Social Anxiety Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Social Anxiety. Here they are! All 100 of them:

This is my letter to the world That never wrote to me
Emily Dickinson
It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.
Stephen Fry (Moab Is My Washpot (Memoir, #1))
I'm not anti-social. I'm just not social.
Woody Allen
I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there: not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart: but really with it, and in it.
Emily Brontë (Wuthering Heights)
For someone like myself in whom the ability to trust others is so cracked and broken that I am wretchedly timid and am forever trying to read the expression on people's faces.
Osamu Dazai (No Longer Human)
I wondered how many people there were in the world who suffered, and continued to suffer, because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth.
Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca)
I certainly have not the talent which some people possess," said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.
Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)
I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was very stunned by this for many years. And then I realized, you just say, "Hi." They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.
Augusten Burroughs
I've spent most of my life and most of my friendships holding my breath and hoping that when people get close enough they won't leave, and fearing that it's a matter of time before they figure me out and go.
Shauna Niequist (Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way)
A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that's unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.
Ludwig Wittgenstein (Culture and Value)
Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is the greatest art of all.
Ray Bradbury
He could only consider me as the living corpse of a would-be suicide, a person dead to shame, an idiot ghost.
Osamu Dazai (No Longer Human)
I have packed myself into silence so deeply and for so long that I can never unpack myself using words. When I speak, I only pack myself a little differently.
Herta Müller (The Hunger Angel)
Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.
Helen Keller (The Story of My Life)
All I feel are the assaults of apprehension and terror at the thought that I am the only one who is entirely unlike the rest. It is almost impossible for me to converse with other people. What should I talk about, how should I say it? - I don't know.
Osamu Dazai (No Longer Human)
When all by myself, I can think of all kinds of clever remarks, quick comebacks to what no one said, and flashes of witty sociability with nobody. But all of this vanishes when I face someone in the flesh: I lose my intelligence, I can no longer speak, and after half an hour I just feel tired. Talking to people makes me feel like sleeping. Only my ghostly and imaginary friends, only the conversations I have in my dreams, are genuinely real and substantial.
Fernando Pessoa
I see at intervals the glance of a curious sort of bird through the close set bars of a cage: a vivid, restless, resolute captive is there; were it but free, it would soar cloud-high.
Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
What we have forgotten is that thoughts and words are conventions, and that it is fatal to take conventions too seriously. A convention is a social convenience, as, for example, money ... but it is absurd to take money too seriously, to confuse it with real wealth ... In somewhat the same way, thoughts, ideas and words are "coins" for real things.
Alan W. Watts (The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety)
Social anxiety results from being around people who are resolutely opposed to who you are.
Stefan Molyneux
To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself. She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience)
What is society but an individual? [...] The ocean is not society; it is individuals. This was how I managed to gain a modicum of freedom from my terror at the illusion of the ocean called the world.
Osamu Dazai (No Longer Human)
The moment of crisis had come, and I must face it. My old fears, my diffidence, my shyness, my hopeless sense of inferiority, must be conquered now and thrust aside. If I failed now I should fail forever.
Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca)
Life is made of fear. Some people eat fear soup three times a day. Some people eat fear soup all the meals there are. I eat it sometimes. When they bring me fear soup to eat, I try not to eat it, I try to send it back. But sometimes I'm too afraid to and have to eat it anyway.
Martin Amis (Other People)
In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it... She stood apart from mortal interests, yet close beside them, like a ghost that revisits the familiar fireside, and can no longer make itself seen or felt.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter)
If you have a comprehensive explanation for everything then it decreases uncertainty and anxiety and reduces your cognitive load. And if you can use that simplifying algorithm to put yourself on the side of moral virtue then you’re constantly a good person with a minimum of effort.
Jordan B. Peterson
I learned years ago that it’s okay to do this. To seek out small spaces for me, to stop and imagine myself alone. People are too much sometimes. Friends, acquaintances, enemies, strangers. It doesn’t matter; they all crowd. Even if they’re all the way across the room, they crowd. I take a moment of silence and think: I am here. I am okay.
Francesca Zappia (Eliza and Her Monsters)
I'm excellent at faking being okay with things, even when inside my brain there is a tiny screaming gnome who is definitely not okay.
Alice Oseman (I Was Born for This (I Was Born for This, #1))
Half of life is lost in charming others. The other half is lost in going through anxieties caused by others. Leave this play. You have played enough.
Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad ar-Rumi)
I wanted to just sink into my media downloads for a while and pretend I didn't exist.
Martha Wells (Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries, #2))
Into the dark night Resignedly I go, I am not so afraid of the dark night As the friends I do not know, I do not fear the night above As I fear the friends below.
Stevie Smith (Modern Classics Selected Poems Of Stevie Smith (Penguin Modern Classics))
I hate the phone. It is the worst invention in the history of the world, because if you don’t talk, nothing happens. You can’t get by with simply listening and nodding your head in all the right places. You have to talk. You have no option. It takes away my freedom of nonspeech.
Alice Oseman (Solitaire)
It’s weird how we have to get a little older to realize that people are just people. It should be obvious, but it’s not.
Christine Riccio (Again, But Better)
In other people's company I felt I was dull, gloomy, unwelcome, at once bored and boring...
André Gide
We seldom realize, for example, that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society. We copy emotional reactions from our parents, learning from them thatexcrement is supposed to have a disgusting smell and that vomiting is supposed to be an unpleasant sensation. The dread of death is also learned from their anxieties about sickness and from their attitudes to funerals and corpses. Our social environment has this power just because we do not exist apart from a society. Society is our extended mind and body. Yet the very society from which the individual is inseparable is using its whole irresistible force to persuade the individual that he is indeed separate! Society as we now know it is therefore playing a game with self-contradictory rules.
