I'm socially inept. Need help from those of you who are socially savvy.(17 Posts)
I've been a lurker and this is my first time I'm posting. I really desperately need help!
I have crippling social anxiety since childhood. Think abnormally quiet and shy. I am literally scared to talk in social situations. I hardly ever speak. My mind is a whirlwind of negative and self deprecating thoughts.
I finally plucked the courage to go the the gp and now I am seeing a CBT therapist which I hate to say isn't really helpng.
Anyway, because of my problem I have noticed a couple of things.
- unsurprisingly, I have very poor social skills and literally don't know what to do in social situations.
As in, I don't know if what I should say is ok. Am I speaking in a good tone? Am I sounding nervous? What should I say when people come over to say hello. How do I keep the conversation going after hello. How do I make small talk.
- the other thing is I get a mental block. I forget who people are if I haven't seen them in a while. I regularly forget faces and names. Ill forget things that they have told me about themselves. I'll forget how people are connected.
Is there a way in which I can improve these things, a way I can learn these very basic social skills which i ought to have figured out when I was a child!
I feel very very inadequate and feel I will never overcome this terrible problem. I just feel years behind my peers and wish I didn't exist sometimes.
Any help would be appreciated.
That sounds really, really difficult
It's brilliant that you have begun CBT - how long have you been doing it? It can take a little while to get good at it, and it really does rely on you "practicing"
Do you have support in social situations? A partner/sibling/friend?
Reading your post, I wondered about "face blindness"
It also (not surprisingly) has a link to social anxiety
Check out if you're on the spectrum. Sounds a lot like me. Sorry, that's not very helpful. But it might be if you 'found yourself'.
There's no 'ought' about it. You aren't wrong, a failure, a sinner. You're just you.
I can't give you any tips, but I will watch with interest in case anyone posts something I could use.
My dad (big Aspie) says 'I'm not face blind. I just never look at people's faces!'
I think you communicate very well and clearly in your post, OP.
I'm no expert, but was a very shy child and have learned to overcome it as an adult.
Try not to worry about what other people might think and just be 'you.'
Hi. Thank you for replying.
I have been seeing the CBT therapist for a few months but I only have around 4 sessions left. It's on the NHS so I can only have a certain max number of sessions. I think it's 14.
In day to day social situations like going shopping, appts etc, I get by but it's the larger things that my lack of skills really stand out in like family gatherings, weddings, going out to a restaurant. Its really noticeable how I am just not on par with others.
Noone knows that I have this problem. I wouldnt dare to tell my family as I dont think they are very supportive.
I am sure I have that face blindness thingy - I work in sales too where I need to remember people's back story to build the rapport with them over time.
First well done for the CBT - that's a huge first step!
I find socially that I add people on fb as it means I can check details behind the scenes before I put my foot in it (do they have kids? What's the name of their dog? Have they been on holiday etc) stuff like this I can use to build conversations around in the flesh.
For my customers at work I actually have a little black book where I write down details that they have told me. Little things like if they tell me where they are going on holiday - if their grandma has been poorly etc. Then when I walk into their office I can start slip things into conversation again "Ooh your looking brown, how was mexico?"
Without these clues I would forget everything, so whilst it sounds calculating, it does really help.
I used to be similar so I just bit the bullet and engaged with people. I made friends and often now they laugh at how socially awkward I was. But they still spoke to me anyway and now have some close friends.
After hello you could try saying something like how was your weekend? Or if they don't appear to be walking past and the hello is as they are walking you could try saying something like 'alright?' Or make a statement like 'lovely day isn't it' or 'can't believe X happened'. Try something small like that for a while and then build on it.
I still do socially awkward things but I try and not let my anxiety take over when it happens and aee it as a learning curve for next time.
Wishing you well - don't be too hard on yourself - I can't remember (tbh I never even try) to remember people's dogs names - so you can cross that worry off your list.
I find small talk easier if I just smile a lot and ask questions.
I always ask how their family is. How their kids and partners are.
How any recent event (holiday, exams, birthday) was. Usually conversation flows from that.
You say that no one knows you have this problem. This suggests to me that it's not as much of a problem as you think it is. You may just be an introvert who thinks everyone should be an extrovert because that's what's in our faces all the time. Do you cope better in small groups? Do you need lots of downtime to recharge? Much of this "problem" may well be managed by you re-framing your expectations of yourself and realising what level of socialising makes you comfortable. There have been threads on here about introverts so you could do a search.
I have looked at that link and I can very much relate to some of the things like not recognising people if I see them out of context in a different place or trouble following some films. I was worried it was some sort of memory problem. I will read more about it. Thank you.
Timelytess the face blindness post did actually mention aspergers so it might be worth having a look at that as a possibility. Do you go to your gp and they diagnose you?
Bamgers, you express yourself so well, much better than many of us on here so I am sure that with help you can overcome your fear of interacting with people. As for your inability to recognise people and remember their names, back story, etc. I too suffer from that. If we met I would constantly repeat your name in my head to try to get it to sink in, try to link it to something to make it more memorable etc. but it rarely works. If you find a solution I would love it if you shared it but in the meantime I hope it helps to know how common the problem is.
Clutterdness, thanks for the link, much appreciated
Bamgersandmash, can I ask how old you are? Do you have children?
I'm asking because I could have written your post several years ago, and although nothing has really changed, being slightly older now (I'm 36) and having 3 children has given me a slightly easier edge. I'm now seen as 'sociable' and people are surprised to hear that I make a huge effort to achieve that. They realise I'm not an extrovert, but I obviously mask my social awkwardness enough.
I'm terribly face blind. Unless I see someone often, a change of hair style can make me think it's a new person. That's getting worse as I get older.
I am 35 and have 2 young DCs. Having kids forced me to go to playgroups etc and things improved slightly but I havent been to them in quite awhile, as the kids are now starting school in September.
I was thinking that I could possibly do some volunteering in a role that is very much people focussed. Maybe it might help me "practice" speaking to others. But admittedly, just the thought of doing something like this turns my stomach into knots. Its like a catch 22 situation!
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