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  #1  
Old 4th February 2017, 03:55
BabyBoyBelcher BabyBoyBelcher is offline
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Hey,

I've read a few posts on here where people have mentioned their relationships and stuff and I was hoping to get some advice on how you managed that lol.

I spent most of my teens and early twenties alone in my room, only leaving to go to work. Plus I struggled with my sexuality for a long time which I am still dealing with on top of my SA/depression.

I can barely make friends and can count on one hand the number I have so don't see how it's possible to find someone who wants to be in a relationship with me...

This is one of the main things that's getting me down at the moment and any advice you could give would be much appreciated
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  #2  
Old 4th February 2017, 21:54
ThatGuy11200 ThatGuy11200 is offline
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Default Re: Relationships

I don't have any real friends but I've been in a relationship before. I also think I'm getting closer to dating again someday soon.

You could learn simple flirting techniques. Just smiling while talking to someone you are interested in can help a lot. Show some interest in their lives and ambitions, etc. Dress well.

Ultimately, it means making yourself somewhat vulnerable by revealing your interest in some way that they will notice and allowing them to reciprocate.
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  #3  
Old 6th February 2017, 11:11
Hayman Hayman is offline
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Default Re: Relationships

This is exactly the problem I face. I don't have any friends (well - one which is tenuous at best) and therefore don't have the same chances or windows of opportunity to develop relationships. This is a huge problem that so few people ever have to deal with. It's not that we're avoiding forming bonds (a common accusation), it's that we don't have the same paths open to us that everyone else takes for granted.

This is what lead to my own spells of depression during my 20's and sadly, people see things back-to-front to how we do. They see our depression keeping people away from us, where the truth is that people purposefully keeping away from us because we're quieter/shy people having actually triggered the depression.

I'm 32 in a few months time and sadly, I remain completely dateless and still awaiting so much as my first genuine hug or kiss. I honestly don't know what else I can do as I've really improved over the last 18 months. Sadly, this improvement hasn't even been acknowledged and once again, I find myself coming close to being diagnosed with depression again.

I'm tired of trying and I'm tired of seeing nothing but failure. I've lost two stone in weight, changed almost my entire wardrobe at great expense, I'm actively forcing myself out more to a considerably wider variety of places despite feeling ill in doing so, my eye contact has improved and nope...still nothing. Sitting back and doing nothing would have given me the same result.

Sadly, there comes a point where you just accept you're so heavily stigmatised that you begin to see that it's no longer yourself who has the biggest problem. I've felt like this for close to a year now...

I'm sorry that sounds defeatist and believe me, I didn't feel like this a decade ago. I've just seen the same old pattern repeat for my efforts so many times over and I've got to the stage I've about accepted myself as a lifelong single man.

A lot of people say you need to "be confident" - but how exactly do you become that way when you feel so demoralised? I'm not someone who can develop confidence within, from a sea of ignorance from others, criticism, or blunt insults. Again, we're not given the same chances as others to even begin developing confidence in ourselves. You see others given confidence in the way of positive remarks, close contact, laughter e.t.c... My question is simple - where's ours?

It's sadly a catch-22 situation I've been in - right from the age of 16.
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  #4  
Old 6th February 2017, 12:01
Stephalump Stephalump is offline
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Default Re: Relationships

All of my relationships were formed online because I don't fear judgement as much and feel my personality can come across to strangers with greater ease. I realise this isn't the case for everyone but it certainly made dating much easier for me. The best relationships are formed when you least expect them and for the most part, when you're not looking. I truly believe that!

No one can tell you how to act because would you really want to be anything other than yourself? Surely you want to be with someone who loves you for the person you are now? Warts and all? Someone's who's willing to take on all the bad stuff and grow with you? They often see things in you that you don't even see yourself. So... Just practice conversation and the rest should follow.

And hey, if watching The Undateables has taught me anything, it's that there's someone for everyone.
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  #5  
Old 7th February 2017, 00:21
gregarious_introvert gregarious_introvert is offline
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Default Re: Relationships

All my relationships have originated online - or from lonely hearts columns in the pre-internet days.

As Stephalump says, just be yourself and as Miss Kitty says, don't overthink things; it's impossible to predict what other people find attractive (certainly it is for me, anyway)! I've never had friends, but always been able to form relationships - making them last has been an issue, although I seem to be managing that this time round too!

As ThatGuy says, showing an interest in the other person is always good; it also means you don't have to think of things to say, as you can feed off what they are saying.
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  #6  
Old 11th February 2017, 14:34
BabyBoyBelcher BabyBoyBelcher is offline
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Hey guys, thanks for the replies.

Hayman, you described it perfectly and I completely get being tired of trying. Sometimes I just feel like it would be better to just accept that certain aspects of life are just not going to happen for me...