Alan W. Watts (The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are)
Never miss a party...good for the nerves--like celery.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (Gatsby Girls)
Suddenly he saw himself as others in the crowd must surely see him; a silent, solitary figure, standing apart from the rest. He looked out at the hoardes of singing, laughing people and felt more alone than he'd ever felt in his life. Was this how it was going to be then? Was this who he was? A man apart from his fellows, making the journey through life alone?
Mary Lawson (The Other Side of the Bridge)
Some may be more fortunate than others, and many might feel more like second bests, not sure how to survive. Not seeing the light on their path, they keep on living with fear. Albeit social security systems may be supportive existential anxiety subsists, crushing their identity. Only by converting 'fear' into a challenge, we can grit our teeth, strengthen resilience, and brighten up the dimness in our minds. ("A new life with Schengen"")
Erik Pevernagie
Even now it comes as a shock if by chance I notice in the street a face resembling someone I know however slightly, and I am at once seized by a shivering violent enough to make me dizzy.
Osamu Dazai (No Longer Human)
For man seems to be unable to live without myth, without the belief that the routine and drudgery, the pain and fear of this life have some meaning and goal in the future. At once new myths come into being – political and economic myths with extravagant promises of the best of futures in the present world. These myths give the individual a certain sense of meaning by making him part of a vast social effort, in which he loses something of his own emptiness and loneliness. Yet the very violence of these political religions betrays the anxiety beneath them – for they are but men huddling together and shouting to give themselves courage in the dark.
Alan W. Watts (The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety)
Masquerades disclose the reality of souls. As long as no one sees who we are, we can tell the most intimate details of our life. I sometimes muse over this sketch of a story about a man afflicted by one of those personal tragedies born of extreme shyness who one day, while wearing a mask I don’t know where, told another mask all the most personal, most secret, most unthinkable things that could be told about his tragic and serene life. And since no outward detail would give him away, he having disguised even his voice, and since he didn’t take careful note of whoever had listened to him, he could enjoy the ample sensation of knowing that somewhere in the world there was someone who knew him as not even his closest and finest friend did. When he walked down the street he would ask himself if this person, or that one, or that person over there might not be the one to whom he’d once, wearing a mask, told his most private life. Thus would be born in him a new interest in each person, since each person might be his only, unknown confidant.
Fernando Pessoa
There is a unique sort of agony to entering a party alone.
Mackenzi Lee (The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings, #2))
Every adult life could be said to be defined by two great love stories. The first - the story of our quest for sexual love - is well known and well charted, its vagaries form the staple of music and literature, it is socially accepted and celebrated. The second - the story of our quest for love from the world - is a more secret and shameful tale. If mentioned, it tends to be in caustic, mocking terms, as something of interest chiefly to envious or deficient souls, or else the drive for status is interpreted in an economic sense alone. And yet this second love story is no less intense than the first, it is no less complicated, important or universal, and its setbacks are no less painful. There is heartbreak here too.
Alain de Botton (Status Anxiety)
social anxiety is seeing our true self in a distorted way and believing the distortion to be the truth.
Ellen Hendriksen (How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety)
It exasperated her to think that the dungeon in which she had languished for so many unhappy years had been unlocked all the time, and that the impulses she had so carefully struggled with and stifled for the sake of keeping well with society, were precisely those by which alone she could have come into any sort of sincere human contact.
George Bernard Shaw (Pygmalion)
The fears that assault us are mostly simple anxieties about social skills, about intimacy, about likeableness, or about performance. We need not give emotional food or charge to these fears or become attached to them. We don’t even have to shame ourselves for having these fears. Simply ask your fears, “What are you trying to teach me?” Some say that FEAR is merely an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” From Everything Belongs, p. 143
Richard Rohr
Here are three separate but similar things: shyness, introversion and social anxiety. You can have one, two or all three of these things simultaneously. A lot of the time people thing they're all the same thing, but that's just not true. Extroverts can be shy, introverts can be bold, and a condition like anxiety can strike whatever kind of social animal you are. Lots of people are shy. Shy is normal. A bit of anxiety is normal. Throw the two together, add some brain-signal error - a NO ENTRY sign on the neural highway from my brain to my mouth perhaps, though no one really knows - and you have me.
Sara Barnard (A Quiet Kind of Thunder)
All I wanted was to be left alone. They abhor a vacuum, other people. You find a quiet corner where you can hunker down in peace, and the next minute there they are, crowding around you in their party hats, tooting their paper whistles in your face and insisting you get up and join in the knees-up.
John Banville
INTROVERTS are especially vulnerable to challenges like marital tension, a parent’s death, or abuse. They’re more likely than their peers to react to these events with depression, anxiety, and shyness. Indeed, about a quarter of Kagan’s high-reactive kids suffer from some degree of the condition known as “social anxiety disorder,” a chronic and disabling form of shyness.
Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking)
Females with ASDs often develop ‘coping mechanisms’ that can cover up the intrinsic difficulties they experience. They may mimic their peers, watch from the sidelines, use their intellect to figure out the best ways to remain undetected, and they will study, practice, and learn appropriate approaches to social situations. Sounds easy enough, but in fact these strategies take a lot of work and can more often than not lead to exhaustion, withdrawal, anxiety, selective mutism, and depression. -Dr. Shana Nichols
Liane Holliday Willey (Safety Skills for Asperger Women: How to Save a Perfectly Good Female Life)
does a society exist where it's become acceptable to wear 'helmets' enclosing one's entire head when in public to preempt social interaction
Tao Lin
Ultimately, social anxiety is the fear that whatever we’re trying to hide will be revealed to everyone like a gust of wind sweeps away a bad toupee. We think there is something wrong with us and therefore try to conceal it.
