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Gah social awkwardness

(10 Posts)
Makeyerowndamndinner Sun 28-Aug-11 20:07:31

Help - I find parties and social situations so awkward at times.

I always had a fairly wide social circle of friends when I was younger and I'm certainly not friendless now, but life events and issues have left me feeling not great about myself and that seems to have manifested in me feeling incredibly awkward and nervous socially.

It's almost as though I expect people not to respond well to me and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I feel stiff and uncomfortable, people are picking up on that, and so not enjoying my company. This even happens with people I know well. I just can't seem to engage with people in a relaxed way anymore and it breaks my heart to see people I like withdrawing from me. I constantly feel excluded and on the outside of things. It's a vicious circle - the more negative I feel, the more people step back, the more people step back, the more negative I feel.

I've gone from somebody who used to love a good party to someone who sometimes feels it would just be easier to stay at home and not have to talk to anybody :-(

I desperately want to improve things but don't really know where to start. I've had counselling and didn't find it massively helpful to be honest.

Pizzaguy Sun 28-Aug-11 20:41:37

Your not on your own youve just descibed exactly how i feel most of the time i only seem to open my mouth to swap feet at social gatherings to the point id rather not go then be called ignorant for not going. Its a slippery slope as you start to slowly become housebound prefering to stay in than to face the world. You may find its a phase your going through of just enjoying your own company at the mo. Please dont get down about it or it could get worse keep going out even if your 'showing your face' rather than jumping into the thick of it im sure it will pass and youl soon be the life and soul you once was, chin up ;-)

Makeyerowndamndinner Sun 28-Aug-11 21:19:09

No you see, I'm not prepared to go down that slippery slope.

I'm deep down a very social person. I value friends and human interaction. I like people dammit!

Perhaps I need to do that thing where I just accept every single invitation I get and make myself go. Perhaps I just need to get over myself a bit. Easier said than done though.

IntergalacticHussy Sun 28-Aug-11 21:46:41

Just wanted to say that i'm only now coming out of the phase you describe. For me, the whole thing had a back story of bad MIL relationship and started to impact on other areas of my life. For some reason my awkwardness focussed on giving people a peck on the cheek! I became so convinced that i was going to do it 'wrong' that i started avoiding doing it at all, then i started avoiding people/ situations where i might be expected to! Then it spread into what i may or may not say and how i might get that wrong. I'd find myself analysing and playing back conversations to 'check up' on myself. How mad is that?

I'm definitely much more relaxed about it now, and I actually think the main reason for that is making small changes in the rest of my life to make myself feel happier; we moved to a place I absolutely love, as opposed to a place i was hating; I'm making a real effort to make friends with people I like as opposed to just falling in with people like i was in the last place we lived and I'm followin one of my passions in the form of volunteering, one day each week, which is providing some balance and outside interest besides just the daily grind iwth the dcs!

I wonder if there are similar things that are bothering you atm?

Makeyerowndamndinner Sun 28-Aug-11 22:17:38

Oh god I know exactly what you mean about playing back conversations - it's exhausting isn't it!

I'm a single mum who lives in a fairly isolated rural area. I'm not able to move really - the kids are settled here, my work is here, and the childrens fathers would both seriously object to me moving the kids elsewhere. So perhaps that's part of it.

Apart from that it just seems to be a vicious circle. A rut that I can't get out of. I've had a couple of fairly major catastrophes in my life - a mental health disaster when I was in my twenties and had just had my first child, and a nasty break-up (in which I was at fault) from an emotionally abusive man later in my early thirties, and I've found it hard to pick myself up confidence wise and learn to like myself again.

Sometimes I wonder if I subconsciously sabotage potential friendships in a bid to stop anyone getting close. But then sometimes I think maybe I give off too keen vibes which put people off.

Who knows - bit of a mess really. I feel really bad about it. I remember a time when I just had a good time with people and didn't really think about it. :-(

Pigglesworth Sun 28-Aug-11 22:23:07

I slipped into a similar phase very temporarily earlier this year. The feelings were just as strong, but I rapidly decided I needed to do something about it ASAP because my friendships/ professional success depended on it! It was even affecting me when I caught up with friends I've had since high school, who I am usually 100% comfortable with, though luckily I asked later once I was feeling better and they said that they hadn't picked up on it. What was going on for me was low self-confidence --> analysing everything I might say before I said it, and usually ending up saying little --> feeling like I was boring and lacked self-conviction/ personality --> further low self-confidence, etc.

I googled online and found people recommending Paul McKenna's books (he uses positive visual imagery/ CDs that you listen to to "reprogramme" your mind). I really couldn't recommend them highly enough. What really helped me was his book, "Instant Confidence" (though the one I found that was recommended when I googled was "Change your life in 7 days"). You just have to suspend your disbelief, do the visual imagery exercises he suggests frequently, and most importantly, listen to the CD daily until you feel like you can handle social situations without that "boost". It may not totally resolve your issues but it should help.

Read the reviews too - lots of people who found this book helpful! smile

Makeyerowndamndinner Sun 28-Aug-11 22:29:07

Thank you for the link Pigglesworth. Will definitely look into it - am willing to try anything!

I feel the same as you did - that really it's up to me to be pro-active and to do something about it. I've also noticed an effect on my professional life as I can't network for shit! The idea of going to a work 'social' where I have to make small talk with people from other agencies makes me feel like leaving the country :-(

FagAshLill Mon 29-Aug-11 11:02:41

pizzaguy "i only seem to open my mouth to swap feet at social gatherings"


Funniest thing I have read all morning because I know exactly what you mean. You get to the point that it's just not worth the hassle, grief or embarresment to yourself for a while.

Makeyerowndamndinner Mon 29-Aug-11 12:08:09

Ha ha yes, at the last party I went to I expressed enthusiasm for the pizza that someone had made. Turns out it was focaccia bread (I've probably spelt that completely wrong.)


FagAshLill Mon 29-Aug-11 12:35:14

Rather that than end up spraying booze out of your nose...on almost every occation you meet up.

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