Stephalump and aloneuntilidie I have tried online stuff but I find it difficult to show my face to people, trust issues I guess? And people don't tend to want to talk to a blank profile for very long...

I'm trying CBT and it seems to be helping so hopefully I'll soon be able to at least start controlling my thoughts a bit better than I am at the moment even if it doesn't help with friends/relationships.
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  #7  
Old 15th February 2017, 11:46
Hayman Hayman is offline
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Indeed, I'm tired of trying. I don't even have "what if…?" thoughts any more because I know in recent years, I've pushed myself further than I've ever gone before and gone way out of my comfort zone (almost to the point of making myself ill) in order to just try and take one step forwards off that 'starting line' as such. None of it has worked and the results would have been identical if I'd sat back and done nothing… I know I've done all I can within reason and without a complete personality transplant – I'm pretty much come to the end of the road.

Honestly, the only way I'll end up in a relationship would be if I was to be approached. As I can't even get so much as a conversation going, the chances of this happening are highly unlikely to the point I know it's not going to happen. Not at my age (almost 32). Just about everyone has been taken and has been for over a decade.

I feel the only way forward is to somehow find a way of being happy as a single person and ignoring the constant reminders out there (i.e – underhand comments, Valentines Day e.t.c...) of those who simply don't know what it's like to have this problem. So far, I’ve failed but surely there's got to be some sort of sanctuary out there somewhere for those who are lifelong single. Somewhere where they'll be treated fairly, their problems understood and will be treated as dignified adults – and not as big children simply for the fact that no one likes them romantically.

The Undateables is one of those 'bitter sweet' shows. I watched quite a few of them a year ago. Whilst it's good to see people who really struggle get somewhere but on the other hand, it's not exactly a confidence booster to know that those worse than yourself are also going ten times further than you ever have… I had to stop watching it.

CBT works for some people and doesn't work for others. For me personally, it only exaggerated my problems. Why? I found it to be little more than a 'face your fears' course. Whilst I never completed it (the assessor agreed it wasn’t the right course of action for me and we parted company amicably), I saw enough to know that Social Anxiety remains very much misunderstood. The catch-22 situation I faced with it was that I was facing my fears. It was facing them and dealing with them that was contributing to my problems. I needed help to get around them or avoid them. Facing even more of the same problem-causing issues was naturally only making me worse, not better. I was being told to do the very things I can't and why I went to seek help on in the first place… I found it to be incredibly frustrating and time wasting.

This is the trouble I found with professional help. Whilst they’re willing to give you guidance/help from 'Step B' forwards, there’s no help for those who can’t even do 'Step A'. You’re expected to have already achieved that or have no issue in taking that step. That 'Step A' could be multiple things. "Speak to friends" – but what if you don't have any? "Make friends" – How?! No one wants to know me. I’ve tried. Plus, social anxiety prevents me – thus seeking help in the first place. "Go out more" – I have social anxiety. I can't turn it on and off like a light switch to suit the occasion. Even if you have (as I've forced myself), it’s not yielded positive results. "Be confident" – from a sea of ignorance or negativity?! How does that work, exactly?! "Have targets" – I have. The goalposts are shifted when I reach them, so I'm again criticised for not doing enough e.t.c… "Join groups/clubs" – Again, I have social anxiety, hence why I'm seeking help as I can’t turn it off in my brain to suit the occasion. Secondly, do they have the money required for me to get membership? I don't… "Keep trying" – I have. I keep on failing. Hence why I had three spells of diagnosed depression in my 20's alone.

Sadly, I don't have a magic wand to make things appear out of thin air or make things go my way! I wish I could! This is also something else medical professionals fail to understand. The basic perks most people enjoy are things we lack – hence why we have some of our problems in the first place…

If I could do even just a couple of the obvious things they suggest, I wouldn't be seeking help in the first place. I'm there for the very reason I can't do those things...

< Describes my experiences whilst seeking professional help. This is why I had to stop.
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  #8  
Old 15th February 2017, 13:17
Carbon(cycle)Fodder Carbon(cycle)Fodder is offline
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as most have said, I think the way forward could be trying online dating sites,
although, as you yourself say, you'd probably need to include at least 1 photo of yourself,

I'd say that it's a good idea to try going to meets on here,
I found going to meets really helpful in getting yourself used to getting out and meeting people and getting used to going into places you normally wouldn't.

I was going to meets for a good few years before I felt I could move onto trying online dating,

when I did try online dating I was really surprised by how many people were interested in meeting up,.. and thanks to going to loads of meets, I was already used to getting out and meeting new people, chatting, ordering drinks, eating out in restaurants, travelling and staying overnight & stuff like that.

I think everything helps, including CBT, group therapy, counselling etc.. and of course meets, - they all help you get used to meeting people and getting out and about.

