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#170: Ellen Hendriksen, Rising Above Social Anxiety

You remember that old commercial where the guys says, "I'm not only the Hair Club President, but I’m also a client."? That's kind of how Ellen Hendriksen sees herself. She's a clinical psychologist who helps millions calm their anxiety and be their authentic selves through her award-winning Savvy Psychologist podcast, and at Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. But she doesn't just help others, she too has suffered from social anxiety. Hendriksen explains the techniques she has developed to combat social anxiety. Have a question for Dan? Leave us a voicemail at 646-883-8326. The Plug Zone Website: https://www.ellenhendriksen.com/ Twitter: @EllenHendriksen Podcast: The Savvy Psychologist's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Mental Health Author, How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
For maybe see the ten percent happier vodka than her body. I have this week it into a fascinating social anxiety. I think this is super common. I know I've had at least a little bit of, This, then, are our guest this week, Ellen Henrichson knows all about it. She treated and she is a long time sufferer if she has a lot of interesting insights into the condition itself and a ton of useful information and tips for dealing with social anxiety a much more from Ellen. Coming up. First, I want to mention something on the up and then we'll do your voice Nels on the app this is a pretty big news. We ve got a new course up from the man himself Joseph Goldstein. Who is just an incredible meditation teacher somebody. I've worked with dirt.
For many many years, and this is of course about these- little phrases that Joseph has used a teaching phrases that he's? U in his teaching for decades, there are really these simple little key to unlocking stress and to hear him. Talk about it how to hear all of his years of expertise being down into these brilliant little phrases, is trillions by during so I highly recommend everybody check that new course out on the app that's from Joseph gold scene. voicemail time, here's number one idea and first of all a huge fan. I read your book. My question is: how do you? keep habit of meditating going on Sunday, they'll be able to go a few days. Working up in the morning. Imitating between ten to fifteen minutes are not quite too
a feller expert at for love of meditation, hereby under way taking a bye, baby steps. that's really all that I can squeeze them in the morning before I get up the ladder be able get ready, in time- and I wanna myself enough time to be able to get ready and they get to work on time. So that my request, just the binding motivation to me the Taliban and going I'm part of it could be just me. He had a habit of waking up earlier. I got to know my second question of my boyfriend Where am I really want to motivate him to start meditation as well, but it just so hard for me to get him to understand the importance for I understand the benefits of what could come from meditation. He very very Scatterbrain, and much like me with, if you find the very hard work of an umpteenth, any barely, have
enough time to get to work, so I did want to know. Maybe what you would you recommend to say or what? What were that you would have to encourage him argument guardsmen. it's you help him out and help them understand. It may be combined try it out, because I think you'd be really beneficial for him, I'm as well as myself, thanks so much love from Saint Paul Minnesota thanks. So much thank you, but Love Minnesota. Let me start with the second question. First, don't try, that's not to say I don't love your boyfriend. I do, and I am sure you do too and I don't think you're not It is a sign that you don't love him. I just think that trying to give in seventy to meditate is often, if not a hunter percent of the time very annoying off pudding and is not likely to work. Probably not percent of the time, but maybe I a the time in romantic relationships. People
see the message of hey. You should meditate as hey you're a broken human. That's just the way it is, unfortunately, so If you know maybe I had so much scar tissue from trying and failed with my own wife that this is colouring the advice, I'm giving you, but just based, on my part, personal experience and having spoken to lots and lots and lots of people about this I just strongly recommend that you not evangelize on behalf of meditation into, especially if its unsolicited, I think the better route is just to see and demonstrate the benefits of meditation yourself and then let that force him to come to you to ask you about hey. What's going on with you, what is this thing
going for you, etc, etc. So yeah, I am I'm pretty strongly dogmatically on the side of don't you know just work on yourself, first or as the thickly shall we often reference here of like they say any airline safety instructions put your own Matt oxygen mask on first and on the subject of you on the issue of your motivation, I really think we talk about this with just war and recently on the package we did with, which was an all voicemail episode about how to boot up a habit for the new year. So if you want much more in this, go to that episode, but briefly, I would say that the better from what I've understood by looking at the sight An surround habit, formation and and human behavior change, really willpower, or is not some count on instead co opting the the pleasure centres of the brain
is a better way to go, and so I would turn into the benefits of the practice. So when you leave, you may notice after doing a few days running, that youth you feel less yanked around by our emotions are more focused calmer tune into that, and let that pull you forward as a source of motivation and don't worry so much about falling off and on the wagon, and sometimes I believe I said this in the recent episodes about falling off the wagon is where's, the motivation in and of itself, because seeing how your inner, whether get so much you know stormier, when you're not meditating is a great motivation for meditation itself. Finally the last thing I'll say it is need sleep. I wouldn't skimp on sleep, my personal advice again, you should you can take our leave this, but my personal advice is to get as much sleep is you need an
give yourself a brake on the amount of time your allotting for meditation. I dont think it needs to be too much time if, if all you can fit in his one to five ten minutes than that, I really do think that's what you're doing yourself a favor therein Maybe you find another time later in the day where you can also get a little bit. I good luck with that. Here's number two I then my name is no call and I'm calling from coal oil. I want to thank you for everything you ve done. I really enjoyed your book in it, helped us up the world of medication community. I am an old college near the way I give chemotherapy infusion and saw it my line of work. We deal with their inviting on a daily basis, I'm trying to bring my meditation practice into my work environment. The help me the always some other stress and emotions that come up as well.
