Social Anxiety Disorder

Young man with social anxiety disorder isolated inside by window

Paralyzed By Socializing

Social anxiety disorder is a chronic debilitating mental illness that prevents one from socializing in public out of fear of ridicule. It may stem from childhood, a specific type of temperament or even genetics. Usually it has to do with a child’s upbringing and social interactions.

As with anything in life, if bad experiences dominate a child’s upbringing, they will learn to associate them with negative and uncomfortable feelings; it’s called classical conditioning. In Pavlov’s experiment, he brought a dog a piece of steak while ringing a bell, causing the dog to salivate at the sight of the steak.

The dog then learned to associate the sound of a bell with being fed. Pavlov then observed that the dog would salivate when the bell was rung, without the piece of steak present. That’s because the dog’s brain learned to anticipate food with sound. The same occurs in mental illnesses like panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and PTSD.

Children may constantly be bullied or be made fun of for the way they dress, talk or behave. Early social embarrassment in addition to a shy or reserved temperament is the perfect recipe for social anxiety disorder. As children enter adolescence, they become even more self-conscious.

Adolescents who don’t develop social anxiety disorder have learned to adapt by building up their confidence, avoiding negative crowds and finding friends who appreciate them for who they are. These factors help them develop healthy social encounters.

Adolescents who do not adapt to their social surroundings are the ones who may develop social anxiety disorder. They fear going to school or even being in public because they have learned to associate their presence with a negative social outcome. Rather than adapting, it’s as if they are paralyzed in fear of ridicule.

And this is how the disorder develops. The more a person avoids socializing, the more strength the disorder gains; to the point of even developing agoraphobia. To help prevent social anxiety disorder from developing in the first place, children and adolescents need not care what others think about them!

It’s your life! Don’t allow others to terrorize it. You are beautiful just the way you are!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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Giving A Dollar

Dog sitting on homeless person's lap

Giving Is Worth More Than Receiving

If you find it in your heart to lend a helping hand to a person or organization in need, then you are leading a life worth feeling happy over. Human nature has it that we want much more than we give; selfishness makes up our DNA code. But just because we are coded in such a way, does not mean we cannot do the opposite.

The amount that you give is irrelevant. What matters is the act, your heart and your delivery! Even if you give one dollar to the breast cancer foundation while standing in line to board your flight to Pittsburgh, and you give it in a humble manner without expecting anything back, that counts much more than receiving.

If you feel compelled to give because “everyone is doing it,” then don’t even bother. Save your energy because your big bags of gold will not earn anyone’s favor. Jesus tells us a story in the bible where a poor woman gave her last coin to the church versus the proud and rich teachers of the law giving their big bags of coins.

Jesus educates us in the bible that the poor woman found favor in god’s heart and had a place in heaven as opposed to the arrogant rich men. It’s not how much you give but how you give it. A great pile of money is no good if its donor stinks to high heaven. But even one dollar from a heart of gold is worth everlasting more.

If you have not yet found it in your heart to donate, then it’s not too late to start today. There are many organizations accepting donations online; just make sure to find the honest ones. You can also try giving a homeless person a dollar. Don’t worry about what they will do with it.

Just practice the act of giving from your heart with a generous and loving intention!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Battling Insecurities

Grayscale photography of insecure asian woman

Insecurity In Relationships

The lack of confidence or anxiety about a certain matter which pertains to you can have a negative influence on your relationships. When an insecurity builds up due to lack of resolution, it can spill unto others, turning a fine smooth sailing relationship into an immediate sour and nasty one.

No matter who you are closest to, whether friends or family, do not spill your insecurities onto them. Most of the time, whenever you address your insecurities with someone close to you, the conversation ends up going south in some shape or form; salvaging is possible but not pretty. It’s always best to reveal your insecurities with a therapist.

A therapist is trained to provide you with techniques and suggestions on how to improve your character and lifestyle. Depending on the school of therapy, you can be taught on how to change your cognition and behavior or how to analyze your way of being. Either form of therapy proves excellent in the long run.

