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Social Anxiety As Spiritual Practice

Melli O'Brien



Melli O'Brien



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Social Anxiety As Spiritual Practice

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Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness.

Today, I'm going to talk about

social anxiety and how we can use

it as a kind of spiritual practice.

So as we go about daily life, I think

most of us do experience some form of

being concerned or worried about what

other people think of us, you know,

wanting their approval, feeling a bit

nervous around them, a bit tense, or

even inferior around other people.

Sometimes it might be really subtle,

like a background unease or nervousness.

And other times, it can be really quite

uncomfortable, really even debilitating.

And importantly, it can

really get in the way of true

connection with another person.

Instead of true connection, we might get

kind of caught up in trying to impress

them, trying to be better than them in

some way, you know, prettier, smarter,

more successful or more knowledgeable.

So at the heart of social

anxiety like this lies the

primal fears of the human mind.

We all have these two primal fears.

They are one, the fear

that we're not enough.

And two, the fear we won't be.

We have these fears because

of the way our mind evolved.

You know, in order to survive in

the caveman days, you had to fit

in the tribe, with the group.

If you got rejected,

humans just didn't survive.

Humans really only survived

in packs in those days.

So because of that, we all have these

two fears and we tend to constantly

seek the approval of others.

So, what does the mind do to

ensure that it will be approved of?

It constantly assesses: Am I good enough?

Am I contributing enough?

Am I special enough?

Am I doing anything that's

going to get me rejected?

This hypervigilance in the mind

is what makes us feel kind of

fear and unease around others.

But we can transform this kind of

social anxiety into a part of our

mindfulness practice with three steps.

First, when you noticed any kind of

anxiety or nervousness arising in social

settings, just notice that the nervousness

is really just made up of body sensations.

You know, a little rise in heart

rate, maybe a funny feeling in

the tummy, whatever that is, you

know, maybe a bit sweaty palms.

And see if you can just relax with the

sensations, just accept them and stay

present and grounded rather than allowing

the mind to go off on a tangent of

evaluating and comparing and worrying.

Secondly, remember that these

primal fears are really just

like an out of date software

program running in the human mind.

We don't live in tribes now.

And so if this person doesn't like

you or decides that they aren't

really very interested in you,

or if they're better looking than

you or whatever, it's not going to

harm you or injure you in any way.

And rejection now doesn't equal deaths.

So remind yourself that you're

fundamentally okay at the

core of your being, no matter

what anyone thinks of you.

And third instead of just being

focused on what other people think

of you, try to, you know, or trying

to get their approval, put all your

focus on being truly interested in

them, who they are, what their story

is, what's going on inside of them.

Really give them your presence

and enjoy the sense of genuine

connection and greater ease and

confidence that this brings.

So that's the invitation to use any

social anxiety as a spiritual practice.

As always, thank you for your practice

and your presence here with us.

And let's now settle in

for today's meditation.

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