August 10, 2013 at 10:48 am #40134
Ok, I am experiencing major confusion in my life right now. I have trouble talking to and trusting people and the ones I do trust I fear that they won’t always want me in their life and that sooner or later they’ll leave me or hurt me somehow. I say this because for a long time it’s been hard for me to really feel like I’m making friends. I made some in middle school and high school but it was very difficult because I was very self conscious. I’m in college now and I’ve made even more friends since I started, but it’s been so hard to really open up and trust them. I still feel anxious when I’m around them, especially when I’m in a group, and I don’t really know how to talk to them most of the time. When we’re in a group I’m easily one of if not the most quiet, and lot of times I’ll just observe everyone else and the nature of the conversation until I can figure out what’s reasonable for me to say if I get to speak. The problem there is that knowing what to say when I’m around them doesn’t come naturally to me. A lot of times I can’t really tell when someone’s joking, and then I get anxious about how to respond. Another thing that really makes me feel bad is that I get really confused, anxious and upset when someone doesn’t respond to my phone calls, texts, Facebook messages or emails. It’s not like they never respond to anything, but more like they don’t respond at a certain time when I need to talk to them about something, it doesn’t have to be personal but sometimes even if I need to confide in a certain person (or I only trust that person at the time), they don’t respond and I don’t know why. This usually happens with friends, but it started to happen with a few professors, counselors, and even family. And it seems like none of it has to do with me but almost every time it happens I feel like it is me, like it’s something I did. And I feel rejected and start doubting their intentions. I feel like the distrust and fear I’m feeling has to do with the fact that I was bullied in elementary and middle school. Much of the actual bullying I don’t remember but I don’t remember having many friends back then. And I think now that I do have many friends it’s harder to trust them. Sometimes I wonder what my friends see in me, why they became my friends in the first place, and why they’re still my friends. I always worry that at some point they’ll no longer want to be friends, as if they’ll see something in me that they won’t like and that’ll be the game changer. I was a people pleaser in high school and have started to change that since college, but when I feel like there’s a problem between me and one of my friends I often try not to show that I’m upset and I either run away from the problem (and feel resentful afterward), try and control the situation, or kind of explain the problem without really expressing how I feel. I’m afraid of conflict, expressing negative emotions, when other people yell or raise their voices, and to yell or raise my own voice. I’ve slowly started expressing my feelings more and telling people when I have issues with them, but still very often I’m scared to do so because either I fear the conflict will get out of hand or my relationship with the other person will be jeopardized (or both).
I’m also going through a low period in my life that I’m not sure many of my friends and family would really understand. Some of them do, and I confide in them at times but again when they’re not available I start feeling rejected and question whether they really care. And when I feel I’m on my own I read and think as much as I can about what I might be feeling and how I can deal with it, but many times I don’t understand everything I read and I get confused and judge myself for not getting all of it. So basically everything I’ve said I’ve already tried to figure out on my own but I still end up confused a lot of times and I can’t always rely on other people to be there when I want to talk to them.
I’ve thought about seeing a professional to help me get past this but I had to reapply for health insurance and it was just renewed. And there’s not much time left before I go back to school. I will try to talk regularly with counselors there but in the meantime I need someone to talk to.
If there’s anyone here who can help me understand why I’m having these trust issues and what I can do to work through them I would appreciate it. I’m desperate and I don’t want to risk pushing people away because I don’t know how to move on past this. I’m also worried that I’m not being a good friend/person overall because I’m relying too much on the people around me for help, but when I try to figure things out on my own (which is mostly what I do anyway) I always get confused and don’t know what to do with myself.
And just to emphasize the point about not responding I’m worried that no one will respond to this post either.August 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm #40139
I’m sorry to hear you are having such anxiety.
You probably would benefit from seeing a professional therapist. Therapy can be very useful for talking through issues such as these.
There are some hard truths that we all have to accept. One of them is that we cannot always rely on others to be there for us. This includes family members as much as it does friends. Relationships are constantly in flux. Some will grow, others will wither.
I think the trick is learning to live with that doubt and be happy despite it.
Human beings are social animals by our very nature. Our fear of being rejected and not part of the group runs deep because it is a key survival instinct. I think you will get very frustrated with yourself if you keep trying to get to a point where you feel no anxiety around this, because I think that is unattainable for all of us.
What you want to avoid is allowing this anxiety to overwhelm you to the point where you become non functional.
If I were you, I would stop trying to work against my own nature. It seems to me, from what you have written, that you are a quieter person who enjoys socialising one on one or in smaller groups of a couple of people. There is nothing wrong with this at all. Some of us are quiet, some of us are more gregarious. We need a balance of these different sort of people in society or there would just be a lot of people shouting at each other!
So I would suggest that at the times you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, try socialising in smaller groups or on a one on one level. Invite your friends for a coffee or cup of tea, or a stroll in the park. Just low key activities that you enjoy.
When you are in situations where you are socialising in larger groups, don’t feel bad because you are not the life and soul of the party. I think it was Jane Austen who described a dinner party as being very successful because, and I’m paraphrasing here, ‘it was made up of those who would talk and those who would listen’. It strikes me that you fall into the later group belonging to those who would listen.
So I would try to focus on your good qualities. Be the person who listens to others! There certainly are not enough of those to go around and you will be very popular if you do.
