Emotional Freedom Technique for Social Anxiety & Imaginary Audience

DrAndreaDinardo.com

Have you ever felt like you’re being watched? 

Judged and scrutinized.

Like all eyes are on you and every potential error you make?

Everyone experiences this phenomenon from time to time, especially when trying out something for the first time.

Think back to the first time you gave a dinner party, swung a golf club, wrote a college exam, or posted your first blog online.
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Social Anxiety and Heightened Experiences

Individuals with social anxiety experience this sense of being watched (and thought about) significantly more than the average person.

Independent of skills and expertise.

Why is this the case?

The Imaginary Audience

One potential explanation is a psychological phenomenon called imaginary audience experienced frequently in adolescence.

  • A concept first introduced by social psychologists David Elkind and Erik Erikson in the 1960’s.

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Think back to how easily embarrassed you were as a teenager.

  • If you wore the “wrong shirt” to school, it felt like everyone was gossiping about you and your entire social life would end as a result.

Resulting in perpetual self-consciousness, distorted views of how others saw you, causing in a tendency to conform for fear of sticking out.

  • Limiting your freedom to express outside the norm for fear of collective banishment and reprisal.

What does the research say?

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Using the Imaginary Audience Scale as a Measure of Social Anxiety in Young Adults

Two studies explored imaginary audience phenomenon among college students.

Imaginary audience behavior was found to be related to measures of social anxiety, self perception, and personality.

Furthermore, imaginary audience scores were more strongly related to anxiety than abstract reasoning.

These results suggest that imaginary audience experiences that persist into early adulthood have more to do with social anxiety than with cognitive development.

Original Source: Click Here

DrAndreaDinardo.com
Simple Things on Repeat

The next time you imagine you are being watched, talked about, or judged by others, remember that imaginary audience IS AN ILLUSION heightened by social media, physiology (eg., lack of sleep), and overthinking.

  • When in truth, people are so focused on themselves (and their phones), that there is a 99% chance that no one cares what you are up to or how you are performing.

This is a very good thing!

CARPE DIEM

Today’s Freedom Mantra

Live like nobody’s watching. Love like nobody’s watching. Succeed  like nobody’s watching. Fail like nobody’s watching. Write like nobody’s watching!

Video of Post ⇒ Click Here

Ambitious Mama Podcast: Thriving Under Pressure & Posttraumatic Growth

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Ambitious Mama Podcast

Podcast Details & Show Notes

I was recently interviewed by wellness entrepreneur Christa Realba for her Ambitious Mama Podcast Series.

During the podcast, Christa and I discussed how posttraumatic growth and thriving under pressure are possible for all of us.

In different gradients, and at different times for sure. Depending on where you are on your journey.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo PTG Resources
Click Here for Helpful Workbook & Resources

We also discussed how we all have pain and adversity. It’s universal to all of us.

The key is to not get stuck in the challenge and let pain become your identity.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Resilience

Instead, with support, encouragement, and the right set of resilience skills (this is what I teach), we all have the capacity to grow from difficulty.

To learn from it. To rise up and begin again when the time is right.

In addition to the podcast, resilience is discussed in more detail in my TEDx Talk and on my Psychology Blog, both called “Thriving Under Pressure”: https://DrAndreaDinardo.com

Listen to Podcast

  1.  Apple iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/thriving-under-pressure-with-dr-andrea-dinardo/id1482282864?i=1000464930886
  2. Anchor FM: https://anchor.fm/ambitiousmama/episodes/Thriving-Under-Pressure-with-Dr–Andrea-Dinardo-ealagi
  3. Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ambitious-mama/e/67169349

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Your Turn

Do you believe thriving under pressure + posttraumatic growth are possible for all of us? Why or why not? Tune into my latest podcast interview and let me know what you think!

Related Post: Teaching Resilience at School

Coping with loneliness during the holidays.

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When we feel a painful emotion, our first instinct is to pull away. To numb the pain. To hide from the intensity.

This was the case for Sarah and Jack, two unique individuals with vastly different circumstances. But they each experienced the same emotion: loneliness. An emotion that is heightened during the holidays.