Ellen Hendriksen (How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety)
Many empaths are diagnosed with chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, CFS, lupus, and various autoimmune diseases, as well as psychological disorders such as agoraphobia, social anxiety, ADHD, depression, sensory processing disorder, among many others.
Aletheia Luna (Awakened Empath: The Ultimate Guide to Emotional, Psychological and Spiritual Healing)
Show me what you've written," I said, although I wanted desperately to avoid looking at it.
Osamu Dazai (No Longer Human)
And I was incapable of living all by myself in those lodgings where I didn't know a soul. It terrified me to sit by myself quietly in my room. I felt frightened, as if I might be set upon or struck by someone at any moment.
Osamu Dazai (No Longer Human)
In the ill-judged execution of the well-judged plan of things the call seldom produces the comer, the man to love rarely coincides with the hour for loving. Nature does not often say 'See!' to her poor creature at a time when seeing can lead to happy doing; or reply 'Here!' to a body's cry of 'Where?' till the hide-and-seek has become an irksome, outworn game. We may wonder whether at the acme and summit of the human progress these anachronisms will be corrected by a finer intuition, a close interaction of the social machinery than that which now jolts us round and along; but such completeness is not to be prophesied, or even conceived as possible. Enough that in the present case, as in millions, it was not the two halves of a perfect whole that confronted each other at the perfect moment; part and counterpart wandered independently about the earth in the stupidest manner for a while, till the late time came. Out of which maladroit delay sprang anxieties, disappointments, shocks, catastrophes -- what was called a strange destiny.
Thomas Hardy (Tess of the D’Urbervilles)
Introverts may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.
Susan Cain
The happiness of being envied is glamour.
John Berger (Ways of Seeing)
Just because I made it here doesn't mean it was easy. And just because I don't seem overwhelmed doesn't mean I'm not
Jen Wilde (Queens of Geek)
The media no longer hesitate to whip up lurid anxieties in order to increase sales, in the process undermining social confidence and multiplying fears.
A.C. Grayling (Life, Sex and Ideas: The Good Life Without God)
I always called back to cancel, which I hated doing because I hated talking to people.
Ottessa Moshfegh (My Year of Rest and Relaxation)
[...] I was afraid to board a streetcar because of the conductor; I was afraid to enter the Kabuki Theater for fear of the usherettes standing along the sides of the red-carpeted staircase at the main entrance; I was afraid to go into a restaurant because I was intimidated by the waiters furtively hovering behind me waiting for my plate to be emptied.
Osamu Dazai (No Longer Human)
It’s been my experience that people always assume that generalized anxiety disorder is preferable to social anxiety disorder, because it sounds more vague and unthreatening, but those people are totally wrong. For me, having generalized anxiety disorder is basically like having all of the other anxiety disorders smooshed into one. Even the ones that aren’t recognized by modern science. Things like birds-will-probably-smother-me-in-my-sleep anxiety disorder and I-keep-crackers-in-my-pocket-in-case-I-get-trapped-in-an-elevator anxiety disorder. Basically I’m just generally anxious about f***ing everything. In fact, I suspect that’s how they came up with the name.
Jenny Lawson
Well, if I weren't so insecure, I would have had neither the opportunity nor the inclination to spend every day of my life getting really good at seeming confident.
Hank Green (An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (The Carls, #1))
Pain Waves are the sea's white daughters, And raindrops the children of rain, But why for my shimmering body Have I a mother like Pain? Night is the mother of stars, And wind the mother of foam— The world is brimming with beauty, But I must stay at home.
Sara Teasdale (Flame and Shadow)
But I don't want you to keep pretending you're okay. I don't want you to keep downplaying the hurt you feel like you're not even human. You keep it up - all these lies to yourself, to other people, and soon you're not going to know who you are.
Farah Naz Rishi (I Hope You Get This Message)
In truth, you gain confidence by doing things before you're ready, while you're still scared. Go through the motions and your confidence will catch up.' If you wait until you are ready to do the things that scare you because you feel like you aren't ready, you will never get around to doing them. We gain comfort and confidence through being uncomfortable.
Ellen Hendriksen (How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety)
Without such trust and safety, social relationships tend to become strategic rather than cooperative, increasingly full of skepticism and even anxiety and fear about others' intentions. (p. 27)
Donald Rothberg (The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World)
Society cares about the individual only in so far as he is profitable. The young know this. Their anxiety as they enter in upon social life matches the anguish of the old as they are excluded from it.
Simone de Beauvoir (The Coming of Age)
Many animals experience pain, anxiety and suffering, physically and psychologically, when they are held in captivity or subjected to starvation, social isolation, physical restraint, or painful situations from which they cannot escape. Even if it is not the same experience of pain, anxiety, or suffering undergone by humans- or even other animals, including members of the same species- an individual's pain, suffering, and anxiety matter.
Marc Bekoff (Animals Matter: A Biologist Explains Why We Should Treat Animals with Compassion and Respect)
For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety. No doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love: These are complex and hard-earned capacities. You don't need a history of trauma to feel self-conscious and even panicked at a party with strangers – but trauma can turn the whole world into a gathering of aliens.
Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma)
In youth, our blood rises and becomes volatile. Desire, worry, and anxiety increase. External circumstances now direct the rise and fall of emotions. Will and intention become constrained by social conventions. Competition, conflict, and scheming are the norm in interactions with people. The approval and disapproval of others become important, and the honest and sincere expression of thoughts and feelings is lost.
