The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “self-help”

2015 Has Been an Awesome Year

http://thespiritscience.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/o-HAPPINESS-facebook.jpgTo my surprise, I have accomplished and brought back almost everything I wanted to in my vision board so far. I firmly believe a key part of this success was intention setting- I wanted it to be an awesome year, so I made a specific plan for how I wanted to make it happen.

This year I’ve really cultivated an active lifestyle. I’ve gotten back into dancing regularly, have been playing tennis again with a consistent partner, and I’ve started playing a new sport- ultimate Frisbee. I’ve made an effort to start cooking more of my meals. I have looked out for new experiences, such as going to a mosque to observe a prayer, going to a goth club, and exploring outdoor cliffs barefoot. I’ve developed more of a positive outlook, have reduced my stress, and have increased my compassion for others. Now that I’m in a healthy and stable place, I have been better able to be a rock for others who have not been as fortunate. I’ve learned how to let go of things that weren’t meant for me, even though it is still not easy.

Something that has really helped me get back on my feet is that I’ve started putting myself out of my comfort zone again. I’ve gotten reacquainted with that feeling of discomfort that I get when I first take on something new. Some of the things I’ve been doing have included driving more places and on my own. Even though I still have fears with driving, particularly at night, I have gotten braver with this and have managed to keep calm. Another thing I’ve done is continue to show up to ultimate Frisbee even though I felt like I was one of the worst players there at first; now through consistent practice, I’m a valued player. I also have gone out of my way to participate in class again, and I developed meaningful relationships with two of my professors by going to their office hours. Through adding on a Counseling and Social Change minor as well, I’ve realized that I want to focus my efforts on becoming a counseling psychologist.

I have also prioritized working on and maintaining my mental health this year. I’ve experienced a lot of benefits from doing yoga- it has helped me sleep better, have better posture, and feel much calmer and composed. Recently I’m trying meditation as well to see if I can add in that practice. I feel much more emotionally stable, happier, calmer, and healthier now.

I think having a regular exercise schedule, and making it fun through activities like dance, ultimate Frisbee, and tennis, has really made me a happier person. Occasionally, I do fall back into old patterns and anxiety does creep in, but overall I’ve been doing really well. From here, I would like to focus on babysitting my nephew every two weeks (or at least more often), learning how to be more comfortable on a bike, improving my confidence and voice level, and continuing to work on managing my emotions. I am thinking of making another vision board for the rest of the year for what I would like to add in to my progress. I hope you all have been taking care of yourselves, and that your year has been a good one so far!

Aspirations for 2015

Before I share what I am striving for in 2015, I’d like to recap on some of the main positives from 2014 despite all the challenges it presented to me.

Positives of 2014:

  • Pushed myself academically taking some heavy course loads and learned a lot that broadened my perspective
  • Started dying my hair and experimenting with colors for the first time
  • Became more independent living far from home and made close, intimate connections
  • Became a much more open-minded, accepting, and educated person
  • Became genuinely kinder and more giving

For 2015, one of my main aspirations is to take back control of my anxiety. I would like to change my thoughts from being an instinctively pessimistic thinker to an optimistic thinker. I won’t lose my awareness of reality, but I would like to try and combat my negative personal thoughts more and try to work on them so they help me more than hurt me. I’ve heard if you can change your thoughts, you can change your world. So that is one of my main goals this year. Here is a picture of what I am planning for 2015. Each bubble will have to be taken on one at a time. I hope you all are doing well and that if 2014 wasn’t one of your best years either, that we can make 2015 a good one!

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The Challenging Year of 2014

We all have our lowest points. Mine was Spring 2014. It definitely wasn’t all bad, but the hard times were indeed hard. I learned a lot and have been changed by it, but it did come at some big costs.

Before it started, I had had an incredibly rough first month at my new college away from home. I had a horrible roommate situation, and each day and night was so chaotic, noisy, and uncomfortable that I lost a lot of sleep, weight, and sanity. It was nearly impossible to do well in school and I was pretty distressed. And for the first time, I experienced the feeling of not having a home. I spent many nights wandering out on my own as late as possible in avoidance of the dreaded circumstances I might return to at my apartment. After a month of fighting with housing, I finally was able to move, and was very relieved.

By January, I had adjusted to my new school fairly well and had made some good friends. For this next semester, I was excited to challenge myself again by helping start up a brand new organization in addition to going to school full-time. Taking on this addition turned out to be a lot more stressful than I anticipated, however. The organization was pretty disorganized and I found this to be very stressful because I wanted to do a really good job but didn’t know what they wanted me to do. In addition, I was really worried about the programs I was expected to come up with and run. I kept imagining the worst occurring and the idea of presenting to a large group something I didn’t feel ready to present made me feel physically sick. I began experiencing intense and unrelenting anxiety throughout the semester. I couldn’t stop the thoughts and negative images from spinning about work and I felt like a prisoner to my own mind. Anxiety was rearing an uglier, more physical head than it ever had for me in the past. I felt very ashamed and embarrassed for panicking so much about the public speaking and for not being able to control my anxiety.

When it got to the point where I knew it was seriously affecting my health, I went to a school doctor and counselor. I was given some medication to try, but I started experiencing bizarre and uncomfortable effects. Then one day in class, I suddenly felt like I was about to black out. The edges faded black and I stumbled to the front to turn in my test before collapsing onto a bench outside. I wasn’t able to move for fear of passing out and was in such a distraught state. I ended up missing both of my midterms. My friend Matt came to my rescue when I called him and he helped me walk to my classes so I could explain to my teachers what happened. Even though I was thankfully able to make up my tests, it was a very scary experience and something that had never happened to me.

