Changing Neural Pathways

Your brain is accustomed to feeling socially-anxious. The neurons and chemicals used by the brain have been used for a long time and are habituated (i.e., have become a habit).  Even though social anxiety is a painful emotion to live through, the brain still finds comfort in using the same neural pathways and the same neurochemicals it feels accustomed to. It doesn't know any other way (yet).

However, social anxiety -- both the feelings and the thoughts -- is not rational in any way. Social anxiety is based on inaccurate perceptions, false beliefs, and distorted thinking and feeling. By itself, without instruction from us, the brain does not "cure" itself. It keeps using the same old neurons that bring on and habituate our social anxiety.

Because social anxiety is a liar, and never gives us the truth, we must become active -- and calmly but with determination -- challenge our own old beliefs, thoughts, and related feelings and emotions. None of us like feeling socially-anxious. It is time for us to ACT against our old feelings, and make the brain stop using those same old neural pathways (that lead to having anxiety).

Talking out loud and calmly to your brain -- when circumstances permit -- is vitally important. As you speak out the truth ("Rationally, I know I did an OK job when I answered that question today at work") you are challenging the brain in a calm, yet determined way. If you repeat it over and over, the brain has no choice but to listen to you, hear the discordant message, and somehow make peace with these two opposite beliefs.

If you are repetitive and stick with it, if you keep instructing your brain to be rational, your brain has no choice except to become more rational about what you are saying to it, and then you start to really believe what is accurate and true.

That is one important step in putting a dagger to the heart of social anxiety. I hope it doesn't sound too complicated, as it is an easy thing to put into practice.

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The Social Anxiety Association

The Social Anxiety Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 to meet the growing needs of people with social anxiety.  The SAA became inactive for several years due to lack of resources.  We are in the process of re-doing our website, listing all active, structured CBT groups for social anxiety, and renewing all our licenses.  Major changes will be happening by the end of 2013.  We publish new web content -- concerning social anxiety -- almost daily on the site now.

The Social Anxiety Institute is the largest website on the internet about social anxiety disorder (social phobia). Therapy programs have run at the Institute full-time since 1994.  Major new help for overcoming social anxiety is under development and will be introduced in 2013. 

For treatment: Overcoming social anxiety: Step by Step   A structured guide to overcoming social anxiety (a "How to" guide to get over social anxiety).

The Anxiety Network explains and describes five major anxiety disorders.

Guidelines for listing social anxiety groups on this site.  We cannot officially endorse groups, so check them out thoroughly.  We ask that they be groups that are operating, have a definite leader, and are thoroughly structured.  Social anxiety therapy groups are very different than the groups that operate for other mental health conditions.