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hello9
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I take the NYC subway system everyday. You see, our seats are aligned facing each other so one person would face another. I know that we're not even supposed to notice or look at the people the are across from us, or people that board the train but this is where the problem aggregated. Before my trip was not noticing anyone or taking people into perspective as I took the system. If I can think back to before I had the problem I don't remember any visuals of people on the train ride. But now I've retrained my brain (unfortunately) to take everyone into perspective since I realized that this would cause anxiety to other people (and it does). Every time I take someone into perspective, I gain more anxiety and even more when someone reacts by for example casting their eyes to the floor or something like that. The problem grows worse from here. NYC is pretty populated and people walk one path and other in the same direction. I know that we are supposed to not notice anyone but this lead to me noticing everyone. So the subway has become an anxiety spot along with walkways. You see if I find more things to tell myself that I shouldn't do and I do them compulsively because I feel that I have no control of them. Unlike an OCD case where threats aren't real, other people really feel anxiety if they are taken into perspective. I've also realized that a feeling of anxiety is linked by my brain to my lack of ability to control my eyes and where they look. You see now I just look at random places throughout the room even though I want to only look at the keyboard and the screen only because it annoys me and it feels like I have no control. Thank you for any reply.

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Hi Hello9,

I recall we talked about this issue awhile back and it seems to still be plaguing you.

I take the NYC subway system everyday. You see, our seats are aligned facing each other so one person would face another. I know that we're not even supposed to notice or look at the people the are across from us, or people that board the train but this is where the problem aggregated. Before my trip was not noticing anyone or taking people into perspective as I took the system. If I can think back to before I had the problem I don't remember any visuals of people on the train ride. But now I've retrained my brain (unfortunately) to take everyone into perspective since I realized that this would cause anxiety to other people (and it does). Every time I take someone into perspective, I gain more anxiety and even more when someone reacts by for example casting their eyes to the floor or something like that. My 1st thought here was not that you had an anxiety issue, but that you actually manufactured one by over-thinking and even ruminating on the issue too much-- it's as if one worries about a specific issue then worries about worrying, then worries about worrying about worrying, and before long, one is worrying about worrying, about worrying, about worrying, about worrying and then worries more about worrying and the actual worry issue one was worrying about eye contact. Does that make sense. Hopefully not-- it is one avenue to manufacturing issues that aren't real but that one creates.

Eye contact creates anxiety for most, very slight anxieties that quickly disappear once a slight shift has been made, It seems that instead of making this shift to simply not looking, you've opted to ruminate about the not looking and that grew to worrying about how this might affect others and so this now became an issue about how looking resulted in some anxiety and thinking about bringing anxiety to others created another anxiety for you--- and before long, you had built an entire wall of worry. In a word, you're caught in a Gordian knot that almost reads like the writings of RD Laing:

knots

they are playing a game. they are playing at not

playing a game. if i show them i see they are, i

shall break the rules and they will punish me.

i must play their game, of not seeing i see the game.

they are not having fun.

i cant have fun if they dont.

if i get them to have fun, then i can have fun with them.

getting them to have fun is not fun. it is hard work.

i might get fun out of finding out why they're not.

im not supposed to get fun out of working out why

they're not.

but there is even some fun in pretending to them i'm not

having fun finding out why they're not.

a little girl comes along and says: let's have fun.

but having fun is a waste of time, because it doesnt

help to figure out why they're not having fun.

how dare you have fun...................!

The problem grows worse from here. NYC is pretty populated and people walk one path and other in the same direction. I know that we are supposed to not notice anyone but this lead to me noticing everyone. So the subway has become an anxiety spot along with walkways. You see if I find more things to tell myself that I shouldn't do and I do them compulsively because I feel that I have no control of them. Unlike an OCD case where threats aren't real, other people really feel anxiety if they are taken into perspective. I've also realized that a feeling of anxiety is linked by my brain to my lack of ability to control my eyes and where they look. You see now I just look at random places throughout the room even though I want to only look at the keyboard and the screen only because it annoys me and it feels like I have no control. Thank you for any reply.

Hello, I'm curious what you think about what's written here. How does it feel to you? Does it fit? If it does, we have something to work with. If it doesn't, we'll look at the issue a little bit more. My sense is that you may need to retrain yourself and also learn some stress reduction and relaxation techniques to reduce the anxiety. I also was going to ask if you used the sunglasses we spoke of and if you buy a morning paper or take a book in the subway.

