Most of the time, it is wisest to refrain from phrases that are framed in the negative (phrases that begin with do not, you should not, or stop). It has been shown time and again in psychological studies that the most productive way to think that leads to the happiest state of mind is to think in the positive (I can do this. I will do that. I am doing this and that).
However, there are a few “do nots” in every sphere of thinking that still need to be considered and in regard to social anxiety, or any other anxiety disorder, this is one of them: do not blame yourself for having an anxiety condition. If the anxiety-sufferer blames him or herself for having an anxiety condition, this leads to lower self-esteem, which means that ones quality of life is that much lower, and it further means that one’s odds of engaging in change are that much lower. If one believes that he or she is to blame for having an anxiety condition, then he or she will think that there is not much that can be done to improve his or her situation.
The socially anxious, as well as all anxiety-sufferers, tend to feel embarrassed, ashamed, and like it is “their fault” that they have this anxiety condition and are missing out on so many things that everyone else seems to have. But, this is in fact not the case, and the following paragraphs will explain just why that is.
The first point to consider is that anxiety is often a biological condition, meaning that the person is born with it and has it programmed into his or her genetics. For those who believe that their anxiety disorder has occurred this way, how can they blame themselves for something over which they have no control, namely that they are biologically predisposed to be anxious? The answer is that this is very unfair to do because everyone has multitudes of skills, abilities, and conditions with which they are born and over which they have no control. People just cannot help certain things.
The next point to consider is that for many anxiety sufferers had biological anxiety which was heightened by childhood experiences. Well-intentioned but uninformed parents could not understand the anxious child’s fear and avoidance of certain people and situations, and rather than trying to understand those feelings and fears, they simply bellered at the child, “Get out there and do it.” This increased the child’s anxiety because his or her fears were not being treated as valid, but instead as something silly that nobody else seems to experience. One’s parents are another thing that are outside of our control, so how can one be blamed for having parents who did not understand his or her condition?
The final point to consider is that other peers took the opportunity to exploit the anxious because they saw the anxiety and fear. Kids at school knew that the anxious child felt bad about him or herself and that he or she would not respond if teased. So, tease they did. The saying “sticks and stone may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is simply untrue. The words stung, and continue to stick with many of anxiety-sufferers for the rest of their lives. One cannot control other people, and if they choose to mock and belittle one in front of others, that is their choice, and there is little that can be done to avoid it many times. How can we one blamed for this?
The point that is common between these examples is that none of these factors that increased one’s anxiety to debilitating levels were under one’s control. One cannot be blamed for things that are not under one’s control, so therefore, it is not his or her fault that he or she is anxious and may seem way “behind” everyone else in life.
However, the good news is that anxiety-sufferers have something under our control, and that is what they choose to do about this anxiety. While this condition may not have been chosen nor the circumstances that produced it, one nonetheless is an adult and it is his or her responsibility to take care of his or her self. While mistakes may be made, one’s recovery is one’s own and it is his or her job to engage it and continue to work at it, no matter how hard it may get.
The only instance where one is to blame for his or her anxiety condition is where he or she is consciously aware that he or she has such a condition, but instead chooses to consistently engage in avoidance behaviors, knowing that he or she is just “doomed” to a lonely and anxious-ridden lifestyle. Fortunately, most people seem to choose to recover, and while some make it farther than others, any progress that can be made is greatly appreciated by the one who makes it.
So, keep working away at it, and anxiety sufferers should keep in mind that it is not their fault that they have their condition, but that it is in their control in how they respond to it. It is best for everyone to keep their heads up and keep moving because that will lead to the highest quality of life!