Some my promise. and compassion feel my job. However, I find the account good equipment ready to be a difficult one to grasp, and I'm curious with you experience working and hospice? If you can lend any advice on how boy equanimity into an environment like this, where you're dealing with people on a daily basis who are facing gap and dying day for your help and they throw everything into by. Thank you for the work. You do it's incredibly important and I appreciate the voicemail as well, but again having having had a wife who has dealt with the sum catch struggles of her own. All the people who do that kind of work is just really I I salute you
the issue of equanimity, I think and I dont know if I'm diagnosing correctly your struggle with the concept. So I'm gonna take a little bit of a guess, but it's possible it's possible that your confusing equanimity with pets Seventy so equanimity doesn't mean or acceptance, doesn't mean that you that you don't give a crap. It doesn't mean that you don't care it. It just means that you recognise the facts right now for what they are. And that you take wise and reasonable and measured and sound action based on that, and I just think that can stop you from wasting a whole bunch of, Turkey in it, and it also doesn't mean that you, I think it's the
Higgins in many ways and share in Salzburg has spoken about this court and written about this quite beautifully. It's what you can. enable the rising of the opposite of passivity or apathy, which is compassion, which is the key He's the you need some sort of internal unflinching in order to effectively help people when they need you and, I think, being able to see things clearly to be able to surf the inevitable up down to know. The ups and downs are inevitable. To know your bones, that impermanence is real that applies to all of us, that kind of equanimity to be able to see the arising of really difficult emotions in yourself and others, without being totally owned by them. That kind of equanimity clears
way for you to be effective in your efforts to care for your patience and by the way this applies to all of us, not just people and really an extreme environments like the one that you are brave enough to inhabit. so. That's that's my understanding. I hope I understood your question as as you intended and again thanks for your work is really important, so somebody else whose work is important: Ellen Hendriksen our guest this week, she's a clinical psychologist award winning podcast called the savvy psychologist. I was on there a couple months ago. It should just use a great interviewer and, as it turns out she's great interviewee, she works as well as the Boston University Centre for anxiety and related disorders. She has written and lots of major publications and is, as I said before, somebody who there was a lot about social anxiety and even if you don't have a diagnosis here, I think we ve all been nervous
maybe we have all been nervous. I think many, if not most of us have been nervous or awkward in social situations, and she really has dealt with it with her patience and in her own life and has a lot to say that, as I found incredibly valuable. So instead of me talking more about it, lets let's hear from Ellen here, she is well. Thank you for doing this. I have to thank thank you nice to meet. You thanks for me on my show my pleasure and we talked about meditation or marvellous meditation or when I have a heart memory set out. You left a lot of people here, though you you were, I can together to arm so you were superpower dating when I talked about on my kind of on the fly mindfulness and I was kind of being myself up about not having a practice and not having a formal, not doing meditation unusable. Maybe you don't have a formal practice bigger, definitely practicing your definitely doing something
under, and so do I find that very validated in view. It helped me stop thinking about, meditation or mindful and such a protectionist. Aware, though, that was that I found it very helpful to you before your role- and you said in the mindfulness- met it, if you take the there if you take lying on his meditations, yes, I do the mindfulness part, but it's more dislike a moment of being behind the waterfall. Look. Ok, let me check and then move on to do so. How did you come to that? How did you start embracing mistake me sure? So that's that's a very straightforward answer, so I am a clinical psychologist and in graduate school you have to learn about the concept of mine from this in order to teach it too. your clients, so it's mindfulness as part of the third wave of psychotherapy, so first wave foreign psychoanalysis second Wave, behavior them so think, Bf, Skinner and pigeons pecking on lovers rat
amaze rats anime is exactly and so then, in the third wave. So pretty much. Every evidence based psychotherapy has a mindfulness component now so for you for psychology nerds out there. That could be. you're, a cognitive, hydrotherapy, dialectical, behaviour, therapy, acceptance and commitment Happy all all these orientations that are researched and proven to be evidence based have a mindfulness component so it's it's really- the peanut butter and jelly of of training now and so on, order to help my clients. I had to learn it myself and it really stuck because- and this is appropriate to our- caution today it help with my own social anxiety, because you talk a lot about how Oh the voice in your head is a jerk and different word yes, but
not to get wheat hadn't. You thought. Yes, you can say what everyone will believe. You ok, but you can say you don't seas are a big culture I have not, but but I'm not allowed to swear so got it those are the rules you are owned by Disney. Yes, yes, yes, ok! So so you, so you talk about the voice in your head and the voice in my head is slightly different. It's more like an anxious grandma who is easily scandalised clutches were pearls alot, hence so so she's as things like. That's not appropriate or that's disrespectful or you can't do that. You'll be a burden, and so with mindfulness. I've discovered- There is a huge difference between thinking, I'm being annoying verses, I'm having the thought that I'm the and annoying, and that that is been really helpful and amazing to me
So why not do the formal practice? That's a great question, and so ok and you recommended your patients, formal practice so again, a great question, I think so I think as part of training in it like me teaching was never sold to us. As my fears, you say my phone as part of the third way, but they don't wrapped in a recommended, as it is a price. My in my training like in grad, school or subsequently like meditation, is not really a word that gets oozed and so maybe in that sort. Maybe this is my world of psychotherapy in its its Virginian elsewhere, but in my experience, mindfulness and meditation Joan view they go together in terms of psychotherapy, they certainly can- and I I
teach mindfulness to patients and and use your behind the waterfall analogy. Quite of I think I still let from John Cabbage, ok well. Well, then, what we say. Thank you to him. I also still another analogy from from Christine Neff. She she's the self compassion researcher from University Texas, and she talks about pretend you're in a movie theater and you are wrapped up in the past. and you by your nails when the villain jumped out- and you saw I wonder: do the couple get together and then she says not pretend that the person next to you sneezes and suddenly you realize, oh I'm watching a movie like the reveries broken you have this disconnect. You realize you're in your sitting in the theater and that that being able to realise I watching pixels on a screen is analogous to being able to watch your thoughts or watch whatever is going across your field of consciousness, and so that is also
helpful to me and to my clients. Yes, are basically saying about love that I feel that I love both analogies yeah. Your teaching mindfulness is a way to not be so Yankee around by the discursive voice. In your exactly exactly see you can you get a thought she still there. You can still see them there. They are, but they don't they don't own. You they're! Not yet can you around here. I would say that the formal practice just supercharged that capacity. Yes, no, We like weightlifting to make your muscle strong right now, and I intellectually understand that, like I'm, I'm of tapping the part of my forehead where life prefrontal cortex is behind. for whatever reason like that, like Lizard Britain has has not got on board yet I think I saw it is actually thinking about this like. Why don't I do this, because it would be like something that I would think
that I would want to do like just knowing my personality, no other guy, I've exercise. I do things that are good for me. I buy into the science I get it. Why am I not doing this, and so I think that my current answer is that when I start doing something new- and this probably applies Those people I feel, incompetent and- and so there is a certain amount of like flailing around and like being very ungainly, unlike if you don't like I picture and ice skater electors falling on the ice like continuously and I'd. At this point at least. Apparently, I am not willing to go through that phase to get through the ugly duckling phase to get to the point can be a meditative swan. You know the Good NEWS and bad news is that the ungainly nurse, in my experience, never ends it. It's really hard to compute for Taipei. People because We do things and expect to win yes and meditation is just like court on call.
