Social anxiety can express itself in different ways. I want to give you an example of how I worked with somebody with social anxiety. In his case, it was anxiety with women and approaching women. He was very shy. A female therapist had referred him to me, thinking she did not know what to do and thought I might be able to help. He told me that he had never had a girlfriend. He was a young man and liked women, but he felt very unsure of himself.
Our focus together was to learn a relaxation exercise then practice being relaxed when walking around in his world and when talking to other people. We met about a dozen times, and the last time we met he came into the office and was very happy.
He sat down and said, “Kevin, you know that woman that I told you about that I saw in the gym and I asked my friend about?” He continued, “Well, I was leaving the cafeteria and I saw her walking in. She was by herself, so I just turned around and went back, got some food, saw where she was sitting. She was sitting by herself. I walked over to the table and said, ‘Do you mind if I join you?’ She said, ‘No.'”
He said, “All along the way I had to remind myself to just relax, just relax, just relax.” He sat down and said, “Oh, by the way my name is —. What’s your name?” They talked a little bit. He started talking about things he does and asked her questions. He felt like the conversation went well. At any point when he started to feel self-conscious or nervous, he reminded himself to just relax.
At the end of the conversation he said, “I really enjoyed talking with you. I’d love to talk again sometime. Would you like to exchange numbers?”
He held up a piece of paper and showed me, “Look, I got her phone number.” He added, “I don’t know if it’s her real phone number, but I got a phone number.”
He said that when he told his roommate what happened, his roommate had looked at him and said, “Who are you?”
It’s an example of the possibility of change. I found it to be a very inspiring story.
I said to him, “Hey, if you can do that, you can do anything.”