Worst fear of all - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-16-2007, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Worst fear of all

I think my main fear in social situations is the fear of the anxiety itself. The anxiety feels terrible. So I begin to fear experiencing it. I anticipate a situation but with anxiety. But I am anticipating anxiety itself.
Just a thought
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-17-2007, 01:12 AM
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re: Worst fear of all

For me the fear of the physical symptoms of anxiety were relatively easy to overcome. Therapy helped me a lot with that.

Read up on the symptoms that you are experiencing (they are natural feelings purposfully created by your body, are natural and are not made to harm you, etc., etc.).

Some notes from my first therapist, I think they're fairly old.
What is panic and anxiety and how to cope with it
What is panic?

Getting 'panicky' feelings is a normal part of life. It can happen to all of us at different times in our lives and in different situations. Many people are frightened or phobic about something (e.g., spiders or heights) and most of us cope by avoiding these things or we just learn to bear it for a while, knowing it will soon pass, e.g., waiting for an exam or visiting the dentist. Sometimes however, the panicky feelings can happen "out of the blue" when we are not aware that we are frightened or in danger. They can make us feel intense terror for no apparent reason and can end up making our lives miserable. Most people cannot predict when they will happen and so can become very apprehensive and nervous waiting for the next one. Unfortunately, as our general level of anxiety rises we are more likely to experience a panic attack. In order to stop these panicky feelings we have to learn how and why they happen and learn ways to reduce their recurrence.

Panicky feelings happen whenever we think we are in danger, whether real or not. They are essential for us to have because in times of real danger (e.g., fires) they start our survival response, which is to be able to run away! This response has worked well for humans for many years and made us able to survive. In order for us to run away, certain changes happen in our bodies. We have to get oxygen-rich blood to the major muscle groups in our limbs so that we are able to run fast for a long time if necessary.
For this to happen the following must start to happen:

* Heart beats haster and harder
* Breath gets faster and harder
* Body starts to get hot
* The mind focusses on "what is dangerous and how can I get away to safety?"
* To help the body adjust to these changes, other things happen to make the body more efficent
* Saliva production slows down causing a dry mouth (this is so the airways stay clear)
* Digestive system shuts down so we get a feeling of movement/change and it canfeel like "butterflies", and in severe cases can cause nausea and vomitting
* The bowel and bladder shut down and this may create the feeling of needing to go to the toilet
* Blood moves from the skin to the major muscle groups so we may look pale, feel cold, or shivery and may get goose bumps (even though we may be hot and sweaty)
* If we do not get up and run away we can get fidgety as there is lots of stored energy in those major muscle groups

When we escape from the danger our bodies genreally return to normal. However in the 21st centruy most of the things that we percieve as "dangerous" to us are not often helped by running away, but our bodies still react as though we could. This is why we often wish we could get away from the situation, and how we may learn to avoid it over time. Sometimes it is the body changes, themselves, that occur when the survival instinct is triggered that cause us to feel panicky or in danger. We do not like the feelings of a rapid heartbeat or getting a dry mouth or feeling "butterflies". These phsyical sensations frighten us, causing us to have frigthening thoughts, which reinforce our awareness of sensations, and so the circle keeps going. Sometimes it is the exaggerated negative thoughts themselves that we can expereince, that trigger the panic response and again the circle keeps on going.
Diagram of the anxiety and panic cycle

Using a common example of heart palpfatations the cycle looks like this:
Diagram of an example cycle
What happens during a panic attack?
Some of the symptoms that you may experience during a panic attack could include:

* Shortness of breath
* Thumping heart beat
* Trembling and/or tingling
* Choking
* Dizziness
* Sweating and cold flashes
* Chest pain
* Nausea and vomitting
* Fear of losing control, dying or going crazy
* Exaggerated negative thoughts

During the course of a panic attack people often believe that they are seriously ill and are going to die especially as their hearts feel as though they. are going to explode, and they may also feel pain in their chest like they are suffocating. Usually an attack lasts for about 20 mfns but may continue if the sitauation does not change. Afterwards people tend to feel tired and drained.
Why is it happening now?