A therapist is not affected by your insecurities because they hold a professional role towards you. But friends, family or coworkers are not there to treat you. So whenever you complain or talk about negativity, it slowly starts to affect them adversely. Everyone is dealing with their own problems, so why add yours to theirs?

Every person can benefit from therapy; even if you’re living on cloud nine and making a 5 million dollar yearly salary. Money, fame or success are irrelevant when it comes to emotional wellbeing and a healthy state of mind. Even rich people commit suicide because they are unhappy!

Even wealthy people hold onto insecurities that eat away at them on a daily basis. That’s why most of them turn to drugs and alcohol; an outlet which numbs the pain away and alters their perception on reality. But substances treat the surface; the infection still boils on the inside.

So do yourself and others a favor and treat your insecurities in the therapist’s office. Don’t bring the baggage out in the open. Save your best version of yourself for others to see and enjoy!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Alcoholic Mouthpiece

Bartender making cocktail beverage at bar

Thirsty Inner Demons

No matter what your mood is, alcohol has a great potential of helping you spill the beans, whether you like it or not. This disinhibiting substance can make a sorrow person explode, a happy person make a fool of themselves or a mellow person turn into the life of the party.

You have to be careful when indulging in alcohol because you may reveal some very sensitive information that was unplanned for. When this happens, you may be left feeling embarrassed and ashamed of your actions. In return, people may look at you differently and even avoid future interactions.

It’s not wise to consume alcohol if you are in a bad state of mind. This doesn’t apply to all drugs. For instance, marijuana may help relieve stress for someone in a bad state of mind. But alcohol . . . it can intensify your inner emotions and turn you into a monster if too much is consumed in a short period of time.

It’s always best to share your concerns with someone who you can trust while in a sober state of mind. The reason many people don’t is because alcohol gives them confidence to share sensitive information; it provides them a mouthpiece through which they can vomit their emotions.

This behavior may also be reinforcing. One may start to believe the following, “hey, that convo went quite smoothly on that Old Fashioned, I’m going to try that again!” And they do try it again. In fact, they try it again on many more occasions, until they wake up one day and realize that they have turned into an alcoholic.

Control your inner demons the right way and don’t give them a mouthpiece from which to live from!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Worst Things In Life Aren’t Free

Mannequin wearing red bowtie and suit

Free Is For Freedom

We all want nice things in life: a fast new car, a wicked shining glamorous home, expensive clothing, private jet rides, etc. There is nothing wrong with longing for materialism as long as it doesn’t chip away at your soul. The old saying “the best things in life are free” is absolutely true.

Happiness, pureness, thankfulness, pets, friendships, family, love, God . . . these are the things in life that cost nothing but your presence. But we often take these things for granted and find ourselves crying for more. When we distract ourselves with materialism, we start to ignore the important things in life.

When we start to ignore the important things in life, that is when God takes them away from us; not as punishment, but as a wakeup call to help set us back on the right path. Life is full of many paths: some distrustful and painful, while others beautiful and loving. When we gear off the right path, that is when God steps in to align us back on the right one.

Therefore, do not ignore the important things in life by replacing them with materialistic objectives. If you want materialism, then go for it, but remember that it comes far after God, family and love. And if you find yourself changing as a person because of materialism, then it might be time to take a long hard look at yourself.

It’s very easy to fall in the trap of money and lust; the roots of all evil. That’s why the worst things in life aren’t free: they usually cost you your soul. What does it benefit you to gain everything in the world at the expense of your soul? You cannot take materialism with you into God’s kingdom.

But you can take your soul! So keep it and focus on the important things in life.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Person stepping out of comfort zone and watching penguin swim

Exploring Your Surroundings

The daily hurdles of life can entangle us in a thick bubble, making it more difficult to break free. This bubble is our daily surroundings: work, home, the local neighborhood . . . repeat. And the more we live in this bubble, the faster time appears to fly by us, leaving us wondering, “where’d my life go?”

