Everyone has anxiety.
To different degrees, anxiety can interrupt daily life and even debilitate a person.
There is a misconception that no one should ever have anxiety. This is simply not true. Anxiety is energy in your body in anticipation of something. We can do our own work to discover stories we tell ourselves that invoke anxiety before a social event. Some stories may include self-consciousness, a general feeling of safety and trust in others, self-worth issues and more. You name it, we can have anxiety about it. Maybe there is someone at the social event who is harder to be around, maybe there’s a particular smell that you dislike or maybe it could be just that you would rather be at home in your pajamas rather than go to a social event. What I have described for you here is the key word “awareness”. As our anxiety increases before a social event we double up whilst also getting anxiety about our anxiety. “I shouldn’t be anxious, I go these events all the time!”. Here are some steps to take to overcome anxiety before a social event:
You see on your calendar a social event tonight.
Anxiety flares up.
First Step: Notice
Rather than try to avoid the feeling of anxiety, let it be. Notice it.
Point your awareness to the anxiety. Notice without too much weight towards the anxiety, what type of muscle tension you are having. What is your heart rate like? Are there any feelings there, fear, avoidance, disgust, annoyance?
Avoid asking why you have the anxiety. Asking why can really invoke the analyzing side of you. There’s nothing you have to figure out or pin down, this is simply you in an anxious state.
Second step: Name it
Name what you notice.
This is anxiety. Increased heart rate, sweaty palms. Anything else that you are aware of that is happening within your body.
If you have a trusted friend or partner this can be helpful if you are willing and able and open to having someone receive you in an anxious state, you can be witnessed and soothed if you are just not able to regulate yourself.
You can also picture a loved one if you are having trouble loving yourself during this state. Picture a soft presence to receive this anxiously aroused state of being.
Third Step: Offer yourself acceptance
What needs love? What needs your love and acceptance as you notice your anxiety before this social event?
Can you think of your sweet, anxious self as a small puppy or something precious and small that you love? Maybe a baby or small animal. And it is a radical idea I know. Can you even accept that part of you that is not accepting this part of you, if there is? Even noticing your reaction to having just read my sentence. Are you disgusted to think of yourself as something that needs to be cared for? This can give you great insight as to who you are so you can have a better self relationship.
Be Kind to yourself and be curious.
Anxiety has been and will always be a certain intelligence that can keep us safe/secure. If we can shift first and foremost the idea that something is wrong with us because we experience anxiety, it can begin a whole new relationship with ourselves that can be a path towards compassion.