The grass roots nature of 12 step programs

There are countless ways that support groups are easily created and promoted on the Internet or in a face to face setting. The old “How To Start a Support Group” article was very helpful in this regard and many people have copies of this. (And since all of the Social Phobics Anonymous literature has always been 100 percent free, that means anyone can post, or share such copies).

Now there are now so many ways to start support groups to be found online (for example. on Facebook or through meetups, both of which only take minutes to establish online) that starting a new support group has become a very easy matter.

I used to own the old website and telephone conference call account, but my social anxiety became overwhelming and I could no longer do it. I told and posted to everyone on the website as well that the old conference service (owned by me) was closed and something else would be started soon (I had hoped that set some boundaries in the groups that might make my phobia easier for me to handle) But then my social phobia got even worse. In the following year and a half, I have not been able to work at all, and so I really got very paralyzed and stuck in many ways. This made it hard for me to do any work that involved me facing my own social phobia. I just started avoiding anything that involved facing social phobia or social anxiety and recovering from it; I sincerely regret this, but I had struggled with social phobia on and off for many years previously.

I had made progress but then really started to backslide, my phobias popping up in specific areas of my life and later getting more generalized. During this time (from when I closed the groups that I personally had offered on my website and in my conference group accounts) I had no contact with anyone, anywhere related to the groups except for two conversations with friends in the summer or spring of 2013. So I wasn’t with one group while blocking another (as I think I may have seen indirectly suggested on the Internet) I was not with any groups or anyone, but instead was quite isolated.

Any way, my story aside for a moment– this however raises an important question for Social Anxiety Anonymous (one that actually has long-already been addressed) which is what can be done when one person playing a service role loses interest and leaves (for any reason)?

The answer is a very old one, and it comes from the original 12 Step program, Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.).

And by the way, it is also the simple and tried and true suggestion made by A.A. when conflicts or disagreements arise within groups (simply put when there is disagreement or discontent about how a group should be run). If the problem seems to become intractable, and no common solution can be reached, A.A. strongly encourages that the unhappy parties simply start a new support group. A.A. points out that this solution–

1) gives everyone space, instead of miring the support group in endless, distracting conflict,

2) gives the person or persons (perceived, rightly or wrongly) of “needing the most recovery” space to work on their recovery until they finally “get it”.

And 3) helps the 12 Step cause by growing the effort (since the ‘work-around’ solution makes new groups which equals growth for the 12 Step program anyway).

Anyway in the old groups, before the website was abandoned, that old, traditional, A.A. solution is what was always suggested (in Social Phobics Anonymous) as the best recourse to any unresolved disputes or conflicts and also any cases where a slip back into social phobia (also known as relapse) or just a personal change in commitments or interest, might result in a shortfall in volunteer service.

Instead of waging campaigns against the party who might not be holding up (either in reality or due to skewed perceptions due to “political fever”), which are likely to just make the disagreed with person’s Social Phobia worse anyway–

The best solution has always been described in our groups (as taken from A.A.)– to encourage dissatisfied people to just start their own support groups (which now, due to advances in technology, only takes minutes) and then run them how they like, which is empowering anyway, as well as freeing everyone from distracting disagreements.

By the way, regarding old conflicts or disputes we respectfully encourage all sides to just let them go. We believe in focusing on the future and not the past.

Also, for several years this automatic email reply message has been active on our email services (one outgoing message did stop working after about a year of being unattended– hotmail does that sooner than gmail, I think, don’t quote me).

Anyway, this automatic email reply message for Social Anxiety Anonymous / Social Phobics Anonymous says the following about how can star their own support group at any time without restriction, These messages have been going out to anyone emailing us long after the main website went down.

Here the is part of the automated email reply message for Social Anxiety Anonymous / Social Phobics Anonymous (still working to this day).

The email addresses for Social Anxiety Anonymous are listed in various places on the Internet and have also been widely shared.

It still gives out this message about starting support groups (explaining that anyone can start a Social Anxiety Anonymous / Social Phobics Anonymous support group, no special requirements, other than local groups following Social Anxiety Anonymous / Social Phobics Anonymous general policies):

A VOLUNTEER WILL GET BACK TO YOU BASED ON AVAILABLE TIME: This will
depend on the availability of volunteers & also the nature of social anxiety disorder which we suffer from. Consequently sometimes this email service goes uncovered for long periods of time so we can’t guarantee a response. Social Anxiety Anonymous is a nonprofessional collection of volunteers often struggling with the unpredictability of their own social anxiety issues & so can’t guarantee sponsorship or personal contact with anyone. Therefore any service provided does not imply any further service owed. Nor can Social Anxiety Anonymous guarantee any other kind of service. Neither is formation of local or telephone support groups our responsibility, although Social Anxiety Anonymous reserves the right to only lend it’s name to groups that agree to follow it’s program of recovery, policies & codes.

The other publicly listed  email service said almost exactly the same thing (I am pretty sure). That automated message was wiped because the answering service wasn’t checked for over a  year after the web site was abandoned due to no volunteers for that and the olast person having increased problems with social phobia.

**PLEASE NOTE (the following is meant with love and respect): These posts are not to make anyone wrong. Misunderstandings happen all the time and we are not against or in disagreement with anyone,  Very best to all.

Also:

To keep some perspective on the size of Social Anxiety Anonymous, , the three phone groups were never larger than 15 people each and often only about half of that [and also usually the same regulars in each group]

The reality is, many people who have social phobias have an extremely hard time attending live (telephone or face to face) support groups. So it has always been an extremely small organization. Not that it isn’t a great idea and not that it can’t help people (it is and it has)–

Please note: Although Social Anxiety Anonymous makes no public affiliations, there are many truly wonderful, valuable and worthwhile written sources of self-help (or famous self-help leaders) in both the commercial and / or more publicized non-profit sector and we never mean to discourage anyone from availing themselves of such helping resources in their personal lives.

 

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