Social Anxiety Mailing List April 2013

Volume 15 Number 4
April 2013

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The Social Anxiety Mailing List

The Social Anxiety Mailing List, which first began in 1999, comes to you from The Social Anxiety Institute in Phoenix.  You can reach our home page here.
Group Info,  The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy,  Questions and Answers from Dr. Richards
Summer CBT Group for Social Anxiety:
May 11th - August 10th, 2013 (14 weeks).  Details: local group.  Fill out application here.  Please enroll now for this group.  Our groups are friendly, active, structured groups which focus completely on helping people overcome social anxiety disorder.  The all-day Saturday group is enhanced by social and behavioral activities on weeknights.  We have a community of people overcoming social anxiety here.
Next International Therapy Group:
New International Group proposed for July 1st - July 20th, get your applications in now if you wish to attend this group.
The International Group proposed for July 22nd - August 10th, 2013 is now full.
Details: International Group.  These groups consist of people who are motivated and ready to overcome social anxiety.
Self Fulfilling Prophecy: Breaking the Cycle
As a part of our therapy we focus on belief systems. A belief system is a deeply built construct of our thoughts, emotions, and behavior which affects every aspect of our lives. People with social anxiety have irrational and negatively skewed belief systems from years of negative experiences, thoughts, and expectations. The only way to make belief systems rational is to reprogram our thoughts and go conditional first -- by realizing when we use absolute thinking like "I can NEVER do that", "that is too hard for me", "I CAN'T speak in front of people", "I'll never be able to do the job I want to do”, or “I'm way too anxious", we are off-track and thinking irrationally.
Our brains will believe what we say over and over again. If you say you CAN'T do something, you will always feel you can't do it. This may not be rational, but you already said it: "I can't do it". The brain hears and takes that thought in. Over time it becomes a BELIEF of yours. When you believe you can't do it, you are caught up in a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.

