Presence NOW: Manage Social Anxiety Symptoms And Stay Present In Social Interactions
The Presence Now technique is a mindfulness visualization technique that helps manage social anxiety symptoms and guides the user to be present in social obligation. This is great for people who do not do well with people and tend to retreat back into their thoughts during social interactions.
If you do not want to read the backstory of how I created this technique, skip to the technique below. Be sure to practice before you actually need to use it.
In college, I was fairly charismatic and outgoing. I was not the coolest cat in school, but by senior year, I could get into any party I wanted to go to. I also had the confidence to walk up to beautiful women and make the first move while all the other guys were staring and making crude comments about the girls which, in reality, masked their own insecurities.
Two weeks before I graduated, there was a mass shooting at my school because some kid was frustrated that he could not lose his virginity in our college town. At the time, my university was a top 3 party school in the world. Every man, including myself, put on the act that he was abundant with sex.
In the aftermath of the shooting, the truth came out. Many many men who put on the macho man act, came forth and said, they honestly, had about as much luck with the ladies as the shooter. How could they not? My college town, with its overblown party scene, had become such a dangerous place for sexual assault, that women refused to talk to any man they did not know.
After graduation, I shut myself out. I stopped going out and stopped socializing. The job market sucked for the career I wanted so I shut myself into my room to work on my entrepreneurship projects. I was also overcoming a lot of personal trauma from my past.
By the time I reintegrated with society, I had developed massive social anxiety. I had trouble conveying what I wanted to say. I could not hold eye contact; this was a former strength of mine. I frustrated my peers by being unable to stay present with them. I was in my head all the time rather than paying attention to the people I was with.
Perhaps, my biggest concern was the intrusive thought disorder I had developed. I was so self-conscious about looking bad in public, looking bad in social situations, that my mind started feeding irrational phobias. These intrusive thoughts popped up exclusively in social situations.
I was talking to a gorgeous woman; the conversation was very engaging, and I was delighted. She was a successful fashion blogger, and she was explaining to me the ins and outs of social media influence. A voice pops into the back of my head.
“Don’t spit on her face.”
“Why would I do that?”
“Don’t spit on her. Don’t spit her. Don’t spit on her.”
That phrase kept playing over and over in my head until I excused myself, went to the bathroom, and slapped myself awake. These episodes were a huge source of frustration for me.
Three years later, I figured out the reason why I could not stop my unwanted, intrusive thoughts from replaying its message over and over again.
I noticed a terrible social habit I had. I frequently retreated into my head during my interactions with others. On the surface, I could fool people to believe that I was paying attention, but I was in my thoughts. The habit was so ingrained in me that it had become automatic.
Therefore, when I did have an episode of intrusive thought, my automatic response was to use my cognitive thinking mind to attack the thought with logic.
Remember what I keep on saying? Overthinking is a cognitive response to emotions rising from the subconscious. Logic, by itself, does nothing.
So, therefore, the more I attacked the intrusive thought with thoughts, the tighter the intrusive thought gripped me.
The solution was evident by then: simply let the intrusive thoughts come and go without giving them power. Let it float into my mind and simply let it float away. However, I just could not do it. I simply could not let go of anything that came into my mind. It was just too enticing. I just had to challenge the idea with logic!
I had placed too much belief into my own cognitive mind. I valued what was going on in my own head over what was going on in the social situation.
And there! There was the solution to my problem!
I needed to create a mindfulness exercise that instilled within me the belief that what is going on the outside is more important than what is going on in the inside! And thus, the Presence Now Technique was born.
Presence Now Technique
Find a space where you are alone. The first few times you attempt this, be in an area surrounded by nature.
Close your eyes. Plant your feet to the ground. You can be standing or seated on a chair. Imagine roots extending from your feet down deep into the earth.
Tuck your chin back and breathe deeply and rhythmically. Imagine your heart as a whirlpool or a black hole, something that has the ability to suck other things in.
Imagine your heart sucking your very being into it. Imagine energy particles releasing from your organs, releasing from your skin, and releasing from your brain. All these energy particles are then sucked up into your heart.
Imagine as your heart is sucking in energy, the roots down on your feet get bigger and bigger. Imagine there is an aura around you that gets bigger and bigger.
Open your eyes. As your aura gets bigger, it starts to absorb the energy particles of the stuff around you. As you direct your attention upon an object, energy particles rise from that object and get absorbed into your heart.
If you are absorbing the energy of nature, imagine it feeding you its direct life force.
If you are absorbing the energy of a synthetic object, imagine all its raw materials feeding you its life force. Imagine the people who created the object reaching out through space and time to offer you their life force.
If you are absorbing the energy of an artificial product such as a custom piece of furniture, imagine the furniture’s craftsman imbuing his life wisdom into streams of energy and transferring it to you.
If you are absorbing the energy of a manufactured product such as a light fixture, imagine the workers putting the energies of their hopes and dreams and transferring it to you.
Absorb all of this with your heart
Show your gratitude. Send your own energy into these objects. Grace these objects with your attention and appreciation.
Get up and move. Walk around, continuing to absorb energy from your surroundings. If you run into someone while walking, give that person a big smile, and absorb his or her energy.
Deliver yourself to your social obligation. Draw energy from your surroundings. Try to start small social interactions along the way and give off your positive energy.
Set your intention for what you want in this social obligation. Do not think too hard. Let your feelings guide you to the answer.
Examples of intentions: get hired, build social connections with these specific people, make eye contact with 10 people, maintain composure during highly stressful environment, start a fun conversation with three people
Start with small measurable intentions. Save the “be the most confident person in the room” for down the line.
Don’t give yourself too much pressure to be perfect. If you get stuck, then get stuck. You don’t need to know how to respond to every scenario! Smile and keep breathing and give off that positive energy.
Release the energy you have stored in your heart at the social obligation. Whenever you feel nervous or lost, go to your intention and go to your heart.
Exchange your energy with others. Give them the energy stored in your heart and in turn, collect their energy and return it to your heart. Imagine every time someone speaks to you, your comprehension of that person’s words is the most excellent source of power you can draw from at that moment.
Practice Presence Now 2x a day for 21 days. On the 7th day, reward yourself with a $5 gift. On the 14th day, reward yourself with a $10 gift. On the last day, reward yourself by allowing yourself to look up your ex on social media…just kidding…don’t do that. Actually, do it, it will give you a reason to purchase my whole course.
Apply the Presence Now technique in social situations. Start small. Try it with the cashier. Try it at work.