There is probably no single cause as to why panic attacks occur, but probably occur as a combination of physical and environmental tiggers.
Certain times in our lives may also contribute to panic attacks. These are times such as:

* When we are depressed
* When we are in a chronic stressed or anxious state
* If we have had a major stressful event, like a death or divorce or redundancy
* If we are anxious people
* If we are sleep deprived and very tired
* If we are "burnt out"
* If we have drunk too much alcohol or used
* too many recreational drugs
* At certain times of the night (generally the early hours)
* If we drink too many coffees or energy drinks In certain trigger situations, e.g. with spiders or other phobias
* And for women, at certain times in our menstral cycle
* If we have had a panic attack recently and are anticipating another one...

What can you do to help?

First of all it is helpful to understand what panic attacks are and how they originate. Panic attacks are part of your body's normal functioning, they are protective and part of life and your body is designed to cope with them. They are not going to harm you, kill you, or drive you crazy! It is the worrying about them that does the damage.

What others see when you feel fine:
Normal looking face

What others see when you feel anxious:
Normal looking face

What you think others see when you feel anxious:
Freaked out looking face

Secondly, most people have found effective treatment so that they can return to normal life. These treatments can include a range of strategies.
Reducing your general levels of stress and causes of anxiety

* Learn to control our breathing so that you don't hyperventilate
* Learn to physically relax
* Set plenty of sleep and rest
* Exercise regularity
* Bat a balanced diet
* Limit coffee, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
* Do more of the "good things" in your life
* Make sure you have good support from those around you
* Change what you say to yourself
* Medication from your physician

Practise breathing and relaxation exercises, and use self-talk coping statements as often as you can.
Manaing panic attacks

* Have a coping plan ready
* Have someone with you to help you with your coping plan
* Calm and slow your breathing
* Relax your shoulders and chest
* Walk around and get some fresh air
* Use reassuring self talk - "However bad this is I have been through it before and I can get through it now", "It will pass soon"
* Remember that the bodily sensations are not harmful or dangerous - just unpleasant. Nothing worse then these feelings will happen to you
* Remember that the feelings will peak and then decrease. Give the fear time to pass by accepting it, and it will go away soon.
Find techniques that help manage the symptoms (relaxation exercises are good). If you can give yourself more control over the syptoms you'll find you have less reason to fear them.

An old one my first therapist had me doing. Probably better to get something on a CD or something. At the moment I'm doing mindfulness meditation which is pretty relaxing and it helps in other ways too.
Progressiv Relaxation

You cannot have the feeling of warm well-being in your body and at the same time experience psychological stress. Progressive relaxation of your muscles reduces pulse rate and blood pressure as well as decreases perspiration and respiration rates. Deep muscle relaxation, when successfully mastered, can be used as an antianxiety pill. Edmund Jacobson, a Chicago physician, published the book Progressive Relaxation in 1929. In this book he described his deep muscle relaxation technique, which he asserted required no imagination, willpower, or suggestion. His technique is based on the premise that the body responds to anxiety-provoking thoughts and events with muscle tension. This physiological tension, in turn, increases the subjective experience of anxiety. Deep muscle relaxation reduces physiological tension and is incompatible with anxiety: the habit of responding with one blocks the habit of responding with the other.
Symptom Effectiveness

Excellent results have been found in the treatment of muscular tension, anxiety, insomnia, depression, fatigue, irritable bowel, muscle spasms, neck and back pain, high blood pressure, mild phobias, and stuttering.
Time to Master

One to two weeks, employing two fifteen-minute sessions per day.

Most people do not realize which of their muscles are chronically tense. Progressive relaxation provides a way of identifying particular muscles and muscle groups and distinguishing between sensations of tension and deep relaxation. Progressive relaxation can be practiced lying down or in a chair. Each muscle or muscle group is tensed from five to seven seconds and then relaxed for twenty to thirty seconds. This procedure is repeated at least once. If a particular muscle is difficult to relax, you can practice tensing and releasing it up to five times. You may also find it helpful to say to yourself as you are doing progressive relaxation one or more of the following expressions:
Let go of the tension.
Calm and rested.
Relax and smooth out the muscles.
Let the tension dissolve away.
Let go more and more.
Deeper and deeper.

