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Thread: I really need to get my social skills back

  1. #11
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    My strong suggestion is to get involved in volunteer work or a hiking type activity that involves interacting with other adults. My strong recommendation for volunteer work is volunteering back stage at a community theater. Perfect for your goals. And given the troubling thoughts and being stopped by security I would seek out mental health counseling too. Good luck!

  2. #12
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    Originally Posted by Markus86
    Thanks.
    That's probably the first thing that I will try next week, on Monday.
    Good! School counselors are trained in all of this socialization stuff, so consider your discomforts common rather than freakish. (They just 'feel' freakish, but you're in good company.) Ask for help in shifting your self talk into sounding more like an encouraging coach instead of a saboteur.

    You are already practiced at countering much of your negativity with good responses on your own, so the goal would be to move beyond a need to counter your default voice into a habit of reaching straight for the self encouragement. New habits take about 21 days to anchor, so work on the self talk first and then, from there, any other habits you want to develop will have the best foundation. It's great to use a counsellor to stay accountable to someone else with your progress.

    Originally Posted by Markus86
    I just need to find some sort of excuse to talk to them, but I guess the course itself is a good enough conversation starter.
    Sure. Just find the humor in any given situation and toss a remark to someone here and there. It doesn't need to spark a full blown conversation, it's just planting seeds around to let people know that you are friendly.

    Practice smiling at people you pass in hallways and on streets. Say a simple hello as you pass, and notice how it starts to feel natural over time. Smile with your eyes, and your face will signal warmth. This will change your habit of walking around appearing hostile.

    Originally Posted by Markus86
    I guess I shouldn't worry too much about "instantly becoming friends" with them right from the beginning (that's probably a slightly unrealistic goal), so I guess that it is best to think of it as a victory if I simply start a conversation.
    True, but even a conversation isn't always necessary. Just a kind or funny remark here and there along with a pleasant demeanor can start changing the way people perceive you overall. When people become accustomed to seeing you as a happy and open person, your biggest barrier to future conversations is removed. So address your thinking first, your overall demeanor second, and this will pave the way for people to perceive you as open rather than closed off.

    Also, consider your audience. Heading straight for people who already appear to have enough friends can be discouraging, because they may be kind but aren't necessarily in the market for new friendships. It just doesn't occur to them because their plate is already full. Observation can lead you to befriend people who, like you, appear to be loners even while their heart may be in the right place for friendship.

    Originally Posted by Markus86
    I sometimes have this annoying uneasy feeling that I "might have to keep doing this over and over and never get any good responses back" and then because of that get the feeling that it is "too late to be social" or something, but that's probably just one of those destructive thoughts.
    You're right, that's your default voice trying to talk you out of making the effort. Yes, habit changes DO require repeated effort. Just start with baby steps: self talk and demeanor first. Then practice throwing out hellos or gentle remarks--without expectations. Some of your remarks will land on someone who's receptive to remarking back. Over time you'll notice that people will start regarding you as approachable and kind, which will open more doors toward eventual conversations.

    It's a process, but it all starts with changing habits that block others from regarding you as open.

    Originally Posted by Markus86
    I have noticed that people seem to react with positive surprise on those few occasions when I get a good excuse to talk (usually when I make an oral presentation), because on those occasions I really open up and become a totally different person, because it's at those moments when I get a good chance to talk and open up.
    So the problem seems to mostly be about finding an excuse to say something.
    YES. When your habitual state appears hostile, people will avoid eye contact and operate 'beyond' you rather than engage with you. So changing your overall approachability is the ground work for all else. From there, people will be receptive to your remarks rather than startled by them. That's the ground work for eventual conversations.

    You know that you already have the skills, they're just rusty. Trust that getting yourself past being perceived as closed will start opening doors to minor engagement. Over time, this can lead to a friendship or two--but you're already clear that it's never a failure when it's not instant--it's all ground work.

    Originally Posted by Markus86
    I was actually stopped by a security guard at my school last year, and he asked me what was on my mind because I looked "troubled", and then one week later I felt quite good about myself and he was shocked when he saw me that time, because he thought that "it was like night and day".
    That was pretty funny, and definitely encouraging.
    Great example. This feedback is telling you that you've been walking around looking mean and possible dangerous. That happens when your demeanor is driven by a preoccupation with negative thinking. So switch your self talk, and your demeanor will reflect this--and people will start responding to you more positively.