The rest of the semester was spent going back and forth between doctor’s appointments until it was figured out what was going on with me. My friend Elin took me so many times without hesitation and stayed by my bedside when I had to get an IV. I was extremely grateful and appreciative for her help. Ever since the near syncope, I had experienced constant pain in my head and had difficulty walking since I was so dizzy. I was told that I was experiencing vertigo and eventually it was determined that I had developed migraines with aura. I did my best to take it easier the rest of the semester, and was relieved when the job ended and I got to go home for summer break. Somehow I managed to keep my grades up even with all this going on. I did end up running my programs still, and they went great, and ended up being much more low-key than I had anticipated them being. Since then I’ve had some time to recuperate and I am feeling better.

Takeaways:

  • Sometimes you do have to remove yourself from a stressful situation if it proves to be too much
  • Anxiety and Stress is serious business and can really hurt your health
  • My anxiety got out of hand, and I need to build better mental barriers and work on controlling it again
  • You can see a beautiful side of people when you are at your lowest point

Looking Glass Self: What you see is what you get

There’s a theory in sociology called “looking glass self”.

This theory basically states that we are socialized to accept the judgment of others and reflect it back to others.

To illustrate what I mean, imagine you’re at a party and you don’t know anyone. You notice that the people look at you with friendly faces and appear to like you.  So in response, you act friendly and smile back at them.

You have a positive experience because you have a positive perception.

On the other hand, what if the opposite occurs?  What if you notice that people are looking at you with blank faces, and seem to be whispering about you and judging you?  In return you may act defensive, hang back, and give off signals that you don’t like them either.

Perceptions can be wrong.  But all we have to go by are our perceptions.

And because of this, I have found that being in the right mindset is extremely important in making friends.

I’ve heard some of my former high school classmates who are going to the same school as I am directly say that the people there aren’t friendly.  They’re mean and they stare at you.  And I’ve read status updates on Facebook of people who say that they feel so lonely at this school because they don’t know anyone, and they haven’t made any friends.

These remarks were a total surprise to me.  I’m going to the exact same school as them, so how could I have had such a completely different experience?  I had an amazing first week of school, and made several friends.  I was thrilled at the prospect of being able to talk to anybody in the school and become friends with them.  It was a whole new ball park for me, and was nothing like the cliquey and divided high school I attended.

Why was my experience so different from several of my former classmates?

Without a doubt, it was because my perceptions were different.  In my eager pursuit of seeking out new friends, I unknowingly had the perception that each person I approached was friendly and just as hopeful to make friends as I was.

And you know what?  That perception turned out to be very true.  Every time I mentioned that I was hoping to meet new people and make new friends, the person I had started talking to said that they wanted to do the very same thing.

I know making friends isn’t always easy.  I had to initiate a majority of the friendships I’ve made, but all it took was for me to open my mouth and say something to them, anything.  In my experience, asking a question has been the easiest way to start a conversation.   In particular, during the first week of school it is very easy to ask someone a question, like “Is this the textbook we need?” or “This is speech class with Mrs. East right?”  And from there, you can introduce yourself, they’ll introduce themselves, and then you can talk about college and majors if you like.  If you don’t know someone and you’re in a certain setting like school, talking about that setting is a great way to get talking.  And by the end of the conversation, all you have to do is ask to exchange contact information.  Facebook is a great way to go, and cell numbers work well too.  Then be sure to keep in touch with them, and before you know it, you’ve made a friend!  Simple as that.

When you hold a positive perception that people are friendly, then you are going to get positive results back.  So be sure to take notice of how you’re viewing a situation or a group of people, because your perceptions have more power in determining your experiences than you may realize.

Painfully Shy

A neon green package arrived in my mailbox on Thursday.

I hastily tried to open it.  Soon enough, I pulled out the book, Painfully Shy, by Barbara and Gregory Markway.  I eagerly glanced inside the book to read the message written to me with my mom.

The message was very kind and is one I will always love and treasure.  Her closing line was “You have a gentle charisma that shines through in your writing, and I also saw it in your Icebreaker Speech.”

This is the first time I’ve ever gotten a book sent to me.  I’ve never even had a book signed before!

I have only gotten to read a little bit of her book so far, but I’ve already been hooked and have sticky notes on several pages.  I love reading the stories of all the people Barb has met working as a psychologist in particular.  And I love reading about her personal experiences with shyness and anxiety too, and getting to know her even better through the book.

Barb found me thanks to a comment I made on the Quiet: The Power of Introverts blog.  She contacted me and asked me to send her an email, so I did.  It was then that she told me that she could relate to so much of my blog and wanted to send me one of her books that shared several of her experiences.  She said she doesn’t think I am painfully shy anymore, but that it might give me some ideas for my project .  I was flattered and told her that would be awesome.

She’s been very interested in my project and has been a pleasure to talk to through email.  It’s been great emailing back and forth and we’ve become fast friends.  (I can’t help but write book-length emails to her every time!) I’m very honored to get to know her!  She is one cool lady who I’d love to meet in person.  So go to her site, and fill it with lots of good comments.  She has really great, thought-provoking posts!  I can’t wait to read more of her book!

http://markway.com/

Barbara Markway, Ph.D., is a psychologist and author. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including: the New York Times, Washington Post, Today Show, and Good Morning America. Her first book, Dying of Embarrassment, has been named one of the most scientifically valid self-help books in a study published in Professional Psychology, Research and Practice.

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