I went through a period of time where I had panic attacks.
This is probably in ~2016 or so. Funnily it was a time when I was engaging with a TON of different people for my business. It was like the more calls I had the more things built up.
One day I was walking back to my apartment, and randomly passed by a friend I hadn’t seen in ages and boom the surprise of it all had me out of breath and unable to coherently get much out of my mouth.
This is what Dale Carnegie doesn’t talk about in “How to Win Friends and Influence People”: All of the problems and the root causes of awkwardness, social anxiety, and nervousness.
See, social awkwardness is a type of feeling of shame.
And then you feel shame that you feel shame.
And if it grows out of control, you increase the intensity of the feeling just by avoiding it.
Not a great cycle.
This turns you into a great manipulator of your surroundings. You internally try and “control” everything. You can’t relax with what is there.
It’s like you're double processing.
You’re not just in the “work” or task or meeting…You’re also “worrying” about the work or task or meeting.
So, whereas most people can just be, or be present with what’s happening you’re pushing the gas pedal and the breaks at the same time.
This of course leads to burnout and illness.
I’ve seen the latter pop up from this quite often as well.
So this problem people face is incredibly consequential.
And incredibly tiring.
And worse of all it’s something that can grow rather than fade with time.
And then people tell them to “Fake it till you make it”… which is ironic advice…
Most people are struggling to fake it.
The heart of this comes back to being yourself, without shame.
Shame goes ALL of the way back into our psyches. Kudos to Brené Brown for bringing this up to the forefront.
God said to Adam, “Who Told you That You Were Naked?”
And basically, we were forever in shame of ourselves.
So what can be done about this?
Here’s something counter-intuitive…You need to embrace the shame.
You want to get comfortable with it and embrace it instead of pushing it away.
By resisting how you’re feeling, you’re trapping yourself further in a web.
Practically speaking, this means getting a better sense of what it is that is specifically coming up for you when you feel shame.
It means allowing yourself to witness what thoughts pop up, what sensations in your body occur, and learning how your anxiety speaks to you in its own language.
What does your shame look like? How does it feel? What does it say?
If you can sit and be in the anxiety, watch it occur…
Notice how it stiffens your neck or makes your throat tighten, or makes your palms start to sweat.
Get curious about this visceral reaction, right at the moment it happens without rejecting it.
This is taking care of yourself for what is there, not what you want to be there.
Paradoxically, by leaning in and doing the exact opposite of what you want (which is to run), you can transform the feeling and begin to resolve it.
It helps to have support for this because approaching shame is scary.
A friend, therapist, coach or group that can help you sit in it without being judged, will help you get the true experience you need to allow it to pass.
The more you let the anxiety pass through your body fully, the more it resolves, and the more you get to experience being on the other side of the shame.
You then find a comfortable place after the anxiety is there.
Then your shame is a transitory state, rather than a permanent end.
As you begin to understand it is transitory, you begin to expect it to pass. And then it dissipates.
After all, if it will pass soon enough, then why not just skip to it immediately?
Getting a visceral experience of yourself is the missing ingredient for those seeking to become more comfortable as themselves.
And any time spent not as yourself is time that is wasted.
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