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Starting to realize sources of my social anxiety?

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  anita 7 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #202561

    Katie
    Participant

    I have not been diagnosed with social anxiety (and I don’t even think I have it anymore) but honestly social anxiety is the only way I am able to explain my feelings in middle school. As I grow older, I am beginning to remember events that happened that may have caused me to socially shut down. I can remember freezing up when people would talk to me. I would isolate myself from my class mates because of the amount of anxiety I felt around them.

    Today, I have friends and am around people often. The only thing is I am very awkward. I think I am just awkward because of the years I spent in isolation. I didn’t get any practice talking to people who I don’t know well. I don’t know, that’s my conclusion.  But this isn’t the point. I am posting this because I am beginning to remember certain events that caused me to feel worse about myself… and I think ultimately made my social anxiety worse.

    1) In 6th grade I moved to a new school and became friends with a couple girls. They were my first friends but they weren’t my best friends or anything. Just school friends I guess. Then, half way through the year they began to be mean to me. They would talk bad about me on purpose right in front of me so I could hear. I remember this was very painful for me. They would get in big groups and talk bad about me. The other girls in the groups would usually just agree (they didn’t seem to actually care about me or agree with what the 2 girls were saying, they probably were just agreeing to agree), while the 2 main girls were usually the ones actually saying mean things. While this seemed to make my anxiety worse, I remember feeling a little anxiety in social situations before this. When people used to whisper near me I used to assume they were whispering about me, although I feel like a lot of people felt like this. However, I felt enough anxiety about that kinda stuff that I feel like it was a problem, you know? I became super quiet and uncomfortable simply when people around me would whisper. I am not trying to self diagnose, but people…. this was so hard for me to go through. If I didn’t have social anxiety, I had something. Because I KNOW something was wrong. I was such a quiet, awkward, uncomfortable, sad kid.

    2) In middle school my younger brother used to get in fights with kids on our street. Older kids would gang up on him. I personally felt like this was because I wasn’t good enough, I was inferior to everyone, and that my family was also inferior. I don’t know why I felt this way. Today, I don’t feel that way at all my dad is an extremely successful businessman (CEO of a company on the fortune 500 list) and I come from a long line of awesome people. I am not saying my “awesome” family makes me worthy of anything, I am just saying I had no reason to be embarassed about my family or feel as if I was worthless. Anyway, one of the kids who would fight my younger brother was older than me. He would basically bully me (it wasn’t a big deal, but it was kinda harassment).

    I don’t know why I typed all this I think I just needed to write it out. What are your thoughts on this? Does it seem logical? I am not saying these things CAUSED my social anxiety but they made me feel so worthless. I hated myself. I had extreme self esteem issues. I am just on a slow but steady journey to figuring out why I am so shy and uncomfy in social situations. I am about to enter college and I want to be able to have fun with people. I want to easily make friends, you know? All of my life I had felt like an outcast. I hid in my shell. It wasn’t until 2 years ago that I was motivated to make friends. I forced myself to become friends with everyone and I had so many friends. Popularity is such a dumb concept but my boyfriend was “considered” the most popular kid in high school. (I literally don’t care about popularity and that’s such a middle school thing to say. My point is he had so many friends. He was so confident and literally had no trouble in social situations. So the fact that I am with somebody like that proves I am not as unworthy of friends as I once thought I was).

    • This topic was modified 8 months ago by  Katie.
    • This topic was modified 8 months ago by  Katie.
    #202633

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Katie:

    You are a very intelligent, very young person. But you will not think about what matters most. You think a lot about things in the periphery while staying away from the center.

    Your intelligent thinking is keeping you a distance away from what does need to be looked at, examined, thought about and figured out.

    You wrote: “my family was also inferior. I don’t know why I felt this way”- this is the center. But you know nothing about it.

    Would you like to go into the center with me?

    anita

    #202929

    Katie
    Participant

    Anita,

    Yes I would like to go into the center

    #202951

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Katie:

    The center, I believe, is in your childhood experience at home, with your parents, with your family of origin. I believe it is true not only to you but to every human being.

    You wrote: “my family was also inferior”- will you tell me about it. Something was wrong, or inferior in your family. The child that you were noticed it and it bothered her. What was it, tell me best you can, anything that may be relevant.

    anita

    #203081

    Katie
    Participant

    Anita,

    I can’t really remember. I am trying hard to think. Maybe it was because my mom? She would complain about how none of the other moms like her. And she may not have been crazy in saying that because I can see other moms being rude to my mom. Girls are mean. Even grown women. But I constantly felt like everyone disliked my family. I don’t know, I honestly can’t remember a specific thing that caused me to feel like my family was inferior.

