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How do I deal with social anxiety and insecurity about lack of social life


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Old 13th September 2012, 3:16 PM   #1
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How do I deal with social anxiety and insecurity about lack of social life

I have always been a bit reclusive, especially since a year and a half ago when I became single again. I lost most of my social contacts for different reasons and it has been tough going.

I never used to care too much about what people thought of me until someone became fixated on me and my social life, saying all sorts of intrusive things to me and making it very clear that she wanted to know just how many people I talk to, how many friends I have etc. There is a whole thread on that. She doesn't bother me anymore but it has really affected my confidence because she did that when I was at a low point in my life and I really didn't have any friends or social life. Now I am wondering how many other people out there think the same way as her, but are too polite to say anything to me about it. Like they look at me and just decide I'm a loser because I don't go out getting drunk every weekend.

So now I guess it's almost harder to go out there, knowing there are people who could judge me and ask too many questions. I still get out. I go to a class each week, I joined a group, and there's a club that I'm planning to join. I've tried online dating. I sometimes go away on the weekend to visit people. I have hobbies, so it's not like I just sit at home watching TV. In comparison to most people though, I do feel like a hermit since I rarely get together with actual friends as I don't have very many.

The more I try and meet people, the worse I actually feel. It's like to be accepted by people they want to know I have a social life already but I don't really so how do I get one then. I tried hanging out with coworkers. There is now a clique of people my age at work but I am not interested. I tried it and they are just not my type of people. There used to be a group I hung out with and we are still on good terms but we have grown so far apart that I hardly ever see them. I have friends in my hometown who are always glad to see me but they live far away. I dont'want to move cities just to be around people. Sometimes I think about it though.

It makes it hard to open up because I don't trust people to not judge me. And people seem to connect to each other by gossiping about others or talking about what they do with people. My good friends aren't like that at all, so maybe I am just not meeting the right kinds of people then?

I have some anxiety problems so that's a big part of the problem. I didn't make many friends when I was in my early 20s in university but if I had, I think that I would probably have a circle of friends right now. It's like my anxiety has messed up my life big time. I can be really awkward sometimes too. Sometimes I can be funny and fun to be around, other times I am so quiet it makes others uncomfortable.

So what would you do if you were me? I didn't used to think badly of myself for being this way but now it's hard not to care what others probably think.
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Old 14th September 2012, 10:48 AM   #2
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The more you fret about it, the more the social issues you will have and the more awkward your interactions will be.
“You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
The person you described likely had her own confidence/social problems to deal with. Everyone does to some degree- that's why they don't have the mental energy to analyze yours. Sure there are the outliers who thrive on fault-finding, but you don't want to be friends with those people anyway.

Some of the best socializers have the most deep-seeded issues. The most charming and well-spoken person I've ever met, turned out to be a master manipulator. The extroverted girl with the quick wit and thousands of facebook friends... is batsh** crazy, once you get a glimpse of how she is underneath.

Don't worry about yourself. Take a genuine interest in others, be yourself, and let things develop naturally. Continue meeting others and expanding your interests... try to be friendly, polite and positive. Don't be intrusive, but ask questions, maybe ask for advice or help with something. Offer your help to others. Show appreciation, give genuine compliments. Don't break plans. Reach out to others. If they don't seem interested, drop it and move on without taking it personally. The more social interactions you have, the less anxiety you have have and the easier they will become.

Meetup.com is a good place to start.