Liezi (Lieh-tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living (Shambhala Dragon Editions))
If a person cannot solve a conflict with a friend, how can they possibly contribute to larger efforts for peace? If we refuse to speak to a friend because we project our anxieties onto an email they wrote, how are we going to welcome refugees, immigrants, and the homeless into our communities? The values required for social repair are the same values required for personal repair.
Sarah Schulman (Conflict is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair)
...hideous psychic fallout they'd all endured both in active marijuana-dependency and then in marijuana-detox: the social isolation, anxious lassitude, and the hyperself-consciousness that then reinforced the withdrawal and anxiety - the increasing emotional abstraction, poverty of affect, and then total emotional catalepsy - the obsessive analyzing, finally the paralytic stasis that results from obsessive analysis of all possible implications of both getting up from the couch and not getting up from the couch...
David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest)
Normal people don't know how hard it is to fangirl over celebrities who don't know you exist and fictional characters who die and try to not act like you are insane in public, trying to read all the 130 million books that exist in this world while also staying on top of classes and getting good grades while also socializing with actual people and completing all the tasks on time and battle anxiety while also being a perfect student who gives great speeches and doesn't have stage fear with impeccable grammar and is articulate like GEEZ! I would rather stay crazy!
Aashi Rath
The death of a social machine has never been heralded by a disharmony or a dysfunction; on the contrary, social machines make a habit of feeding on the contradictions they give rise to, on the crises they provoke, on the anxieties they engender, and on the infernal operations they regenerate. Capitalism has learned this, and has ceased doubting itself, while even socialists have abandoned belief in the possibility of capitalism's natural death by attrition. No one has ever died from contradictions. And the more it breaks down, the more it schizophrenizes, the better it works, the American way.
Gilles Deleuze (Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia)
Driven by a wish to save Tomás from a life of penury and misunderstanding, Fermin had decided that he needed to develop my friend's latent conversational and social skills. Like the good ape he is, man is a social animal, characterized by cronyism, nepotism, corruption, and gossip. That's the intrinsic blueprint for our ethical behavior.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1))
Why does the social order feel the need to defend itself by evading the fact of real women, our faces and voices and bodies, and reducing the meaning of women to these formulaic and endlessly reproduced "beautiful" images? Though unconscious personal anxieties can be a powerful force in the creation of a vital lie, economic necessity practically guarantees it. An economy that depends on slavery needs to promote images of slaves that "justify" the institution of slavery. Western economies are absolutely dependent now on the continued underpayment of women. An idealogy that makes women feel "worth less" was urgently needed to counteract the way feminism had begun to make us feel worth more. This does not require a conspiracy; merely an atmosphere. The contemporary economy depends right now on the representation of women within the beauty myth.
Naomi Wolf (The Beauty Myth)
In our hearts... there must abide some pity for those people who have always felt themselves to be separate from even their most familiar surroundings, those people who either are foreigners or who suffer a singular point of view that makes them feel as if they’re foreigners - even in their native lands. In our hearts... there also abides a certain suspicion that such people need to feel set apart from their society. But people who initiate loneliness are no less lonely than those who are suddenly surprised by loneliness, nor are they undeserving of our pity.
John Irving (A Son of the Circus)
Yes. They are the words that finally turned me into the hermit I have now become. It was quite sudden. I saw them, and I knew what I had to do." The sign read: "Hold stick near center of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion." "It seemed to me," said Wonko the Sane, "that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a package of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.
Douglas Adams (So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #4))
Life is full of issues no matter what social status you enjoy in society, only the nature of issue would be different. You solve one issue, other would come and they would be keep on coming till you are alive. This is a reality and nobody can escape from this truth. -Subodh Gupta author, "Stress Management a Holistic Approach -5 steps Plan".
Subodh Gupta (Stress Management A Holistic Approach)
You’re brave, did you know that?’ He must have me mistaken for someone else. ‘You have all these fears, your body endures all this pain and heartache, but you keep going. I think that’s really brave.’ I shake my head. My mind is telling me that he’s wrong. Brave is swords and shields. People who are fearless in the face of adversity. Warriors for social justice. Brave is not me. But my heart registers the way he’s looking at me now, and my shoulders straighten. I feel shiny, normal.
Louise Gornall (Under Rose-Tainted Skies)
Here I want to stress that perception of losing one’s mind is based on culturally derived and socially ingrained stereotypes as to the significance of symptoms such as hearing voices, losing temporal and spatial orientation, and sensing that one is being followed, and that many of the most spectacular and convincing of these symptoms in some instances psychiatrically signify merely a temporary emotional upset in a stressful situation, however terrifying to the person at the time. Similarly, the anxiety consequent upon this perception of oneself, and the strategies devised to reduce this anxiety, are not a product of abnormal psychology, but would be exhibited by any person socialized into our culture who came to conceive of himself as someone losing his mind.