    But one thing that I can remember made me feel inferior in general was the fact that I was chubby. Kids would be super mean to me about it. They would make fun of me for it. They would say “oh, she wears a size L” (I would get mad because I honestly wasn’t even a size large I was like a size medium). Funny thing is, my mom used to tell me about how she went through bullying because of her weight. I never told my mom that kids were mean to me about it, but my mom openly told me she used to be bullied for it. So, in my head, I think I thought “oh, my mom was made fun of for her weight and now I am being made fun of for mine” While I can’t say I was bullied (my mom was bullied verrryyy badly), I was definitely put down for it. Maybe I saw this as something in my genes. Like I was born to be chubby and to be inferior. I don’t know. That’s my best guess but I honestly could be completely off/missing a lot. I feel like there is more to it than only that. There were lots of things that bothered me when I was young. I felt inferior because I couldn’t concentrate like other kids. It was like I had a learning disability. This doesn’t concern my family but I think that was definitely a reason for my low self esteem for a long time.

    #203087

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Katie:

    I will read and reply to your recent post when I am back to the computer, in about sixteen hours. Take good care of yourself, and feel free to add anything else that may be relevant to the topic.

    anita

    #203153

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Katie:

    It will take some time and effort to explore this one sentence (“my family was also inferior”). I have time and patience, and will be asking you questions. If you have the time and patience and are willing, we can proceed.

    You wrote about your mother, “She would complain about how none of the other moms like her…other moms being rude to my mom…my mom used to tell me about how she went through bullying because of her weight…my mom was bullied verrryyy badly”.

    Reads to me that your mother expressed to you a lot how she was bullied as a child and how she is still bullied, as an adult (by the other moms). Will you tell me more about what she shared with you, regarding being bullied as a child and as an adult? How often did she share with you how other people mistreat her, disrespect her and so on?

    (This is a note to myself, a quote from your recent post that I want to attend to later, following your next reply: “I constantly felt like everyone disliked my family…Maybe I saw this as something in my genes. Like I was born to be chubby and to be inferior… I felt inferior because I couldn’t concentrate like other kids”)

    anita

     

     

    #203247

    Katie
    Participant

    Yeah, bullying really affected my mom. I remember sitting in the sun room almost every evening with my mom as she would sip a glass of wine. This is when she would talk about her life to me. She wouldn’t always talk about bullying/ her childhood but sometimes it would come up. She would tell stories of how she was bullied for her chubbiness. One story I remember went like this… one of her neighbors came up to her house and asked her to play. So my mom said yes and then she was led to an entire group of boys who then threw rocks at her saying “lose some weight”

    Obviously this wasn’t my mom’s fault. My mom was just a little chubby, it wasn’t her fault the kids in her neighborhood were so mean. She also grew up in a very bad neighborhood, there was a lot of violence. So this probably wasn’t unusual for that area. Kids were just super mean. Maybe this, in conjunction with other kids not treating me the best either, made me feel very insecure.

    In addition to telling me stories of bullying, my mom also told me stories of how she went away on vacation one summer and got super tan and lost 20 pounds. She said as soon as that happened to her, everyone wanted to be her friend and she became super popular.

    Popularity is something that is kinda unavoidable when you’re a kid, but usually adults tell you its fake. But here my mom was telling me stories about it. So… maybe I felt like I was very low on the “popularity scale” because I wasn’t skinny nor tan.

    I’ll think more about this and if I think of anything else then I will add on. I still don’t feel like this completely explains it. My mom’s stories may have warped my perception a little, but I feel like it was also things I observed in school. The popular kids were smart, athletic, skinny. I wasn’t ANY of those things. I honestly think something was going on in my life that caused me to completely lose the ability to concentrate. Maybe it was anxiety? All I remember is being unable to concentrate. I felt like teachers disliked me. I was struggling a lot in school. I really try to emphasize the fact that later on I ended up doing VERY WELL in school. Proof it wasn’t my actual intellectual ability that was causing me to fail all my tests. For all I know maybe it was just the fact that I was lazy and dumb. My parents would spend hours with me just trying to teach me multiplication.

