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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Recent experience seems to confirm something I'd observed before: I'm more motivated to take social initiatives when I have someone to "report back" to.

Today I attended the Sunday platform at the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia, at which David Lindorff spoke. After initially sitting down next to a couple people I've known for a while and a relative of theirs (all nice, but not my generation), I made myself get up and sit instead with a younger, attractive stranger. I was able to resume conversation after the platform and then had some lunch with her, and exchanged contact info.

This was the third time I'd done something similar in the past few weeks. The first time was just the day before my first appointment with a therapist, having not seen one since 2006. And that was also the last time I had "asked out" someone in a general way (as opposed to inviting them somewhere I was already going), specifically as homework agreed with that therapist.

Even though no homework has been agreed with this new therapist yet, simply having one seems to have motivated me to take initiatives I likely wouldn't have otherwise. The same thing was true back in 1993, when I was being supervised by a psychiatrist in connection with a drug study, also in relation to social anxiety disorder.

This connection probably has to do with the roots of my condition, which I believe lie in a period of my childhood when I had trouble getting my parents' attention. This led me to start avoiding any effort to get people's attention under most circumstances, so as to avoid the pain of being refused it, as well as a low tolerance for frustration in general. I believe it also led to my motivation's being dependent on having someone who would notice and approve my efforts without my having to seek their attention. For instance, unlike most kids apparently, I generally dreaded summer vacation because I seemed to have nothing to do then. I would be impatient for the school year to begin again.

That said, I have also gradually improved during periods when I wasn't seeing a mental health professional -- but with a lag behind things I did while seeing one. It's also true that I've improved thanks to things I've learned from other sources such as the self-described seduction community. But I've also put these into practice mostly while seeing a professional.

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