Good friendships take a long time to form, so don't force them. Think of what traits you want in a friend, and then portray that.
People dwell too much on their negative thoughts and self-criticisms.. they believe changing themselves and "finding" themselves will result in more friends and more happiness. I find the opposite to be true. Take a genuine interest in others, invest time and energy in worthy causes, and you'll be surprised how much it will add to your own happiness.
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Old 14th September 2012, 12:50 PM   #3
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I think you are a naturally introverted person, and that is why you don't feel the strong desire to have a lot of other people in your life, but yet you feel this pressure from others to have a wider social network. I think you should focus on what YOU want and not what others think you should have in your social life. They are free to socialize in the way that they prefer, and you are free to socialize in the way that makes you happy and fulfilled. Don't measure yourself by the number of friends you have, or the ways you prefer to spend your time. Don't allow others to question you or put you down about your more low key social life. Introverts tend to have fewer friends because they tend to prefer more solitary activities and they enjoy their alone time. Being alone or with just one or two close friends is what feels like equilibrium to an introvert. Don't try to fight against your natural instinct to be an introvert. But don't let your natural tendency to hold you back from things that you truly want to do. In other words, don't force yourself to socialize or go to events because you think that is what others expect of you. Go to the things YOU would enjoy and which YOU think will add value to your life. If you have hobbies that you enjoy, then seek out others who share that hobby also, by joining clubs or meetup groups that are focused around that hobby. Scour the internet, the newspaper, etc. for activities/causes that may interest you, and get involved in them. Add things to your life that would interest YOU, and you will find others who have something in common with you. But don't feel like you have to measure up to some standard of what your social life should be based on other people's standards. You should be looking to satisfy a need in yourself, and not to satisfy what others think your social life should be. You also should learn the art of deflecting questions from people that are none of their business, such as questions about your social life that you don't feel comfortable in answering. Lastly, if you are feeling anxiety about social situations in general, you may want to seek help from a therapist on overcoming your social anxiety. Social anxiety is usually based on fear of being scrutinized by others. You need to develop the attitude that it's OK to be an introvert. It's OK to be one of the more quiet members in a social gathering. It's OK to not have a large social network. Right now, you are feeling inadequate because you don't measure up to some standard that others have set. You need to toss that out as invalid and decide for yourself what YOU want in your social life, and what will give YOU the level of interaction that will enhance your life.
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Old 14th September 2012, 7:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemontwist View Post
The more you fret about it, the more the social issues you will have and the more awkward your interactions will be.
“You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
The person you described likely had her own confidence/social problems to deal with. Everyone does to some degree- that's why they don't have the mental energy to analyze yours. Sure there are the outliers who thrive on fault-finding, but you don't want to be friends with those people anyway.

Some of the best socializers have the most deep-seeded issues. The most charming and well-spoken person I've ever met, turned out to be a master manipulator. The extroverted girl with the quick wit and thousands of facebook friends... is batsh** crazy, once you get a glimpse of how she is underneath.

Don't worry about yourself. Take a genuine interest in others, be yourself, and let things develop naturally. Continue meeting others and expanding your interests... try to be friendly, polite and positive. Don't be intrusive, but ask questions, maybe ask for advice or help with something. Offer your help to others. Show appreciation, give genuine compliments. Don't break plans. Reach out to others. If they don't seem interested, drop it and move on without taking it personally. The more social interactions you have, the less anxiety you have have and the easier they will become.
Thank you. That is good advice. I used to believe in that quote, that people were too busy dealing with their own life to bother me or think about mine. Then I discovered that some people do prefer to focus too much on me.

I've been focusing a lot on myself the past couple of years, just getting my head back on straight but I'm ready now to think about other people. I've been doing that with a couple of people and I've noticed a difference.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KathyM View Post
You should be looking to satisfy a need in yourself, and not to satisfy what others think your social life should be. You also should learn the art of deflecting questions from people that are none of their business, such as questions about your social life that you don't feel comfortable in answering. Lastly, if you are feeling anxiety about social situations in general, you may want to seek help from a therapist on overcoming your social anxiety. Social anxiety is usually based on fear of being scrutinized by others. You need to develop the attitude that it's OK to be an introvert. It's OK to be one of the more quiet members in a social gathering. It's OK to not have a large social network. Right now, you are feeling inadequate because you don't measure up to some standard that others have set. You need to toss that out as invalid and decide for yourself what YOU want in your social life, and what will give YOU the level of interaction that will enhance your life.
Yes, I am an introvert. I have been misunderstood by people my whole life. It gets exhausting sometimes.

You are right that I need to learn to avoid questions. Earlier this week, someone asked me something that felt very intrusive. She is someone who just talks that way to everyone because she shares everything about her life with everyone. She normally knows when to stop asking questions, and her question wasn't actually that creepy since it was something I had mentioned to her earlier. I just don't like answering questions about the people I spend time with, and where I go and what I do. It feels too much like being interrogated, like people needing to know what I'm doing all the time.

There is one person I work with who is the same way as me. The same person asked him where he was going during his time off. He just said "somewhere" and left it at that. She got all confused and upset and wanted to know why he wouldn't tell her. LOLOL it was sooo great!

