The Problem with Therapies and Self-Help Books

This blog is still very new. So far, two of the people who followed it have their own blogs and their own experiences of social anxiety. Two very different experiences.

Anxiety and I is positive. This person recognises the hard work ahead, but is proud of accomplishments up to now.

klodo is negative. It would be easy to say his circumstances are his own fault. That if he were more positive and worked hard, like Anxiety and I, he would be in a better state now. But that would be wrong.

He has lived with social anxiety for a long time, has tried many things in the past and has given up. He lives alone, does hardly anything that can make a conversation interesting and feels no one wants to listen to him – not even others with social anxiety.

He writes about the problem with self-help books and therapies, and I can’t help agreeing.

Self-help books, CBT and other therapies all assume that the more you put yourself out there the better your life will get, and that the reactions from other people will be much better than you expect. While this has helped many people with SA, it doesn’t work for everyone.

Why? Because they ignore the depression that’s often caused by social anxiety. They ignore the ensuing lack of motivation. They also ignore the passing of time that changes the person you are. If SA is caught in time, it can be reversed fairly easily. But after many years of avoidant behaviour, you change. The thoughts that people don’t like you or find you boring might well have been illogical years ago when the thoughts were new, but over the years, the lack of experience has changed your personality and turned you into that person you never were then.

“Try it,” the books say. “Go to that party, meet those people and force yourself to talk. You’ll find people want to listen to you.”

“Yes, there will be rejections,” they continue. “But you’ll find that most people will be friendly and welcoming.”

What if they aren’t? What if every reaction to your attempts at conversation is negative? After all, people go to parties to have a good time. If they encounter someone who has nothing to say and struggles to get any words out at all, they’ll struggle to hide that smirk. They’ll say, if they’re decent people, “Well, nice talking to you. Must move on.” And you’ll know you’ve failed and it’s never going to get better no matter how many parties you attend.

Smirk

People like that need help. Not self-help and not CBT. I don’t know what the solution is, but I’m sure they can’t change by themselves.

Update: However it sounds, I didn’t intend any criticism of anyone in this post.

 

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