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How can I stop beating myself up after a social event?

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Hi Mark,

I have looked over the list of downloads for social anxiety and cannot seem to find one that meets my needs specifically. My problem is not in meeting or talking to people but, rather, afterwards.

A few hours after a social situation I start feeling embarrassed over things I said or should have said, no matter how banal they are. Apparently, this criticism seems to be only in my own head because no one has ever commented negatively about my conversations. In fact, I know the friends and people in my community apparently like and respect me and consider me a friend.

After a recent dinner invitation with a couple, I did this same routine even though we never discussed anything even controversial. They have even invited me back for another dinner and evening with them.

This problem, I believe, is a result of being at parties and social gatherings with my parents, as an adult. After the event, my mother would criticize things I said, again even though no one else seemed to notice anything. I could never understand why she did this or how what I said could have been so embarrassing to her.

These same people would often invite me to gatherings again both with and without my parents.

Are there any downloads that would help me stop the negative criticism in my head after a social encounter? It is causing me to avoid social situations because I cannot deal with the negative self-talk after.

Thanks so much for any help you can offer.

This question was submitted by 'Sharon'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hi Sharon and thank you for writing in.

This kind of retrospective cringing at oneself after the event is probably more common than many people realize. Often, it happens the day after we were quite drunk in a situation and experience memories of stuff we said or did the night before with embarrassment.

But retrospective embarrassment/shame can, as you point out, become habitual and not be related to anything specific that you said or did. Although, if we look hard enough, we can always find something to feel bad about. It's as if the feeling needs to find something to attach to, even though the rational mind knows that the anxiety/embarrassment/shame isn't really warranted.

You can quite clearly see the way your mother conditioned you to adopt her emotional perspective when retrospectively viewing your conversation/behaviour in these social situations. So, really, it's your mother's 'voice' that is determining these feelings.

It's always problematic when people view social encounters as a 'performance' rather than as a chance to enjoy and relax.

I would like you to start making a point of retrospectively enjoying social times. Sit down the next day and focus on times you laughed together or were interested in conversation. These times are to be enjoyed during and after the time.

You need to stop listening to your mother (the 'mother' inside) and start listening to yourself. This download should help you do just that.

I hope it sorts things out for you, because you sound like good company. : )

All best wishes,


watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - March 2nd, 2015 in

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