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Old 02-19-2013, 08:02 PM   #16
Honeymooner04
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I too can sympathize with you as I have always been the shy one of the group. I honestly noticed the biggest change when I started my current job, I began mimicking (not in a creepy stalker way) how the coworkers I admire act and I have seen some great improvement. Just watching how successful people handle social situations has been incredibly helpful. I am by no means a social butterfly but I have gotten much better!

Best of luck to you!
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:59 PM   #17
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Baby steps. Try each day to seek out and speak to one person. Only one. If you talk to more that's a bonus.

I forced myself to start saying yes to invitations a few years ago. I was going strong for about 7 years. Just now I am thinking of going back in my cave. I did make a best friend along the way.
I prefer to be alone so I get not wanting to talk.
My kids wouldn't buy that though they say I talk to everyone now. Which I suppose I do. So I suppose I prefer talking with strangers(explains my dissing)

A simple one is compliment someone on something. I like your whatever can make someone's day.

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Old 02-19-2013, 09:12 PM   #18
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Sorry, but DB is not a keeper if he's trying to change you! Do a bit of research on introversion ... introverts find interaction deenergizing, whereas extroverts gather energy from other people. There is nothing wrong with you; it's an innate personality trait that you cannot "fix. (If you're really interested, I'd suggest an MBTI assessment test to learn more about your type.)

That said, you could be dealing with some anxiety issues that are problematic, if your shyness makes ALL interaction painful. Connecting with people is vital to your well-being.

Speaking from experience here ... I spent years drinking too much just so I could open up. Once someone explained the nature of the introvert to me, I accepted it, everything made sense, and now I only socialize in situations where I have common interests with people. I got lucky and found another introvert and I've never been happier. We allow each other plenty of space and respect the other's need for quiet time.

You are perfect just the way you are.
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:46 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by MissMichigan View Post
SO...what do I do? How can I overcome 20+ years of being painfully shy and cripplingly anti-social? How do I get over the fear of interacting with people? How do I stop caring what other people think of me enough to be myself no matter what? I've been trying to take baby steps the last few days, things like talking to a cashier, being more involved when we went to his friends house (who said he noticed me being more social and was impressed), and making a plan to hang out with two of our friends on my own. I know this won't happen overnight, but I'm just hoping someone on here can tell me they've been there, and were able to get over it. Any advice, help, pointers, or direction to a good blog/article/book, would be greatly appreciated. TIA.
Things that worked for me:
Therapy. (it's just good sense to have a professional to help you with a mental issue, isn't it? )
Medication - very low dose (made me feel more relaxed in social situations and once I was "better" I didn't need it anymore.)
Vacation - I went someplace where I didn't know people so I didn't have that mental conversation "OH GOD WHAT IF XXXXX FINDS OUT I SAID SOMETHING STUPID!!!")

I'd also recommend looking into classes/clubs that do things you are interested in. A support group (or groups) might be helpful to you as well. You'll find it a lot easier to teach yourself to mingle when you already have a an obvious talking point. You'll also feel more confident and secure without needing your bf there to support you. And you might make new friends!

While I agree with a previous poster that you are likely introverted, all that mental conversation you have with yourself to the point that you do not act for free of how others perceive you isn't normal and isn't an existence you should settle for. I took Public Speaking in college which is similar to the Toastmaster thing and I didn't get much out of it until I was coping better with my social anxiety. (I actually signed up for it twice and withdrew before the first speech the first time - I was too nervous to do it even though EVERYONE had to do the same thing.)

It does get better. Every little step you take to improve yourself is an accomplishment you should be proud of.
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:15 PM   #20
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My mother suffered from the problem of being too quiet and giving the impression she was stuck up and unfriendly. I also had a friend who suffered similarly. It matters not because you need to be like everyone else, but rather because people need to have connections to others to survive and thrive. It also matters because though you might not care if someone thought you were quiet but nice, you don't want to leave the impression that you think you are stuck up and too good to talk to others. That's just creating the impression you fear.

