Our struggles make us seek enlightenment from those around us and the stars above. However, it is when we uncover the light within that we finally illuminate a path once enshrouded by our false sense of incompleteness ~ Dodinsky
One of the first things I share with Clients when we meet is that they are not alone. That whatever their fears, hurts, bruises and sadnesses, there are others just like them who are feeling and experiencing many of the same issues. As a human species, we have a need to belong. Consider the work of Abraham Maslow who in 1943 wrote the article, "A Theory of Human Motivation", further expanded upon in his book: Toward a Psychology of Being. In this article, Abraham Maslow attempted to formulate a needs-based framework of human motivation and it began with 4 (in order):
4. Psychological Safety Need - Self-esteem, reputation, status
He states that basic, low-level needs such as physiological requirements and safety must be satisfied before higher-level needs such as self-fulfillment are pursued. As depicted in this hierarchical diagram, sometimes called 'Maslow's Needs Pyramid' or 'Maslow's Needs Triangle', when a need is satisfied it no longer motivates and the next higher need takes its place.
Needs must be satisfied in order:
So, in my work with clients, some are not able to meet their basic needs. Others are able to do that but are unable to get to the next level as their self esteem is fractured. They feel unworthy, not good enough, and find it difficult to connect with others. Their need to belong is strong yet their fear of judgement keeps them from connecting on deep levels with others.
There is plenty of documentation to show that the fears we have for personal safety are not longer what our ancestors dealt with - the threat of being hurt of killed. Early settlers were always alert to the danger of the elements, of attacks by wild animals and by wild humans. The flight or fight drive within us was for the purpose of keeping us physically safe. Our fears today, unless you live in a dangerous neighbourhood, are to protect our emotional safety. We stress-out when we think we will be attacked.
Social anxiety, sometimes called "crippling shyness", is a prevalent issue with our children, teens and adults. Just over 2 million Canadians aged 15 or older reported a "lifetime history" of social anxiety disorder, meaning that they had symptoms at some point in their lives. This represents about 8% of the population.
In 2002 alone, about 750,000 Canadians aged 15 or older, or about 3% of the population, reported that they had had symptoms of the disorder in the past year. These individuals had a higher risk of having major depressive disorder, panic disorder and dependency on illicit drugs and alcohol than did people in the general population (data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) in 2002).
Seek help..take a chance. There are options that involve reaching out..to your Doctor or a Counsellor. Reach out to a close friend or to family. They may not know you need them to support you. Find a Hypnotyherapist. As a Hypnotherapist, I help clients find the root of their loneliness, their fear and shyness. We work together to reframe those past events that hurt them and change their perception about what happened, giving them back control. It's about helping them heal their own sense of self, their ability to trust themselves and then others.
If you are able to push back your boundaries, join an interest group (but start with a small one). Join a supporty group like http://www.socialanxietysupport.com that offers forums and information. It is internet based and doesn't require physical interaction. If you're ready to meet others face to face, there is the Vancouver Social Anxiety Meetup Group or Extremely Shy-Looking for Friends which you can find on meetup.com.
Know that there is help out there and that you are not alone, even if you think you are. Discover yourself and learn that even in the dark times there is invaluable learning.
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