Erving Goffman (Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates)
If I had a reader and he had read all I have written so far of my adventures, there would be certainly no need to inform him that I am not created for any sort of society. The trouble is I don't know how to behave in company. If I go anywhere among a great many people I always have a feeling as though I were being electrified by so many eyes looking at me. It positively makes me shrivel up, physically shrivel up, even in such places as the theatre, to say nothing of private houses. I did not know how to behave with dignity in these gambling saloons and assemblies; I either was still, inwardly upbraiding myself for my excessive mildness and politeness, or I suddenly got up and did something rude. And meanwhile all sorts of worthless fellows far inferior to me knew how to behave with wonderful aplomb-- and that's what really exasperated me above everything, so that I lost my self-possession more and more. I may say frankly, even at that time, if the truth is to be told, the society there, and even winning money at cards, had become revolting and a torture to me. Positively a torture. I did, of course, derive acute enjoyment from it, but this enjoyment was at the cost of torture.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Adolescent (Vintage Classics))
it is no wonder that it is hard for us to know, let alone admit, that we are angry. Why are angry women so threatening to others? If we are guilty, depressed, or self-doubting, we stay in place. We do not take action except against our own selves and we are unlikely to be agents of personal and social change. In contrast, angry women may change and challenge the lives of us all, as witnessed by the past decade of feminism. And change is an anxiety-arousing and difficult business for everyone, including those of us who are actively pushing for it. Thus, we too learn to fear our own anger, not only because it brings about the disapproval of others, but also because it signals the necessity for change. We may begin to ask ourselves questions that serve to block or invalidate our own experience of anger: “Is my anger legitimate?” “Do I have a right to be angry?” “What’s the use of my getting angry?” “What good will it do?” These questions can be excellent ways of silencing ourselves and shutting off our anger.
Harriet Lerner (The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships)
From the vantage point of the brain, doing well in school and at work involves one and the same state, the brain’s sweet spot for performance. The biology of anxiety casts us out of that zone for excellence. “Banish fear” was a slogan of the late quality-control guru W. Edwards Deming. He saw that fear froze a workplace: workers were reluctant to speak up, to share new ideas, or to coordinate well, let alone to improve the quality of their output. The same slogan applies to the classroom—fear frazzles the mind, disrupting learning.
Daniel Goleman (Social Intelligence)
We cannot, of course, expect every leader to possess the wisdom of Lincoln or Mandela’s largeness of soul. But when we think about what questions might be most useful to ask, perhaps we should begin by discerning what our prospective leaders believe it worthwhile for us to hear. Do they cater to our prejudices by suggesting that we treat people outside our ethnicity, race, creed or party as unworthy of dignity and respect? Do they want us to nurture our anger toward those who we believe have done us wrong, rub raw our grievances and set our sights on revenge? Do they encourage us to have contempt for our governing institutions and the electoral process? Do they seek to destroy our faith in essential contributors to democracy, such as an independent press, and a professional judiciary? Do they exploit the symbols of patriotism, the flag, the pledge in a conscious effort to turn us against one another? If defeated at the polls, will they accept the verdict, or insist without evidence they have won? Do they go beyond asking about our votes to brag about their ability to solve all problems put to rest all anxieties and satisfy every desire? Do they solicit our cheers by speaking casually and with pumped up machismo about using violence to blow enemies away? Do they echo the attitude of Musolini: “The crowd doesn’t have to know, all they have to do is believe and submit to being shaped.”? Or do they invite us to join with them in building and maintaining a healthy center for our society, a place where rights and duties are apportioned fairly, the social contract is honored, and all have room to dream and grow. The answers to these questions will not tell us whether a prospective leader is left or right-wing, conservative or liberal, or, in the American context, a Democrat or a Republican. However, they will us much that we need to know about those wanting to lead us, and much also about ourselves. For those who cherish freedom, the answers will provide grounds for reassurance, or, a warning we dare not ignore.
Madeleine K. Albright (Fascism: A Warning)
At cocktail parties, I played the part of a successful businessman's wife to perfection. I smiled, I made polite chit-chat, and I dressed the part. Denial and rationalization were two of my most effective tools in working my way through our social obligations. I believed that playing the roles of wife and mother were the least I could do to help support Tom's career. During the day, I was a puzzle with innumerable pieces. One piece made my family a nourishing breakfast. Another piece ferried the kids to school and to soccer practice. A third piece managed to trip to the grocery store. There was also a piece that wanted to sleep for eighteen hours a day and the piece that woke up shaking from yet another nightmare. And there was the piece that attended business functions and actually fooled people into thinking I might have something constructive to offer. I was a circus performer traversing the tightwire, and I could fall off into a vortex devoid of reality at any moment. There was, and had been for a very long time, an intense sense of despair. A self-deprecating voice inside told me I had no chance of getting better. I lived in an emotional black hole. p20-21, talking about dissociative identity disorder (formerly multiple personality disorder).
Suzie Burke (Wholeness: My Healing Journey from Ritual Abuse)
I believe that what separates us all from one another is simply society itself, or, if you like, politics. This is what raises barriers between men, this is what creates misunderstanding. If I may be allowed to express myself paradoxically, I should say that the truest society, the authentic human community, is extra-social — a wider, deeper society, that which is revealed by our common anxieties, our desires, our secret nostalgias. The whole history of the world has been governed by nostalgias and anxieties, which political action does no more than reflect and interpret, very imperfectly. No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa.
Eugène Ionesco
When he heard laughter, before he could think or feel anything, his heart would already be beating like he’d sprinted twenty yards. As the beating slowly normalized he’d think of how his heart, unlike him, was safely contained, away from the world, behind bone and inside skin, held by muscles and arteries in its place, carefully off-center, as if to artfully assert itself as source and creator, having grown the chest to hide in and to muffle and absorb—and, later, after innovating the brain and face and limbs, to convert into productive behavior—its uncontrollable, indefensible, unexplainable, embarrassing squeezing of itself.
Tao Lin (Taipei)
Make no mistake. The greatest destroyer of ecology. The greatest source of waste, depletion and pollution. The greatest purveyor of violence, war, crime, poverty, animal abuse and inhumanity. The greatest generator of personal and social neurosis, mental disorders, depression, anxiety. Not to mention the greatest source of social paralysis, stopping us from moving into new methodologies for personal health, global sustainability and progress on this planet, is not some corrupt government or legislation. Not some rogue corporation or banking cartel. Not some flaw of human nature and not some secret cabal that controls the world. It is the socioeconomic system itself at its very foundation.
