Today I attended my weekly class that is aimed at building up my confidence and thus tackling more of my anxiety problems. We were talking about the theme of communication and I perked up because this was something new, something I had trouble with. In previous weeks I have benefited from being in the social situation and having to interact with people but the work itself was usually stuff I had already gone over with my therapist. This week was different, and scary. I’m always anxious at these classes because 8 times is not all that many when it comes to settling social anxiety about something for me.
I thought we would focus more on how to talk to people and start and then hold conversations which I struggle with but instead we were looking at body language. A leaflet was passed around that suggests 80% of how people perceive you is to do with bodylanguage. I had heard similar things like that before but seeing it in a diagram image of a persons sparked emotions in everyone. Some felt shocked, others felt something click into place and I felt complete and utter terror. I felt like my fears were being confirmed. People do look at me and judge me and think things and I found myself curling up in my seat, folding my arms and legs and my breathes getting quicker. While others spoke of how that made sense and such I admitted it was scary. Others with SA agreed. I commented that this sort of information was like my fears were being confirmed and made me not want to go out. This worried the therapists as this wasn’t their intentions and then I felt guilty for causing them stress but hey, the group is about helping us so I am glad I said.
We looked a body language and what that entails and how you can create a facade of confidence to show the world which might actually make people leave you alone because you look like you’re handling things and know what you’re doing in shops for instance. I got it and worked through the ideas but it still doesn’t sit well with me. I think I will spent the next week over-thinking my body-language and worry about what signals I’m giving off to people. I’m glad I wasn’t alone with my feelings though. I feel the whole thing was brought up too late in the session and we needed more time before being released into the wild as it were. Reading a list of traits confident people have and then forcing yourself to present them is far easier said than done. I don’t know how to do it. Look up, make eye-contact, do this and do that. Easy to say and almost unthinkable for me to do right now in this point in my recovery. We needed more time to discuss it, process it, and come to conclusions before having to leave. I spent my whole time at the bus stop after trying to stave off a panic attack because I was so worried about my body-language and what signals I was giving off to people at the time and how people would perceive me as a result. I had to constantly challenge my thinking of ‘there is no reason to think they will think that’ meanwhile carrying the fresh information about how well, actually, people do make judgments about others all the time and it is human nature and having to learn to accept that and not worry about it is the issue. So easy to say as I’ve said. Yet I think going out and about will be more of a struggle this week because of all of that.
The one session I was really hoping to get things out of has caused me more problems than not so far. The idea is to use it positively as I said, and encourage others to talk to me so I don’t have to talk to them but I can’t move past that 80% stat. Only 7% of how I’m viewed has anything to say with what I say? The tone of my voice carries more weight at 13% and then in total only 20% of a conversation is about words? It is going to be hard work to get this stuff into my head in a positive manner. I can see where it will do good but it feels rather like trying to get a square peg into a round hole at the moment. I can see it is part of the puzzle but not how it fits. It is a long hard road to not worrying. ‘Just calm down!’ another annoying phrase that is easier said than done. I wish, no really I do.