I was just like you before I joined here, and couldn't possibly imagine doing certain things, it is difficult to imagine doing certain things from where you are now. but progress certainly does come,. there's enough success stories from people on here to prove that.
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  #9  
Old 15th February 2017, 22:57
Ajax Amsterdam Ajax Amsterdam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hayman
...CBT works for some people and doesn't work for others. For me personally, it only exaggerated my problems. Why? I found it to be little more than a 'face your fears' course. Whilst I never completed it (the assessor agreed it wasn’t the right course of action for me and we parted company amicably), I saw enough to know that Social Anxiety remains very much misunderstood. The catch-22 situation I faced with it was that I was facing my fears. It was facing them and dealing with them that was contributing to my problems. I needed help to get around them or avoid them. Facing even more of the same problem-causing issues was naturally only making me worse, not better. I was being told to do the very things I can't and why I went to seek help on in the first place… I found it to be incredibly frustrating and time wasting...
Sorry to pick up on this, but I feel it's a very important point.
I can't imagine any therapy/therapist colluding with a client to avoid things or their feelings around the things that cause issue. Simply because avoidance is usually a major part of the problem, particularly with issues like SA. Recovery is not about learning how to avoid our fears/issues better, it's about facing them but dealing with them better.

CBT is by no means my favourite approach, but it can be useful. Going out and doing things in practice is just one aspect of it. Just as important is the reframing of how we see things. You know; the more psychological aspect of CBT rather than the practical. Without the reframing, it simply feels like we are doing the same things that stress us out, in the same way, with the same feelings and thoughts = the same results. Maybe for you there was too much emphasis placed on the practical stuff before the psychological aspects had been worked on to help pave your way forward? I think it can be easy to push a person forward too soon with the practical tasks before the groundwork has been put in first. Maybe this can happen more when therapy is strictly time-limited as it is in many cases. I think most of us here would agree that working on SA issues is a rather slow process and things need to be done gradually and at a managable pace to avoid overload. If pushed too hard too soon it's natural to pull back and take fright.

BabyBoy, sorry for posting that in your thread, but I thought it was an important point to make.

Oddly enough, even though my SA was crippling for a number of decades I seem to have done ok in the relationship department. OK, I've had my heart broken more times than I care to mention, but still...

Despite having a good number of longterm relationships over the years I'm not even sure I'm qualified to give advice on the subject. Mine mostly came in a rather natural way where we started out as friends and/or colleagues. I wouldn't have a clue on how to go about the 'dating scene'.
All I can say is work out who and what you are. What do you like, value and care about? Then work on being the best 'you' that you can be. Work out how you value being treated by others, then offer others the same in return. Try to be warm towards others and show genuine interest in them as people. I find that people tend to respond well when we show such interest and warmth. Sometimes nothing comes of it. Sometimes we can make a friend. Sometimes we may even find a partner.

Good luck with the CBT, and I hope it helps you move forward with your life and assists you in your search for a quality relationship. All the best.


EDIT:
BabyBoy, I just want to add a bit to my post from last night if I may. When I mentioned working out who you are then working on being the best 'you' that you can be, I think it's important to do this because it means you are then living in a congruent manner with your values. This, in itself, is its own reward. It's crucial not to fall into the trap of thinking that if we do X we must be rewarded by being granted Y. Life does not work that way, and believing that it does will only bring frustration. I'm not suggesting that you have or would fall into this trap, but it is one that's easy to fall into if we are not careful.

Thing is; we are much more likely to find a genuinely compatible person when we give out genuine vibes about who and what we are in life.

Last edited by Ajax Amsterdam; 16th February 2017 at 15:10. Reason: Adding the edit.
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  #10  
Old 16th February 2017, 09:07
Coffee Coffee is offline
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All I would offer is that it can seem like dating is the problem, and a lot of guys here get focused on that, but the truth is that dating problems are just an effect.

It's great that you are working on CBT. In truth it takes a consistent, daily, long term effort to change your thinking and behaviour so that things like building friendships and dating, are possible.

Dating while carrying around something like the fear of showing your face that you mentioned, and I'm not judging I had plenty of issues like that in the past too, is just not practical.

Focus on getting past the anxiety, the rest comes from that.
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  #11  
Old 16th February 2017, 10:24
umm umm is offline
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Quote:
any advice you could give would be much appreciated
Quote:
I feel the only way forward is to somehow find a way of being happy as a single person and ignoring the constant reminders out there (i.e – underhand comments, Valentines Day e.t.c...) of those who simply don't know what it's like to have this problem. So far, I’ve failed but surely there's got to be some sort of sanctuary out there somewhere for those who are lifelong single. Somewhere where they'll be treated fairly, their problems understood and will be treated as dignified adults – and not as big children simply for the fact that no one likes them romantically.
I think this is quite key - finding a way of being happy single. Because the thrust of that is basically being happy with yourself, liking yourself and so on, which in my experience is crucial not just for finding a relationship but also for quality of life in general. The problem of course is that it is a rather esoteric concept. Where is the set of steps for becoming happy with oneself? Why doesn't "Smiling and Saying Words Near Everybody" (TM) work as promised?