losing over and over again, because you just carried away away and away, and actually this is the thing I have to say to people over and over the moment you notice you ve been carried away, is the wind and that is meditation, its You are unlikely your stage and even my stage ten. Here's nine years into this thing to sit and just be on your the breath in purple activity or actually you're, even unlikely to bees to sit and beyond the breath for more than a few nanoseconds. You really are just sitting there just getting carried away over and over and over again, and it's the catching that and coming back that is the winning but a real winning is what you're already taking your yourself in your patience, which is your actual life you're, seeing its a movie you're, seeing your
sitting behind the waterfall another region getting out of the stream of the non stop torrent of water in this case will be thoughts or emotions, impulses. you're doing that in your regular everyday more readily than you would otherwise, whether even even if you as you do in your patients, hopefully do embrace mindfulness, intellectually, you can see. recharge, that through sitting there and just over over and over again training the ability to see oh wow, I'm insane and then starting again and again and again, there's that grandma again. Yes, yes, yes, yes, in your case, yes makes sense. Yeah. I I think. That I mean the sole oh. By the way. That is not an argument that I'm not being the case to you. I want to be clear to you, who are lost soul if you don't sit and have a formal meditation out of that view, no you're, not you're, not making me feel that way, and so on
so my internal struggle right now is like. It is again that I should want to do this and the the. Why the? Why why? Why don't I? What what is what is this barrier, and so maybe my own perfectionism? Maybe it's the Dutch. I think I'm Taipei without the hostility like I'd. I definitely want to be productive and want to do things. Ireland and in so maybe maybe that part is still standing in my way. But I hear everything you're saying one thing: well again, with the caveat that I really try to avoid ever pressing this upon, anybody, but one that might work in your case. Just as this is a guess is a month long challenge to say: I'm really tries from month to have a goal and because you strike me and I'm basing this on very little data as an achiever. Yes, yes, yes, somebody who likes to check box yeah, young, I absolutely and set is accurate and
I think doing it every day or most days for for a couple minutes. and then at the end of the month set us your view. Gonna tell yourself this door. Grandma can tell this story, which is I'm only gonna have to do this for him up and then, when you at the end of the month, see how you feel is my suspicion, is nobody's ever come back to me and said: I've tried a for a month at a significant, while only one person has ever come back to me and said I tried it at a month for a month, and it was, I literally saw no benefit that one person is the great writer, Gretchen Reuben, who he's remains a meditations, get dwelt, not a sceptic she's like you. She is sceptical of it. She just can't get herself to do it. She did to her for a few weeks and decided she didn't see any benefit in my our collective mining, meaning mine and Gretchen suspicion is that it wasn't really doing enough. Use may be just due to shore short amount, but who knows- I don't know, doesn't matter,
yeah for you, the early, only data point that matters here so it might be worth trying for a month and see what happens yeah, maybe You like russian speaking of russian women, so I and of her for tendencies, I'm a question or so perhaps is also just that, I'm resisting outside expectation. I can just be being stubborn yet as little as possible lady, so great just to fill in the re listener. Gretchen wrote a great book called for tendencies which says that when it comes to gave you change your habit formation. We are all in one of four buckets. This is her schema and who is revel in a questioner, upholder upholder and obliging and oblige her answer your question, or so I asked, if I recall, yes and he, I think, to make sense, and I write that that one of them why I'm not wagon, finger at you or anybody, because I'm a questioner and I would hate if somebody did that to me and I knew
would, I know, would backfire on. I appreciate the lack of finger wagging PS, so, yes, I will take you up on the challenge. So tell me tell me more about grandma. Well, how? Where do you think this comes from oh well, so so I mean social anxiety and then also like this out. I do have to sell that that mine has diminished significantly over the years through, I think some combination of time and but mostly practice and and like I'd. I joke that much like the Hare Club for men from the eighties. You know I am the author of a book about how to lessen your social. So I did, but I am also a client and Enzo like the techniques that really really work for me and so grandma's alot quieter than she used to be, and I also notice her a lot more and unable to say like ok, grandma, that's that's cool! Thank you for your input. I appreciate you trying to protect me, but I'm gonna go. Do that
anyway. So, but what so? Social anxiety is a mix of genetics. So if you have a first degree relative with diagnosis or social anxiety disorders, you have a four to six fold: increased risk of having the same disorder. So that's part of it there Definitely this this also coffee and cream swirl of genetics and experience, because if you are raised by somebody with socialism likely, you're not gonna, get exposed to experiences. That would challenge that, but there is also just of a lot of things that folks, with social anxiety, tend to do envy like protectionist dick like introvert- and I can I can talk about a lot of the thing- is that we can do to to turn that around sound is aware. We I would, before you run with this, which I hope you do sore. I guess the Disease olympic people with