No matter how stressful your life may be, you have to learn to step out of your comfort zone and explore your surroundings. Perhaps take a trip to another city when you get some time off from work: explore other cultures and ways of life. Do not surrender to the idea of a staycation because it’s easier and more convenient.

The more you explore new areas outside of your comfort zone, the more diverse and knowledgeable you will become. It will also help you reset your mindset and return back to work refreshed; it feels good to alter your state of consciousness by experiencing new places and things.

But if you continuously stay in the bubble which you are used to staying in, life will start to become repetitively dull. You will no longer feel stimulated by the constant environment which is providing you with little to no change. As humans, we need change from time to time to feel alive.

But some people are afraid to step out of their comfort zone. For instance, many locals of a given area refuse to ever leave their neighborhood which they grew up in. The more you stay in one location, the more anxious you start to feel regarding the idea of leaving. The anxiety revolves around the thought of starting life from scratch in a new but unknown location.

In reality, for most people, the anxiety only lasts a few weeks at most after moving to a new location. The human mind adapts very quickly to new places and things; it’s called survival. It’s in our genes to adapt and survive; otherwise, humans wouldn’t be the most intelligent creatures roaming the earth.

Therefore, put fear aside and step out into the world! Go see new places and things and meet new people who look different from you and hold different beliefs. This is how you will grow and gain more experience in life. This is how you will expand your consciousness and feel more alive.

This is how you will see what lies beyond your bubble.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Past: Potently Sweet But Aggressively Poisonous

Clear hourglass healing the past besides pink flowers

Nothing Heals The Past Like Time

The past is very special because it’s a recollection of events which you can never get back. The memories are the only way you can relive the past and attempt to feel that bit of pleasure you once felt. The saying “stop living in the past” is true to a certain extent.

If your past is preventing you from enjoying the present, then you must stop living in the past. Most people who live in the past are stuck; they long for whatever it was that once brought them pleasure. They don’t know how to let go, so they continue living like there’s no tomorrow (no pun intended).

But if you are leading a healthy and productive life in the present, living in the past can actually be good for you. It’s healthy to reminisce or to indulge in enjoyable recollections of past events. It helps you become more appreciative of the nice things that life has done for you.

Every person in this world has experienced an unfavorable event in their lifetime. Sometimes the event is so awkward, painful or annoying that you wonder how you will ever get rid of it. It’s called time. Time is the master healer of the past. Time doesn’t erase the past; it just helps human consciousness move beyond it.

Something bad from the past will never be erased from your record. What’s done is done. But one can heal and grow from the adverse experience and that is where time comes in handy. It buffers the experience away like a bad scratch on your new blue Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door Coupe.

So don’t sit around and ruminate about the past if you have gone through a bad experience. You will only cause yourself more stress and increase your chances of developing depression or anxiety. Allow time to do the healing for you by just moving on with your life and letting go of the painful memories.

The past is like a double-edged sword: it can be potently sweet but aggressively poisonous as well.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Mastering Time: The Ruler Of Your Reality

Person sitting on chair in the middle of a brown analog clock working on laptop

Effective Time Management Strategies

You start to have a good feel of your control over time when you can predict what time it is without looking at a watch. At this point, your internal clock and universal time are in sync. It feels good to develop this capability because it helps you to rely less on time; your brain now does the work for you.

But to reach this level of capability, you must implement effective time management strategies. It starts with discipline: the majority of your activities must be based on time intervals. For instance, here is an example of someone’s daily routine that incorporates effective time management:

  • Wake up at 6:00 am
  • Finish eating breakfast by 6:20 am
  • Write a blog post by 7:00 am
  • Be at work by 8:15 am
  • Leave work at 4:20 pm
  • Study from 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm
  • Hit the gym from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
  • Be in bed at 10:00 pm
  • Repeat

If you consistently build a daily schedule that revolves precisely around the exact minute, you will become much more organized and on top of your game! But keep in mind that all of this is meant to be fun and to help you out; it should not be a chore to apply effective time management strategies.

