Women’s circle helped improve my anxiety over time in a truly beautiful way. For as long as I can remember I can recall feeling uncomfortable in groups of people.
I’m one of those introvert extroverts (not that I am huge on labels but for understandings sake I am going to use them here); I spent most of my childhood being the wallflower and contracting into my protective and silent shell when I felt scared.
My social anxiety affected friendships, class acceptance and occasionally my grades. I would often know the answer to a question and not have the confidence to raise my hand.
When I see children suffering from social anxiety and shyness I wonder why we don’t have more focus on social skills, loving you and self -esteem tools and healthy communication practice in our early education years?
Sure my social anxiety got better with age and that happened naturally, but I missed out on a lot of life experiences and fun and I wish I had found women’s circle earlier for that reason.
My ten years of experience with women’s circle gradually allowed me to come out of my shell. Some people laugh when I tell them this story because I spent twenty plus years in the entertainment industry and people wonder how I did that with social anxiety.
The thing is when you have feelings like social anxiety you will do anything to avoid the uncomfortable emotions that go with it so you learn how to work around them, you learn how to get around the experiences that you know will trigger you.
I learnt ways to survive the uncomfortable moments while working in the entertainment industry. I avoided most parties and knew how to find buddies at work that got it.
The truth is there are a lot of people who are models, actors and presenters who suffer from similar anxieties. I’m only pointing this out because to many people it is unexpected to think people who chose to be in the limelight are not necessarily full of confidence and self -esteem.
The irony is not lost on me that whilst I was in LA trying to pursue an acting career I found myself unemployed and seeking anything to ease the pain of that circumstance and that balm was a women’s circle which then became my passion and my purpose work.
I was introduced to women’s circle by a fellow actor who knew that I was experiencing a lot of loneliness being so far from home, being out of work and without a good network of solid friends.
Women’s circles came into my life at the perfect moment and as a result I dove in headfirst and learnt lessons fast (this is the way I usually work). Women’s circles taught me how to be with people in a connected way.
They taught me how to actively listen (when I didn’t have a script in front of me), they taught me how to speak comfortably and without editing myself and they taught me to cultivate deeper relationships by utilizing the healthy communication skills I learnt within the circle while I was outside of circle too.
Women’s circles taught me how to love myself again, they taught me how to go easy on myself and how to have fun again. I have laughed until I can’t breath in circle, I have danced until I felt completely at one with the music and I have met women whose stories have moved me and altered my life (without them giving me a single piece of advice just through them sharing) for the better.
My personal anxiety symptoms are directly related to over thinking and being afraid of other people. It’s taken a long time to be able to say that openly and out loud but women’s circles opened my eyes to that.
Women’s circles gifted me with skills to calm my mind with mindfulness and to have healthy self -observations and awareness of negative thinking habits. These are just some of the beautiful bonuses of attending circle.
When people come together in circle with a shared intention to support each other in feeling good, in allowing their full selves to be accepted and heard and there is a sharing of skills and stories that benefit all that is a beautiful thing and also a rare experience in the modern world.
If you suffer from anxiety or social phobia I hope this snippet of my story might inspire you to give women’s circle a go.