I have been participating in group therapy for people with social anxiety. It appears to me that the amount I sweat has an uncanny correlation with the social situations I am in. And I believe the best way to confront social anxiety, is likely within the settings of a social group.
The group focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy, with a particular focus on acceptance. A main part of the philosophy of the therapy can be found in the book The Happiness Trap – which summarizes the tenants of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (“ACT”).
In short, the theory is premised on the notion that one cannot change their thoughts, but one can defuse them in realization that thoughts are a mere string of words. After analysis, if a thought is helpful, then pay it mind; if not, then do not fuse with it. As an “exposure” in my group, I wrote and read aloud this poem:
The Lock In My Mind
If my senses stopped, then I’d stop, in a sense;
From the digging, the wriggling, uncomfortableness
The head wraps and bends, in circles and knots;
Til you wrap your head round, it’s not have but have nots.
The truth is deception, perfection an illusion;
the illusion is perfect, for this world’s delusion.
That perfect is real, that it can exist,
Our society of have-nots, yearns for just this;
Tom Brady, Lance Armstrong, Oscar Pistorius,
Their shine and their shimmer can only be glorious.
But even they – they cheated – lies, doping and murder,
So the notion of perfect can’t be more absurder.
Yet I return each morning, sobering thoughts of being fallible;
the idea- a shame, the disgust, not palatable.
The solution’s acceptance,
Not from others but me,
Stop worrying about others,
and you’ll be halfway free.
Whether they accept me or not, I’ve got what I got;
I’ve been blessed, I’ve been cursed; for better or worse.
So like me or don’t, I won’t think much of it; Cuz even if I did, it wouldn’t change shit;
And while this talk comes easy, in practice it’s a bitch.
Speaking of which, the other part of the equation,
Accepting yourself, unconditionally,
Knowing from practice, that that is the key;
To the lock in my mind, that won’t accept me.
Regardless of success, relationships and wealth;
Regardless if I’m a moron, I stutter and smell;
Regardless of career, material things and debt;
Regardless of anxiety, nervousness and sweat;
Regardless of pain, medication and disillusion;
Regardless acceptance must be the solution.