I guess I also feel frustrated sometimes in trying to understand extraverts. I don't understand this need they have to describe all of their social interactions with other people. And then there's the occasional person who will try and "help" me by encouraging me to do the same thing, as if they think I need to be normalized or something. I really don't understand it at all.
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Old 15th September 2012, 1:20 AM   #5
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Actually now that I think of it, the question she asked me WAS intrusive. We aren't exactly on the best of terms anymore, so that makes the question intrusive. I may not have minded so much had someone else asked. Plus this person gossips all the freaking time. I hate that.

I also had to stop going to a coffee shop that I like because the guy working there is always asking me things like how was myw eekend, what am I doing this weekend, what places do I like going to, etc etc. Every damn question he asks me is about what do I do where do I go. Well that is none of your damn business. I am just here to buy a coffee. Congratulations, you just drove away a customer. I haven't been there in several months now.
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Old 15th September 2012, 10:45 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by SpiralOut View Post
I also had to stop going to a coffee shop that I like because the guy working there is always asking me things like how was myw eekend, what am I doing this weekend, what places do I like going to, etc etc. Every damn question he asks me is about what do I do where do I go. Well that is none of your damn business. I am just here to buy a coffee. Congratulations, you just drove away a customer. I haven't been there in several months now.
I wouldn't consider those questions to be intrusive (well, maybe if he asked all of those questions every time I was there- it would be a bit weird). But he was probably just trying to make conversation. I often pose the same questions to co-workers and general acquaintances. I'm not trying to get in the business... I'm just trying to be friendly. They can answer with as many or as few details as they wish... it's just something to get the proverbial ball of conversation rolling.

Examples of questions I would consider intrusive: Asking one's sexual or political preference, job salary, inquiring why someone is single, etc. I don't think it's intrusive to ask if someone is married, has children, or what their hobbies are... however, I consider it rude to ask WHY. And in no way do I consider "How was your weekend? What did you do?" to be intrusive at all.

Reframe your way of thinking- not everyone is collecting information about you, they are trying to get to know who you are.

Also, I agree with what Kathy M stated. Many people are introverted... and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you feel that is who you are, learn to accept that. But by your original post, it sounded as if you were not happy with that and were trying to become more outgoing/extroverted. If so, you need to lighten up and learn how to be a better and more active conversationalist. That includes letting people know your interests and getting to know more about you.
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Old 18th September 2012, 5:33 PM   #7
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I wouldn't consider those questions to be intrusive (well, maybe if he asked all of those questions every time I was there- it would be a bit weird).
He does ask those questions every time I am there. That's why I think it is weird.

Quote:

Examples of questions I would consider intrusive: Asking one's sexual or political preference, job salary, inquiring why someone is single, etc. I don't think it's intrusive to ask if someone is married, has children, or what their hobbies are... however, I consider it rude to ask WHY. And in no way do I consider "How was your weekend? What did you do?" to be intrusive at all.
Yeah, good point. We each have different ideas of what we consider to be intrusive or not. Some people may not mind that question, but I do. For me, it feel too nosy, especially when the same person keeps asking and asking and asking. Different people have different boundaries.

Quote:
Reframe your way of thinking- not everyone is collecting information about you, they are trying to get to know who you are.
I understand that. However, if you ask someone something and you notice that they look uncomfortable and change the subject each time you bring it up, do you think it is kinder to just leave them alone about it or continue to keep asking them?

I think that getting to know someone includes recognizing what makes them feel uncomfortable and knowing when to back off a subject. There are lots of things I can talk about. Hobbies, news, coffee, sports, cooking, books, movies, etc etc. Whenever I'm getting to know someone, I'll bring up different things and watch their reaction.

I know someone who refuses to talk about her hobbies or interests. To me, that is very weird. I don't think that question is intrusive at all. But it bothers her, so I leave her alone about it.

Quote:
Also, I agree with what Kathy M stated. Many people are introverted... and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you feel that is who you are, learn to accept that.
That's what I'm trying to do. Unfortunately it's not as simple as that. Believe me I wish it was!

Last edited by SpiralOut; 18th September 2012 at 5:39 PM..
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Old 19th September 2012, 8:28 PM   #8
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google EFT or the Emotional Freedom Technique. Easy to learn and it's free.
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Nothing will change unless you do.
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