Again, i.m.e., being happy like that is not an action or a choice but a consequence of other actions, thoughts, and decisions that in isolation might not seem to mean very much. Finding one's passions - what do you like doing? What do you dream of doing? A passion is basically an obsession with window dressing, to make it suitable for public viewing. Not apologising for being XYZ certain way - that is another. Don't be afraid of going niche. So if you are for instance a grown man that likes playing with Barbie dolls (I dunno, just pulling an example from the recesses of my mind) then don't hide that away but flaunt it, embrace it, be it, rock that look, shout it from the roofs. Yes some people will laugh and make fun but it's a fair bet that in this internet age there are others that feel the same way as you do, so those are the ones you need to connect with.

Of course connecting with people while you have SA is a challenge. There's no easy solution for that - to a certain degree you have to just blam through and take a chance - but the important thing is keeping your eyes on the prize, thus making that challenge worth doing. Back to the passion. The socialising aspect is just a stepping stone to fulfilling our desire to do whatever it is. Think of it as just that - not an end but a means to an end. Let's say there is a society of men that like to dress up Barbie dolls (there may be such a thing, I don't know - was always a Sindy man myself). They're having a conference or meetup or something, and we want to go because, quite frankly, it would be amazing! We need no other reason than that. Because of our passion we are pretty conversant with the ins and outs of the Barbie world, so we take a chance and go to this shindig. And guess what - you're surrounded by like minded individuals and - zoiks! - come away having socialised comfortably and - zounds! - may even have been perceived to be some as a bit of an authority on all things plastic and fantastic. We could have forced ourselves to attend an event about mixed martial arts, or doilymaking, or an SA workshop but if those things aren't our obsession, there's little point, and we will come away feeling like we've failed. But we haven't. We only failed to choose the right event for us.

Now, it may be that we go to this event but get all sauky anyway. That's okay because it's kind of expected, and in any case the main objective is to geek out about Barbie. If we do that, we have succeeded but as an SA sufferer that does want to socialise we may need a plan. A quiet demeanour can easily be retooled into a sort of reserved authority, which can stand us in better stead. Sitting near the exit in some meeting can lessen fear of blushing and sweating and if we feel a panic coming on, we can just dash out and get ourselves together. Pretend we have received an important text or that we need to get some air or something - no-one need know, and after all it's our anxiety we're managing, our mental health, and what could be more important an undertaking than that? We're not entrants at "Brilliant Person of the Year". There's a degree of play acting there. Am I going to mask my sauk as tiredness, seriousness, thoughtfulness, busyness, what? There are many options. Have a plan though - it can take the nerves out of it somewhat.

That to me is the set of steps. 1. Obsess over something. 2. Find a public event that caters to your obssession. 3. Take a punt on it, shore up your SA, and go. Once you start to live your life in this way, just the fact of enjoying life more inures you to the jibes and whatnot ever else of others; it acts almost like a shield and without the sense of constantly being judged, your self esteem can rise, to the point where anyone that takes the pee seems a bit boring, unimaginitive, miserable, and therefore exponentially easier to not feel negatively judged by. They basically start to matter less, as the positive things gain more ground. In fact, they are dependent on you, not the other way round. Think about that.

So don't worry overmuch about relationships and friends and social groups just yet. Those things are symptoms of a higher self esteem, not initial causes of it (though they do feed back into it). Make yourself happy first with your passions. Be a geek over it. They will then flesh out your personality which in turn not only makes you feel better but also makes you more appealing as company for others.

Oh - last thing. There's no statute of limitations, no shelf life on personality. The personaity, being a construct of the brain, is very plastic (back to that wonder material!) and easily formed, so it's never too late to do all this stuff.
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  #12  
Old 17th February 2017, 15:42
Hayman Hayman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ajax Amsterdam
Sorry to pick up on this, but I feel it's a very important point.
I can't imagine any therapy/therapist colluding with a client to avoid things or their feelings around the things that cause issue. Simply because avoidance is usually a major part of the problem, particularly with issues like SA. Recovery is not about learning how to avoid our fears/issues better, it's about facing them but dealing with them better.
No problem! I didn't make that sentence of mine very clear, sorry. It wasn't the therapist who said for me to avoid the problems - that was me! The reason why I said that was because the truth is that I don't necessarily avoid my problems. They find me. It's as if I'm a magnet to them.