    I remember once my mom and dad sat me down for at least 2 hours helping me with my math homework (we were learning how to multiply double digits). I was about 9 years old. I remember being so unable to grasp it. My parents aren’t math teachers, but they were doing their best to help me through the steps. It took so long just to do one worksheet. It was extremely frustrating for me. I couldn’t do it but after 2 hours I finally got through it. I came in to class the next day and my teacher asked me to do a problem. I couldn’t do it because I still was unable to grasp it. Despite spending so long on it the night before, I couldn’t do it when my teacher asked. My brain would not grasp it. I remember my teacher yelled at me so badly and began accusing me of using a calculator. I felt so upset because it literally took me HOURS to do this yet still couldn’t understand. I was crying uncontrollably, which made my teacher believe I was just crying because I got caught. I don’t remember getting in trouble, just yelled at. I felt so frustrated and hopeless. I felt stupid. This was my life from about 3rd grade to 5th grade. Just feeling completely inferior to all the students who could learn it effortlessly. Why didn’t my brain grasp it? I don’t know. But I was such a good kid, I never did anything wrong. So getting yelled at CONSTANTLY by my teachers just made me feel like complete garbage. I was yelled at so often for simply being dumb. I felt stupid, I felt slow. I felt like something that would take a normal student 20 minutes to learn took me 2 weeks.

    I know I kinda went off on a tangent but maybe that has to do with it. Doesn’t really have as much to do with my family being inferior but rather how school made me lose all self esteem.

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 4 weeks ago by  Katie.
    • This reply was modified 7 months, 4 weeks ago by  Katie.
    #203321

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Katie:

    In previous threads you described yourself as shy: “I am a very closed off, reserved, antisocial human being. I am one of the shyest people I know…I still am super shy”. But to me you come across not shy at all, not in any of your threads. You come across to me as open (not closed off), expressive, extroverted (not reserved), very social (not antisocial) and daring (not shy).

    You wrote: “I come off as having no personality, as somebody who has no brain, or somebody who is extremely awkward”- again, on your threads you come across to me as someone with lots of personality, lots of brain (although scattered on periphery as it may be), and not awkward at all.

    The way you see yourself, I am thinking, is not the way you are. Why is that, I ask myself and look for answers.

    February, you wrote: “I had a brief conversation with my mom… she was telling us stories of when we were young… a bunch of stuff about me at preschool…She told me that all the teachers thought something was wrong with me. They made my parents have me taken to see a therapist to find out what was wrong… but my mom said that each time they found nothing wrong with me and that I was simply a quiet kid”

    I will address the “quiet kid” claim. You naturally believe what your mother says, children do not question what their parents say. But I question what your mother told you, that you were a quiet kid. I don’t have your story in front of me now, about how in preschool, I believe, on your birthday, you stepped on a chair and sang out loud, was that the story? This story fits better with how you come across on these threads.

    For some reason, what your mother told you about who you were (and who you are) is simply not true.

    And then, there is this issue: a mother telling her daughter that she and others thought there was something wrong with her.. but there isn’t really, that is so wrong of the mother to do, so damaging, irresponsible. She told you that when they found out each time they took you to therapy or to a professional, that there was nothing wrong with you, that you were only quiet. Why tell the story then? What is the purpose?

    I will wait for your reply to the two items I brought up in this post.

    anita

     

    #203453

    Katie
    Participant

    Anita,

    I will reply to this post later in the day, I just need to think about it before I answer

    #203533

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Katie:

    Take the time you need and come back to this thread when you are ready.

    anita

    #203627

    Katie
    Participant

    Anita,

    I agree, I think I am a very outgoing person naturally. My 2 younger brothers have so many friends. They are very outgoing. So it makes sense that I am the same way. But for some reason…. I can be verry quiet and very shy in person. This makes me question… why am I so shy? Why am I so quiet? Because I know that naturally I am not. For some reason I am very afraid of saying/doing the wrong things. I am afraid to be myself. Honestly though, I see myself slowly changing to be less awkward/shy. People say the exact same thing you say when they get to know me. They say I am expressive, loud, funny, etc. When I said I had no personality, no brains, and all that stuff, those were just mean things people had said to me in the past. I think I often replay the mean things people tell me in my head. It is almost like sometimes I get in these bad moods where I get very sad and tell myself I am not worth it. Stupid people (who don’t know me at all, they are just dumb and judgmental) have said those things about me. One person I used to be friends with talked very bad about me saying I had no personality (a very mean way of pointing out my shyness), while another stupid person had called me dumb and brainless.

    And as for my mom thing, I am not sure. Your right, when I posted that thread about my mom telling me the story about preschool, I felt like it made me feel something was wrong with me. Right now, I am in a pretty healthy state of mind to say that most of my self deprecation comes from my very low self esteem. Now, I can confidently say there is nothing wrong with, that I do have a strong personality, and that I am not brainless. However, there are so many moments where I feel so worthless. And I will just replay all the negative things people say about me and start believing them. I will begin to see myself very negatively, and when I look back at all the negative things people say about me I think “oh, so this is how I seem to the world”

    I went out this weekend with my friends and I was very outgoing and not awkward at all (like I have been in the past). I was meeting new people and having a really good time. I felt good. Even though there is still so much more to talk about in this thread, I feel like I have gained some confidence in myself back. Just simply realizing that my shyness/social anxiety probably comes from something in my childhood (that wasn’t my fault) makes me feel more confident in myself.