Finally I wouldn’t put too much stock into whether or not people respond to texts, Facebook messages and emails. It seems to me that because these are relatively new inventions we are all unclear what the etiquette is around responding to these.
I think it is very likely that when people don’t respond, it is not because they don’t like you or that they are being malicious, but that they are busy or forget. I imagine this happens 9999 out of 10,000.
We all need to get out into the world and start responding to each other in person more.
I wish you the bestAugust 10, 2013 at 10:37 pm #40172
I found myself about to say many of the things that Buddhist Wife said in response to your post. As I read about your social interactions and your interpretation I kept asking myself, “where is the problem?” The truth is what you are describing is something that most everyone I know has admitted to experiencing on some level. There are SO many interactions that occur that I know I miss the entire meaning of. That is the nature of communication and also is evidence of the complex nature of human beings. We contain so many disparate and conflicting parts and these nuances get expressed in our daily communication whether we are aware of them being expressed or not. “Micro-expressions” are expressions which occur in a matter of a second and are undetectable by the human eye – we’re not aware that we have detected them – but emotionally we have reacted to them. People are very complex and many of the people you see that are the “life of the party” and seem to take center stage in social interactions do so because they have been in the habit of doing so and have done so for a very long time. I think you would make a lot more progress with this if you first work on having more compassion for yourself and your actions. Instead of being critical and beat yourself up, try and befriend yourself in those difficult situations and tell yourself, “you’re ok – you’re ok doing what you’re doing”.
Be peaceful my friend,
-J.D.August 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm #40194
I’m a really quiet person around people I don’t know or trust. In the past, if I could find one or two people I trusted, it was so nice to be able to open up and be myself, but finding those individuals got harder and harder as I got older. And I always found a reason to stop trusting those people, so I’m afraid all I can offer you is empathy, not advice. I think I am more sensitive than the average person, meaning that I take things way too personally, and my life would be a lot easier if I just let some things go, but I never seem to be able to do that. On the plus side of being overly sensitive, it does make me a better listener because I can feel what the other person is feeling when they are telling me about it, and usually understand them better than other people who hear the same thing. So it’s a strength and weakness. It can endear you to people, because you really “get” their situation, but having been burned so many times by people I allowed to get close to me because they felt this connection, I don’t really allow it anymore. I still listen, empathize, and treat everyone with respect, but I know my limitations. I cannot handle close friendships because they are too painful when things go bad, and things will inevitably go bad for someone as sensitive as me. Fortunately, I do trust my family – most of the time It’s okay to give your family a piece of your mind when they tick you off – they’re your family and they have to stick with you. At least, that’s what I believe. Friends – no such guarantee, so tick them off at your own risk. I lost all the ones I ticked off, and for good reason. I was being too sensitive. Anyhow, I hope this was not totally unhelpful. I hope you write again.
ChupacabraAugust 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm #40204
The fact that you are willing to be vulnerable to talk about this issue that is troubling you, is good. You are in touch with yourself, your emotions, and you are being constructive in trying to find a way out.
It is not easy to get through a day not being able to trust people. it leaves you alone and without the social support we all need.
I suspect that there are issues from your childhood experiences that is causing this impasse. You have an injunction bred into your psyche – ‘don’t trust’. You need to figure out when this happened,, talk about it, and re-decide how you intend to overcome it. I suggest strongly that you seek help from a therapist who is good at ‘Re-Decision Therapy’. Such a therapist will take you back to your early years, establish your relationships with male and female authoritative figures and help you determine what happened to make you decide unconsciously that you ‘will not trust’ people. The therapist may use a -two-chair technique to help you deal with the figures in your past that developed this impasse.
Meantime to help you cope better, I suggest you get into mindfulness activities – meditation, yoga, exercise. These will help you take control of your thoughts and help you focus on the present, rather than on the past or the future. There must be many good things that happen to you on a daily basis – all you need to do is to focus on them. You can read more on mindfulness activities from the web.
I hope these recommendations help. You have strong personal resources, because you are seeking a way out. Trust in your abilities, and you will do just fine.
Shogun.August 22, 2013 at 12:04 am #40961
I can understand in a way what you’re going through. Your post is almost how my life was. I remember being very subconscious about whether or not I fit in, having trouble making actual friends, being sensitive to off-the-cuff statements or remarks. I would watch the people around me to see if I was acting the right way, getting the right response, saying the right thing. Being terrified that someone could find out that I’m anxious or depressed and then leaving me because of it. It’s difficult to not be anxious or depressed when you have all of these fears.
Being bullied is always very difficult to go through. Feelings of social anxiety are very common after unfortunate situations like that. You seem to have a belief that there is something wrong with you, and that’s not true at all. There is nothing wrong with you. These feelings that you are experiencing are normal for any person to have.
Also, it’s okay to ask for help and rely on others. That’s what most people do to understand their problems. I believe that your suggestion to see a professional is a good idea. In the mean time, if you would like to talk to someone, I would be happy to help. Although, I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist myself, I have gone through your exact situation and ended up finding answers to those same questions you ask and becoming comfortable with people and being happy with who I am. So if you would like help finding answers and understanding your situation, feel free to email me at Clajoie94@gmail.com
I don’t want you to feel pressured to email me if you don’t want to. I only want to help you because I know what it’s like to want to solve your depression by yourself because you’re afraid of what your people would think. But the choice is up to you.