My mother opened up more as she aged, and had an easier time of it. However, it did cause some problems for her as my dad was an extrovert and he didn't understand her, and others used to ask him what her problem was.

Though some suffer more than others, I think many people have anxiety when talking to people they don't know.

I have found that most people like when you take an interest in them. A simple compliment such as you like someone's hair style, or piece of clothing, or a comment that can only show you in a good light, but will also make someone else feel good about themselves at the same time will go a long way. Something equally effective, yet benign, would be to comment on a shared experience, like the temperature in the banquet room or the weather or traffic getting to the party.

Good luck. I know this is difficult, but you should do it for you, because it will enhance your life to be more connected to people and to be more at ease in social environments, not because your DBF wants you to.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:03 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agri View Post
Things that worked for me:
Therapy. (it's just good sense to have a professional to help you with a mental issue, isn't it? )
Medication - very low dose (made me feel more relaxed in social situations and once I was "better" I didn't need it anymore.)
Vacation - I went someplace where I didn't know people so I didn't have that mental conversation "OH GOD WHAT IF XXXXX FINDS OUT I SAID SOMETHING STUPID!!!")
Just out of curiosity, what medication did you take? Also, did you have to take it every day or only as needed? I'm completely inept socially and have tried practically everything - except medication and therapy. Therapy because of the obvious - I don't like interacting with people. And I do tend to self-medicate with alcohol or xanax but neither really helps. They do make me more relaxed but they don't help with the other issues and probably make things worse.

I've gotten to the point where I've resigned myself to the fact that this is just the way it is for me. I'm actually much happier now that I'm not constantly trying to be someone I'm not; however I'm afraid when the kids move out I'm going to be very lonely and this situation will no longer be acceptable.
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Are two-year-olds too young to go to Disney? It depends upon their temperament. One way to find out: take them there. After all, they're only young for a short time. You're sure to enjoy your trip if you plan ahead! AND - don't forget those all-important dining reservations; they fill up so fast it's ridiculous. Have I forgotten anything? Oh yes - I'd advise you to carry a small purse or bag for loose items so you don't lose them on rides. You'll have a great vacation if you follow my advice!
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:01 AM   #22
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I used to be very non-social and would cower in a corner back in High School. A teacher once told me that I was being selfish, that I was keeping myself to to myself and not sharing. Although now I don't totally agree with her, I can say it is a lot more fun to be outgoing and I can tell you this: IT GETS EASIER.

I had to break out of my shell and now I am the most outgoing person I know. My mother tells people I can make friends in an empty room. How is that for a compliment?

Start slowly. I wouldn't start with a cashier, because you're going to think, what if I see her again? Start with strangers, people you will never see again.

Example: at a coffee shop or donut shop just say hello to the person in front or behind you in line. Say something like, "oh, I haven't had the (insert donut they have in their hand here), do you find them too sweet? I can't decide." When they say, that is their favorite, thank them. And that is it, order your donut and move on. Just being able to talk to a stranger WILL make you better at conversation and will get you more social.

Try to talk to three strangers a day and see how it goes. Then move on to people you might see again, like the cashiers and ticket-takers, or anyone you might run into daily.

Start slow.

Then, when you are at the next social event with your darling boyfriend, you will feel awkward and shy, but less so, I promise you. Talk to the one or two people you know. Say, hey, I tried this donut the other day, it was FAR too sweet but I loved it, have you had the new cruellers at Don's Donuts? Ask questions so that others talk to you, that is the trick.
You and I sound just alike!! I used to never talk to people, and it took me a good 6-7 months before I would even hold a conversation at my job! I have been here 13 years now, and I remember breaking out of my shell after a meeting. I remember sitting in the meeting, not speaking up and kind of staying to myself. The chairperson had me stay after the meeting and had a talk with me to basically say speak up. Now, I work with engineers, do project management and am completely unsensored and can start a conversation with a brick wall!!!!
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:51 AM   #23
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Just looking for general advice, "this is what I did" type of stuff.

