I have always been tough on myself. I create almost impossible standards for myself and then damn myself incessantly when I don’t measure up. I take every random comment from those I care about as an insult or slight if there is even the shadow of a hint I don’t measure up to expectations. I never feel I meet expectations and it’s because I never believe I measure up. This is crazy thinking and leads to crazy-making behavior. I absolutely must begin to lower standards for myself on the inside if I am ever to achieve less stressful interaction with others. I am my own worse critic therefore I feel criticized. I am judging myself but I project that onto others. While I am aware of this dynamic I find it virtually impossible to control or over come. I shut people out and push people away because I feel inadequate on the inside and I convince myself everyone is belittling or trying to use me. Also, it seems easier to have no relationships at all rather than to be able to set healthy boundaries and assert myself appropriately. I am so stressed by interaction with others on a personal level that it causes me physical symptoms I’d sooner avoid. Then there is the decision as to whether to endure the stress of personal interaction or endure the stress of hurting someone’s feelings because I decline invitations. I agonize over invitations months in advance (and in one case years in advance). These are things I simply don’t want to attend and have to decide whether to attend out of obligation (and risk being resentful at worst or a bundle or nerves at best) or not go at all (and ensure being bad-mouthed at best or hurt someone’s feelings at worst). It can’t be normal to be so stressed about a simple invitation to a social event that, in the over all scheme of things, has absolutely nothing to do with me. It’s because whether I go or not is a clear decision of whether I will meet expectations or not. I know I am expected to go and, in fact, I am simply social phobic. On some level I feel I have to go to anything I am invited to yet I also think the invitation itself is an obligation to extend (it would be a faux pas not to include me on the guest list). Either way I know I will be terribly uncomfortable. I just have to decide which level of discomfort is worst than the other and go with the least. If I go by my new goal of not doing anything unless it’s from the heart then I won’t go. On the other hand I really don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings because I do actually care about people. These things use to not be a problem when I abused alcohol (to get through such occasions). I could get medication for social anxiety but as of now I am trying real hard to over come this without the aid of substances (prescribed or otherwise). It’s not easy being socially awkward and introverted. Based on this quote by Zig Ziglar, I’d be better off making the decision that would cause me the MOST discomfort (which would be not to go). April 2017 D. Webb.