Do you ever receive these long e-mail chains that claim to be giving you “important” or “essential” information you should act on?
A friend of the family’s keeps sending me this generic e-mail concerning the dangers of a certain sugar substitute. The claims are outlandish and scary, and they claim that digesting one packet a day of this sugar substitute could give you cancer and kill you.
But does this claim stand up to rational, scientific scrutiny? No, it doesn't. It’s another urban myth that is not based on any scientific evidence. It’s a scare tactic, but the general population seems to believe it. Many people believe it because someone else told them so.
When it comes to social anxiety, you should never accept and believe things about yourself that other people tell you. You need to check out the evidence for yourself.
It is always important to ask, “Is this rational?” and “Does this stand up to scientific scrutiny?” Perhaps someone has told you that you don’t “look good.” But is this really true, and are you going to accept it just because some person said it?
This person sounds rude to me and may be putting you down because he doesn't feel good about the way he looks. Will you begin to isolate yourself in fear that you will be rejected because you don’t look good?
Is doing this rational? Are the words of this one person the same words that the billions of other people on the planet would say? Why are you going to live by what someone else says about you?
Maybe a family member said that you are weak and a “dummy.” This is my own personal story. As a teenager, I heard these words every day. I knew what my father said was not true; after all, I always made the honor roll. But the negative judgment of his comments dragged me down and made me feel unimportant and inferior to other people.
This was the start of my social anxiety. But why did I develop it? Because I accepted (involuntarily) someone else’s words and someone else’s judgment about myself.
Why did I do it? Probably because I was young and didn't know any better. But it was a big mistake. I developed a full-blown case of social anxiety because of all the nasty and hurtful things my father said to me.
But was any of this really rational?
Should I have taken in and accepted what he said?
To overcome social anxiety, we must check our emotions, put them aside and start using our brain. It’s hard to do because emotions are usually stronger than rational thinking. To live a balanced and happy life, and to overcome social anxiety, all of us must learn to go with our rational thinking instead of our negative emotions.
Always ask yourself, “Is this rational?”
“Is there any real objective reason I should be afraid or have I been conditioned to be afraid of certain situations?”
In therapy, there is quite a bit more involved, but this is the outline of getting better from anxiety and depression. Rational thinking is the keystone to mental health, and it is not a good idea to accept everything that other people tell you.
Use your own brain and check it out for yourself. Psychologically, you know there’s something wrong with any person who makes a habit of criticizing or trying to hurt others. In reality, it is THEIR problem, not yours. It only becomes your problem if you accept their words, their stories, and their judgments.
But are their judgments true? Quiet yourself down, slow yourself down, and check to see what’s rational.
It’s important to believe what’s really true, rather than believing something someone told you.
Rational thinking is the keystone to happiness and mental health. Rational thinking helps us overcome social anxiety.