Peter Joseph
In addition to conformity as a way to relieve the anxiety springing from separateness, another factor of contemporary life must be considered: the role of the work routine and the pleasure routine. Man becomes a 'nine to fiver', he is part of the labour force, or the bureaucratic force of clerks and managers. He has little initiative, his tasks are prescribed by the organisation of the work; there is even little difference between those high up on the ladder and those on the bottom. They all perform tasks prescribed by the whole structure of the organisation, at a prescribed speed, and in a prescribed manner. Even the feelings are prescribed: cheerfulness, tolerance, reliability, ambition, and an ability to get along with everybody without friction. Fun is routinised in similar, although not quite as drastic ways. Books are selected by the book clubs, movies by the film and theatre owners and the advertising slogans paid for by them; the rest is also uniform: the Sunday ride in the car, the television session, the card game, the social parties. From birth to death, from Monday to Monday, from morning to evening - all activities are routinised, and prefabricated. How should a man caught up in this net of routine not forget that he is a man, a unique individual, one who is given only this one chance of living, with hopes and disappointments, with sorrow and fear, with the longing for love and the dread of the nothing and separateness?
Erich Fromm (The Art of Loving)
The personal inevitably trumps the political, and the erotic trumps all: We will remember that Cleopatra slept with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony long after we have forgotten what she accomplished in doing so, that she sustained a vast, rich, densely populated empire in its troubled twilight in the name of a proud and cultivated dynasty. She remains on the map for having seduced two of the greatest men of her time, while her crime was to have entered into those same "wily and suspicious" marital partnerships that every man in power enjoyed. She did so in reverse and in her own name; this made her a deviant, socially disruptive, an unnatural woman. To these she added a few other offenses. She made Rome feel uncouth, insecure, and poor, sufficient cause for anxiety without adding sexuality into the mix.
Stacy Schiff (Cleopatra: A Life)
My anxieties as to behavior are futile, ever more so, to infinity. If the other, incidentally or negligently, gives the telephone number of a place where he or she can be reached at certain times, I immediately grow baffled: should I telephone or shouldn't I? (It would do no good to tell me that I can telephone - that is the objective, reasonable meaning of the message - for it is precisely this permission I don't know how to handle.) What is futile is what apparently has and will have no consequence. But for me, an amorous subject, everything which is new, everything which disturbs, is received not as a fact but in the aspect of a sign which must be interpreted. From the lover's point of view, the fact becomes consequential because it is immediately transformed into a sign: it is the sign, not the fact, which is consequential (by its aura). If the other has given me this new telephone number, what was that the sign of? Was it an invitation to telephone right away, for the pleasure of the call, or only should the occasion arise, out of necessity? My answer itself will be a sign, which the other will inevitably interpret, thereby releasing, between us, a tumultuous maneuvering of images. Everything signifies: by this proposition, I entrap myself, I bind myself in calculations, I keep myself from enjoyment. Sometimes, by dint of deliberating about "nothing" (as the world sees it), I exhaust myself; then I try, in reaction, to return -- like a drowning man who stamps on the floor of the sea -- to a spontaneous decision (spontaneity: the great dream: paradise, power, delight): go on, telephone, since you want to! But such recourse is futile: amorous time does not permit the subject to align impulse and action, to make them coincide: I am not the man of mere "acting out" -- my madness is tempered, it is not seen; it is right away that I fear consequences, any consequence: it is my fear -- my deliberation -- which is "spontaneous.
Roland Barthes (A Lover's Discourse: Fragments)
The movement of descent and discovery begins at the moment you consciously become dissatisfied with life. Contrary to most professional opinion, this gnawing dissatisfaction with life is not a sign of "mental illness," nor an indication of poor social adjustment, nor a character disorder. For concealed within this basic unhappiness with life and existence is the embryo of a growing intelligence, a special intelligence usually buried under the immense weight of social shams. A person who is beginning to sense the suffering of life is, at the same time, beginning to awaken to deeper realities, truer realities. For suffering smashes to pieces the complacency of our normal fictions about reality, and forces us to become alive in a special sense—to see carefully, to feel deeply, to touch ourselves and our worlds in ways we have heretofore avoided. It has been said, and truly I think, that suffering is the first grace. In a special sense, suffering is almost a time of rejoicing, for it marks the birth of creative insight. But only in a special sense. Some people cling to their suffering as a mother to its child, carrying it as a burden they dare not set down. They do not face suffering with awareness, but rather clutch at their suffering, secretly transfixed with the spasms of martyrdom. Suffering should neither be denied awareness, avoided, despised, not glorified, clung to, dramatized. The emergence of suffering is not so much good as it is a good sign, an indication that one is starting to realize that life lived outside unity consciousness is ultimately painful, distressing, and sorrowful. The life of boundaries is a life of battles—of fear, anxiety, pain, and finally death. It is only through all manner of numbing compensations, distractions, and enchantments that we agree not to question our illusory boundaries, the root cause of the endless wheel of agony. But sooner or later, if we are not rendered totally insensitive, our defensive compensations begin to fail their soothing and concealing purpose. As a consequence, we begin to suffer in one way or another, because our awareness is finally directed toward the conflict-ridden nature of our false boundaries and the fragmented life supported by them.
