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  #1  
Old 19th August 2019, 22:04
Marie8 Marie8 is offline
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Default Why can't I think of things to say to people

I work in a small office with 8 other people. Sometimes it's just myself and one or two people in and I feel so uncomfortable. I never know what to say to most work colleagues and always feel anxious and uncomfortable around them. I usually manage to just get my head down and get on with my work when eveyone else is in, but today it was just myself and one other woman for a few hours in the morning. It was awful and we were in complete silence most of the time and it was really affecting my work, causing my anxiety to increase and I couldn't concentrate. I was just starting at the pc screen for ages. We were working opposite each other and had our backs to each other but the silence was horrible. I was desperately thinking of things to say and made a few comments on the weather several times, signed a lot, or coughed, offered her a cup of tea, but couldn't think of anything else to say. And she didn't speak to me or ask me much either.
But when another girl came in later on and they were chatting away so naturally about various everyday things and it just made me feel like crap because people don't seem to like me or want to speak to me. This female colleague only seems to be quiet around me and gets on well with the others.

What's wrong with me..am I just boring or do I make people feel so uncomfortable because I'm so quiet and when I do speak it probably sounds forced and awkward?? How can I think of things to say to people. Does anyone have any go to things to say or topics of conversation? I don't know how I'll improve my social skills if I can't think of things to say. I don't have a very interesting life, I just work to pay the bills and don't have much to say even to my own family. Does anyone else get this or do you think of what to say but can't say it? As I've said before my mind goes blank and forget words.
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  #2  
Old 20th August 2019, 01:26
anxiouslondoner anxiouslondoner is online now
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

I don't know, I'm the same. I dread being stuck with anyone where I'd be expected to make smalltalk. I am the king of awkward silences... sorry I have no advice.
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  #3  
Old 20th August 2019, 08:49
Tonkin Tonkin is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

I was the same when I worked in an ofice.

Work from home now so don't have to suffer it any more.

What I used to do, is approach it like I’m a stand-up comedian or speech writer (bear with me) and accept that small talk is something I’m not good at, and I don’t have any good material, and need to work on getting better.

A stand-up comedian or speech writer doesn’t just get up on stage and deliver a great monologue.

They prepare beforehand.

So I used to accept that I wasn’t a natural chatter at work, and then prepare some stuff.

I would read the papers that I wouldn’t normally read, that the people at work read, to get some topics to talk about (you could do that online now).

Also, when commuting, I’d look out for notable stuff, like a new shop opening up, or a strange looking bike, any old crap really.

I’d mentally prepare 3-5 things that I could talk about, or ask about, that they knew about, to get the ball rolling each day.

It feels forced and it is.

But part of getting better at something is admitting you aren’t good at it, and then practicing.

I still really struggled with starting the conversation.

Saying “hey, did you hear about David Beckham’s new tattoo” or whatever crap I had, sounded really awful.

But if you listen, people do actually say stuff like that when chatting nonsense.

Of course, you can go straight to the deep stuff, but that’s hard at first!

The sad fact is, if you’re not a natural at office small talk, you have to learn that “skill” or sit in silence.

Good luck!
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Old 20th August 2019, 15:22
Bluebear Bluebear is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

^ I agree, people without SA often do say stuff like that. (Hey did you hear about xx’s new tattoo). A lot of the conversation in offices is small talk, isn’t “interesting” and it’s usually possible to accept that we don’t like small talk, and aren’t good at it, but can engage in it if necessary. Having a few topics prepared can be a good idea (I never did though). I was always the quiet bear in the office which I hated, but in one of the offices I did eventually become more comfortable and chatted to some of the people. I find it even harder with neighbours.. I avoid them and haven’t found anything in common with them. Also I’ve found it easier to change jobs than to change locations...
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Old 23rd August 2019, 00:48
az1 az1 is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

I know exactly how you feel and unfortunately cant help as I'm looking for the same answers. If I could change the one thing about myself then that would be it. It would transform my life.
Hate dropping the kids off to school. I might say hello to parents and sometimes I've had brief conversations with them but next time they completly ignore me. They walk past and wouldnt even look at me, as if I wasnt there!
Now I try and pick them up a bit later so that most of the parents have gone and I dont have to stand there waiting for the kids to come out!
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Old 23rd August 2019, 01:16
Marie8 Marie8 is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

I'm at work tomorrow and dreading it because I don't know what to talk about (I haven't had time to prepare, well to be honest have been putting it off and now it's too late to prepare, so hopefully I can make time tomorrow night...). It's easier to just keep quiet and only talk if spoken to and not elaborate on anything. The things they do usually talk about are not things I'm interested in/know nothing about, but maybe I need to start researching these things, or watch some of the tv shows they talk about etc. It just makes me feel like I have to try and be someone that I'm not if I want to fit in with them. I realise I need to put more effort into it, as I'm not doing so at the moment, but it's finding the motivation to actually do it..
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Old 23rd August 2019, 09:13
Tonkin Tonkin is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Has anyone actually done any work or made any effort to get a list of things to say or become more conversational?

