You don’t have to reply and write whatever back we can talk about this in our upcoming session on Wednesday. I just feel writing this is a lot clearer than telling you in person as you know I’ve been cloudy and confusing.
But lately I’ve been itching to change and put work to improving myself. I’m just tired and fed up. I don’t have time to waste. I am willing to lose time to fix this problem but I don’t think talking and being aware of this situation or my issues is proactive enough for me. I do understand that being aware of the problem and the issue is the beginning of the solution but I believe I am aware of it. I don’t even mind if I never become fully aware of the issue but do know that I do know what it is and that it is there. I just want to begin to work on the problem and do things about it actively instead of just talking about it. It’s just frustrating. It’s like having a problem but doing nothing but telling me the reasons why I have the problem. I get why I have the problem and I am aware of it. I just want to do the work and start taking risks. I just need to know what it is I need to do. I’m willing to take risks and I’m willing to get rejected and willing to do anything to get it done. I just need you to support me and tell me if I’m doing the right thing and to give me advice too when I do come into obstacles doing this.
I’ve been trying to get out there and go out even when I don’t want to. Pushing myself. And every rejection, bad situation, negative situation or negative comments that happen when I go out that I “believe” are true makes me want to push even harder to fix my issue. I just know the way I work and I work by doing. Talking doesn’t do anything but make me aware. I just need instructions to what to do and I will follow them until I’ve overcome it.
Sorry for this long message and you can read it whenever you have time. The words I have bolded in the file attached are the words I feel strongly are true or true about myself. Here is the entry I found on the web.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
“I’ve become a shell of the person I used to be: open, engaged, social. Okay, so in the past couple of years, stressful things have happened. But, I’m slowly seeing that I’ve just become, well, boring.
I’m not interested in dating. I have no real social life. And, the funny thing is, after a while I no longer seem bothered by that (dating is whatever, can live without and totally normal not to want to, for me, but the social life thing seems so important).I’ve been in therapy, and actually haven’t found it all that useful. I find myself getting into fits and starts of taking walks or doing other forms of do-it-at-home or free exercise. I am variably assertive to very closed off sometimes, and I’ve considered medication, but honest to goodness can’t afford it right now, and am a long-time underemployed person. If I were to take medication, I’d want to make sure I didn’t just get it from a GP or someone who wasn’t really invested in who I am as a person, or at least a good physician or psychiatrist or someone who was a combination psychologist/psychiatrist.
But, beyond previously feeling so desperately lonely, I wonder if I just feel numb. I don’t know if I’m lonely anymore, because I don’t feel like I am. I just feel like I’ve adjusted to not having any friends. I think I just plum don’t trust people anymore, and it’s weird for me, because I’ve always had at least some curiosity in other people, and hanging out. It’s as though I don’t know how to talk to people anymore. I do work, and even there when I talk out loud, because I haven’t really been talking to anybody up to that point, I just end up squeaking something out in this surprisingly tiny voice. After a while, it’s better, but I’m noticing changes happening in me. Like, last week I went to the grocery store, and someone in front of me put a divider in the check-out line, and when I said, “Thank you,” that was the tiniest and squeakiest thing I said all day. I cleared my throat, I think, and said it again, but not talking to people really isn’t good for me. But, I’m also really resistant to talking to people. Like, I avoid emails and phone calls and even text messages. I’m afraid I don’t know how to relate to people anymore.
I’ve lost a lot of friends in the passing years, and I feel ashamed about it, and also don’t know how to be friends with people, or don’t trust myself not to screw it up.
Please don’t ask about family. I consider friends to be family (well, when I was actually interested in friendships).
I freak out before heading to work, mostly just panic about leaving the house, but somehow make it happen. It’s always a little stressful, though. (It’s very odd to see this all written out like this. I had no idea I was feeling this way.)
So, what do you do when you’re the most boring person you know?”