    But I think it is important to tell you that in social situations (usually) I feel very awkward and anxious. My body tenses up, I don’t feel comfortable. I literally can’t help being awkward. It completely causes me to shut down, I can’t even talk normally or be myself. But so far I have felt more confident in myself that I haven’t reacted that way. I think talking about this with you has helped a lot so far, even in the slightest way. I just wanted to note that

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by  Katie.
    #203707

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Katie:

    It seems to me that indeed, like you stated, naturally you are expressive, that you are outgoing, extroverted, daring and so on.

    You wrote: “This makes me question… why am I so shy? Why am I so quiet? ..For some reason I am very afraid of saying/doing the wrong things. I am afraid to be myself”-

    You answered your own questions: “Why am I so shy? Why am I so quiet?”

    Your answer: “I am very afraid of saying/doing the wrong things. I am afraid to be myself”.

    Now, I ask myself: why is Katie afraid of saying and doing the wrong things and being herself?

    My answer to my own question: because when Katie was a child she was criticized for being herself, disapproved of. She was told or shown otherwise that what she said and what she did was wrong. It hurt her feelings then, to be told or shown that she was wrong, not approved. And so, often, she is afraid to feel the same hurt.

    What do you think of my answer?

    anita

     

    #203767

    Katie
    Participant

    Anita,

    Yeah that sounds about right. How can I change that about my thinking? I feel so afraid of being disapproved of. It seems like that fear runs my life.

    #203801

    Katie
    Participant

    Anita,

    I just realized something that has always really affected me. I am very close with my cousin. We are basically best friends. However, she lives in a very wealthy area which means she goes to school with a bunch of snobby rich brats which means she, herself, is a very snobby rich brat as well. She is so judgmental even towards me. And she is super open about it. Everyone around her is wears expensive clothes, parties all day every day, they all have so many friends, they all try so hard, they are born into money, they are all so smart. But they are so mean. Some good comes out of it, my cousin’s honesty has helped me to have a passion for success and nice things in life as she comes from a very competitive area and some of that competitiveness has rubbed off on me. I try very hard in everything I do because of it. Unfortunately, this has caused me to have an unhealthy obsession with trivial things such as looks, my weight (sometimes I think I have some form of an eating disorder honestly), boys, fashion, and just in general being “good enough.”

    Someone told me I shouldn’t have a victim mentality and I am trying not to sound like I am complaining but what I feel is very real. And I think it may even play a part in my fear of being disapproved.

    Just now I was talking with her when she brought up her best friend. She said to me, “yeah I don’t think (friend’s name) would like you. She doesn’t really like people who are quiet. She doesn’t like people who are weird. She probably wouldn’t like any of your friends. She doesn’t like losers.”

    Her words caused a little bit of pain in me. She was basically telling me I am not good enough for her friends. In reality, I know I am good enough because there is nothing wrong with me. I am super nice and am most definitely not a loser. I know it is just because her friend is just dumb. But this honestly isn’t unfamiliar to me given my cousin and I are so close. I am put in the situation of being compared to people from her school. I don’t know if this is why I am so afraid of being disapproved by people in general, but I know I feel fear of being disapproved by her (even her friends who I have never talked to). It hurts that she said that and now I feel like I am not good enough. I don’t know if this helps but I think growing up with this type of criticism definitely caused me to be very hard on myself.. not in a good way. It reminds me of how I feel when I looked at older, popular girls in my school who never really paid attention to me when my boyfriend would bring me along to hang out or to parties. This could be explained by my quietness. I assume people wouldn’t befriend me if I just sit there being quiet and shy, but there have been many occasions where I have talked to them but I still feel like they ignore me… I don’t know. I feel weird!! I feel like I am not good enough. Maybe it is just because my social skills are not very good… who knows!! I don’t know. I feel so upset. My boyfriend is super popular (or at least he was in high school) and back when we were in school together he wasn’t afraid to tell me that people don’t like my friends. The more I think about it… I think there are (or were, before they graduated) many snobby girls in my school as well. Older girls would talk bad about me often. These girls kinda reminded me of my cousin’s friends. They have that same look and attitude. They would be friends with my boyfriend but I never seemed to get along with them…. ughh…. I know it shouldn’t matter but I wanna have fun, I wanna make friends. I have this weird need/want to be good enough for those people. I bet they would like me if I just acted like they do.

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by  Katie.
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