In terms of dealing with them - I spent all of last year going out more and in some cases, pushing myself to the point of almost making myself physically ill in the process. Whilst in some cases I did actually enjoy myself (and have made one or two steps forward in terms of controlling my fear), in most cases all I done was end up confirming the very reasons why I prefer to not go out in the first place. I'm either ignored completely, insulted, joked about and stigmatised. The very reasons that heighten my SA in the first place. Facing even more of the issues that feed my condition isn't going to improve me. In this respect, I'm already opening myself up to more of the very problems that led to my first spell of diagnosed depression at the age of 20. I don't know how much more 'facing up to it' I can tolerate. Even a punchbag is retired eventually and taken away from being hit... I don't see how keeping on facing the same external abuse from others is somehow going to suddenly cure me. It just keeps on battering me even lower than I already am.

In terms of being a magnet to problems, I can think of one particular case around three years ago when I was merely walking along a street. Two women started pointing and laughing at me...from the other side of the street. They crossed the road, continued on pointing and laughing at me. I went straight home and looked in the mirror to see if there was a problem with me. A mark on my face, clothing issues e.t.c... Nope... I couldn't see a single thing wrong. All I was doing was walking along a street...and negativity come to me. I didn't take a walk along that street again for close to two years.

Then there's the issues I face at work, where it seems I'm to blame for near enough anything. As a result, my SA increases and then when I try to explain, I end up stuttering words or not knowing what to say - at which point I'm then stigmatised. I'm just preyed upon. Continuously. Even when I'm just sitting at my desk minding my own business. I’m not avoiding these problems at all…they just find their way to me and again, this can date itself as far back as my mid teens.

Therefore in my opinion, dealing with them (as I do) isn’t working. It’s just keeping me trapped under the spell of SA. I’m tired of dealing with it…and after another year’s (almost 18 months) worth of maximum effort, it’s again pushing me to the edge of depression… This downward spiral has got to stop somewhere. If facing them and trying to deal with them hasn’t proven to work on multiple occasions in the past

I don’t really enjoy not recommending CBT because I know it does clearly work for people. However, it shouldn’t be considered the only course of action because it certainly doesn’t work for everyone. Sadly, those who it doesn’t work for are commonly demonised by the system and used as scapegoats for a course of action that has failed. They don’t have alternative ways of helping so instead, twist the blame back on the sufferer by using a ‘tough love’ approach… This is why I no longer seek professional help. It just wasn’t right for me and I felt very much rail-roaded down the CBT route.

In short, I was told to go out more – which I already do. That has largely failed. I was told to “make” friends but without any help on how to go about this – forgetting that SA limits what we can do. We’re told to “be” confident and as I just said – without any help on how to do this one step at a time. It was as if I was meant to wave a magic wand in the air and materialise these things. If I could do the very things they were asking me to do, obvious things, I wouldn’t need to seek help in the first place…! I was being told the obvious things I already know about, but they seemed to fail to understand I’m seeking help on how to do those things because I clearly can’t do it alone. This is also a lot of the reasoning behind my three separate spells of depression.

I can truthfully say I’ve taken more positive steps away from seeking professional help than I done whilst seeing doctors e.t.c… I’m slightly more outgoing than I used to be and I’m a little more open to trying new things. I’m taking things at my own pace and going by my own rules – rather than the therapist approach of “go from crawling to being Linford Christie or we’re not helping you. It’s all your fault otherwise…”. I’m more positive about what I’m managing to do alone and I’ve truthfully made more progress over the last 18 months or so than I did for the four or five years with professional help. I know how far I can push myself and push that boundary – and I genuinely have surprised myself despite those steps forward only being small. What I found with professional help is that they’d like to probe your limits, then expect you to times that by ten. There was no gradual build-up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by umm
So don't worry overmuch about relationships and friends and social groups just yet. Those things are symptoms of a higher self esteem, not initial causes of it (though they do feed back into it). Make yourself happy first with your passions. Be a geek over it. They will then flesh out your personality which in turn not only makes you feel better but also makes you more appealing as company for others.
How do you get a higher self esteem though? One catch-22 situation I have is that without any self-esteem, you don't gain any friends or respect. This in turn only keeps you 'flat-lining' in that respect.

For me, I need some positives from other people in order for me to get off the bottom. I can't produce positivity from the negatives I get back from people - the very same people who genuinely wonder why I'm not a confident person! Other people receive compliments... I don't - hence why I lack self-esteem.

I do enjoy my hobbies but it doesn't make me feel any better as they're not that popular and even the online groups of people who share my interests have largely rejected me. I can properly 'geek-out' on my interests but when I've discussed them with people, I've either been laughed at or seen people's eyes literally glaze over...!
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  #13  
Old 17th February 2017, 17:07
umm umm is offline
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@ Hayman I think the idea of you needing external validation - positives from others - is the crux of the issue. You may think it is the only way you can gain self esteem but it isn't. By its very definition it's the opposite - other esteem. This idea that others have control over your self esteem is in fact precisely the thing stopping you own SE so the sooner you can disabuse yourself of that notion the better. How to do it? In my experience it feels like allowing yourself to feel indignation at such people for having such control over you.
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  #14  
Old 18th February 2017, 02:55
Ajax Amsterdam Ajax Amsterdam is offline
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Hi Hayman.
I've had a few beers so will probably talk rubbish, but I wanted to reply anyway. I'm sorry to hear about your experiences of both professional help and your encounters with certain peole out there. I can sort of relate to being something of a magnet for problems. I used to sort of feel similarly. I don't feel that way now, but I can't really put my finger on what changed and why.

