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I feel like my life is a vicious cycle.

For instance...

I have always been very shy and don't trust others easily, and I tend to break off casual friendships with people who let me down. (I have high expectations for my friendships)  But when I see these people around town I feel bad about all of my failed relationships and "burned bridges" and this makes me feel depressed.

I want to go out more and do more things, but my weak social skills often lead to embarassing situtations, and when one of these happen I retreat and don't take risks.  Then when I stop taking risks and go out less, I get depressed about my "boring" life.

To stop feeling shy, I sometimes use "liquid confidence" (alcohol) when I go out, but drinking just makes me feel more depressed the next day. 

I don't know if I'm putting these into words correctly, but what I'm trying to say is that it's very hard to change your life patterns and habits when life always seems to "pull you back" into the same routine.  For example, as a shy person, I've taken the risk of asking people out, but since I'm shy, it doesn't always come out right, and I've been embarassed a few times.  This makes me less likely to take a risk the next time.

I'm wondering how it will be possible to break out of these patterns...I wish I could become confident, friendly, calm...yet when I think of all of the hurtful experiences I've had in the past, I lose all confidence.  I really feel that I need to "break out" and let go of the past, but it's easier said than done.

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I don't really have any advice for you, because I myself feel like I will never get out of the cycle....but I relate to you tons--

To stop feeling shy, I sometimes use "liquid confidence" (alcohol) when I go out, but drinking just makes me feel more depressed the next day.
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Danna,

You describe that whole cycle beautifully. Every failed social experience adds to the false belief that somehow you're just socially defective. I know just how that works.

First thing: Therapy, early and often. It really helps to have an experienced therapist work with you to discover how this cycle comes about and how to start breaking it down.

And it absolutely CAN be done. You are not inherently defective, nor are you stuck this way.

I have always been very shy and don't trust others easily, and I tend to break off casual friendships with people who let me down. (I have high expectations for my friendships)
Lower your expectations and think hard about what you want out of a friendship. There are lots of people in this world who you can go out with and have a good time. There are, if you're lucky, a tiny handful of people who are the kinds of friends you feel a special bond with and would lay down your life for (and vice versa). Do not sabotage yourself by expecting that level of bonding from most people. People blunder, say stupid things, don't follow through on commitments, don't measure up to our personal standards. But, Danna, that's not about you, it's just human nature. It has nothing to do with personal rejection, and everything to do with most people having too much to do, too many priorities, too many obligations, jobs, family, organizations, friends, etc. all wanting a piece of them.

I want to go out more and do more things, but my weak social skills often lead to embarassing situtations, and when one of these happen I retreat and don't take risks.

Many people are not social and confident by nature. I certainly am not. I learned how to behave in social situations by watching and copying socially successful people. It feels weird and awkward at first, but becomes more natural as you go along. All I wanted was to be able to be in a group of people and not want to run and hide. But what I found was the ability to make friends. You may not realize it at this point, but shyness and social hesitation often come off to others as coldness and aloofness. I've been called a bitch when actually I was just scared and inept.

The thing to remember here is that being social can be a learned skill. It doesn't have to be an innate ability.

That core of shyness has always remained with me. But now I am not imprisoned by it (well, most of the time. ha!).

Greeny

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