social anxiety, disorder anybody's ever experienced any social executive any flavour, I'm glad you brought it up. So if ok, so in the? U S at least thirteen percent of people at some point in their life will reach a clinical level of social anxiety. So it's and that is defined by it crosses the threshold of getting in your way. So if you consciously forego twenty percent of your grade because that you just can't bring yourself to raise your hand in class and get those class participation points or if you forego a promotion at work, because that would mean that you had to travel and meet new clients or you had to give presentations if if it gets in the way of your life or causes inordinate distress, so, for example, like twenty years ago, I was going to come here and and chat with you. I would have lost sleep for a week about this or I would have had Jai problems for a number of days now,
I'm on a scale of zero to one hundred zero was hanging on the couch watching Netflix and hundreds of panic attack. I they come down? Here is maybe thirty to forty zero. So, like I was he's trying to do some other work on the train and my mind kept coming back to this and, like occasionally my stomach would flip flop. But I slept great last night and I started thinking about this four days ago, and so like I've come a long way, and so that's that's been very satisfied, but I'm confused there, I'm sorry Couldn't you know, I really don't want to derail you, because I want to get you where you vote, because I personally want to hear it to me what you're describing sounds like a mix of social anxiety and also fear of public speaking. Those are the same think. So social anxiety is under the umbrella of social anxiety is also performance anxiety, so some public speaking or per
governments on stage of musicians, actors are all that goes under the umbrella of social insights. I'm glad you asked, like that's a nice, that I think it is important to clarify, but to thirteen percent of at least Americans we'll get to the point where it gets in the way of their life some time in their lifetime, but if you ask people are you shy, which is just everyday way of saying socially anxious, forty percent of people will say. Yes, if you change the question and say have you ever been shy like? Were you shies a child? Would you, Awkward ass, a teenager. Eighty percent of people will say yes, so that is a huge majority of people. Who knows what this feels like, or I would rephrase it to just in my own case, You ever get shy. Are you shy? Sometimes often I'm not shy, but sometimes it's either, I'm just not in them
food or there's a thing. That's intimidating shore absolutely right, and I think that that is accurate. Because folks, without social door, not anxious all the time you know they're with their partner there with people, they love, entrust they feel safer, fine, they're, fine and so it's it's only when there is a perceived social threat that it kicks in and its based on this perception, I want to emphasise perception that there is a fatal flaw that there's something wrong: with us that other people are going to see its can be revealed and therefore will be rejected or like embarrassed, and so research has found that there are four general categories that get people feeling socially anxious. One is appearing So the thought that, like I'm having a bad hair day or I have of exists where my butt looks beyond these pants and so
there's something about their physical appearance and makes them feel very self conscious. It's actually a really nice analogy has begun all relate to experiencing that at some time. You look and earlier that I need to throw him too moisturize. I'm gonna, where I had today, I'm going to change these pants and so but had not been able to conceal it and having to grow in public? That feeling of self consciousness is the same feeling that you get with social anxiety, except instead of only for the outside. It can also be for the inside the internal self. Okay. So that's that one category, the external self. The other is the symptoms of anxiety themselves, so the sense that people will see us sweating through our short or will notice our hands are shaking with our voices trembling or that were turning read so that
Sense that they are going to see me blush and think I'm an anxious freak is, is us is social anxiety. The last two categories are the biggest and those are ones social skills, so a sense that somehow I am boring or nobody really wants to talk with me or I'm, I'm not funny, you're cool, so that that idea that that perception and distortion is the third category in the last is busy ones whole character. Like I'm, competent. I'm stupid I'm a burden, I'm annoying, etc, and so so it's a date between that and pro Norman things I need. There is theirs of many colors the rainbow of social anxiety, but it all boils down to the sense of having this fatal flaw that will be revealed and that people will reject you for it. That's our definition,
what do you do about this right? So there's lots of things you can do about nice, good job so, so there's lots of things we can do, and so the one thing is to try to turn our attention inside out. In a socially anxious moment, our attention naturally starts to turn inward and we start to monitor what we're going to say. Or we think or should I stand this way or this way to look more natural or we think oh did What I did I say that I sent it like an idiot and, and so rather than trainer, an inward and monitoring, which takes up a lot of bandwidth and leaves very little left over for actually beam where you are and being in this situation. If we start focusing outward so we we look at the person we're talking to and here I am not sure that this is how the sausage gets made. This is what I am doing right now, so I'm looking at you I'm listening carefully to what you are saying and I'm trying to to
Phrase my answers not not in a way that is rehearsed but instead gets across the, but the passion that I have for this topic and what will help your listeners some trying to take my attention off me and put it outside so essential. If you can pay attention to anything except yourself, then the anxiety will will deflating, which is which is
oh so helpful, because the instinct is too is to manage more to do impression, management or to try to try to be more a kind of tightly wound, and so when we turn outward that that goes away so without be like asking. If you're on a social situation may be just ask you people some questions about themselves, you could do that yeah. Absolutely. I think that yes and folks with social anxiety, often dont disclose anything about themselves. They try to deflect the attention away from themselves, and so I would say yes, you could absolutely do that and you could also disclose a little bit about yourself to give people something to work with our fault, with social anxiety, usually playthings head of close to,
