My social anxiety thrived on the need to know what others “truly” thought of me. I always believed that whenever a person complimented or praised me for something, they were, of course, lying. I would think to myself at least they were nice enough not to want to hurt my feelings. Consequently, it would tell me terrible things that me feel inferior to others and that I didn’t deserve to be liked or loved by anyone else. Then I learnt about “staying in my own lane.”
It’s very painful to judge yourself so harshly and feel judged just as severely, or even more so by others. I have had this horrible feeling most of my life. So, I decided that I had to make a change. I finally came to the realisation that I did not deserve to feel this way and that it was my job to find a better way to cope with my social phobia. (Or eliminate it altogether.)
First, I began by being more aware of my thoughts when I am around people or thinking about people in general. And this is what I found: I think about “people” entirely too much. I have spent most of my life trying to make sense of others’ thoughts, words and actions. So, you can imagine what kind of headspace I was in, because people’s words and actions are not always kind. (I’m being nice: they can actually be very cruel.) And others’ thoughts are theirs to think and, frankly, they are none of my business.
Stay in your lane
I promised myself that I would “stay in my own lane” and run my race the best I could. Too many times I had stumbled and fallen because I was so busy wondering what the person beside me was or was not thinking. Now, I have a mantra each time I start to veer into someone else’s track. I say to myself, “Stay in your lane, Jaime, just stay in your lane.” It is such a simple statement, but it does help to dissipate the anxiety, at least, for that moment.