“Eeeek does this sound familiar. I’m not sure that medication, hobbies and volunteer work are going to patch this problem over the long haul. Boredom, like anger, is a fairly surfacey state – it marks the beginning of the bunny trail pointing to a deeper problem, but is not, by itself, the problem. My guess is that within your cocoon of boredom and numbness is a profound anxiety about yourself and your self-worth. That anxiety is making it very difficult for you to develop and sustain relationships with others. Asking us to not probe into family issues is your giant stake in the ground screaming “Dig Here Please.”
This all sounds familiar to me because I’ve been in a lot of therapy, ditched my old boring job, got a new interesting job, volunteered, am on meds and still profoundly struggle with relationships – even though part of my new interesting job it to help folks with theirs. I spent a good two-three years in therapy hovering just above a rather large cauldron of pain. I blamed my therapists for the holding pattern until it became frightfully clear to me that I wasn’t going to get better until I started taking some very real, very terrifying risks. The first layer of that was coming to terms with how my parents fucked me up good and proper. The second layer is how I’ve fucked myself up good and proper. The third layer has been putting the cracks in my integrity under a microscope so I can go about patching them piece by piece. It’s hard, scary and lonely, but then again, so is the cocoon.
So. This is my advice to you. Follow the suggestions above – do volunteer and find things to do that interest you that will put you in contact with others. Explore medication if you think it will help. These things will help cushion you as you start digging. They’ll give you strength. But do start digging. Keep in mind that psychiatrists don’t always do much talk therapy. Find an affordable therapist – don’t worry about technique, orientation or credential. There are brilliant masters prepared social workers out there and abysmal PhDs. Don’t wait for perfect fit, just a fit that is good enough that you’re willing to make yourself vulnerable. Best of luck.”
“I’ve been there, done that. The first step for me was to start reaching out to friends. I know, you haven’t been in touch in a while and you lost them over the years. But they’ll be more than happy to hear from you (assuming that you haven’t completely made enemies out of them), and even if the call in of itself comes to nothing, it’s a first step and you’ll feel better because you have tried to reach out to the world and you would have spoken to someone. So go out there and give your old friends a call. Not repeated multiple calls, one call per friend. Or you could even send them an email asking whether they want to catch up and suggesting a call at the end of the email.
These questions come up on AskMeFi every so often and the common advice is to get a hobby, volunteer, get therapy, feel comfortable spending time with oneself, etc, but that’s just avoiding the crux of the problem, ain’t it? Social skills is a learned trait. For some people it comes easier than for some others. But you aren’t going to learn how to be sociable and how to be a friend if you don’t work directly at the problem. Oh yeah, sure, therapy can help, hobbies can help, but eventually you’re going to have to go out there to the real world and interact and learn to be friendly with other people.
On a somewhat related analogy, I know this guy. I don’t really like him and I think he’s incredibly self-centered and boring, but that’s another story. He, like you, wanted more of a social life. So he decided to join salsa dancing to meet people. The typical format of becoming moderately tolerable at salsa is take a lesson to learn the basics-> practice by fumbling around awkwardly at social dancing -> take another lesson -> practice more by fumbling around awkwardly at social dancing, rinse and repeat. The point here is that in order to become better at dancing, he HAD to go through a period of practising and trying, even though it’s hard and he was crap. But he was always too self-conscious about practising, so what he ended up doing was taking a lot of lessons, but when social dancing started, he sat by the sidelines and watched other people. Now, taking lessons is one thing, but lessons are fairly one-sided, they don’t prepare you for the real thing, to dance with an actual person, to engage in their non-verbal signals, to hear the beat at the same time, to think on your feet. If he had even just practised at social dancing, he would have been a fun, cool, vulnerable person, and he would have gotten much better at dancing at each attempt.
So my advice to you is to go out there and practice, and be shit at it at first, but just keep trying and practice and practice. I consider myself pretty okay at being sociable nowadays, but not a day goes by that I don’t have super awkward why-did-I-say-that moments. But you know what? It’s totally okay. At least I have tried and I’ll have learned something from that.
You will learn to care about people and people will learn to care about you, and once the positive feedback virtuous cycle starts, it’ll keep on going.”