invest and and keep things private cause again those this perception that there is a fatal flaw and if we reveal too much you know, but sometimes two dozen doesn't social anxiety resulting logger Rio. You know you're just useful dire. He asked yes than other right right, that the nervous chatter yeah obsolete. So that's that's! That has a name so things like that, so either peppering. Somebody with quest so you don't have to talk about yourself doing the logorrhea are called you're talking to the quickly. So you can get this over with are called safety behaviors, and so that's another thing that can be done to lower that anxiety is to drop those safety behaviors, and so those of story. I can tell so one of the people in my book. His name is John and he came to the United States from China when he was sick. and he wanted to be the next bill gates and so he he worked in
computer programming and worked his way up to a high level position at a fortune. Five hundred company and then turn point thirty and said: ok, it's now or never. If I'm ever going to do a start, upward start my own company, it's it's now or never, and so he quit his job and started to start up and right before he was about to to really make his product public. Here, lost his funding, and so he realized he had had a number of employees to support. You had a new baby at home and he lost all his and it was feeling very anxious about this, and so his he realized that his own anxiety and fear of getting rejected from another thunder was really holding him back. So he decided to put himself through a boot camp that he called a hundred days of rejection. So he wanted to try to get rejected day one. So he did record on
he's on his cell phone took videos all them. He decided that his first challenge would be to ask the security guard in his building if he could borrow a hundred dollars, and so in this video you see him scurry up to the security guard and spit out the words a cover up under dollar from you and the security guards says. Gonna looks at him with a quizzical look. Concerns know why, but he doesn't job doesn't even here the why he is no. Oh, ok, are by and he like, runs off and and so he is safe to behaviour with speed. He was just trying to get this over with and when he went back to edit the video, He realized away this guy, who said why this like this was an offer to extend the conversation I don't have to run
way, like our ongoing, do this better tomorrow. So the next day he goes to a burger joint and he finishes as they can cheeseburger and goes to get a refill on his soda notices that the soda fountain says free refills and he knew of the light bulb goes off. He gets a sardine strides up to the counter, and this time he doesn't use speed he he squares his shoulders. He looks the guy in the eye. He talks in a normal tone, normal speed and says hey. This per was great. Can I get a burger refill and, and the other guy behind a car doesn't understand at first and finally get sends like those sorry man, we don't you burger, refills and draw up. Ok, no problem, I'd like the place, a lot more if you did and he just he'd saunters so no saved behaviour is just asks in a very reasonable way, reasonable tone, even if the content of what he is asking for is not reasonable and
and so there he's still got rejected, which for him was a win right. He was trying to get rejected to build up a thicker skin, but but there is the difference, so his experience in using safe behaviour is trying to get it over with trying to artificially tap down that anxiety on the first day resulted in him feeling real, different, then on the second day, when he let, although safety behaviors, go and acted as if he were confident about this, as if this was a perfectly reasonable thing to ask so very different anxiety experiences. So just to give us this is the first Tipp it just to rephrase. The discussion at a first hip is the first step is to turn around
and inside out. The second tip is to drop your safe to be ok, ok, yeah moved on this. Are you ve, moved on to the second type, and a third tip is to give yourself some structure. So I can illustrate this through another study and here so there are two extremely researchers named doctors, Rendre PAN Simon Thompson, and they did this really lovely study with women with diagnosis, all social anxiety, and so they they took women. With with diagnose. Going and also went on the opposite end of the spectrum. So women who were more outgoing, unlike confidently chatty, then average and one at a time sent them into the waiting room of for the experiment which.
Unbeknownst to them began as soon as they entered the waiting room. They sat down and a male lab assistant whose acting as a confederate, came in, sat down close to them and said o hope we don't have to wait too long, acting as a confederate views. Part of the expert part of these four so like he's he's acting PETE, he works for the investigators, but the participant doesn't know that yes and- and so he says, I hope you don't have to wait too long and then wait for thirty seconds just to see if any conversation ensues and every thirty seconds for five minutes. He drops another kind of conversational invitation and sees what what happens then, after five minutes, researchers come in and say: oh thank you both for coming now we're going to begin your task for the next five minutes
to pretend you're at a party and get to know each other as well as you can't so now, there is an assignment. There is some structure and both of these five min intervals, we're taped and then reviewed afterwards for like social, competent, social performance and as you can imagine, in the first five minutes, the women with social inside he lagged way behind the women who are again more confidence. Chatty than average, but in the second five minutes where they had something to hang. There had on aid if they had a mission, if we're almost neck and neck, which is really impressive because, again like this is compared to people who are above average on the kind of social performance level and so just being able to walk into a Christmas party and say: ok, I'm gonna have conversations with three people or to go into a networking session and Sarah I'm good.
