their fully control, in sync with a relaxed mind and body. And when they then leave the house or go to a party for real, it will already feel familiar, and therefore safer.
When I work with someone with social anxiety it’s generally apparent the fears have gone the moment they open their eyes. They know the experience in hypnosis of the feared situation wasn’t “real”, of course. Nonetheless, their subconscious now has a positive new blueprint for responding calmly to social situations in future. And then being socially relaxed becomes the new normal.
The new 10 steps to overcome social anxiety course has a hypnotic download for each step of the way. This is partly to develop and hone social skills during hypnotic rehearsal, and also so people experience hypnotic “safe” social experiences before they go into these situations for real. In this way the being driven away from feelings of fear can gently be replaced with the happier drawn towards feelings of pleasure and positive expectation when it comes to socialising and meeting new people.
I am a qualified life coach and hypnotherapist, experienced in coaching clients to help them make the changes they want in their lives (see my success stories). And I can help you move forward too. I am based in Canterbury, Kent and Peckham, London SE15; and also offer online sessions, wherever in the world you may be. Please feel welcome to call me on 07947 475721 for a free no-obligation 15 minute phone consultation if social anxiety affects you or a loved one – I can help.