One final thought, as I stated before, this is all rather unusual and I'm wondering if what you're describing might not be a symptom of something larger since your reactions to this issue are fairly high and strong. Is there anything else you can tell us that might help?

Good luck and i hope this helps,

David

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you're right about the worrying. I worry that I'm worrying and I guess this would lead to me worrying about worrying about worrying. So how would I untie this knot? I try to tell myself that I'm doing it but it never helps. I want to stop, tell myself that it's irrational but it doesn't help. I try to forget but when I try to forget then I worry about remembering again. Again I have no control of any of the the worrying.

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Hi hello9,

You've asked the magic question, so let's hope we have the magic bullet (kidding). Worrying is actually a good thing, especially if it compels you to take action and problem solve an issue. However, at it's extremes, it can be paralyzing, which is where you seem to be headed. Here are some steps to take:

  1. You should worry more, in fact, you should worry much more, more intensely and without stopping-- BUT, you should do so in a controlled manner. The first thing to do id to establish a “worry period”- preferably in the afternoon long before bedtime (or any time where you have an hour to devote to this important activity) so that it does not disrupts your sleep. It should be done daily, at the same time and in the same location-- don't deviate.
  2. In your 1st worry period, write down all of your worry thoughts, everything you worry about, why you worry about it, and then write down why it's important to worry. This is when you give yourself permission to worry-- the rest of the day, however, is a worry-free zone.
  3. If you get into a situation where you begin to worry, tell yourself that you'll be home soon and that you'll be devoting an hour to worrying about this issue.
  4. When your worry period begins, go over every worrisome issue that came up-- delve into each one with fervor and energy. Go over each issue 5-10 times, from every angle and insist that it's important to worry about this b/c after all, you've been worrying about it and therefore it merits worrying time. If you find that over time your worrying less during your worry period, intensify your effort to worry more, be sure and fill up the worry time with worrying activities connected directly to the real issue (eye contact).
  5. After a week of intense worrying, begin writing down all of the negative thoughts that precede your worrying. I worry about ____________ because of ________________. Look at each sentence carefully during your worry period and ask yourself: Now, John, is this really an issue or something to worry about?" Treat the worrying issue as if it is a fact and then develop the absolute worse case scenario for what would happen if you didn't worry about that issue (I will die, I won't be able to walk, my family will abandon me, ....). These sound silly, but I've heard incredible rationales for why people worry about things. To further stop worrying, begin asking yourself during your worry period: a) What proof do I have that these worry thots are true and real? Is there another way to see this, a more reality based way? What's the probability that my worry issue will actually cause something to happen? How does worrying about eye contact help me have less of an issue with it-- in fact, how bad is it to have some eye contact or to have none? If my best friend Sam had this problem, what would be my most solid advice to him?

I think we've touched on the initial steps to challenge your worrying. I apologize if my tongue in cheek approach made light of your issue--- that was actually my intent, to have you eventually look at your worry as a manufactured concern with no basis. It's amazing what laughing at one's self can do for healing.

Good luck and I hope this helps,

David

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Well they're actually not working to well. I tried the above but I still worry compulsively although I can control my worrying for a while but it still leaves the problem there. My eye and brain are both heavily stimulated by things that annoy me. Now to come to think of it, I'll get stimulated just to annoy myself. I find something personally annoying my brain will record it as a stimulus and try to annoy the crap out of me.

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Well they're actually not working to well. Hello, how long did you do the exerecies for: 1 week, 2 weeks, a month, or longer? This will take several weeks at times, depending on how deeply entrenched your fears are. I tried the above but I still worry compulsively although I can control my worrying for a while but it still leaves the problem there. Since the recommendation was made less than 3 days ago, you may need to give this time. If you'll do the exercise for at least 20-30 days/nights, we could begin to see some change. My eye and brain are both heavily stimulated by things that annoy me. Now to come to think of it, I'll get stimulated just to annoy myself. I find something personally annoying my brain will record it as a stimulus and try to annoy the crap out of me. This is part of the entire process, as i said earlier, this is a step by step process that will take a few weeks at the least. Be patient and soon you may begin to see changes.

Good luck

Edited by David O
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  • 2 weeks later...

okay I've cut down my worry severely and came home and written those things down. you see the thing is the things I right down aren't like stupid or something I should take back. my worries I feel are actually real and people still react to them and when people react I can block out worrying till I get home (giving migraines) but it hasn't solved much other than me worrying a lot. do you have any other suggestions? thanks.

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