I can sympathise with what you said regarding people who don't respond to CBT sort of often feeling blamed for it not working. I agree that there can be a sort of notion that it only doesn't work because the person 'doesn't put enough effort into it', and if they had done then everything would be ok. Fair enough, there are some clients who do expect a magic wand with minimal effort from themselves required, but overall I think people generally do make a lot of effort with it. Sadly, for any number of reasons, they just find it doesn't help move them forward. They should not be blamed for this either overtly or by implication. Methods of therapy are only theories, they are not proven to be effective for everyone by any means.

What I do find encouraging in your post was your last paragraph in your reply to me. It seems that you have made plenty of progress on your own. That's no mean feat and it takes a level of determination, application and dedication on your part. You've done it at a pace you feel you are comfortable with and that you can sustain. I hope you continue to push on and make even more progress in the future.

If I may, I'd like to add a little bit to what Umm has said. Self-esteem and how to achieve it. I'm no expert, but I can relate. For many, many years I had no self-esteem whatsoever. I was actually consumed by self-loathing. In my own experience I'd say that the transition from no S/E to a healthy level of it is not a quick one or a smooth one. How we arrive there is something of a personal journey too, so not something that can be achieved simply by copying how someone else got there.

I can't speak for anyone else's experience, but I grew up with virtually no external validation at all. I sort of learned to try to chase it from others in order to feel ok being me. Thing is, that leaves us at the mercy and the whim of others. Our feeling of wellbeing and worth comes from them rather than us. In short, we give everyone else an incredible amount of power over us. Their judgements can break us with ease. We never really build a decent sense of who we are because we are always trying to please others in order to gain the approval that brings us a short-lived sense of esteem. Any S/E we build in such a way is something of an illusion. It's extremely fragile and prone to implosion the very next time someone disapproves of us in some way or other. In short, we are totally dependent on others for how we feel about ourselves. This is never a healthy way to live our lives.

How do we break out of this? Well, I think we have to look at what self-esteem is. The word 'self' is not in there by accident. It's there because when push comes to shove, esteem must come from within. We have to make a stand at some point and decide to approve of ourselves. It's odd that we often want the approval of others, but fail to even approve of ourselves first. In my case I had to learn to self-validate first. I don't think I'm anything special. I know I have a rap-sheet of flaws as long as my arm. I know I've made a million mistakes in life and will make a million more. But I am also willing to believe that at my bottom line I'm also still a decent human being with some decent qualities. I try to iron out my flaws and build on my good points. It's a work in progress and always will be. There is never a finished article. So, my base level of esteem is a bit like the basic cake. Any external approval I get from being me is simply icing on the cake rather than the entire cake itself. Strangely enough, the more we approve of our own cake and act accordingly, the more icing we tend to attract.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that I agree with Umm. Look inside yourself. Learn to appreciate who and what you are. Show yourself some compassion. Have some faith and trust in yourself. Find your bottom line and build up from there. My bottom line came from looking around me and being honest about the world. In the grand scheme of things I'm an ok person. This was my base on which to build. I'm pretty sure you are a fine, decent human being too. There is something real and concrete to build upon inside you. Validate yourself. This is not to say life suddenly becomes easy or anything, but at least you will have enough self-belief and esteem to help see you through tough times. Validating yourself also takes control back. Yes, the 'icing' is nice, but it cannot be relied upon and nor should it be.

How does all this relate to relationships? Well, how we feel about ourselves can often have real impact on how we are around others and also how others react towards us. Approval is a bit like getting a loan from a bank. When we are skint and very needy the bank doesn't want to know. But when we show we don't actually need a loan, they fall over themselves to throw money at us. So, when we self-validate we tend to act accordingly, and in turn we can often attract approval through our actions. At this point, we might like it and enjoy it, but our survival does not depend on it.