Or do they just wing it, and rock up, with no content and expect the other person to the do the heavy lifting?

I'm definitely guilty of the latter.

But it feels a bit like a fat person saying I wish I was thinner, then doing nothing about it, and eating another punnet of cakes.
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Old 23rd August 2019, 11:23
Aelwyn Aelwyn is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonkin
I’d mentally prepare 3-5 things that I could talk about, or ask about, that they knew about, to get the ball rolling each day.
I do this on the rare occasions I absolutely have to go to some social event, it does make a difference. Subjects like holidays and food are usually quite good, also favourite things - films, animals, hobbies, sport etc. We don't have a TV now but I used to find soap operas useful at one time - force yourself to watch one or two even if you don't want to. Sometimes handing round sweets or cakes in an office can help the atmosphere, clearly you can't do that all the time of course.
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Old 23rd August 2019, 13:54
Tonkin Tonkin is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Yeah, or even read a few film reviews.

I went to the barbers yesterday, and he was asking me if I'd seen this film or that series.

I hadn't as I don't watch much anymore, but at least I'd read a few reviews so I could ask relevant questions.

Apparently they are making Matrix IV?
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  #10  
Old 23rd August 2019, 19:30
Toxic Toxic is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

See I usually spend several hours a day in an office with 1 other person, shes absolutely fine, nice person..we get on great.

However we really are complete opposites, I'm a single loner who likes hiding indoors playing games, shes a sun obsessed mum who enjoys going out a lot. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but as I say..complete opposites

We've spent years together, it was awkward at first..really awkward now we seem to get on and can talk about stuff but I would say theres a lot of times she asks me something and then I answer in the shortest possible way....and then it goes silent for another 20min till she asks me something else. I very very rarely instigate anything as I just don't know what to bring up really

Maybe it helps if you keep up on current events, I know nothing about politics, nothing thats going on in the news...I don't really watch anything on our TV channels, I prefer the American stuff.. I don't care to keep tabs on weather, I don't really go places she would go..because she does things that mums of 13 year olds do..not what 33 year old geeks do

It's taken me years to be passable with her, stick me in a room with someone I barely know and it would be ridiculously awkward!
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  #11  
Old 23rd August 2019, 22:48
Marie8 Marie8 is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

I am very guilty of expecting others to do all the talking and I would say me do all the listening, but my anxiety prevents me from being a good listener. There are a couple of people at work I feel more comfortable around, they are really friendly but I don't work with them all that much and when I do I'm still quiet and a bit anxious, so don't speak much to them.

I want to prepare something to say at work tomorrow but can't think of anything, I just don't know what to say really. I've been on bbc news but I don't really know how to talk about the news, it's just not me. And I do watch some tv series (both English and American ones), but I usually record them and watch them months later, or watch things on catch up, so it's a bit late to talk about them. I find people at work talk a lot about reality tv (which I'm not interested in), food and holidays. I'm not a foodie and I don't go on holiday much. I don't know what I can contribute to any of their conversations. I really want to make more effort, but don't know how. I know I'm putting obstacles in the way, it's just really hard.
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Old 23rd August 2019, 23:36
Raven. Raven. is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

I fully empathise with you, but can I ask why you feel the need to make conversation if it stresses you out to the extent that you feel that you have to prepare something in advance?

I used to do that when I had to make phone calls to friends and family. I would have a list of pre-prepared conversation topics in front of me, and it got to the point where I thought “this isn’t me” because the whole thing felt forced and unnatural.

I’m sure that people can pick up on the fact that some conversations are forced or contrived, and they make both parties feel uncomfortable.