Questions and Answers from Dr. Richards:
Q. Dear Dr. Richards,
My problem is this. I returned to college at the beginning of this year in hopes of finishing finally. I did well the first and summer semesters, but throughout the fall I was absolutely horrible. I began to miss classes and avoid doing any of the work.
Of course the SAD influenced some of this, but I wonder if all can be explained by this?  Is there a element of ADD or the likes of major procrastination in SAD?  I have been experiencing lack of focus to some extent as well as procrastination all my life.  Now with this semester I have basically flunked out and have no motivation to do much of anything. Could it be that I am just a lazy person?  I would like to think not, especially since I seem to care about the problem. I am not depressed in any way.  I just seem to have no motivation and direction at all. It is a very disheartening thing.   Can you or anyone provide insight into this?
A. Hi Daniel: 
Procrastination is a problem for many people, but seems to affect people with social anxiety disproportionately.  "Major procrastination", as you put it, is certainly a part of some people's social anxiety symptoms.  Giving in to procrastination leads to lack of motivation, which, in turn, leads to more procrastination.  This is another negative vicious cycle that social anxiety disorder creates and continues to fuel.  The longer you allow yourself to procrastinate, the more severe it makes social anxiety, which, in turn, causes more procrastination.
The solution to procrastination is, in therapy language, to do the OPPOSITE of what you feel like doing.  No complaining, no video games, no television, just make yourself go to the computer and do what you need to do.  Stop all the negativity, stop all the excuses you've used in the past.  Just go over and start your work.  Once you start it, it all becomes easier.  This is also a good example of "acting against your negative emotions".   When you act against this symptom of social anxiety, you will feel better almost immediately. 
No, your behavior cannot be explained by "I am just a lazy person".   You are not lazy or you would not want to change.  Procrastination feeds itself off itself.  The more you procrastinate, the easier it is to do in the future.  However, the more you just stop the thinking...and start the doing, the better you will feel and the more energy and motivation you will have.  Act against your negative emotions.  Stop the excessive thinking, the worry, and the doubts.  Just go over and do it.  You will notice an immediate change.  Your motivation and energy will come back to you as you move forward. 
Why live for days and hours in anxious anticipation of something you can deal with right now?  Stop your negative thinking and worry, and just do what you can do.   Now.  Right this very moment.
By responding to procrastination and anxiety in this way, you will change your life forever.  
Q. Hi Dr. Richards, I know I've already mentioned this but I'm so happy I found you! I'd like to tell you a little about myself so that you could tell me if I have social anxiety or "generalized" social anxiety. I'm 34 yrs old and have suffered from social anxiety from since I can remember. But it never stopped me from going or doing anything. I attended every party/gathering I was invited to and still do. When I was in my teenage years that would mean having diarhea and major butterflies before the event...but I still went. Later blushing became a big issue. Anybody that would say hello to me I would turn tomatoe red. Now, at 34 my social anxiety still persists except like I said it doesn't stop me from doing anything (I won't let it be that much in control of my life) except make new friends .....oh and the blushing is still there.
1. I have a hard time being comfortable in front of people I think are better than me. I can't look at them in the eyes and I feel they can see I'm uncomfortable and that makes them uncomfortable so making friends doesn't happen so easily. Plus I'm afraid of rejection so I don't make such a big effort. I feel very unpopular and think about it a lot. Question: Do you know if people can really tell I'm uncomfortable?
2. The blushing is still awful. If I bump into someone unexpectadly at the mall, I'll turn red,red, red!! I can't control that....I hate it! I wonder if it's something I can eventually control ... because I know there's no reason to blush, but I can't help it! It's then hard to make small talk when I know I'm so red in the face! Any tips on that?
Again, it doesn't stop me from doing anything, I just hate the feelings I feel when I'm in that situation and I feel because I'm so uncomfortable it shows and I can't make friends. And the blushing really bothers me. ... do you think I have social anxiety or generalized social anxiety??
Thanks a lot!
A. Dear Megan:
Terminology can be a problem here. Generalized social anxiety is a subset of social anxiety disorder. The vast majority of people with social anxiety disorder have the "generalized" form of it. This is what you are personally describing in your letter. You would most likely meet the definition of social anxiety disorder (according to the DSM-IV) if we had a diagnostic session together.
All of this is changeable, however. The brain is plastic, malleable, and can be changed. With the appropriate therapy and willingness to carry it through on your part, you can learn to overcome social anxiety.

Please join us on our public   page, and follow our  feed.

***The "Overcoming Social Anxiety" Audio Series is now completely digital, so this will save you time and money.  It will be especially helpful to our international friends.

**We have also added an Installment Payment option on the audio series page for those who want to pay that way.  Our goal is to reach as many people as possible with this therapy.

To use the payment plan, click the "Contact" button on the menu bar at the far right, select "Ordering" and mention "Installment Plan" in your message to us.

Social Anxiety CBT Groups Around The World

Go to the CBT Groups Operating page.  These groups are proactive and structured.  All of them use the "Overcoming Social Anxiety" audio series as a foundation for overcoming social anxiety.

CBT Groups Starting Soon:
A CBT group for social anxiety is starting in Connecticut, near the Greater New Havens Area.  It will be about 20 weeks long and will begin in late May, or early June.  If interested in this group, please email Marla at or visit her twitter @SocialAnxiety27
A CBT Group is Sacramento, CA is also being organized, but the start dates are yet to be determined.  If interested in this group, please contact Josh at for additional information.

You CAN get better and overcome social anxiety.  It happens all the time. You deserve a better life, free from the anxiety and the restrictions that social anxiety places on you, and we are here to help aid you in this process.

Copyright © 2013, The Social Anxiety Institute, Inc.
Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Psychologist/Director, SAI
Matthew Whitley, Practice Manager
Justin Bashore, Aaron O'Banion, Tim Henry, Zach Brown, SAI Staff

Follow Dr. Richards

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.