Once the procedure is familiar enough to be remembered, keep your eyes closed and focus attention on just one muscle group at a time. The instructions for progressive relaxation are divided into two sections. The first part is the basic procedure, which you may wish to tape and replay while practicing. This will familiarize you with the muscles in your body that are most commonly tense. If you do tape it, be sure to pause long enough for tensing and relaxing. The second section shortens the procedure by simultaneously tensing and relaxing many muscles at one time, so that deep muscle relaxation can be achieved in a very brief period.
Basic Procedure

Get into a comfortable position in a quiet room where you won't be disturbed. You may want to loosen your clothing and remove your shoes. Begin to relax as you take a few slow, deep breaths.... Now as you let the rest of your body relax, clench your fists and bend them back at the wrist... tighter and tighter ... feel the tension in your fists and forearms.... Now relax.... Feel the looseness in your hands and forearms.... Notice the contrast with the tension.... (If you have time, repeat this, and all succeeding procedures, at least one more time.) Now bend your elbows and tense your biceps. ... Tense them as hard as you can and observe the feeling of tautness.... Let your hands drop down and relax.... Feel that difference.... Turn your attention to your head and wrinkle your forehead as tight as you can.... Feel the tension in your forehead and scalp. Now relax and smooth it out. Imagine your entire forehead and scalp becoming smooth and at rest.... Now frown and notice the strain spreading throughout your forehead.... Let go. Allow your brow to become smooth again.... Squeeze your eyes closed ... tighter.... Relax your eyes. Let them remain closed gently and comfortably.... Now open your mouth wide and feel the tension in your jaw... . Relax your jaw.... When the jaw is relaxed, your lips will be slightly parted. Notice the contrast between tension and relaxation.... Now press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Experience the ache in the back of your mouth.... Relax.... Press your lips now, purse them into an "O." . .. Relax your lips.... Feel the relaxation in your forehead, scalp, eyes, jaw, tongue, and lips.... Let go more and more.... Roll your head slowly around on your neck, feeling the point of tension shifting as your head moves ... and then slowly roll your head the other way*. Relax, allowing your head to return to a comfortable upright position.... Now shrug your shoulders; bring your shoulders up toward your ears ... hold it.... Drop your shoulders back down and feel the relaxation spreading through your neck, throat, and shoulders .. . pure relaxation, deeper and deeper.... Now breathe in and fill your lungs completely. Hold your breath. Experience the tension.... Now exhale and let your chest become loose.... Continue relaxing, letting your breath come freely and gently.... Notice the tension draining out of your muscles with each exhalation.... Next, tighten your stomach and hold. Feel the tension.... Relax.... Now place your hand on your stomach. Breathe deeply into your stomach, pushing your hand up. Hold ... and relax. Feel the contrast of relaxation as the air rushes out.... Now arch your back, without straining. Keep the rest of your body as relaxed as possible. Focus on the tension in your lower back.... Now relax.... Let the tension dissolve away. Tighten your buttocks and thighs.... Relax and feel the difference.... Now straighten and tense your legs and curl your toes downward. Experience the tension.... Relax.... Straighten and tense your legs and bend your toes toward your face.... Relax. Feel the comfortable warmth and heaviness of deep relaxation throughout your entire body as you continue to breathe slowly and deeply.... You can relax even more as you move up through your body, letting go of the last bit of tension in your body. Relax your feet... relax your ankles ... relax your calves ... relax your shins ... relax your knees ... relax your thighs ... relax your buttocks.... Lei the relaxation spread to your stomach ... to your lower back ... to your chest.... Let go more and more. Feel the relaxation deepening in your shoulders ... in your arms ... and in your hands.... Deeper and deeper. Notice the feeling of looseness and relaxation in your neck ... your jaw ... your face ... and your scalp.... Continue to breathe slowly and deeply. Your entire body is comfortably loose and relaxed, calm and rested.
Shorthand Procedure

Once you have mastered the basic procedure, use the following procedure to relax your muscles quickly. Whole muscle groups are simultaneously tensed and then relaxed. As before, repeat each procedure at least once, tensing each muscle group from five to seven seconds and then relaxing from fifteen to thirty seconds. Remember to notice the contrast between the sensations of tension and relaxation.

