Dr. Richards,

I thought I would do something a little different than the messages I read on the support pages.  I have had a few questions, but they were answered already, so what I would like to do is list what parts of the therapy actually helped me the most.

I am still working on it, but have made a lot of progress.  So, to keep myself motivated to do the series, I remind myself every day of how life USED to be back before I started doing the therapy.  Every time I remind myself of what I used to be like, and what my life used to be like, it motivates me to read over a handout again.  I am never going back!

Here's what's been most helpful to me:

Slow (calm) talk - I am now able to use this pretty well at work, when talking to my supervisor and to my clients (both of these situations caused me a lot of social anxiety in the past).  Socially, I used it when I (finally) asked a woman who works in my building out to dinner.  Yes, I had anticipatory anxiety about this, but the slow talk is almost automatic now and I approached her pretty calmly.  I kept is slow, I didn't goof up, I didn't turn red, and the conversation went well.

Six months ago I felt my life was over because I couldn't talk to anyone.  Slow talk has become stronger the more I've used it.  I also find myself using it with myself to keep me thinking (and heading) in a more rational direction (kind of like the handout "Have a Rational Talk with Yourself Every Day").

I had no idea about "The Fighting Paradox" and why it was so important, but I can see now I did all of those things, too.  It makes sense that we can't begin to get over social anxiety until we stop doing those things -- this one took me several weeks to really get used to and to start using, but it has been a lifesaver.  I know it keeps me out of all sorts of negative places.   Now that I am not doing this anymore, this alone has made my life better.  The "acceptance" handouts were also good for me as I had a lot of trouble with this one until it was explained.

Those irrational thoughts of mine (they were around for decades, like you said) started hitting my consciousness more after starting the "ANTs Handout".  But I was able to catch them and deal with them because of this handout.  That whole series on "Turning the tables on the ANTs" has allowed my thinking to really change.  

I used to think I COULDN'T talk in public or make a presentation at a meeting.  As I gradually did the therapy on this, the realization (slowly, you realize) came upon me that maybe I could do some of these things in time.  My whole line of reasoning, which used to be a solid wall of negatives, has now crumbled and at least it is open to new facts.   This hits me at different points in the day and I am always surprised (happily) at this.  It also keeps me farther away from the bad moods and then trashing myself after an event is over.

"How to Cut down on Self-Consciousness" and the "Power of Acting" have made a big difference, too, as I am systematically doing what is suggested.  The "look around technique" works great for me, and even though I still have some self-consciousness, it is very low now.  I don't even think of going to the store now.  I just go when I need to.  No more worrying about who will be there and if I will have to talk to someone. 

Thinking less and being more calm -- plus quelling the raging fire in my mind -- have transformed me.  I know I have more to do, but you can be sure I'll do it.  I was in e-mail contact with several people, and I would encourage everyone to think back what it was like before you started the therapy series.  Do this every day and it will motivate you to keep going, take more steps, make more progress, think and feel differently, etc.

Well, anyway, I hope this helps some people.  This series is the greatest thing to ever happen to me.  (I waited fifteen years for something like this!)

Thanks again,