Monday, April 12, 2010
American People Not Comfortable in Our Own Skin
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is America's fastest growing psychological disorder. In other words, more and more people are becoming afraid of one another every day. What are Americans so paranoid about? Why aren't we comfortable in our own skin?
Why do we worry so often, especially when we think about going somewhere to do something that we want or feel compelled to do? Do we think we will be judged? What gives us this idea? Are the people we interact with each day really dangerous; really judging us harshly?
On the other hand, there are a LOT of haters. There are people who actively seek to cut people off, stand in their way, or slip the carpet out from under them. But how did haters get this way? Were they just born hateful little shits with bad temperments? Or did they grow into their hating ways?
The answer to the nature/nurture argument is both. Haters are born with a certain temperment of trust/distrust of others and they cultivate their innate temperment through interpersonal interactions throughout their lifespan.
What I am wondering today is..., Are we worrying because of the haters out there? Aren't we hating on people when we worry that they are haters? If I stop worrying, will the hatin' stop?
If the opposite of hate is love, then I wonder what's love got to do with it? I think perhaps we hate on each other because we can't love one another as fully as we would like. So as much as we want to love on them and we are somehow prohibited, we have an equivalent desire to hate on them.
This girl from college that I affectionately nicknamed C-Murder had the best legs in school. The rest of her only got better. Me and my friends hated on her each and every time we saw her. If we actually talked to her, we would be nice and charming, humorous perhaps. But as soon as that conversation ended, we would get right back to hatin'.
Things we would say: "Look at C-Murder over there murderin' 'em! Why is she gonna wear those tight ass pants in the dining hall like that (SOHs)? I can't stand her." Then the group resonates with convulsive verbalizations, "Fuck her." "I hate her too." "She is sick." And what we would really be feeling is a frustrated desire for her.
Straight guys can't sit around complimenting one another and being affectionate. The closer friends we become the more we cut on each other. Come to love one another and you might have a fight.
But why can't men be more real with one another? Why do brothers feel awkward hugging so, that they pass on the opportunity more than they take the chance to receive love. Answer: Homophobia
As a psychologist, I have seen people who can't be around other people or even think about other people without pour sweat from their hands and feet. I have seen people with irritable bowels. However people manifest their anxiety, one thing is consistent... Avoidance.
Avoidance is a common symptom to us all. We try to avoid what we fear. And socially... As one of my boys recently said about going out with his wife, "We just don't do well going out around people." The thing about avoiding is that while you avoid the undesired events, you also avoid the desired event. There was a reason that going out was even on the table to begin with.
The most effective treatment for anxiety is exposure. I encourage everyone to expose yourself today. (Disclaimer: This in no way advocates anyone doing there best Erykah Badu impression). But take whatever closeness to some other person or people that you have been avoiding and expose yourself to it.
When listen to Frank Sinatra sing I Got You Under My Skin, I get the desire to have someone that close to me that its like they are under my skin. If I am not comfortable in that skin myself, I am unlikely to invite another.