1. Curl both fists, tightening biceps and forearms (Charles Atlas pose). Relax.
2. Roll your head around on your neck clockwise in a complete circle, then reverse. Relax.
3. Wrinkle up the muscles of your face like a walnut: wrinkle forehead, eyes squinted, mouth open, and shoulders hunched. Relax.
4. Arch your shoulders back as you take a deep breath into your chest. Hold. Relax. Take a deep breath, pressing out the stomach. Hold. Relax.
5. Straighten your legs and point your toes back toward your face, tightening your shins. Hold. Relax. Straighten your legs and curl your toes, simultaneously tightening calves, thighs, and buttocks. Relax.

Special Considerations

1. If you make a tape of the basic procedure to facilitate your relaxation program, remember to space each procedure so that time is allowed to experience the tension and relaxation before going on to the next muscle or muscle group.
2. As with all relaxation techniques, regular practice of progressive relaxation will enhance the speed and depth of your relaxation.
3. Caution should be taken in tensing the neck and back, because excessive tightening can result in muscle or spinal damage. Also, overtightening the toes or feet can result in muscle cramping.
4. People new to this technique sometimes make the error of relaxing tension gradually. This slow-motion release of tension may look relaxed, but it actually requires sustained tension. When you release the tension in a particular muscle, let it go instantly; let your muscles become suddenly limp.
5. This chapter has described active tensing of muscles. People with injuries or very painful muscles may prefer passive tensing of muscles. You can use the same basic procedure and substitute the words, "Notice the tension in your ____" whenever the instructions call for tensing a muscle. If you feel no tension in a particular muscle, tense it just enough to notice the slightest amount of tension. This kind of minimal tensing is usually not visibly noticeable.
6. While initially you will learn progressive relaxation in a quiet place, eventually you will be able to use at least a shortened version of it any time during the day when you notice you are tense.


Short hand procedures are for when you are around people. Clench fists, shrug shoulders, or just stretching is better because people wont notice. If I feel tense I sometimes run through all the muscle groups and make sure that they are relaxed (often when I'm just walking down the street), it seems to help.
Learn not to worry so much about them - use realistic thinking forms to disprove unreasonable expectations before you go into an anxiety inducing situation.

An example form
Talking to someone.

They'll see me shaking.

Evidence thats not 100% true:
No-one has ever pointed out that I was shaking, or shown any indication of noticing before when I have been anxious. I'm not really sure that my shaking is outwardly visible.

Realistic Probability:

Degree of emotion:

Consequences if expectation is true:
They'll see think I'm crazy or strange.

(Consequence = new expectaion)

Evdence thats not 100% true:
They're more likely to think that I'm shy. They've known me for a while and wont change their minds about me over such a small thing.

Realistic Probability:

Degree of emotion:

Consequences if expectation is true:
They wont like me.

(Consequence = new expectaion)

Evdence thats not 100% true:
People don't automatically dislike people just because they are shy - some people like shy people. I know other people like me, so why should these people be any different.

Realistic Probability:

Degree of emotion:

Consequences if expectation is true:
So what, they wont like me, bleh.
Hope that wasn't too long. Anyway thats the kind of stuff that helped me, I guess having a therapist rattle on about it helped a bit too. I did some exposure stuff back then too.

"I take what is mine. I pay the iron price."
―Balon Greyjoy
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-17-2007, 03:44 AM Thread Starter
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re: Worst fear of all

I have gotten quite good at changing my cognitive biases over the years.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-17-2007, 05:09 PM
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Re: Worst fear of all

I agree, i had locked myself in my house for a long time. Then heard my cousin was getting married so naturally i HAD to go to the wedding. I hadn't been to a social event in so long. But i wasnt nervous, i was planning on having fun. Then i saw one of my distant cousins and started talking and i could feel myself breaking down. Hands shaking, voice weak, eyes wandering it was really bad.

And obvious to my cousin! Really embarassing and the worst part about it was i didnt expect it to happen. While it was happening i was thinking "my god this is like one of those poor lonely kids in school i used to feel bad for" And how when i would try to start a conversation with them they have the same things happen to them, i felt bad for them and thats why i talked to them in the first place, but deep in my mind i would think "jesus whats wrong with these kids" Now im one of them, and feel even worse for them.