Ken Wilber (No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth)
The more we live as 'free individuals' . . . the more we are effectively non-free, caught within the existing frame of possibilities--we have to be impelled or disturbed into freedom. . . . This paradox thoroughly pervades the form of subjectivity that characterizes 'permissive' liberal society. Since permissiveness and free choice are elevated into a supreme value, social control and domination can no longer appear as infringing on subjects' freedom: they have to appear as (and be sustained by) individuals experiencing themselves as free. There is a multitude of forms of this appearing of un-freedom in the guise of its opposite: in being deprived of universal healthcare, we are told that we are being given a new freedom of choice (to choose our healthcare provider); when we can no longer rely on long-term employment and are compelled to search for a new precarious job every couple of years, we are told that we are being given the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and discover our creative potential; when we have to pay for the education of our children, we are told that we are now able to become 'entrepreneurs of the self," acting like a capitalist freely choosing how to invest the resources he possesses (or has borrowed). In education, health, travel . . . we are constantly bombarded by imposed 'free choices'; forced to make decisions for which we are mostly not qualified (or do not possess enough information), we increasingly experience our freedom as a burden that causes unbearable anxiety. Unable to break out of this vicious cycle alone, as isolated individuals--since the more we act freely the more we become enslaved by the system--we need to be 'awakened' from this 'dogmatic slumber' of fake freedom.
Slavoj Žižek
Like most people who decide to get sober, I was brought to Alcoholics Anonymous. While AA certainly works for others, its core propositions felt irreconcilable with my own experiences. I couldn't, for example, rectify the assertion that "alcoholism is a disease" with the facts of my own life. The idea that by simply attending an AA meeting, without any consultation, one is expected to take on a blanket diagnosis of "diseased addict" was to me, at best, patronizing. At worst, irresponsible. Irresponsible because it doesn't encourage people to turn toward and heal the actual underlying causes of their abuse of substances. I drank for thirteen years for REALLY good reasons. Among them were unprocessed grief, parental abandonment, isolation, violent trauma, anxiety and panic, social oppression, a general lack of safety, deep existential discord, and a tremendous diet and lifestyle imbalance. None of which constitute a disease, and all of which manifest as profound internal, mental, emotional and physical discomfort, which I sought to escape by taking external substances. It is only through one's own efforts to turn toward life on its own terms and to develop a wiser relationship to what's there through mindfulness and compassion that make freedom from addictive patterns possible. My sobriety has been sustained by facing life, processing grief, healing family relationships, accepting radically the fact of social oppression, working with my abandonment conditioning, coming into community, renegotiating trauma, making drastic diet and lifestyle changes, forgiving, and practicing mindfulness, to name just a few. Through these things, I began to relieve the very real pressure that compulsive behaviors are an attempt to resolve.
Noah Levine (Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction)
We have a predator that came from the depths of the cosmos and took over the rule of our lives. Human beings are its prisoners. The Predator is our lord and master. It has rendered us docile, helpless. If we want to protest, it suppresses our protest. If we want to act independently, it demands that we don't do so... I have been beating around the bush all this time, insinuating to you that something is holding us prisoner. Indeed we are held prisoner! "This was an energetic fact for the sorcerers of ancient Mexico ... They took us over because we are food for them, and they squeeze us mercilessly because we are their sustenance. just as we rear chickens in chicken coops, the predators rear us in human coops, humaneros. Therefore, their food is always available to them." "No, no, no, no," [Carlos replies] "This is absurd don Juan. What you're saying is something monstrous. It simply can't be true, for sorcerers or for average men, or for anyone." "Why not?" don Juan asked calmly. "Why not? Because it infuriates you? ... You haven't heard all the claims yet. I want to appeal to your analytical mind. Think for a moment, and tell me how you would explain the contradictions between the intelligence of man the engineer and the stupidity of his systems of beliefs, or the stupidity of his contradictory behaviour. Sorcerers believe that the predators have given us our systems of belief, our ideas of good and evil, our social mores. They are the ones who set up our hopes and expectations and dreams of success or failure. They have given us covetousness, greed, and cowardice. It is the predators who make us complacent, routinary, and egomaniacal." "'But how can they do this, don Juan? [Carlos] asked, somehow angered further by what [don Juan] was saying. "'Do they whisper all that in our ears while we are asleep?" "'No, they don't do it that way. That's idiotic!" don Juan said, smiling. "They are infinitely more efficient and organized than that. In order to keep us obedient and meek and weak, the predators engaged themselves in a stupendous manoeuvre stupendous, of course, from the point of view of a fighting strategist. A horrendous manoeuvre from the point of view of those who suffer it. They gave us their mind! Do you hear me? The predators give us their mind, which becomes our mind. The predators' mind is baroque, contradictory, morose, filled with the fear of being discovered any minute now." "I know that even though you have never suffered hunger... you have food anxiety, which is none other than the anxiety of the predator who fears that any moment now its manoeuvre is going to be uncovered and food is going to be denied. Through the mind, which, after all, is their mind, the predators inject into the lives of human beings whatever is convenient for them. And they ensure, in this manner, a degree of security to act as a buffer against their fear." "The sorcerers of ancient Mexico were quite ill at ease with the idea of when [the predator] made its appearance on Earth. They reasoned that man must have been a complete being at one point, with stupendous insights, feats of awareness that are mythological legends nowadays. And then, everything seems to disappear, and we have now a sedated man. What I'm saying is that what we have against us is not a simple predator. It is very smart, and organized. It follows a methodical system to render us useless. Man, the magical being that he is destined to be, is no longer magical. He's an average piece of meat." "There are no more dreams for man but the dreams of an animal who is being raised to become a piece of meat: trite, conventional, imbecilic.
