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Arlin Cuncic

Challenging Social Anxiety by Making Mistakes on Purpose

By September 17, 2008

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In the social anxiety self-help book "Dying of Embarrassment", one of the techniques for overcoming social anxiety disorder (SAD) is to expose yourself to "intentional" social mistakes, first in your imagination and then in real life. The idea is that by committing these social "faux pas" you will come to realize 1) that the outcome is never as bad as you thought it would be, and 2) that your fear of the situation diminishes over time.

To get you started thinking about intentional mistakes that could be made, here are a few snippets from the book:

  • trip in front of someone
  • order something that isn't on the menu
  • greet someone by the wrong name
  • approach and almost enter the door of the restroom for the wrong sex
  • buy something you would normally be embarassed to purchase

You get the idea. Now I'd like to throw it out to the readers. Can you come up with "intentional mistakes" that you could make to challenge your social anxiety? If so, post them in the comments section, and you may see your idea as part of a "best-mistakes-to-make list" in the future.

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September 20, 2008 at 7:55 am
(1) Nick says:

For someone who is afraid of making phone calls like me, you could try phoning a wrong number and asking for someone on purpose.

I’ve also heard of people using this method who did things like singing while in an elevator or something similar.

September 24, 2008 at 12:03 pm
(2) Social phobic says:

Hi, that’s an interesting idea for social phobia sufferers!
I’ve once been given an advice to – in order to make yourself more assertive – do something like ask for a kilo of meat in a fancy boutique:) Never tried it, but it would be… (at least)funny to try it out!

As a social phobic, sometimes I play a little game with myself and my social fears. I take a social situation I’m afraid of, and think of all the different ways I could screw it up. I than take that feared situation and heighten it to some absurd proportions. This allows me to put my social fears in a perspective, *and it helps*!

September 30, 2008 at 8:39 am
(3) B Tuffett says:

If your afraid of people thinking your afraid, act scared around people; stutter, look away/down etc. All the while reminding yourself its just an act a game.

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