I told my husband that I was going to go over a handout from the audio series and he asked if I'd like to read it aloud to him. It actually was a good idea because reading aloud allows me to practice slow talk as well as face my fears of reading in front of others. Even though he's my husband, I still feel anxiety around him when it comes to certain things.
Here's some thoughts that went though my head before I began reading:
1. My voice will sound weird 2. He will think that the handout as well as social anxiety is ridiculous. 3. I'm going to stumble on my words and he will think that I didn't know how to read; that I'm stupid.
My anxious habits while reading:
1. I was fidgeting with my fingers. I actually hand to sit on my hands to keep them from moving. 2. I noticed that I was holding my breath quite often. There were a few times when I actually had to catch my breath while reading. 3. The more anxious I felt, the faster I began to read.
The next time I read my handouts in front of him, I'll see if any of my anxious habits have improved. Like Dr. Richards says, repetition is key. So I'll keep practicing this until it no longer causes me anxiety.
The handout I was reading is called "The Annual ANTs Convention." It's a part of the "Overcoming Social Anxiety Step by Step" audio series created by Dr. Thomas A. Richards. I really like this handout because it allows me to see my a utomatic n egative t houghts as being actual ants that I must defeat. I know that may sound silly, but if you read the handout you'll understand what I'm talking about. Here's one of my favorite lines from the handout:
But our victims never learn that practicing is important to change thoughts, do they? They start out practicing and being persistent, but they always quit before they really get any better. Then, we've got them trapped. One more defeat makes them feel totally worthless and helpless and then they really give up!
Whenever I'm feeling lazy about going over my handouts I read those lines and I instantly feel motivated to practice.
Once I finished reading the handout I told my husband that I was anxious the entire time. He told me that he couldn't tell, that I seemed completely relaxed. I'm glad he said that because it was a reminder of the fact that most of the time no one even knows I'm anxious. He reminded me that these negative thoughts wrong and I don't have to believe them.