Anxiety, that nagging voice that you are not good enough, funny enough, not deserving of someone else’s company. It can stop us from feeling connected to others, or even seek out company in the first place because our fear of being rejected is overwhelming.
This fear is often accompanied by shame, a feeling we get when our ‘bond’ to others is threatened. Our primitive brains created this emotion because together we are stronger, strength in numbers were needed to survive an attack of a Saber-Toothed Tiger or to gather enough food to feed ourselves and our families, serving to keep us alert to danger, helping us stay safe from attacks. Anxiety can also trigger our other ‘safety’ mode, the fight, flight, freeze response when we feel threatened.
With the age of computers keeping us in touch remotely more than ever, when we do get together without the aid of a screen we can become hypersensitive to our environment, vulnerable to the prospect of any incoming danger. So how can we reduce our anxiety and start to reconnect to others without our brains wanting to get the hell out there?
Prepare before you go. Think about the situation you are going into and decide how long you are able to stay before your anxiety becomes unmanageable. So, say you know 30 minutes is all you will be able to manage on this occasion, tell the person you are meeting that you can only stay for 30minutes, before you need to leave the house. Remember, you don’t need to explain yourself!
Meditate. Learning to meditate is a great way to gain control of the internal dialogue that often occupies an anxious mind, retraining yourself (and re-wiring the brain) to have a more positive frame of reference than a negative one. If you have never meditated before, you don’t need to sit crossed legged or burn incense to achieve it! It does take practice to clear and quieten your thoughts, but once you get the hang of it you will wonder why you never did it before.