Carlos Castaneda (The Active Side of Infinity)
To understand, I destroyed myself. To understand is to forget about loving. I know nothing more simultaneously false and telling than the statement by Leonardo da Vinci that we cannot love or hate something until we’ve understood it. Solitude devastates me; company oppresses me. The presence of another person derails my thoughts; I dream of the other’s presence with a strange absent-mindedness that no amount of my analytical scrutiny can define. Isolation has carved me in its image and likeness. The presence of another person – of any person whatsoever – instantly slows down my thinking, and while for a normal man contact with others is a stimulus to spoken expression and wit, for me it is a counterstimulus, if this compound word be linguistically permissible. When all by myself, I can think of all kinds of clever remarks, quick comebacks to what no one said, and flashes of witty sociability with nobody. But all of this vanishes when I face someone in the flesh: I lose my intelligence, I can no longer speak, and after half an hour I just feel tired. Yes, talking to people makes me feel like sleeping. Only my ghostly and imaginary friends, only the conversations I have in my dreams, are genuinely real and substantial, and in them intelligence gleams like an image in a mirror. The mere thought of having to enter into contact with someone else makes me nervous. A simple invitation to have dinner with a friend produces an anguish in me that’s hard to define. The idea of any social obligation whatsoever – attending a funeral, dealing with someone about an office matter, going to the station to wait for someone I know or don’t know – the very idea disturbs my thoughts for an entire day, and sometimes I even start worrying the night before, so that I sleep badly. When it takes place, the dreaded encounter is utterly insignificant, justifying none of my anxiety, but the next time is no different: I never learn to learn. ‘My habits are of solitude, not of men.’ I don’t know if it was Rousseau or Senancour who said this. But it was some mind of my species, it being perhaps too much to say of my race.
Fernando Pessoa
If we put this whole progression in terms of our discussion of the possibilities of heroism, it goes like this: Man breaks through the bounds of merely cultural heroism; he destroys the character lie that had him perform as a hero in the everyday social scheme of things; and by doing so he opens himself up to infinity, to the possibility of cosmic heroism, to the very service of God. His life thereby acquires ultimate value in place of merely social and cultural, historical value. He links his secret inner self, his authentic talent, his deepest feelings of uniqueness, his inner yearning for absolute significance, to the very ground of creation. Out of the ruins of the broken cultural self there remains the mystery of the private, invisible, inner self which yearned for ultimate significance, for cosmic heroism. This invisible mystery at the heart of every creature now attains cosmic significance by affirming its connection with the invisible mystery at the heart of creation. This is the meaning of faith. At the same time it is the meaning of the merger of psychology and religion in Kierkegaard's thought. The truly open person, the one who has shed his character armor, the vital lie of his cultural conditioning, is beyond the help of any mere "science," of any merely social standard of health. He is absolutely alone and trembling on the bring of oblivion-which is at the same time the brink of infinity. To give him the new support that he needs, the "courage to renounce dread without any dread...only faith is capable of," says Kierkegaard. Not that this is an easy out for man, or a cure-all for the human condition-Kierkegaard is never facile. He gives a strikingly beautiful idea: not that [faith] annihilates dread, but remaining ever young, it is continually developing itself out of the death throe of dread. In other words, as long as man is an ambiguous creature he can never banish anxiety; what he can do instead is to use anxiety as an eternal spring for growth into new dimensions of thought and trust. Faith poses a new life task, the adventure in openness to a multi-dimensional reality.
Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death)
Nature’s ultimate goal is to foster the growth of the individual from absolute dependence to independence — or, more exactly, to the interdependence of mature adults living in community. Development is a process of moving from complete external regulation to self-regulation, as far as our genetic programming allows. Well-self-regulated people are the most capable of interacting fruitfully with others in a community and of nurturing children who will also grow into self-regulated adults. Anything that interferes with that natural agenda threatens the organism’s chances for long-term survival. Almost from the beginning of life we see a tension between the complementary needs for security and for autonomy. Development requires a gradual and ageappropriate shift from security needs toward the drive for autonomy, from attachment to individuation. Neither is ever completely lost, and neither is meant to predominate at the expense of the other. With an increased capacity for self-regulation in adulthood comes also a heightened need for autonomy — for the freedom to make genuine choices. Whatever undermines autonomy will be experienced as a source of stress. Stress is magnified whenever the power to respond effectively to the social or physical environment is lacking or when the tested animal or human being feels helpless, without meaningful choices — in other words, when autonomy is undermined. Autonomy, however, needs to be exercised in a way that does not disrupt the social relationships on which survival also depends, whether with emotional intimates or with important others—employers, fellow workers, social authority figures. The less the emotional capacity for self-regulation develops during infancy and childhood, the more the adult depends on relationships to maintain homeostasis. The greater the dependence, the greater the threat when those relationships are lost or become insecure. Thus, the vulnerability to subjective and physiological stress will be proportionate to the degree of emotional dependence. To minimize the stress from threatened relationships, a person may give up some part of his autonomy. However, this is not a formula for health, since the loss of autonomy is itself a cause of stress. The surrender of autonomy raises the stress level, even if on the surface it appears to be necessary for the sake of “security” in a relationship, and even if we subjectively feel relief when we gain “security” in this manner. If I chronically repress my emotional needs in order to make myself “acceptable” to other people, I increase my risks of having to pay the price in the form of illness. The other way of protecting oneself from the stress of threatened relationships is emotional shutdown. To feel safe, the vulnerable person withdraws from others and closes against intimacy. This coping style may avoid anxiety and block the subjective experience of stress but not the physiology of it. Emotional intimacy is a psychological and biological necessity. Those who build walls against intimacy are not self-regulated, just emotionally frozen. Their stress from having unmet needs will be high.
Gabor Maté (When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress)