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overcoming social phobia


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Hi everybody,

So I'm doing a little better at least at the office. I may be in the process of a promotion, and I've been pushing past my fears of other people and talking with people I'm not familiar with. That seems to be going pretty well. The problem is, my nights are still spent alone. I want to basically a become more extroverted person, and it's starting to work, but I still don't know how to really meet friends. I do some volunteering, and that has been cool, but mostly I just have casual acquaintances with these people and usually don't see the same person more than once. I'm in a writing group, and that helps, too, but still I feel lonely. How do I meet new people that I can actually hang out with? Am I too afraid to really trust people, and that's what's keeping me back? Lately I've been having a sort of crisis of conscious about my therapist. I've told her a lot of shit about my past, and basically our meetings have been focused mainly on that one topic. But does any of this really help with the future? Do I need to push myself into things that my brain is telling me I'm not ready for (e.g. hanging out with people socially), or should I wait until I feel comfortable, which may never come. Will more intensive therapy help me feel more comfortable?

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You can't press the envelope with social phobia; it is persistent, and it waxes and wanes.

You can gradually allow yourSelf disclosure to more Groups of some sort.

Diversify.

It is risk.

It is always risk, but You might be pleasantly surprised -You never know who will connect with You.

How about toastmasters? This is a big one to bite off if You have a fear of public speaking.

Try a New Agey group such as meditation or yoga or taiji or drumming.

Some of these groups are snotty. You will be able to pick up on this in a short time.

So You say You are in a writing club. That is good.

Another special interest group like bird watching or cycling or radio operation or bookreaders club?

A group that You can air your philosophical views or spiritual views opens People to generosity.

Then You can ask a few out for coffee after the meeting.

You can look for a special interest group in your locality on yahoo groups.

There You can get gradual exposure on the email list.

Then People will know You when You go to meet them! (My worst nightmare.)

A holiday package with a small group of People down in Ixtapa resulted in drinks partying and a couple getting engaged.

I witnessed this.

I know social phobia. It manifests in a thousand different ways.

If You have full blown social phobia like I do, then don't beat yourSelf up for it.

It appears to be genetically linked so I have been informed!

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Doing anything new, especially around other people, is always uncomfortable for me at first. Practicing in small ways with people I feel comfortable with helps. I can't do that in one big jump, however. It helps to start small. It sounds like you've been doing that. In addition to the suggestions above, it helps me to ask open ended questions, such as what they do for work. People love to talk about themselves. Ask them how they like their job, what got them started in it, etc. Become an intent listener. Focusing on what someone else is saying helps with the self-conscienceless. Giving them a complement is another good way to start, but it has to be sincere. For instance, I might say, "Oh, that's a beautiful ring. What kind of stone is that?" Often I'll get to hear a story behind the ring, and it makes the other person feel good.

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