Original Source:

I originally wrote this article for The Drive Magazine.

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/lean-into-loneliness/

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SARAH

Sarah was a 42-year-old recently divorced woman who was about to face her first holiday season alone. Living in a new town, miles away from friends and family, she was waiting to begin a new job in January. Hours felt like days.

Days felt like months. Sarah had tried everything to fill the void inside. The mistake she made was running away from the one thing that would help get her to the other side: loneliness itself.

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Knowledge is power

1. Understand the emotion

We need to first understand an emotion before we jump to the conclusion that it’s either good or bad, because in reality, emotions are almost entirely physiological in nature.

There’s not a negative or positive to them. It’s in our mind that we make it one or the other. This concept is supported by Schachter-Singer’s theory of emotion:

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This theory of emotion explains why two people can experience the exact same event and have completely different emotional reactions to it.

What matters most is the person’s interpretation of an event, not the event itself. After all, as they say, one person’s glass-half-full is another one’s glass-half-empty.

In Sarah’s situation, she interpreted her physiological response to idle time as loneliness, while another person might label it as much-needed relaxation. Ultimately, Sarah has a choice. One interpretation debilitates; the other empowers.

2. Witness the emotion

Now that Sarah understands the interpretative power she holds over her environmental triggers, the next step is to witness loneliness in a neutral, curious state rather than fighting it at every turn.

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In doing so, Sarah neutralizes the intensity of her emotions, allowing them to flow through her, rather than getting stuck in a repetitive loop of pain.

Here are four simple ways to create space between triggers and responses:

1. Count to 10

2. Take a long deep breath

3. Make three wishes

4. Look up at the sky

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Taken one step further, each time that Sarah experiences a challenging emotion during the holidays, rather than running from it she needs to lean in and ask that emotion, “What are you trying to teach me?”

3. Reframe the emotion

The final step for Sarah is to learn how to reframe the situations that trigger her loneliness, and understand why sometimes she overreacts, while other times she lets go without a second thought.

Solitude is perceived as isolation by one person and freedom by another.

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Reframing exercise:

1. Identify a situation that triggers loneliness.

2. Imagine the best-case scenario: “This situation is temporary.”

3. Look for evidence of the best-case scenario: “The longest I’ve been single is two years.”

4. Describe the worst-case scenario: “I will be alone forever.”

5. Name the benefits of the worst-case scenario: “I am free to do what I want.”

6. Finally, ask for help in reframing triggers, especially when feeling overwhelmed.

Once Sarah learns how to change the story “behind” the story, her instinctive loneliness lessens. And her ability to choose a higher thought improves.

Watch Video Summary

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JACK

At 55 years of age, Jack was also feeling the pangs of loneliness. His wife of 25 years died suddenly of a heart attack two years ago.

Unexpected was an understatement. They had run in three marathons together and had spent their weekends sampling new vegan restaurants in their local community. Ever since his wife had died, Jack struggled to face the holidays alone.

Jack’s story is as much about him as it is about the family around him. His family and friends’ automatic response was to feel sorry for him, a response that compounded his feelings of disconnectedness and misunderstanding.

Jack did not want people to feel sorry for him. He was a proud man who was ready to move on.

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Get out of your own head

1. Meet with “experienced” widowers

As much as Jack missed his wife, he also missed his ability to connect authentically with friends and family. Having been treated with kid gloves since his wife died, Jack longed to be seen as a victor rather than a victim

As such, I encourage Jack to connect with like-minded individuals who had been through a similar situation: widows and widowers. Specifically, ones who had been on their own for several years.

The benefits are twofold. One, Jack would learn new ways of relating to friends and family. And two, he’d be given the green light to grow and acclimate to his new circumstances.

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2. Connect with others in unexpected, low-pressure ways

The other component missing in Jack’s life was fun. Simple, cheerful, good-time fun. Everything had become so serious since his wife died, with almost every conversation beginning or ending with his wife’s death.

There was no doubt that he missed her with all his heart. But equally, he longed for moments where he could be free of the loneliness and pain.

