Social Anxiety and the Price We Pay to Fit In

You Are here“Adjustment to a sick and insane environment is of itself not ‘health’ but sickness and insanity.” – James Agee

Question: I have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, for which I have been prescribed drugs. However, might this condition be advantageous, or even a sign that I am moving toward enlightenment?

JS: In the old days they would simply have said that you were overly self-conscious. But consciousness is not a disorder, or something that one can ever have in excess. Consciousness is what prevents one from acting mechanically, and what allows one see the world as it truly is. And so, obviously, the system will try to put you back to sleep, through drugs or whatever other means. Then your mind will start to move mechanically again, like a cog, and be able to participate in the greater mechanism – the matrix of minds which are manipulated to manifest this particular reality.

Having a greater level of consciousness will not make it easier to function in the world, but harder. Even just talking to other people can become arduous, because most are simply reacting to content with their own programmed content; no different, really, from a character within a computer game. This is why small-talk seems so effortless for the majority, whereas a more conscious person struggles – unless and until they develop the skills to play along.

Most children realise, at some point, that it is necessary to ‘act’ in order to appear normal; to conform with the expectations of others. And due to the inherent fear of being shunned, or isolated, they rapidly identify with whatever character they have been conditioned to play. Most then live out the rest of their lives in this deluded state, completely unaware that they are merely playing a part… and reading from somebody else’s script.

A few, however, do not forget, but remain painfully aware. And the greater one’s awareness of this process – of one’s own participation in the charade – the more one may suspect oneself of having some form mental illness; a suspicion which others, of course, who represent the system, are only too eager to validate. Certainly, from their own mechanical perspective, a conscious person is not functioning correctly. And the more conscious a person is, the more ‘insane’ they will likely appear to be, in the eyes of those who are themselves suffering from a kind of insanity.

So what’s going on here? The singular cause of a person’s pain and suffering can be traced back to others, one way or another. But people also need others, because of the yearning emptiness they feel inside themselves, which other people fill; and certainly, also, because of the fleeting happiness which others can provide – at a price. This is what keeps everyone on the wheel of life, going around in circles, lifetime after lifetime.

Fundamentally, then, no one is here by choice, but rather through a combination of conscious and unconscious forces; needs and desires which can only be transcended through the suffering inherent to the illusion itself – to apparent individuality within a dualistic universe.

Is aversion to people and a tendency toward introversion a sign of transcendence? Absolutely it is! But if you want to awaken more fully, and actually break through that chrysalis of fear and illusion, then you should ruthlessly focus on the task at hand – which is nothing other than the acceptance of reality. For in the absence of illusion, beyond conditioned identity, there is only the Truth and freedom of Self; the beginning and the end of your journey.

“A man who as a physical being is always turned toward the outside, thinking that his happiness lies outside him, finally turns inward and discovers that the source is within him.” – Soren Kierkegaard

Follow-up question: But if I fear how I am being perceived, to the point that I actually cannot function in the world, doesn’t that imply a need in me beyond even what may be considered ‘normal’.

JS: The reason you fear how you are being perceived is because you don’t know who you are. You are confused. And so you worry that how others see you may actually represent reality; as if your own identity were somehow being moulded by external perceptions.

Nonetheless, it is better to be confused than deluded. For most people believe they know exactly who they are, and this is true mental illness. To be confused, however, you must already have started to question reality; you must already have a suspicion that things are not as they seem.

Your confusion, then, is an opportunity. And your social anxiety is a tool, if you choose to use it, rather than bury it.

“This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.”
– William Blake

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1 Response to Social Anxiety and the Price We Pay to Fit In

  1. Ed says:

    Excessive introspection and alone time is considered messed up – “got to go out there into the community and talk to people”, but acting in the sphere of community entails negotiating and adapting to social conventions and consensus reality – in other words restricting, indelibly thanks to repetition, the realm of possibility – in other words ‘participate in society ultimately to perpetuate archaic intellectual and social structures that serve only the elite — Quid bonum? And who benefits from social anxiety and the social evasion it leads to? Not the powerful, because the individual consumes less, publicly reinforces convention less, spouts less misleading bullshit, etc., and not the individual either, in terms of feeling exuberant about life and their social value – so, importantly they aren’t even serving the Ego. Looked at in this way, social anxiety I agree can be thought of as a positive state of being, certainly a state situated on ‘the path’

    But then again in a state of social anxiety, we tend to be more deferent to authority, arbitrary or otherwise, in order to avoid confrontation — so quid bonum here?

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