I'm not a very social person. I really, truly want to be but it's very hard for me. I can text or write for days, but when it comes to actually talking to someone, I just can't do it. It's almost a panic type thing. I'm so worried i'll say something stupid or that people won't like me once I really open up and show them who I really am. Until recently, I've just accepted it as part of who I am and dealt with it. I'd accepted that I would always be the quiet girl in the corner watching everyone talk and have fun, not participating.

But then last week, my DB told me it needs to stop. Apparently, people are always asking him what's wrong with me, why don't I talk, why don't I like them, etc. It embarrasses him, and he's getting fed up. He's told me if I can't learn to talk to people and be more social, he's going to have to end things. I am very much in love with him, and having this conversation was a wake up call for me. I know this part of me needs to change, and now I have extreme motivation to make it. (And before anyone starts bashing him or saying I should just leave him if he can't accept me, etc, I WANT this to change, I HATE this about myself. This isn't just being shy or quiet, it's major. He knows I'll be happier if I can work through this, and he wants that happiness for both of us. He said he hated to tell me it was that big of a problem, because he loves me so much, and think i'm "the most awesome person he's ever known, and just wants everyone else to know that too")

SO...what do I do? How can I overcome 20+ years of being painfully shy and cripplingly anti-social? How do I get over the fear of interacting with people? How do I stop caring what other people think of me enough to be myself no matter what? I've been trying to take baby steps the last few days, things like talking to a cashier, being more involved when we went to his friends house (who said he noticed me being more social and was impressed), and making a plan to hang out with two of our friends on my own. I know this won't happen overnight, but I'm just hoping someone on here can tell me they've been there, and were able to get over it. Any advice, help, pointers, or direction to a good blog/article/book, would be greatly appreciated. TIA.
How is your boyfriend helping you? I had socially awkward husband at first but we had to do social situations. We would practice at home some but I would "feed" him information at parties/gathering/meetings or whatever. I would say A is married to B and they have 3 kids or something like the Jones went to Hawaii last week. We worked on basic questions that starts a conversation like best place someone was stationed or where was the best place you ever vacationed. People will talk about themselves when asked but don't do yes or no questions.

Social chit chat doesn't have to be deep and meaningful especially if you don't see them often. Do you take any classes or have access to some of the classes on your air force base? This is a great ice breaker to start making conversation with people you have basic things in common like being air force family and at least the area you are in.

There are some great books about conversation starters. Practice on your boyfriend or your family or closest friends. Nothing comes natural if you don't try and practice. For the record there is nothing wrong with being a quiet person but it does become a problem if it is crippling to your thoughts and feelings.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:45 AM   #24
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I was going to suggest Toastmasters as well. But public speaking like that is different than social interaction.

I will say that I think it is very brave of your DBf to come to you and tell you that this is an issue. Maybe he could have done it without the ultimatum, but it shows a lot that he came to you honestly.

As far as suggestions, I think you're doing an AWESOME job. Talking to the cashier and the interactions you described with your friends, sound like great first steps. Keep doing those things. Does it feel forced or awkward right now? I'm sure it does. Will it always feel that way? Maybe, but probably not. Do you feel awkward talking to your DBf?
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:50 AM   #25
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I think the personal growth you are striving for is great, but please keep in mind it is OK to be introverted. Not everyone enjoys being a social butterfly. 'Quiet' by Susan Cain is a good read about introverts.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:00 AM   #26
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I also suffer horribly from social anxiety. I do so much better now that I take a low dose (10mg) of fluoxetine (generic prozac). I tried everything before I tried the medication, but nothing else seemed to work for me.