I recommend that Jack reintroduce sports into his life. Something non-competitive that would get him out of the house on a Wednesday night. Better yet, if it involved people that he had never met, it would allow him to continue his journey of reinvention and rediscovery.

Equally therapeutic for Jack would be joining a cinema group or regular euchre meetup—both would offer him a chance to be in the moment and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

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3. Honour the old, create the new

Finally, I advise Jack to examine the memories and traditions that he wanted to keep alive during the holidays—and, equally, the ones of which he was ready to let go.

Jack took the practice one step further. Declaring December a month of renewal and reinvention, he revived a strength and peace inside that radiated out to his entire family.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Conclusion 

Jack and Sarah have a lot to teach us about loneliness and how important it is to honour the unique ways in which we process adversity.

One size does not fit all. Fellowship and fun were vital for Jack’s growth and recovery, while Sarah needed a more analytical approach to processing difficulty.

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• Lean into loneliness

• Approach it with openness and curiosity

• Make space for the lessons beneath the suffering

Disclaimer: This post and magazine article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. To protect the privacy of individuals, names and identifying details have been changed.

Your Turn

1. How do you cope with difficult emotions during the holidays?

2. What strategies do you use to make peace with the heightened pressures of the Christmas season?

3. What are your unique traditions and one-of-a-kind celebrations?

Video of Blog Post → Click Here

Post Traumatic Growth: Can Adversity Be Good for You?

Can Adversity Be Good for You?

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In my latest video from a Positive Psychology Keynote at a Student Success Conference:

You will hear the remarkable stories of teachers, social workers, and principals who suffered greatly through illness, injuries, and difficult pregnancies.

Eventually rising up (with time and support) to greater heights in their current lives.

Hear Their Stories in Video Below:

What is Post Traumatic Growth?

Post traumatic growth (PTG) can be defined as positive personal changes that result from the survivor’s struggle to deal with trauma and its psychological consequences.

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The process of post traumatic growth can lead to 1. improved relationships, 2. more compassion, 3. openness, 4. appreciation for life, 5. spiritual growth, 6. personal strength, and 7. a renewed sense of possibilities in the world.

Original Source: http://www.ptsdassociation.com

Additional Resources

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Reflection Questions

1. Do you believe the benefits of adversity outweigh the negatives?

2.  Which factors hinder an individual’s ability to recover and bounce back?

3. Which factors enhance an individual’s capacity for resilience and post-traumatic growth (PTG)?

4. Is the recovery and resilience for physical health trauma the same or different as mental health adversity? Why or why not?

Video of Blog Post → Click Here

Delaying Gratification Doubles The Reward

Is it worth the wait?

Reflection Questions

1. Do you consider yourself a patient person, an impatient person, or an impulsive person? Give situational examples for each.

For example: You may be more patient at work, but not at home. You may be able to control your impulses when it comes to food, but not when it comes to yelling at your spouse or children.

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2. Identify a time in your life where delayed gratification led to a superior outcome over immediate gratification.

For example: Saving money for a house versus buying impulse purchases on Cyber Monday. Working 2 jobs to pay for college tuition versus going out with friends every weekend night. Working out to strengthen your mental and physical health versus watching tv all day.

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3. Which factors determine your ability to be patient in challenging situations?

For example: faith, trust, comfort, financial security, long-term vision, full stomach, good night’s sleep.

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Inspiration for this Post

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a study on delayed gratification in 1972 led by psychologist Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford University.[1]

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In this study, a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they waited for period of time. During this time, the researcher left the room for about 15 minutes and then returned.

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The reward was either a marshmallow or pretzel stick, depending on the child’s preference. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores,[2] educational attainment,[3] body mass index (BMI),[4] and other life measures.

Original Source: Click Here

Don’t forget to share your insights & reflections in the comments below!

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Video of Blog Post → Click Here

IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH with Positive Psychology

The goal isn’t to get rid of negative thoughts and feelings. The goal is to change your response to them.

Instead of thinking of mental health as a burden you must shoulder, imagine it as an opportunity to experience peace and joy.