Perhaps your colleague realises and accepts that you are not a conversationalist, and leaves you to get on with your work. Meanwhile, you are at your desk sweating and stressing about what to say, your blood pressure is elevating, your evenings are consumed with what to say the next day…
Just be you.
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Old 24th August 2019, 12:09
Aelwyn Aelwyn is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

^ In a perfect world that's what it would be like, people being very understanding of different personalities. However from my own experience of working in dozens and dozens of different offices, being quiet seemed to attract a lot of negative reactions. People often saw me as standoffish and became quite hostile surprisingly quickly - which made my SA even worse. So I do think there's some point in trying to make an effort, even if it's in a very small way to begin with. It's true it can be stressful trying to come up with topics of conversation, but I would say not as stressful as having to go into a hostile workplace every morning.
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Old 24th August 2019, 21:11
limey123 limey123 is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aelwyn
It's true it can be stressful trying to come up with topics of conversation, but I would say not as stressful as having to go into a hostile workplace every morning.
^
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Old 25th August 2019, 10:32
lone*star lone*star is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven.
Just be you.
Yes, at the end of the day, this is the best any of us can hope to do - simply be ourselves - for better or for worse.

But even so, that still leaves us with two potential problems:

a) Many people don't know quite what that means; to be themselves (because they don't really know 'who they are' as an individual).

And b) Even if we were to act in a way that seemed completely natural to ourselves, that perceived 'behaviour' (by others) might not be considered desirable or even acceptable in their eyes. In which case, 'being oneself' still might not, unfortunately, be deemed appropriate by the other people involved, and might therefore still create a problematic and stressful situation or atmosphere.

I would say that much of this difficulty is simply down to people's naturally differing personalities - and so yes, being a naturally quiet, introvert type in an office environment (which is necessarily a social situation) can clearly be problematic. The obvious answer from my point of view would be to not work in that kind of vocation in the first place. I know that personally I would hate working in an office with other people, so can certainly empathise with your situation.
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Old 25th August 2019, 12:02
Tonkin Tonkin is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven.
I fully empathise with you, but can I ask why you feel the need to make conversation if it stresses you out to the extent that you feel that you have to prepare something in advance?
Networking, or having "allies", or just being on good terms with co-workers can really help with career progression, or keeping your job when it's time to create a list of redundancies.

Also, chatting with people, even if you hate it, can lead to good things, like friendships, romance, or just getting to know people and making connections.
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Old 25th August 2019, 12:45
lone*star lone*star is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

^ Maybe - but still only if those things are you.

If they're not really 'you', then they're likely to remain stressful, not enjoyable and even downright depressing.
So I guess the question then becomes, are the potential upsides you mention, worthy (to you) of justifying the inevitable downsides?
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Old 25th August 2019, 15:24
az1 az1 is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

I changed so many jobs because of the awkwardness. Even if I had topics to talk about, I'd start the topic and someone else takes over or someone else makes the points I was going to make. In the end I still have nothing to say!
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Old 25th August 2019, 20:06
Marie8 Marie8 is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

I wish I could be myself, but to be honest I don't really know what that is.. I'm so used to trying to be like everyone else I am feeling rather lost and like I don't know who I am anymore. I just try to copy other people and their behaviour, that's because I don't know how to act naturally around others. It was the same old story today at work, sitting quietly while other people chatted. People do say things to me sometimes, but I don't know how to hold a conversation with them. And as mentioned above, any topic I do bring up (very rarely!) gets taken over by someone else and I end up not knowing what to say. I really struggle to think of thing to say, even now Im at home and relaxed. I just can't think of anything and it frustrates me so much! I probably need to get out more and join a club or something, but I don't feel up to that at the moment
Anyone recommend any books for social skills development or how to talk to people/topics of conversation/what to say?
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Old 25th August 2019, 23:48
biscuits biscuits is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

^ hey, I used to be exactly like that. I know how horrible it is and how low it can make you feel. It's shit! It's like you have a complete block and can't think of anything to say at all. And anything you say feels really forced, minimal and unnatural.

It's not the same as being too shy to say things, you can't actually think of a single thing to say...even about things that you know lots about. The words all seem to disappear and you're completely blank. I think it's an involuntary coping mechanism. I don't know about you, but I am scared of most people getting to know me. Do you feel like that too?

I'm still really rubbish at making friends and talking to people, especially in groups, but I'm not as bad as I used to be with the selective mutism side of things because I'm more confident.

If it's okay, I'll try and think of some things that helped me and will get back to you tomorrow.
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Old 26th August 2019, 00:31
Marie8 Marie8 is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Hey biscuits, thanks for replying, yeah it really is shit!! I can't act naturally around people and I don't feel at all normal. I long to be like everyone else and I thought if I try and copy others at work I could maybe fit in and appear 'normal', but this doesn't work for me and I still don't know how to behave/what to say even though I have been in this job a while.