Thats when i realized i had SA, and ever since then that moment pops in my mind beforehand when doing normal social things, meeting people, going in a store to buy something ect. And it seems that the fear of it happening almost gurentees it to happen. Makes the whole thing worse.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-18-2007, 01:03 AM
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Re: Worst fear of all

Originally Posted by NeverEverEnds
Then i saw one of my distant cousins and started talking and i could feel myself breaking down. Hands shaking, voice weak, eyes wandering it was really bad.

And obvious to my cousin! Really embarassing and the worst part about it was i didnt expect it to happen. While it was happening i was thinking "my god this is like one of those poor lonely kids in school i used to feel bad for"
Yes, I have something similar happen to me all the time. I'll be talking to someone, or will want to "jump in" and participate in a conversation, and all of a sudden I break down and blush or say things that don't make sense.

I have to admit to having the same thoughts, kind of like, "God, what's happened to me?"
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-19-2007, 04:07 PM
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re: Worst fear of all

My worst fear in social situations are my physical symptoms. I start to blush, I get waves of heat (hot flashes) throughout my body and then I start sweating profusely.

When I notice that I'm sweating I become self-conscious of it and sweat even more. I usually have to break off a conversation to run into a bathroom to cool down.

I think If I can find a way to reduce the blushing and sweating in social settings I can hopefully become more confident.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-19-2007, 04:45 PM
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re: Worst fear of all

I think my biggest fear is that people will notice how uncomfortable I am and not understand. So many times I've been told I come off as stuck up or rude, when I'm really just too shy to speak up.

Thanks andy1984 for posting those notes.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-20-2007, 12:40 PM
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My worst fear is rejection or worse them making fun of me. Pretty realistic since 99% of my social encounters end up this way.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-20-2007, 01:25 PM
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re: Worst fear of all

My wost fear is of being judged.....I HATE being watched it FREAKS ME OUT like no other...I feel like all these people are just staring at me and judging me....I am sooo paranoid whenever I am in socail situations and Im not distracting myself enough I hear everyone talking and think that for sure they are talking about me or laughing about me frrrreaky!
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-20-2007, 05:29 PM
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re: Worst fear of all

Its amazing to see that noone refers to the trembling/tense lip.Thats my worst fear, that people will notice my lip trembling.And i thought that was most people fear.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-20-2007, 06:00 PM
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Re: re: Worst fear of all

Originally Posted by yojez
My wost fear is of being judged.....I HATE being watched it FREAKS ME OUT like no other...I feel like all these people are just staring at me and judging me....I am sooo paranoid whenever I am in socail situations and Im not distracting myself enough I hear everyone talking and think that for sure they are talking about me or laughing about me frrrreaky!
Hey Danielle , i was like that too for a lot of time..drugs helped i know but it got worst with time...all i do was reading hidden messages in what others said...constant attacks on my caracter.I kept fighting people for "attacks" that most probably didnt happened-Thats the problem with paranoia in reading hidden messages, it can be a personal attack but it also can be nothing too the problem was i always assumed it was an attack without doubts and i always felt a feeling of revenge.
Now i now i was completely "delusional" but it still happens but less times because i can control myself.
For example, yesterday, my brother was talking to my mother in the living room and i was listening on the kitchen..he said something really sugestive that i immediattely perceived as an attack and i was just preparing to engage in a intimidation tactic that i have with him but i stoped for a minute and thought that was just completely stupid...why the hell was he sending me a "hidden attack" and i was not even on the same room, ridicolous.
Being insecure and having a paranoid personality is an explosive cocktail
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 04:36 AM
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Coming off like a retard...expecially when there are cute guys around(like they really pay me any attention).

Sometimes my anxiety gets soo bad that my brain will just shut down and i can barely function.

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 05:43 AM
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 05:51 AM
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re: Worst fear of all

Hello everyone, I'm new to the forums and I am seeking 1on1 therapy as well as support groups. However, I have procrastinated so much that I haven't gotten anywhere with that. I am fed up with this lifelong problem of mine and want to live my life.

Anyhow, my worst fear of all is going to church and having to hold hands at the altar for prayer, which is the reason I rarely go to church or going out with a woman that I want to touch. When I anxious, I sweat! My hands sweat, my face sweats, I pretty much sweat anywhere. I basically have a fear of sweating, which manifests a fear of being rejected or judged as a result of sweating. This controls my life to the point where I can't leave my house unless I have to go to work or school.
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