In the same way that we make time for our physical needs, we must devote equal attention to our psychological needs.

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Where do we begin?

P E R M A Theory of Well-Being

PERMA..

PERMA is a framework for happiness and well-being developed by UPenn professor Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology.

The model contains five key indicators of human flourishing: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement.

Original Source:

This blog post first appeared in The Drive Magazine.

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/cultivating-mental-health-daily

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Positive Emotion

Feeling good is an essential part of well-being.

That said, it’s easy to get lost in a spiral of negativity — What’s wrong? Who’s to blame? Why did this happen to me? Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and fun.

Which is why it’s essential to schedule good vibe moments into each day.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Begin the day with inspiring quotes on your bathroom mirror.
  2. Create a spa atmosphere for morning coffee with music and candles.
  3. Listen to upbeat music and podcasts on your way to work.
  4. Start conversations with your dreams, not your stressors.
  5. Put a 20-minute daily time limit on blaming and complaining.
  6. Go to bed visualizing three new things you’re grateful for that day.

Joy needs room to breathe.

And so do you.

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Engagement

Remember when you were a kid playing with friends, and before you knew it the street lights came on? If it wasn’t for your mom yelling your name, you would be outside playing all night long. In that moment, you were in a state of flow.

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You were completely engaged in what you were doing, independent of everything around you.

Your mom could have called your name for hours, and you wouldn’t have heard a word.

One hundred percent of your attentional capacity was taken up by the activity right in front of you.

Most likely you still experience a state of flow and engagement, but not as often as you like.

Activities that create a flow state include:

  1. Writing
  2. Dancing
  3. Music
  4. Art
  5. Sports

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Engagement and flow are important for mental health. When you’re completely absorbed by a task, your mind has no capacity left over for distressing thoughts and emotions.

Relationships

Social support is an important buffer for life’s challenges.

That said, not all associations are created equal. Some relationships, unfortunately, lead to a deterioration in mental health.

Which is why CHOICE is an especially powerful tool when it comes to relationships, well-being, and happiness.

Consider the following when you spend time with people:

  1. Do you feel uplifted or drained?
  2. Do you feel listened to or ignored?
  3. Do you feel encouraged or criticized?

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Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.

Meaning

Meaning comes from serving something bigger than ourselves.

Whether it be family, charity, occupation, or community, meaning unites us in a common vision and gives us the will to get through adversity.

Students Are My North Star

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That said, meaning can appear elusive to some, so why not consider one purpose each day.

Begin with a typical workday. Choose one purpose, and do something to give meaning to that purpose.

I’ve listed a few options, as well as an example for each:

  1. Pick one person — thank a custodian for their hard work.
  2. Pick one place — post uplifting notes and quotes on a section of the wall.
  3. Pick one time — declare 3 pm gratitude hour.

 Achievement

Achievement is the final component of the PERMA model, and, in many ways, its foundation. Goals give us a sense of achievement and satisfaction, helping us to know if we are headed in the right direction.

The key is to balance our drive and determination with the right level of difficulty. If we set a goal that’s too easy, we get bored. If it’s too hard, we experience learned helplessness.

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The solution?

Set daily goals that are achievable and tied into your highest dreams.

In Conclusion

Cultivating mental health daily prepares us for the big things in our life. Every little bit counts, everything adds up. Small things on repeat change the world.

PERMA

Video 1 of Blog Post  Click Here
Video 2 of Blog Post  Click Here

 

Is it possible to see failure in a positive light?

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.

With time, I have come to realize that failure has always been my greatest teacher. Each failure pointed me in a better direction and helped me to develop strength and authenticity, ultimately unveiling who I was and what I was destined to become

F. A. I. L. = First Attempt In Learning

• The failing grade I received on my first exam in graduate school taught me how to ask for support when I needed it most, no matter how shameful I felt or embarrassed I was.

• The end of a long-term relationship taught me how to value my time alone and make tough decisions for myself, no matter how weak I felt or lonesome I was.

• The layoff from a job I loved taught me how to let go, look forward, and trust in something so much bigger than myself, no matter how scared I was or irrelevant I felt.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

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Is it possible to see failure in a positive light?