    Good observations, and good work!

  3. #13
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    Originally Posted by Batya33
    My strong suggestion is to get involved in volunteer work or a hiking type activity that involves interacting with other adults. My strong recommendation for volunteer work is volunteering back stage at a community theater. Perfect for your goals. And given the troubling thoughts and being stopped by security I would seek out mental health counseling too. Good luck!
    Thanks.
    Yeah I have actually considered asking the receptionists at my school if they know of any volunteer work like that, and even explicitly tell them that one of my goals is to become more comfortable with talking to people, just to make everything about that very clear.
    I will have to try out these things when school opens on Monday.

  4. #14
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    Originally Posted by Markus86
    Thanks.
    Yeah I have actually considered asking the receptionists at my school if they know of any volunteer work like that, and even explicitly tell them that one of my goals is to become more comfortable with talking to people, just to make everything about that very clear.
    I will have to try out these things when school opens on Monday.
    Glad to hear you are considering it! Why ask receptionists -is this their job? I would search on line.

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  6. #15
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    See a doctor and get a referral to a therapist if isolation, withdrawing, ruminating and generally being chronically down are causing problems in your life. It's that simple, why suffer?
    Originally Posted by Markus86
    I know that I would feel much better if I got back that part of myself.

  7. #16
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    Originally Posted by Batya33
    Glad to hear you are considering it! Why ask receptionists -is this their job? I would search on line.
    I figured that I might as well try asking them if they know about something if I haven't found anything myself until Monday.
    If they don't know anything about it, then they can probably still tell me which part of the university that I should go to.

  8. #17
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    Originally Posted by Wiseman2
    See a doctor and get a referral to a therapist if isolation, withdrawing, ruminating and generally being chronically down are causing problems in your life. It's that simple, why suffer?
    Yeah, I asked for a reservation yesterday via mail, and they sent an automatic response where they said that they would keep contact with me next week.

    It's not necessarily the feeling of being alone in itself that bothers me the most, the most annoying thing about this is to have those nostalgic memories of my teenage years when I was this cool and interesting guy who both guys and girls found interesting and wanted to hang out with, and where there was this relaxed and open attitude both from me and from them that escalated back and forth between us - I would feel relaxed right from the start, and then they would feel relaxed around me, which then made me feel validated right there and gave me an extra confidence boost, and so on.
    It's a rather sinking feeling to go from very popular and as a "part of the group" where a lot of people knew who I was to someone who is alone almost all the time (and literally all the time at university) and feel dull and uninteresting, and it definitely stings a bit every time I think about it.
    But I will start working on my interactions with my classmates and visiting the school's night club during the weekend next week - it's about time.
    Last edited by Markus86; 10-05-2019 at 05:09 PM.

  9. #18
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    But everyone goes through stages of social lives - people move, leave school, leave jobs, get married or become parents or both and often social lives change.

  10. #19
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    Originally Posted by Batya33
    But everyone goes through stages of social lives - people move, leave school, leave jobs, get married or become parents or both and often social lives change.
    Yes, but I don't enjoy being alone like this - it feels wrong and almost always bothers me to some degree, even though I can usually ignore it enough to not get too frustrated - and I always feel a million times better when I get good chances to have conversations with people and express myself, so that's something that I should change.

  11. #20
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    Originally Posted by Markus86
    Yes, but I don't enjoy being alone like this - it feels wrong and almost always bothers me to some degree, even though I can usually ignore it enough to not get too frustrated - and I always feel a million times better when I get good chances to have conversations with people and express myself, so that's something that I should change.
    Lots of things can feel wrong and you get to choose how to react -including self talk that it might feel wrong but you know it's a typical part of life, or choosing to make a positive change, etc. Choosing to act in a frustrated way seems to be counterproductive. I wonder-if what you most like about conversations is expressing yourself you might want to consider how you feel when you are simply listening or being an active listener. How do you feel about being in a situation where others get to express themselves? Do you feel like you're approachable in that regard.

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