I'm a very shy guy in his 30s. I'm literally scared of social situations, worried that I'll act strange with others. Somehow it always comes true: although I try to smile and remain calm and force eye contact, I notice a change in people's attitude towards me over time. When we first meet they are warm only to realise that I don't joke, don't make meaningful responses/conversation, perhaps look too serious (in an effort not to show my fears and internal tension)... and then they become less and less relaxed with me too, or so it seems. No close friends at all! I sometimes keep talking and talking, saying what does not make much sense just because I feel worse keeping quiet and looking the other person in the eyes... My eyes keep moving from here to there rather than on the person and I know they keep wondering: what's he even looking at... It all appears lonely and very very sad. Limits me a lot as I keep thinking about myself in lectures and work, and angry/sad in my private time. Zero self confidence... Things just keep getting worse and worse... Some may think I'm just stupid, others that I'm a snub, etc it's all confusing and annoying and 😢
Please suggest tips overcome social anxiet... - Anxiety Support
Please suggest tips overcome social anxiety... Anyone with similar stories?
Hi MorganRice. I have felt and still do feel exactly the way you do.
I have the same thoughts about what people must be thinking about me. It was this way for me more during my school yrs, but the affect of the situations, have lead up to how I am now.
I still try to make up for my anxiety around others by putting on a facade, a fake appearance.
I have no self-confidence. I think I've been this way for so long and have had to "compensate" for my social anxiety by putting on a very fake version of myself to others. Now I'm someone I don't like very much because I've had to change the way I had been.
I felt I had to be fake because the person I had been before had no self-esteem, was awkward around people and always wondered what others were thinking about me, etc.
I can relate especially to feeling that people were more accepting of me in the beginning, then as time went on, they didn't think the same way about me. And that people had thought I was "snubbing" them, too; I wasn't. I was just trying to be accepted. I hadn't been secure with myself and was just trying to find out who I was, especially in my school yrs. I guess that came across the wrong way to others.
People would befriend me, then when they were with me more, they thought I was being bitchy. No!
It is hard to go through, I know. It is hard to keep asking myself, what can I do to just make everything okay? To be real and not have to find some other way to pretend to be okay.
If you would like to private msg me, you can. I really can relate to your situation.
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I struggled with social anxiety and it sucked. My mind just switched one second and I was terrified of everyone including people I knew really well. Therapy helps but honestly you just have to force yourself to go be with people. I forced myself to do that every single day even though it was uncomfortable but it goes away. Face your fear its the true enemy not people.
I have certainly suffered from social anxiety all my life and got round it by treating everything as “business”, and that might work for you. In fact, I rarely socialised at work and, when I had been off ill for several months prior to my retirement, I didn't want to return for a retirement party as I felt uncomfortable doing so. But I was persuaded and, in the event, the room was packed! One of my colleagues flew back from a job in Russia, 3 had travelled hundreds of miles, and several whom I had not seen for years took the trouble to come; one told me he had only stayed in the job because of me, and another that I had helped him fit into his new role even though I had no idea I was doing that. If you're shy and lack confidence, you often don't appreciate that other people actually value you more than imagine!
There is a lot of peer pressure to conform and join in, even when you feel uncomfortable doing so; it’s probably best to involve yourself gradually, by being late or leaving early. The most important thing is not to try too hard - it’s too stressful and counter-productive, and people see through it. Everyone has something to offer in life and, as the old adage goes: "Be yourself - everyone else has already been taken!”
Thanks for this!
My best advice is to get others talking about themselves. I usually throw out a convo starter by asking how their day was. Most people love to talk about themselves and that's many times all that's needed to get the pressure and attention off you.That being said, I too wrestle with social anxiety. 😬
I agree Grneyeswanderer, once I learned that little tip, my anxiety lowered
and I was able to take a breath and just listen. xx
I can really relate to aspects of your post. I remember looking up how to have “normal” eye contact with people in a conversation because I felt (and still feel) so awkward in any social exchange. I’m convinced I’m staring into their eyes too long (or looking away too long). Sometimes, I get so nervous and self conscious when in conversation that I have a hard time even following what the other person is saying, and when it’s my turn to speak, I will stammer and sometimes lose my breath and—and this is the worst part—actually start to cry (tearing up and getting a lump in my throat). When I worked, it got to the point near the end that I could hardly communicate with anyone. Sadly, I’m even like this around my family. But I’m trying to push myself to get better through exposure. For the last 6+ months I’ve been going to in person 12 Step meeting. Although I don’t ordinarily volunteer to share, there have been a few times when I’ve actually done it. I even read something called “How It Works” in front of the group on Friday (a huge deal for me). Through the program, I’m working with a sponsor and we meet once a week. He knows Al about my mental health issues and he’s very patient. I also meet with a peer person from NAMI and we go to coffee on Fridays where I basically practice having conversation with him. All of this is adding up to small accomplishments, so I’m starting to feel better about myself. Again, I’m no great orator or conversationalist, but it’s progress not perfection as they say.
I watched a fantastic video recently but unfortunately I can't find it now. I will share it here if I can find it later but for now check out the spotlight effect on Google.
If you are acting strange then it's only because you are so worried about it you're making it happen. Do you apologise for things you've said as you talk? Do you try to explain yourself to people too much? I used to do this a lot and that itself brings attention to you.
Since I've got better, I really do care a lot less about what people think of me. I don't apologise for myself or explain myself so much. At work, in particular, I am now far more popular and don't ever feel like the odd ball any more. I actually feel kinda alpha these days. Maybe I'm not, but who cares? I feel better!
Unless you're really doing something to make yourself look ridiculous, which I'm sure you're not, then you have to realise that people don't actually take as much notice of you as you think, or as you do if yourself.
Consider the last time you went out for the day. How many people did you encounter? Hundreds? Thousands? ... How many do you actually remember? How many stand out in your thoughts? Unless you interacted on a personal level, probably very few. And guess what? They didn't notice you much either. That sounds awful but that's the truth, and it's better than being paranoid about everyone looking at you. Even the most embarrassing things you've ever done have probably been forgotten about by most people, if not all.
People have short memories. If you go out today and don't worry about what they all think, their attitudes, at least your depiction of their attitudes, will change. There are people at work that I never used to interact with that are now 'friends', because I actually don't care how I look to them. There are people I never ever talked to, but now I do. I don't go out of my way to be arrogant or offensive, but I don't go out of my way to not look strange either, I just get on with it, and if I do have that feeling or urge to explain myself, I've learned to let it go and stop myself, and simply carry on with the moment. Usually with a laugh. It was hard at first, but now it's simply habitual and feels... Empowering. (Haha I never thought if ever use that word but it kinda fits!)
Bit of a ramble, but hope it helps!
Thanks. It really helps. How long did it take you to get here?