I hope I made some sense there. Alcohol and posting don't often go well together. If it comes over as a load of hogwash then just ignore me.
Whatever you do though, I wish you well.
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  #15  
Old 19th February 2017, 11:31
Angelina Angelina is offline
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I am able to form relationships with the opposite sex as I seem to get on better with them. Unfortunately I always seem to pick the ones, or they pick me, who pretend they are nice for a few years until their real personality comes out. They start taking advantage of my placid nature and start emotionally abusing me and making me feel worthless. My latest partner is on a mission to get my 23 year old son out of the house even though
He cannot afford his own place. It's totally destroying me. He wished my son dead the other day. I'm so tired of conflict and fake people
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  #16  
Old 20th February 2017, 16:43
Hayman Hayman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ajax Amsterdam
I can't speak for anyone else's experience, but I grew up with virtually no external validation at all. I sort of learned to try to chase it from others in order to feel ok being me. Thing is, that leaves us at the mercy and the whim of others. Our feeling of wellbeing and worth comes from them rather than us. In short, we give everyone else an incredible amount of power over us. Their judgements can break us with ease. We never really build a decent sense of who we are because we are always trying to please others in order to gain the approval that brings us a short-lived sense of esteem. Any S/E we build in such a way is something of an illusion. It's extremely fragile and prone to implosion the very next time someone disapproves of us in some way or other. In short, we are totally dependent on others for how we feel about ourselves. This is never a healthy way to live our lives.
Even with the beer you're not talking rubbish at all! I understood all of that!

I just wanted to quote the above paragraph in particular as I can fully relate to pretty much all of that. Other than the odd comment from my mother, there’s never been no external validation for me. My honest efforts are always ignored, I'm joked about or made to feel three inches tall in some way. Hence where my SA developed from. So, therefore I study what other people like just to try and get up that 'social ladder' a rung or two. I'll try to mimic actions/comments based upon my observations over what others like and….still nothing. Yet, someone else could say the same thing (this really has happened in the past) and you can see they’re eyes light up and external validation granted. True – I have been chasing it because I feel that's the only way I feel I can improve purely because I see external validation given to others without making anywhere near the same efforts I've made. Over the years, this is one of the bigger reasons behind my three separate spells of diagnosed depression in my 20's alone. This would explain those implosions you mentioned and indeed, it's not a good way to live. It's very addictive though…

Doctors e.t.c really do need to stop this negative thinking of patients who aren’t responding well to their treatment. It doesn’t make the sufferer a nasty or bad person as a lot of them (from my own experience) immediately insinuate. This doesn't help the sufferer at all and only goes further confirming why they lack confidence and self-motivation. It further proves to them that they're being completely misunderstood. This is one of the biggest reasons why I no longer seek professional help. It really put me off. The last thing I wanted, whilst feeling low was to be told by doctors/therapists was that everything was my fault. They wouldn’t even let me finish my points or explanations as to why I feel the way I do. I'm not a bad person, but treated much like a naughty little school child in detention. I go to seek help but the very things I'm asked to do are the very reasons I’ve gone to seek help on in the first place! If I could jump as high as they were asking me in the first place – I wouldn’t be there!

I've set my own targets and pushed myself in a way I think I can – rather than being pushed way beyond those boundaries by those who have never been in my shoes.

Lastly, I don't want to sound as if I'm pushing all of my problems on others. I understand if it sounds like that. I fully accept my limitations because of my SA and spells of depression. I fully accept I have to work on them to the best of my ability. I have never denied that. My point is that not everything is the fault of the sufferer. There are usually reasons as to why they're that way in the first place… All too often we see the smoke being blamed for the fire… We need just a little bit of legwork from the 'other side' to aid us every so often – and it's this which, in my humble opinion, prevents me from improving further.

Indeed, I've done things for myself which proves that. Since the back end of 2015, I have literally forced myself to go out and socialise more. I met up with a former friend who I hadn’t seen face to face for ten years (and we parted on bad terms – to make that effort even more prominent). I only once said "no" to an invite out with work colleagues throughout 2016 (the "no" was only because I'd already had plans elsewhere). I lost two stone in weight. I spent over £1000 to replace much of my existing wardrobe to freshen my appearance. I spent three days in London with my brother last August (and I'm generally not good in crowds) which I really did enjoy in the end. I've been into more social spaces such as pubs over the course of the last 18 months or so than I did throughout most of my twenties. Granted, most experiences confirmed why I have SA but there was some scraps of positives to take from this and that’s what I intend on focusing on this year. This coming Saturday evening, I'm planning on going to a social club. I feel sick about it, but I'm determined to do it. I know how to push myself and how far I can get myself out of the comfort zone. I feel in control and not feeling I'll bear the brunt of doctor’s negativity if I fail! I’m giving myself little challenges and going by my own rules. Whilst I accept progress is minimal and slow – it's certainly more success than what I was having previously (where I felt like I was actually going backwards). I'm going from point A to B. Then from B to C… With professional help, they wanted me to get to point C – assuming I'd already been able to leave A. Nope… Then from point C, they didn't want be to go to D. They wanted me to leap to Z. If I didn't achieve that, I was literally warned they wouldn’t help me any more and that it was all my fault if I failed. Again – no thanks. I walked away. Being blamed for everything without balanced thinking or looking at the wider picture (as I was trying to explain) is what heightens my SA and depression in the first place. I was there to try and build confidence in myself – not face punishing tests that would send my zero confidence and self-esteem into minus figures.

