Self-esteem is based on how you evaluate your self worth. We’ve all heard that low self-esteem leads to stress and depression. That’s something most people with social anxiety have. But high self esteem leads to the same thing as well.
Kristin Neff writes in Why Self Compassion Trumps Self Esteem, and in her website, that high self-esteem comes from feeling above average. But high self esteem comes at a price, from a tendency to put ourselves and others down. How can we all feel above average at the same time? This paradox leads us to always having to compete. So when we’re not successful, self-esteem ditches us and sends in the self critic.
In universities, colleges, schools, in everything, our culture puts an emphasis on success and competition. We’re always marked and compared with other people. And for social anxiety in college, we just have to compare our social lives with others:
“Why is that they can make friends but I can’t?
I’m so awkward compared to that guy.
Why can’t I participate in my tutorial?
Everyone else gets noticed, except me.
Everyone else drinks. “
Enough with the self-esteem. We have to replace it with self compassion, the practice of being kind to yourself. Be supportive. Rather than telling ourselves that we messed up, we need to treat ourselves like we would our friends. Say you mumbled all the way throughout a conversation. Instead of saying you “should have spoken louder, you idiot!”, you could say, “hey, you were really brave to step out of your comfort zone. I know it’s slow. But you’re already improving”.
A really cool blog that can help is The Self Compassion Project, if you want more information.
Until the next post,
Posted by polarisabstract in Self Compassion Tags: graduate from social anxiety, self acceptance, self compassion, self-esteem, social anxiety in college, social anxiety in university, the self compassion project
Hey there! I hope you’ve been fighting that anxiety!
Before I want to jump in to a coping strategy for this blog post, check out this familiar scene in Mean Girls:
That sort of crushing loneliness during lunchtime is familiar for a lot of people with Social Anxiety. For a solid year and a half in high school, life was like that for me too. I had thoughts running through my head, that I was worthless, that I’d never properly make friends, that I was ugly, and so forth.
Just like Cady in the end of that video, I’d hide somewhere out of sight because I believed people would think I was a loser.
Even though that’s a tough predicament I found myself in, those sorts of thoughts and beliefs were unhelpful. All that negativity in my head was preventing my situation from becoming better.
Pinpoint Unhelpful Beliefs
First recognise that unhelpful beliefs are those that aren’t realistic. Maybe you believe that you’re unlikable.
Such beliefs are driven by unhelpful thoughts (for example, that you think others are uncomfortable around you).
Challenge the belief
Ask yourself: is it rational? And above all – is it helpful?
In my case, I’d question the thought that I’d never properly make friends. Here are some things I rationalised:
- Socialising is a skill like any other. I will fail and I will get rejected a lot. But I’ll eventually get better.
- Opportunities never run out. If I didn’t try, I’d be friendless in the first place!
Then I’d think about if it was helpful (it wasn’t). Why do I need to let a thought like that give me crap then?
Give that stuff a go for a week. I know it’s going to be hard. But be kind to yourself.
Let me know how you go.
Until next time,
Posted by polarisabstract in Rational thinking Tags: "social anxiety", anxiety, challenge thoughts, self acceptance, social anxiety in colleg, social anxiety in university, unhelpful beliefs, unhelpful thoughts, unrealistic beliefs