If you find yourself having difficulty keeping track of time, then try utilizing a digital timer which will ring after X amount of minutes. This method will help train your brain’s internal clock to become more in sync with universal time. Eventually, the goal is to rely less on the digital timer until you can do it on your own.

Part of the discipline of mastering time is avoiding procrastination; the killer of time itself. Putting off something intentionally or habitually messes up your entire rhythm; your internal clock goes to waste because it no longer adapts to universal time. To effectively master time, the minimum that is required is to avoid procrastination altogether.

Most importantly, but which cannot be reiterated enough: have fun with it! Don’t be hard on yourself. You will actually start to realize that life does become more enjoyable as you improve your discipline and work ethic, and effectively master time. You end up becoming a more efficient human being!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Emotional Imagery

Man practicing emotional imagery

The Art Of Visualization

Without meaningful and purposeful visions, your potential for achieving your goals and aspirations take a dip. Planting the seed in your mind is the first step towards success. Life is unpredictable in the way that some people achieve success without ever having dreamed of it; it’s called luck.

But for the majority of people, visualization is the tool that must be mastered before success is obtained. Whatever it is that you want to accomplish, you must repeatedly utilize emotional imagery; the act of visualizing something with emotions as if you have already received it.

It’s a very difficult task because it requires patience and much practice; many people give up after a few weeks or months into the process. Everyone wants immediate results without hard work and dedication. Unless you are gifted with a batch of luck, it just won’t happen.

The art of visualization is like a game: the more you play it, the better you will get. But games can get old very quickly; you must not allow this to happen with visualization. Everyday is an opportunity for you to reinforce your visions and dreams and build up your belief system.

Besides hard work, it takes a lot of confidence and belief to achieve big things. Intelligence is important too, but many people are wealthy and successful and not that intelligent. The most important factor is your heart! Do you feel that burning desire pumping within your ventricles?

Are you willing to put in 10,000 hours to achieve a specific goal? If not, then you will most likely not accomplish what you’re set out to accomplish. Patience is also very important. However long it takes, you must accept the duration of the process and go with the flow.

And take breaks in-between your grinding sessions. Don’t become robotic and lose your soul in the process. Life is meant to be fun, even if it requires a lot of hard work in the process. But remember to utilize emotional imagery and master the art of visualization! One day, you will realize how much your positive thoughts contributed to your success.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Cocaine-Induced Depressive Disorder

Depressed woman sitting on wing chair withdrawing from cocaine

When Cocaine Steals Your Happiness

The withdrawal from cocaine can be so intense that users literally become depressed, when the drug is no longer inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine in their synaptic clefts. The depression is not severe enough to qualify for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder; hence the diagnosis of substance-induced mood disorder.

Cocaine causes a very intense but short euphoria which makes the user feel on top of the world; think Al Pacino as Scarface. But because the euphoria lasts 20 minutes or less, this promotes the increased usage of the substance. As the user repeats this behavior over and over again, tolerance develops, followed by withdrawal when the cocaine is no longer consumed.

“The crash” is the intense depressive withdrawal state that a user experiences after cocaine is stopped. Many users will binge on cocaine for weeks or months at a time in order to prevent the crash. But more cocaine only worsens the situation: it reinforces the addictive behavior, destroys the brain and body and no longer delivers an intense high.

Either a user battles through the storm and quits cocaine for good, or goes back to using the drug to avoid feeling depressed. This is the addiction in and of itself. At this point, a user does not even feel that high anymore; the drug basically makes them feel themselves again.

Instead of feeling very low or very high, cocaine makes a chronic user feel “normal.” This is not too say that higher doses will not get the user euphoric again; they will, but never at the level of their first highs which initiated the entire chasing process in the first place. At this point, the user is in a never-ending roller coaster ride.

Is it worth trying cocaine? Besides the physiological effects and bodily harm which it does, it also tremendously increases your chances of developing psychiatric illnesses such as depression and psychosis. And you never know how you will react! You may be that one person whose brain loves cocaine and never wants to stop.

Don’t try it. Cherish your god-given happiness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)