I still don't like going to parties, or getting together in large groups, but it doesn't terrify me like it used to. My strategy for making small talk is to figure out what interests the other person, then ask them question about that - for example, do they have kids?, did they just return from vacation?, do they have pets they are crazy about?, do they have an interesting job? It is so much easier to make conversation when you can get someone else talking about something that interests them. That way you learn about that person, they feel good that you are interested in them, and it makes it so much easier to talk to them the next time you see them because you already know something about them.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:02 AM   #27
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I could have just about written your post. I was very outgoing as a child, up until about 6th grade. Then some incidents in middle school absolutely trashed my self-esteem, and changed the way I communicated from that point on. I am now VERY uncomfortable around people that I am not super close to.

For a while it didn't really affect me, I was busy meeting my husband, getting married, having babies, etc. Now that my kids are a bit older (I mean, they are only 8,5, and 1 but the older two are getting into their own things) I find myself in more situations where I need to be social...dealing with other parents, friends, people in the various activities they participate in. Plus my husband and I started doing community theater again and are constantly around VERY outgoing people.

So I finally faced my issues head-on after a disastrous cast party where I pretty much shut down and left. I tried therapy, it didn't really help. I am now on a generic version of Zoloft, and am finally noticing a bit of a difference. I am glad I tried it.

May want to be something you consider trying. Good luck!
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:36 AM   #28
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I think the personal growth you are striving for is great, but please keep in mind it is OK to be introverted. Not everyone enjoys being a social butterfly. 'Quiet' by Susan Cain is a good read about introverts.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:48 AM   #29
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But there is a world of difference between being introverted and having social anxiety.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:49 AM   #30
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Just out of curiosity, what medication did you take? Also, did you have to take it every day or only as needed? I'm completely inept socially and have tried practically everything - except medication and therapy. Therapy because of the obvious - I don't like interacting with people. And I do tend to self-medicate with alcohol or xanax but neither really helps. They do make me more relaxed but they don't help with the other issues and probably make things worse.

I've gotten to the point where I've resigned myself to the fact that this is just the way it is for me. I'm actually much happier now that I'm not constantly trying to be someone I'm not; however I'm afraid when the kids move out I'm going to be very lonely and this situation will no longer be acceptable.
Paxil. I took it everyday since you're supposed to with drugs in that class - they build up in your system for a week or so before you feel the full effect. It honestly changed my life. There are lots of other medications out there and while Paxil is an anti-depressant, it's also for social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder.

I personally have found Xanax and similar drugs ineffective as they just sort of continue the cycle. In practice, I didn't find it any different than coping with alcohol or anything else because I knew if I freaked out I could just pop a pill and it'd go away. It's fine for start of treatment when you have acute panic attacks, but until I tried something else it was just another form of a bartender or bottle.

I need to make it clear that while I still *felt* the anxiety, the medication helped control it to the extent that it no longer felt insurmountable when it happened. It gave me a better sense of control over my feelings and reactions so I was able to develop coping strategies to the point I no longer needed it. I was on it for about a year.

Paxil worked wonders for me, but it was not the first medication I tried. What worked for me and what works for other people would be very different as we're all different people made differently. I would also not recommend being on medication without seeing a therapist. It is also a bit of trial and error involved with finding the right match, but having someone who is impartial and whose job is to get you well is an amazing tool to have.

I also want to add that I think it's great you want to work on this now rather than later. My mom pretty much just had me as her social interaction (outside of work) growing up and it's fine when you're young, but even though she didn't mean it, once I was in my teens our relationship felt a bit strained because of that. I know at one point I told her (nicely) that she needed to find someone her own age to go do stuff with. She liked to dance when she was young, so she joined a class for adults and would frequently go to paint classes with a neighbor. Once that started, our relationship was much better because I no longer felt pressured to spend time with her.

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But there is a world of difference between being introverted and having social anxiety.
YES. THANK YOU. YES. YES. YES.

An introvert prefers solitary activity, but doesn't avoid social contact out of FEAR.

Last edited by Agri; 02-20-2013 at 11:04 AM.
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