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Sidestepping Social Anxiety

by | Addiction, Conditions and Disorders, Research, Spirituality

Home Addiction Sidestepping Social Anxiety

There is nothing worse for me than the feeling of getting called on to share at an AA meeting. As soon as my name is called, I can instantly sense a horde of alcoholics staring in my direction, waiting for what wisdom I can impart to them. Once their gaze is upon me, my heart drops to my feet and sweat begins to slither down my forehead. All the thoughts that were swimming through my mind vanish; my insight and experiences are forgotten. Already flustered, I opt to pass on my share. My opportunity to relate and assist in the rest of the fellowship’s recovery is gone, all because the risk of feeling vulnerable is too great. We all get this feeling at some point in their lives, but the issue becomes serious when it affects us on a daily basis.

This psychological ailment has a name: social anxiety. People suffering from this disorder are dictated by the fear of judgment; they are petrified by what others think of them. They constantly worry about making mistakes, worrying that any of these errors will be perceived as an error of self. Low self-esteem continues to barrage the mind and spirit, wearing down any confidence that was once possessed. Soon social situations will be avoided all together, and those afflicted will not get to experience life in its full capacity. While these people may be aware of their issue, many feel that dealing with it is hopeless.
Thankfully, hope can be found in even the darkest of shadows. There are multiple treatment options available for social anxiety; some conventional, and some that are not. Medications such as benzodiazepines are prescribed for this behavior, but “benzos” are an addictive substance that could cause more issues down the road, especially as an alcoholic. What has worked for me is daily meditation and speaking with a counselor. It is impossible to be at peace with others if you are not at peace with yourself. Taking the time to acknowledge your issues and clear your thoughts is an invaluable tool that can be utilized. Speaking with a therapist is also a good idea, because a professional can help with finding the root cause of the anxiety. It’s a great way to express your issues without feeling judged.
Now these solutions won’t help alleviate the symptoms overnight, but it’s the first leg on your journey through social anxiety. As the AA saying goes: its progress, not perfection! Just as our recovery work is never impeccable, neither is anything else in our lives; mistakes will be made. Every single one of us has inherent flaws, and we are all striving to simply be the best. Once this ideal is accepted, we allow more confidence to build. There is not one person in the rooms of AA that do not have words of wisdom to share. All it takes is the courage to stand up and speak. So put yourself out there! Take risks. If fear is not tackled head on, the gap to recovery may never be jumped.