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Finding Your Place in the World

Posted Mar 07 2010 5:30am
Finding North with compass

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Dan Stelter of Anxietysupportnetwork . Does social anxiety make you feel lost some times? Like you just don’t fit in anywhere? Dan’s article is a great starting point for you if you’ve ever felt this way in the past. Dan has a lot of useful insights about social anxiety on his site and I’m glad that he was willing to share some of those ideas with us here.

For those of us suffering from social anxiety disorder , we often find ourselves being run-down by others and being pushed outside of the group.  While we do desire to have personal power and be accepted, very often it is an intense struggle for us to feel as worthwhile as other people.  Unfortunately, many of us have had this same experience happen repeatedly in our lives, and based on our experiences, we jump to the logical conclusion that something is wrong with us.  After all, we are not able to do the same things as most people do, so therefore we believe that we are simply always going to be on the outside of everyone, trying to find a way in.

While I have painted a very glum picture for people with social anxiety disorder, I think that it is unfortunately all too often the case.  We trick ourselves into believing unrealistic things such as belonging on the outside, and that is what keeps us stuck in the cycle of anxiety , and unfortunately, this is the most common attitude I have experienced at many of the leading anxiety forums on the internet.

However, while I often choose to hit people with the bad news upfront, I always have positive news that will totally debase any of the bad news that I bring.  And, the message that I have for readers is a very positive one:  we all have our place in life, a place that will bring us happiness.

The example that I enjoy pointing to is that of Mohandas Gandhi .  I do not know the details of his personal life very intimately, but according to the brief biographical information I have read, he was intensely shy even into adulthood.  In his early thirties, he had completed law school, but was unsuccessful as a lawyer because he was unable to speak in front of a judge!  And, all Gandhi did was free India from the tyranny of the British and become one of the greatest leaders in human history!

Do all of us have an inner Gandhi, ready to completely change the world if the correct conditions arise?  That I am not so sure of, but I do know that all of us have the inner potential to lead successful lives; it is just a matter of finding what that is.  I think that what separated Gandhi from the rest was his incredibly strong conviction and passion for ending racism, increasing people’s freedom, and his use of peaceful demonstration.  He was forced to give up his seat on a train heading to South Africa because of his race, and that ticked him off like none other.  From there on, he became indoctrinated with passion and the rest is history.

I think that for us modern social anxiety sufferers, the same basic idea applies.  We simply have to figure out what it is that really is near and dear to our hearts, and go out into the world and chase that passion with all our might.  This is very similar to the idea of, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.”  If you simply do what it is that is near and dear to your heart, and for me that is helping people reduce their anxiety and lead wonderful lives, you will find that everything else will take care of itself.

For those of us who are trapping ourselves with limiting beliefs such as, “All I can do is work this crappy customer service position.  I hate it, but I’ve tried other things and I am unable to do any of those,” I ask you to question those beliefs.  For example, I would say that what has happened is that you are unable to fit into the standard structures provided to you by society; there are many less-traveled paths out there that are nonetheless very wonderful to follow.

For me, I have learned that becoming an entrepreneur is the right path for me; now it is just a matter of figuring out how that is going to take shape.  For you, consider all the different things that you could possibly do that would make you feel fulfilled and bring along the needed financial stability.  I have heard many radio talk show hosts admit that they were very shy as youngsters.  I have known other anxious people who have gone on to form their own carpentry business or to become realtors.

The reason that I strongly recommend people with social anxiety disorder to become entrepreneurs is that it represents a paradigm that is fundamentally the opposite of what we experienced.  We were run down, people overpowered us or harassed us at every opportunity, and at work we were at the bottom of the totem pole, trapped in pointless and unfulfilling jobs.  Become an entrepreneur means a mountain of hard work, but it also means that now we are taking charge and shaping our lives.  Now we call the shots and have the freedom to do as we will, and now we have the opportunity to make fair decisions that affect other people’s lives.

So, if you are having a hard time finding where it is that you fit in the world, perhaps it is in fact the case that you do not have a place in the world – instead you have to create your own.  And, if you do it well and with all your might, you will find people will follow you and that all will end up well.

Dan Stelter

Anxiety Support Network

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