"Mind Blank" Syndrome
Hi I really like your website in that it shows how overcoming social anxiety is possible, though I have already come across most of the materials shared in this site, after many years of research on my anxiety issue. Still, I do truly appreciate the personal experience you are sharing here.
A question though; I have suffered from SA since I was in my high school and have been coping with it for like 10 years (I am 28 now). It is only recently that I no longer exhibit obvious symptoms (blushing, above all).
But the problem is that I still have difficulty connecting with people and making small talks. Particularly, in a group conversation, I find that I can hardly concentrate on what they are talking about.
I am always amazed by the reaction time of most of the people I met in a group conversation. I am not sure, but it seems as if I were suffering from a "mind blank" syndrome. I do know that anxiety can overwhelm me and become the potential cause of my mind blank, but I just didn't feel the intense anxiety. It's just that I cannot follow their conversation. I suspect it's something else, like my relative lack of social experience in carrying an exciting conversation. Sometimes I even suspect that I am sort of hard of hearing...
Yes, I know this question has been raised by many SAs before, and I have searched through the net but could not find a true solution to this. I just wonder if you have been through this before or if you have any good advice for people like me. Thanks a lot!Answer:
Gary here, thanks for the comments on my site, really motivates me to keep working on offering my experience and understanding on the topic! Thanks for the support!
Anyways, on to the question; the first thing I do when I face any problem is to understand where it truly comes from. In the case of social interactions, things are not always the way they’re logically supposed to be.
I do still get a lot of these “mind block” situations even with my close friends. It doesn’t logically make any sense because I’m supposed to feel in comfort around them, right?
Well, connecting with people is a tricky topic and there are lots of unconscious cues floating around, one concept I’ve learned and that I refer to is the concept of “vibing”. Basically what vibing refers to is to a good flow of good social emotions, enjoying someone’s company without feeling judged, conversation flows effortlessly, you don’t even have to think of conversation topics, they just come naturally.
When you successfully “vibe” with someone, then you establish a social connection. This is basically the only skill one needs to be socially successful or at least the most important one.
But, again, this all happens unconsciously, you cannot control vibing because it happens when you are not trying to control anything.
Same way your brain allows you to FEEL confident in certain situations, your brain will allow you to vibe
with people in certain situations.
In other words, your brain will allow you let go, relax and enjoy the social moment when it feels like it’s ok to do so.
As former socially anxious people, our minds can be pretty cautious and preventive. We won’t get in many accidents (that’s how awesome we are) but it also backfires on us.
Because the same unconscious cautious and preventive quality our brains have, will make us be on an alert state until we are sure that everything is “safe”.
This is how your brain will usually sabotage your chances to connect with people, by over-analyzing everything just to make sure you’re safe and don’t suffer any social rejection.
From a lack of social experience you can be a bit slow on catching social cues and recognizing social patterns, this can make you a bit slow on catching then conversation trend.
Also, your brain can also be very aware of the fact that you are not very good at socially connecting yet and be even more cautious.
End result is that you start thinking too much this goes against the flow of a social interaction.
In the end, when socializing what we are doing is sharing a common good feeling, the good feeling we get from simply letting go and sharing laughs. You can see how contradicting to this idea being cautious is.
The “fix” to this situation is simply to get social experience, basically teaching your brain that “it’s ok” to let go and to relax. Also along the way you’ll get the social skills to easily pick up and join conversations, you’ll get to develop the social intuition, it’s all good.
You just have to put yourself in these situations and go through the motions of it, at first actively trying to join in the conversations.
Once you get that skill down, you can try just chilling and let it flow naturally then you can just try the skill of joining in conversations again.A couple points:
- Actively trying to join in conversations contradicts the idea of learning how to vibe with people because you’re trying to force it, however our social nature always finds a way to click even when you’re on that try-hard stage.
- The point of actively trying to join in conversation is just to teach your brain that “you can do it”, this will allow you to relax more and let go in future social situations. In the end, the whole point is making a mentality change; where you can fully trust the way you handle yourself in social situations. This is where true change comes, it stops being about coping with a problem and becomes about being someone who has a lifestyle that empowers.
Like I said before it’s all about teaching your brain/mind/yourself that “it’s ok”, it’s about changing your self-concept and feeling worthy of the life you want.
I’m pretty sure you’ve read them, but just in case I have a couple articles that go more deeply into connecting with people and social intuition.Connecting with PeopleSocial IntuitionGo out and get social,