try to exchange three sets of business cards or to decide that you're going to be the unofficial like this is us host for your friends and people are gonna, come to your house and and and watch the giving yourself. Some structure can be really helpful again in making that anxiety go away. A lot of people that I work with note that it is much easier for them to host a party than it is for them to attend to parties. What is it because they have control they? They have. They have
all to play. They it's it's less free form. The thing that drives all anxiety, not just social anxiety, is uncertainty, and so, when you take away the uncertainty- and you know you're supposed to do- whether it just refilling people's drinks or introducing people trying to connect them, then that uncertainty falls away and you feel a lot better. What has worked most for you for me, I would say I would say turning my attention inside out and I would say and disconnects back to what we talked about earlier, try to loosen up on my perfectionism. I think again like ten many years ago this. So I I'd ok in the book I like. I wish I wish I'd that I wrote a book for media twenty years ago. These are all the things I wish I had known, and I felt I think I thought I was walking. I'm son some sort of like social, tightrope and
that if I were to arouse like going through her like a laser maize and if I was to make one mistake, alarms had gone off all around me and and so to mix my metaphors rather than a total. I think I realize now that I'm more on an expressway that there are such this wide variation of kind of acceptable social behaviour is or debt that that I don't. I don't have to worry newly as much as I thought I did so. Perfectionism is kind of a misnomer. Actually, because it's not about being perfect perfectionist, don't actually strive to be perfect, they worry about never being good enough, and so, if we can dare to be average- and I stole that phrase from Doktor David Burns who wrote the
First evidence based self help book about depression. If we can dare to be average kind of its, it turns into the opposite of Lake woebegone. We realise that that really, it's ok, that nobody expects us to be witty or charming or competent or perfect all the time, and that we can instead just be our selves and that that sufficient, a lovely study, I'm a research nor in clearly like to cite studies. was those this classic study from nineteen sixty six done by Doktor, Elliot Eriksson, and he in this study he has college students, listen to four one of four tape recordings and- first to tape, recordings are wont to all of them are of a guy who is ostensibly trying out for the college, quiz bolting and in the first two
You hear him that in the first one that you you hear him talk about his accomplishments and he's pretty competent, he seems like a nice guy, he's some good extracurricular activities so solid guy. Second, according to its is he's kind of a loser kind of a tool like gets less than a third of the questions, correct, but then The third and fourth records you hear exactly the same thing, so competent guy, incompetent guy and at the end there is a little bit tacked on of a clattering noise, and then I'm saying, oh no. I spilled coffee, Oliver, my new suit and all the participants are asked which, which guy do they like the best, and inevitably it is the recording where it's, the competent guy, who spills coffee
on himself. It's not the guy who's, competent and you're. Nothing bad happens him, but it's the people like the humanizing element. It takes him from being superhuman to be inhuman and therefore be inaccessible, and so I think realizing that my foibles and the little blips and of how I walk through the world are actually quite endearing and I dont have to conceal them or worry that people will judge me for them will remain We must be able to reproduce this with complete fidelity, but Adam grants book give and take it about altruism and its opposite in the workplace, the how to givers and takers and and what he calls matters, people who should have been to reciprocity. Do in a professional context within the context of that book, he talks it. A study that I think very much aligned with what you're saying, which is that people who show vulnerability do well.
In front of audiences dupe, in other words, do well in front of other human beings, but there is an asterisk there, which is that not in front of people with extremely high self esteem o entered and I found in my own work, in my own sort of meditation were aware, go out not give the same speech to the same eye to audiences all over the country. generally and I get up and but talk about how I had a panic attack on national television. I think I presented a pretty well put together, confident guy, whether that's true or not, if it s just the image that people take and then the story about how panic attack and I find that. The vast majority of audiences. That's it very successful tactic, because revealing, say about myself and at humanizing, but I know
with some masters of the universe, it really doesn't go that well and so I've just out of my own experience that what Adam was talking about, which again I might not be reproducing correctly, really is true. I don't know if you have any thoughts in any of the foregoing. Well, so it's just think has self esteem. I think was thought to be this really important thing, but I think, as research goes along its it's, there is another side to it. So self esteem is often a label like I'm great or I'm beautiful or unsuccessful, and so people with really high self esteem, have a lot invested in trying to stick with those labels and so things that that challenge that label for them, I'm not I'm not sure exactly how this would tie to your experience of when you he'll, something about yourself, the self esteem, the high self esteem. Folks, don't respond so well. You guys want somebody get up there and say here's how great I am, and here's how you too can continue to be awesome, as you fundamentally are as opposed to getting up there in saying me,
human beings messy and hears What message in my case and here's how I've dealt with it so interesting way, so that, as you are But as I was listening to you so again, turning my attention inside out, so the the the one percent of people who have never experienced social anxiety have no self doubt are narcissists last psychopath. and so when, when you have no self doubt when you are completely confident that actually a sign of things gone wrong, that, So social anxiety, I think, exists because it's it's an its overshot likes questioning of oneself. I think
that almost everything that ninety nine percent of people have some kind of either sense of inadequacy or feeling a secure about something in their life, and I think that that is. I know that that is actually normal and I think that evolution in nature have programmed us to be at least a little bit insecure because it forces us to be. Introspective it forces of us to check ourselves and see how can I get along with my fellow humans? We need the group to survive even if we don't need the group to build shelter or like find water anymore like we still need it for love then companionship in community and belonging this, and so I think that again we we have to be a little bit insecure, rifted, doubt ourselves, order to check ourselves, and so that's why social anxiety still exists. That nature would rather have us overshoot
It would rather have a false alarm where no threat actually exists, then the opposite, Wanna have. No alarm and then our house burns down, and so the people who are unfortunate enough to do not experience social anxiety actually have a problem. I can see where digital faulty wiring you, because you don't you have no, you don't care what other people think and therefore going to act based on their own merits. means that you're acting in ways that are not so social and so ends with thoughts, the social anxiety like it? It's a package deal and so the the overshot, caring. What people think but you, if your role that back a little but it simply carrying about people and that thinking over along with that and new other great traits, hang together with that folks with social anxiety, if you roll back the perfectionism all but have high standards and work really hard,
there are quite apathetic, they notice what's going on around them and can really tap into emotion, their conscientious and so as people work on their social anxiety, and that goes away. All those other wonderful traits like caring about people don't go away but when you talk about self consciousness me that he is actually a mean that and which, as you describe before, can be a big part. It maybe always is. The part of social anxiety it is, though, that is really just being focused on yourself, a mean so he's an overt or two things about that one. Is it from a buddhist perspective that really aligns with you know, getting carried away with self concern is really the source of much of our suffering, but also, it seems indicate that actually, you are not a. You aren't really concerned whether the privileged word about how you look. So the question is I've not so well. Ok,.