What you said is exactly how I am, the words just disappear, even if I am trying to explain something simple, or something I know about. I struggle with this whenever I do try to speak and usually end up saying something stupid or suddenly cutting the sentence short because I forget the words. So I feel it's just best for me to stay quiet and not bother because I know what will happen and will only feel even worse afterwards.

I can't even really explain it now, it's like I have so much more to say but my mind lacks the words I need to express my exact thoughts and feelings. I don't think I'm very good at posting on here but I am trying! I don't know if it's partly dyslexia, but I think most of it is my anxiety and also the fact I haven't had friends for years and lack the basic skills to have a conversation. I read quite a lot, but I don't have a great vocabulary when it comes to conversations and writing. I also have an awful memory and I'm very forgetful, all part of the anxiety I suppose.

I feel the same, I am also scared of people getting to know me as I don't think they would like me and am too afraid of the rejection.

Sorry to waffle on again! Of course that's okay, I would really appreciate that
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Old 26th August 2019, 09:21
Tom Morello Tom Morello is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

I can barely talk in groups, which is very limiting when trying to make friends. My mind goes blank, I've kind of just accepted that that's me. Luckily I'm ok talking one to one.
I can't really suggest ways to improve, the only thing that helps me is being around the same people constantly, but that obviously relies on them being understanding of you in the first place.
I've learnt that once people actually know me I'm a likeable person and from there I don't really care about not saying much.
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Old 27th August 2019, 11:00
az1 az1 is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marie8
Hey biscuits, thanks for replying, yeah it really is shit!! I can't act naturally around people and I don't feel at all normal. I long to be like everyone else and I thought if I try and copy others at work I could maybe fit in and appear 'normal', but this doesn't work for me and I still don't know how to behave/what to say even though I have been in this job a while.

What you said is exactly how I am, the words just disappear, even if I am trying to explain something simple, or something I know about. I struggle with this whenever I do try to speak and usually end up saying something stupid or suddenly cutting the sentence short because I forget the words. So I feel it's just best for me to stay quiet and not bother because I know what will happen and will only feel even worse afterwards.

I can't even really explain it now, it's like I have so much more to say but my mind lacks the words I need to express my exact thoughts and feelings. I don't think I'm very good at posting on here but I am trying! I don't know if it's partly dyslexia, but I think most of it is my anxiety and also the fact I haven't had friends for years and lack the basic skills to have a conversation. I read quite a lot, but I don't have a great vocabulary when it comes to conversations and writing. I also have an awful memory and I'm very forgetful, all part of the anxiety I suppose.

I feel the same, I am also scared of people getting to know me as I don't think they would like me and am too afraid of the rejection.

Sorry to waffle on again! Of course that's okay, I would really appreciate that
I was reading that amd thinking, my god thats me I'm reading about. My memory is so bad. When people are talking about films I cant join in even though I have watched them, because I cant remember what happened in them.
And like you, I just cant find the right words at the right time so I end up saying something silly or end the sentence in the middle. Then I start thinking how stupid I might sound to other people.
I'm also scared of getting too close to anyone, because I dont want them to know what a boring person I am
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Old 27th August 2019, 13:05
sillypenguin sillypenguin is offline
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Lightbulb Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Hi Marie,

Your work situation is exactly the same as mine. I am in a team of 8 but not all 8 of us are always in the same office at the same time and I feel more awkward with certain people than I do of others. There's another guy in my team who is a bit quiet as well and I seem to get on with him more than the others. I almost feel thrown into the limelight with the rest as they are generally more chatty and outgoing and I struggle to make conversation, never mind keep it going. Despite that, they are a good team and I've survived a night out with them despite not being there even two months yet. So its progress I guess
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Old 27th August 2019, 13:52
Schmosby Schmosby is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

^ Good to see you're getting along ok now
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Old 27th August 2019, 17:58
scarlettgirl scarlettgirl is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Hi Marie! Hope you're getting on okay in the job. Just wanted to chime in with exteme relate to all of what you said. To the point where I'd give anything to have a solitary job where i can just plug my earphones in and not have to worry about conversation topics ever again.

Not to say my workmates aren't nice, but towards the end of the day I'm losing the energy to try and engage because it's stressful trying to be conversational in the first place. I think that aspect is to do with being an introvert though. So many extroverts wouldn't consider conversation a chore/tiring at all.