I have made a lot of legwork myself. I wasn’t told to do any of this! But still…I'm in the same boat now as I was two years ago…as I was ten years ago…as I was fifteen years ago… Nothing ever changes for me and after just over a year of solid effort (and it’s not the first time I've had a push like this), I find myself once again on the brink of depression. I've not had any validation back for my efforts and in terms of romance, I remain dateless throughout my lifetime (I'm 32 in April). To say I feel demoralised and degraded is probably the understatement of the year. The only ‘acknowledgement’ I’ve had back from people not inside my own family is that I need to do even more…even though I done quite literally five times more last year than I did for the previous five years put together. I can only come to the conclusion that whatever I do, no matter how far I go, it'll never be good enough. I'm not given the same windows of opportunity and chances of others. I’m too far gone in terms of being stigmatised…and this is what I mean by not everything being the fault of the sufferer. Sometimes, actions like this do genuinely contribute to the very issues we have. A classic downward spiral!

Again, I find myself seeking validation from others and whilst I should be proud of myself for doing what I done last year (which I am, to a degree – I surprised myself on a few occasions), I consider it to be a completely hollow victory without any reward to show for it. Especially when I know of one particular individual who has only done a tiny fraction of that, but progressed (in terms of romance/friends) ten times further over exactly the same time frame.

I take on board what you say about trying to build self-motivation alone. The truth is whilst I'm certainly not happy with never being a chance with regards to romance, I'm fairly content with myself in most other areas. I'm stable, I'm reliable, I'm happier with my body e.t.c… I feel I have made improvements that I'm proud of and I do intend on using this year to pin-point my efforts on the good points from last year. It's just that at the end of it all – I know nothing will progress for me…and that's why I am the way I am in the first place!

You make a good point over the relationship business…not wanting a loan and banks jumping over themselves to offer them to you. Very true. Whenever I’ve made concerted effort and been open about looking for someone – nothing happens. However when I sit back and act more ‘cool’ – I'm told I'm not doing enough! I can't win!

Thanks for replying!
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  #17  
Old 21st February 2017, 01:57
BabyBoyBelcher BabyBoyBelcher is offline
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Hey, thanks for all of the replies. A lot of things that I identify with and also a lot to think about haha.

The external validation thing is definitely something I can relate to; I grew up as the youngest of four and my siblings were all quite a handful for my parents and as I was always quiet/shy, I think I just blended into the background. So I guess I've kind of accepted that there's where I belong.

By the sounds of it I've been quite lucky in regards to doctors/therapists but I've only been seeking treatment for around 18 months so I suppose there's still time to be disappointed In fact, there was only one experience where I came out of a session feeling worse than when I went in.

I also feel like I have definitely fallen into the trap that Ajax mentioned, where I not necessarily expect a reward when I try to take a step forward but would at least like to be acknowledged for it. Sorry if I'm not making much sense...

Also, a couple of points I wanted to pick up on what Hayman said regarding the opportunities and chances that we don't get compared to others... I'm not judging at all (I'm in the same place after all!! haha) but do you think that SA maybe makes us miss these oppurtunites rather than us not getting them? Tbh I feel the same as you that we don't get them, just wondering how everyone else feels about it?

The point about being told to do the things you're at therapy for is something I can relate to as well; I'm kind of tired of being told that "there's no evidence that makes what I'm thinking true"... I realise that but it doesn't stop me thinking it!!
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  #18  
Old 21st February 2017, 22:20
gregarious_introvert gregarious_introvert is offline
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Default Re: Relationships

^With regard to missing opportunities, I think it's true that we do - and also that, very often, we fail to create them. There were numerous times in my life when I could have started a relationship but dismissed the signals as meaning nothing and others where my anxiety stopped me talking to people. If we start with the assumption that nobody will be interested in us, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; the signs are usually quite subtle and easily missed. Also, I think low self-esteem can be a significant issue, as we can sometimes think a prospective partner won't be interested in someone like us.

I take the point about being told to do those things for which we need therapy in the first place, but there is no real substitute for overcoming our fears by facing them; for some of us, it does take a great deal of preparation, courage and time to get to the point where we can begin to face them and even then there may be setbacks along the way. Whether we employ counselling, CBT, talking therapies, mindfulness, self-help books / videos or whatever, there has to come a point where we (in an ideal world, with the right support behind us) get out there and do it.

In terms of giving ourselves a chance of finding a relationship, there may be things we need to improve about ourselves; I know that presentation (among other things) have been mentioned in this thread, but non-verbal communication is important too - body language, gestures, approachability etc. We don't have to be confident, but if we look (and sound) confident, it goes a long way: head up, shoulders back, open gestures, smiling and such; these things may not come naturally, but the more we practice them, the more they become second nature. Faking it until you make it really can work!
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