Let me take this were often I just say so it will. Let me to say something though, so I thought at the very beginning we were talking about how like, if I give, if I give meditation, try if I just kind of jump in and do it before I am ready before I decide that I'm gonna do this, then I will let the benefits pull me for most likely likely. So there is a parallel here with social anxiety and so there I get a lot of people coming to my office, and you know I wish I could just kind of hit paws on my life. I wish I could retreat from the world and like work on myself and gain confidence and then emerge like back into the world like a butterfly from a cocoon and become I didn't go live my life and I say:
That's all I'm glad you're motivated, and let's do that in the opposite order. And let's have you live your life so that you can gain the confidence? And so it's it's by doing things that we're a little bit afraid I, like you, dont, have to jump in the deep and you can you can deputy in the pool but too to stretch and grow a little bit like that's how you build the confidence console anxiety tells you to lies one. It tells you that whatever the worst case scenario, your your jerk or your grandma can come up with is bound to happen and the second lie it tells you is that you can't handle this, and so when, when you push beyond it before you're ready before before, you think you can do this. Then you gain evidence and get the experience under your belt that both those things are not true that the worst case scenario dozen
often happen and clumsily. Even if it does, you can handle it, you can cope, and so there is my nice tie together of our conversation with a little bow. I like that area like that stay June. Moreover, conversation is on the way after this? Is it the struggle to get that good night sleep. Then maybe it's time to try the purple mattress. It's made out of a new material that makes it Burma and soft so keeps everything supported, while still feeling really comfortable. Try it now, with a one hundred night risk free trial along with free shipping and returns, and if you order one you'll, get a free purple pillow, with the purchase of a mattress, just text, happier to four seven, four, seven, four: seven, the only way to get the sprit pillow is the text happier to poor seven, four, seven, four seven messaging data rates may apply. just self consciousness. And again I don't know what the question is here, but I deal with a lot of self cut
business, but I dont know that at the root of it is a caring about other people. It's really carrying how I look in front of other people, which seems to me to be pretty different, we'll Karen, how you look well, why do ok? So why do you care how you looking for? I can imagine that it's the sense that if you don't live up to some standard that they will reject you or that they'll criticise you. I guess Oh so? Maybe so they haven't. You don't strike me as having social anxiety. I doing I mean I don't know if I have an eye there are times you're part of the eighty percent, proud, yes already. Eighty percent for sure and look at a pact that a national television, that's performance, anxiety or was it, was about the performance and confirm that something you'd been doing for for a while yet, but I'd I'd had stage fright forever. Ok, I got said in I'm gonna be one of those. Eighty two quarts himself here I think I said in my first book, the eye career had been a triumph of narcissism over fear there,
So I've always had a stadium economy, because I was adding cocaine Azores, which is or was it helpful way, oh so maybe maybe then, ok, so is this. If this is your personal appearance, the maybe you fall into that first category of of how do I, what is my physical appearance? It doesn't want. My physical appear that can't you may exert its more just like you noted Euro, I'm just don't like an articulate decide where I'm self conscious. I am just focused on myself and what's the router that idea This is a desire to look good and forever the people, not necessarily look good in terms of my physical present town at the whole package, ah to cut to come off well and what, if you didn't? What would people see? What are you afraid, people organ
see not dislike Wendell as you on the air, her phone, I dont, that's a really good question. I dont know yes or so in in my book I called social anxiety. Mad lives like two to fill in the blue Thanks of it will become obvious that I am blank right, like maybe a horrible person, incompetent right arm right right, and so I mean the fact that social insight is disorders because it based on a distortion, and so those all those fears are, are your inner critic? Is it's a distortion and it's when we listen to closely to that or let that become truth. When we let our anxiety yank us around that it becomes a problem, you I think, For me, since were because I've steer the conversation to me, As I often do you self, conscious, impair, perhaps worse I sometimes mice etc. Turn socially anxious. It's that an anti social that I don't and
Nevertheless, I would love to hear your parsing of this short. Sometimes I feel like I am. I just don't have much to give, and I see them- maybe just not a friendly and and I've had p who close to me. Colleagues complain that the me that shows up here and with you in a podcast cast or an on camera interview is much more. So oh Ben than me, that's around the office, just honoured workaday base and I think some of that is a kind of an inner stinginess. I don't know that even fits into the rubric were currently discussing, but that's just what's going to remind is were talk so I mean I don't. I don't think this is what you are describing, but I think it's worth
saying in case listeners identify with it because, okay, so when there is a threat and that threat could be near a tray, a bus headed towards you could be an external threat, but it could also be a through a social threat that comes from our own head and regardless of the threat. Our minds and bodies react generally one of two ways in that's fighter flight, and so when we often think about social anxiety, its light, we think about wanting to hide under the bothy table or going to like hide in the bathroom, were scrolling through our phone, pretending to refresh twitter alot. And so that's that's what we think of steer, typically a social anxiety, but twenty one percent of folks who experience social anxiety come off as fight so there they are prickly and irritable and grouchy, and try to steer the conversation with white knuckles and they reject other people. But
or they can get rejected and so that they dont. I dont think what you're talking about for you feeds into that. But again, I think it's worth noting that for listeners who may not identify with the flight but me be identified fight you and I think it makes a lot of I don't know that. That applies to least what I was thinking of what I said that, but- and I don't let's see if I can come up with an example will, when you were saying before that, of a tool to use in in, is to turn your attention. inside out some other richard you're focusing outwards instead of inwards, and you you're really listening to what the other person says and thinking carefully before you respond, my thought, but yeah I do. I do that, but its exhausting and I dont know I do. I was gonna there, whether I can do that all the time, but I do know that I don't do that all the time and often it will be like I'll, walk, out of here, where I'm very