The only suggestion I can give is just try to remember small talk isn't necessarily bad, even if it can be so dull. Some interesting/accidental topics of conversations can come out of it, I find. Unfortunately I tend to trip on when there are more than two or three people around. Groups make me terrified and kind of mute.

Good luck and I hope thngs get better for you!
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Old 28th August 2019, 10:22
Tonkin Tonkin is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Quote:
Originally Posted by scarlettgirl
I'd give anything to have a solitary job where i can just plug my earphones in and not have to worry about conversation topics ever again.
Have you asked if you can work from home a couple of days a week?

Or go part time and then go freelance for the other days?

Although working from home has its own challenges!
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Old 9th September 2019, 19:53
biscuits biscuits is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marie8
Of course that's okay, I would really appreciate that
Sorry for taking several years to reply! It didn't feel right to reply when I was feeling like plop and I wanted to be positive for you. I'm really not the best person to give advice on social things, but these are some things that helped me. Maybe they might not be right for you - hope they help a little bit.




1) Learning about it all really helps. Knowing what's going on up in that brain can help you to be a bit more forgiving. It helps to change how you feel about it all and, more importantly, it helps you to stop calling yourself negative things. I used to be so horrible to myself. So google "selective mutism" and learn all about it.



2) Believe that you can overcome this and that you can work through it. It's important not to slap a label on yourself and think that you'll always be that way. Although at times you might feel like that, but don't ever write yourself off.



3) You have to be patient because it is challenging and it feels impossible for a long time, but you have to keep telling yourself that you can override it with lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of practise.


3) Put yourself in situations where you have to talk. You can start with non-meaningful ones where it doesn't matter too much e.g. make yourself start a conversation about some rubbish with someone at the till in a shop. It does feel really forced and awkward, but it's the first step.


4) Get a job where you have to talk a lot. It's ridiculously difficult in the beginning... but over time it really will help with your confidence in speaking. You'll get to a point where you're confident that you know what you're talking about. Then this confidence will have a positive knock on effect in your social speaking skills.



That's mainly what helped me. Making proper friends and stuff like that is quite hard for me because I'm usually not very open and people think I'm weird and don't want to know me, or sometimes I'm open and people think I'm weird and don't want to know me /. And I never really can tell if people like me or not!
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Old 10th September 2019, 23:39
Marie8 Marie8 is offline
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Hey biscuits, thanks so much for your reply I'm sorry my mind has gone blank again and can't think of a proper way to express what I want to write, but thanks I really appreciate your advice and sharing some of the things that have helped you

I will look up selective mutism as I don't really know too much about it. I feel that my social anxiety as a child has lead to some kind of expressive language disorder. I think because I didn't have many friends as a child, lacked social experiences, had very little interest all throughout school I didn't develop language and vocab properly if that makes sense. I'm trying to go back to the basics and have ordered myself some books, mainly aimed at kids, but hoping they might help me improve on my language skills even if only a little.

I'm going to visit my local library soon as I need to get a new library card and also want to look for some books. So that's a reason to get out more and try to practice speaking to people, even if just asking the librarians where I can find certain books.

I did used to work in a shop years ago and I found it uncomfortable speaking to people, felt like I was always putting on an act and felt highly anxious most of the time. But that's a good idea, as I think exposing myself more and more to social situations and different people will hopefully help me to become less anxious. I do sometimes have to answer the phone in my current job and find that uncomfortable but not as bad as face to face and think I'm getting better at it.

I too am not very open with others and I'm sure people think I'm a weirdo and don't want to know me either. I am so scared to open up to people and tell them about myself as I worry they will think I'm boring and have no personality. I too can't tell if people like me or not, but I feel like no one does to be honest. I know I need to work on this to try and overcome it, it's just so hard. I'm my own worst enemy really, I always think so badly of myself, can't help it.. But I am starting to feel a bit more positive about things. I start cbt next week, so will see how that goes.

Anyway sorry to ramble on, I will definitely try all of these tips, this is so helpful thanks again!
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Old 11th September 2019, 00:35
Mountainstream Mountainstream is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: In my head
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Default Re: Why can't I think of things to say to people

Some of the last 2 posts have helped me. thank you. I don't like starting threads. I usually delete my posts if I start threads and that is judged. And my words are judged too.
A lot of horrible people have labelled me. And I've labelled myself. I wonder if I have selective mutism also. I'm extremely silent in any groups. I doubt if this will change but I guess it might. I've stopped worrying so much about what people think of me since I don't like mean people.
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