Under the right conditions, failure strengthens us, adds to our self-knowledge, and enhances the quality of our lives

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not have met my husband John.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not be a psychology professor.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not have written three textbooks.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not be the person I am today.

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again.”

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Source: https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/failure-as-feedback

 Your Turn:

What life lessons has failure taught you?

Psychology Insights: Self Criticism to Self Compassion

WHY ARE WE SO HARD ON OURSELVES?

Great question!

One that I’m asked often. And one that I often ask myself.

PSYCHOLOGY INSIGHTS

What causes this behaviour?

The answer is multifaceted and includes several factors including how we were parented (when internalized superego and conscience first develops) and eventually how we parent ourselves.

For example:

When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

1. Self Criticism versus Self Compassion

2. Self Control versus Self Love and Understanding 

PSYCHOLOGY SOLUTIONS

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How do I make the shift from self criticism to self compassion?

1. Pay attention to where your self judgements originated.

Is this your personal measure of worthiness or society’s expectation of success?

2. Investigate how truly arbitrary the standards you set for yourself are.

For example, who said you had to weigh 125 lbs, have a million dollars in the bank, and be married by 30?

3. Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

Watch this short video for additional insights into the developmental origins of toxic self criticism, unrealistic standards, and the SUPERego.

Be kinder to yourself. And let your kindness flood the world.”

VISIT PSYCHOLOGY YOUTUBE CHANNEL: 
https://m.youtube.com/c/DrAndreaDinardo

Radio Interview: Why People Refuse to Change Their Minds

Interview Now Available 📻☀️

I begin 6 min 24 sec into radio segment:  http://www.iheartradio.ca/am800/audio/sunday-morning-live-dr-andrea-dinardo-1.9561424?mode=Article

JULY 28 RADIO SHOW TOPIC:

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

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I would love your questions and reflections on the topic of why people refuse to change their minds and/or adjust their stance on a political, personal, relationship, or health issue — despite overwhelming factual evidence contrary to their personal opinions.

Watch video preview — click here

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

1. Have you ever refused to listen to contradictory viewpoints? Why?

2. What type of persuasive techniques does it take to change your mind?

3. Why do you think people prefer comforting lies over unpleasant truths

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Cognitive dissonance can be reduced in one of three ways:

1) Change one or more of the attitudes, behavior, beliefs, etc., to make the relationship between the two elements a consonant one.

2) Acquire new information that outweighs the dissonant beliefs.

3) Reduce the importance of the cognitions (i.e., beliefs, attitudes).

McLeod, S. A. (2018, Feb 05). Cognitive dissonance.

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Interview Now Available 📻☀️

I begin 6 min 24 sec into radio segment:  http://www.iheartradio.ca/am800/audio/sunday-morning-live-dr-andrea-dinardo-1.9561424?mode=Article

Please share your ideas too!

DrAndreaDinardo.com

Happiness: What deters it? What contributes to it?

The Happiness Class

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One of my favourite things to do as a professor is to stay after class and talk to students. They look at the world in a very unique way. Motivating me to think about psychology at a whole different level.

  • Especially when it comes to FOMO and happiness:

FOMO is an acronym for fear of missing out, which is a feeling of anxiety that manifests itself in various ways, from a brief pang of envy to more intense feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy. Source: Macmillan Dictionary

Student Insights

In the video below I share the insightful questions my psychology students asked about social comparison and happiness today. Each question underscoring the famous quote:  

Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Happiness, FOMO, and Social Comparison

FOMO and “measuring happiness” against each other’s’s lowlight reel (difficult times) and highlight reel (celebratory times) was also an active discussion on social media

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I would love your insights too!

How would you answer the questions posed by my students:

  1. What are 2 deterrents to happiness?
  2. What are 2 contributors to happiness?
  3. How is your happiness influenced by other people’s highlights and lowlights?
    • Social comparison and happiness was the crux of today’s class discussion and accompanying video.
  4. What simple changes can you make today to enhance your happiness?

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Optimism Bootcamp - Click Here