some very carefully. What you're, saying and Anti Semitism anxious, you're on Burma yeah. But if my next international approach much less satisfied factory to the person with whom, interacting because I've, spending a lot of energy, and I can't I don't feel like I can do that, all the time no I mean, I think I think that's normal. I don't think anybody could really do that all the time. Just like you can't be mindful all the time I sometimes you do have to plan Sometimes you do have to reflect like you- can be in the moment all a time I think that's ok, and so I dont think it's the goal to try to turn ones attention in at out all the time into never look inward. I think This is something else that I think is important to say that oftentimes there I get questions about. How do I know if I'm socially anxious, or how do I know, I'm just an introvert and and so to speak to that I like to say that introversion,
is your way like that? Just how you're wired and so introvert have like a lower tolerance for stimulation. They, their energy, gets drained by being in either crowds orders places where they have to expend there energy extroverts often have never met a stranger and get their energy from other people. They need the stimulation and, whereas social anxiety you can, you can be socially anxious as an interview or an extrovert, and so some people get conducive. How could how can an extrovert be socially anxious and that's a politically hard place to be its being between a rock and a hard place, because there you crave interaction,
like you, you, you draw your energy from other people, but you get scared of being rejected by them, and so that's it that's a very uncomfortable place to be because you are left either being anxious or sluggish and bored. So that's! That's! That's no good, but in terms of the going back to the introvert versus socially anxious distinction, so introversion is, is hard wired and doesn't need to change. If that's, how our personalities are such that we have that lower tolerable stimulation, supercool and social anxiety gets in your way, that's that's where it causes enormous distress or it gets in the way of life, and it can and should be challenged and changed. We can grow and stretch and have
that anxiety be reduced. The the best way to reduce social anxiety is to do the very things that give us that he be GPS, and I know that sells horrible, but but to try to grow and stretch into two again, not to jump in the deep under the poor, but to try a little something that maybe we could have done before and get the evidence that those two lies of social anxiety, the worst case, nerves gonna happen. or I can't handle this to have those be refuted. Whereof anywhere does fear of dancing fit into your. What we're talking about here is is that is personal issue as it actually art and amount of self consciousness there actually pull up. So they can't damned yeah yeah, there's a fear of looking foolish. They fear so there's a fear of like being seen letting loose or artists or having the internal sensations of of letting loose, and some
that seems, unseemly or embarrassing, or something and didn't. We often get afraid that we just look like a fool. So a the absolute falls under the loose version of performance anxiety, because we're afraid of what people are gonna think. Where do you think in your case? The social and safety comes from. Do you think it was? It was apparent or just wiring? I think it was. I think it was wiring. I don't so. Might I talk about this book, but my very first memory is one of social anxiety in when I was about three in pre school. The the teacher would have us all take like rests on maps on the floor, and so I would like ten of us in a row. and she would play guitar and like seeing my kind of lullabies to us and I'm over one day I woke up like this was not supposed to be nap time. This was just rest time, but I clearly had accidently fallen asleep and I woke up to the teacher likely
over her guitar. Looking at me say there, you are like a good good morning, sweetheart and all the other kids. Looking at me and ass. I had the sense of being the centre tension and somehow that being very wrong, and so I closing my eyes like really tightly trying to make all their gazes go away and like them. Wasn't taught to me. I was three you know, and so, but there is the sense of being the centre of attention being the focus of everyone. No one was making fun of me enormous laughing. There were just looking and so that, for me at least tells me that that this was hardwired and how how did it get in your way? Well so I'd say twenty years ago my my wardrobe consistent motive black white and gray, I would not buy shoes. I clicked on the floor because I thought they drew too much attention. I was one of the people who not raise my hand in class, if I got called on
I would answer- but I would like tremble and sweat afterwards for a good few minutes and after you have to go drink some water, if I went to a party in college, I would talk only with the friends I came within what kind of have- visible blinders, ons loud enough to make eye contact with anyone else there. So I always participated, but I use a lot of safety behaviors and would try to artificially tap down the anxiety. But what happens then, is that it's kind of like trying to hold a beach ball underwater, eventually like it's just gonna pop up to the surface, and so it wasn't really. untold grad school that I started identifying the symptoms. I was learning about and learning how to treat us like. This all sounds really familiar and applying the techniques to myself and I think, a combination of time and experience. He can't avoid everything and just gaining experience in the world, but also consciously trying to do some of these things, and I just talked about
helpful to me, and now you I'm I'm sitting here with you, I'm doing it new interviews like you and you know I'd. I feel I feel good. Like yeah. I heard in the dream of the human condition of funny, because we need each other, but were really difficult to deal with it. So true, now yeah, I agree, read again, we need each other fur, often belonging in community and were desperately afraid that each of the other one of us is going to reject us. I mean that's, that's hard work that that's evolution like back back in the day. You know if you got kicked out of the group like that, with certain death, like banishment man, you were thrown to the jackals right and so like I get why we are hard wired to to check ourselves and to make sure we're getting along, even if we're not gonna be cast to the wilderness today before we go, can we can we can just
plug your book pod. Everything just give us their running social yeah. Not all the plug zone that long ago and look around was good. Our eye sounds good, so the book is called let it be yourself- quiet your inner critic and rise above social anxiety, and I also have upon podcast called savvy psychologist and you can listen. You- can look for dance episode in the archives there. It was. It was fantastic and to weekly Pike, US find out where we like to get your podcast and you can, so find me online at Ellen Henrichson, dot com, and there are- and I saw a collection of free resources there for social anxiety that anyone can download social media at Ellen Henrichson onto it right here. Your great, you were great. Thank you. Thank you so much. Ok, that does it for another edition of the ten percent happier progress
if you liked it, please take a minute to subscribe rate us also. If you want to suggest topics, you think we should cover or guests that we should bring in hit me up on twitter at Danby. Harris importantly, I want to thank the people who produce this podcast Lauren Efron just go hand and the rest of the folks irritate me see who helped make this thing possible. We have tons of other projects. You can check them out at every single time, casts dot com I'll talk to you next Wednesday there's, not a person in America who hasn't been impact it in some way by the corona. I was pandemic, but it every community. There are pockets of people who were soon
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