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Hi,

Let me first start by saying that what i'm after here is no easy to explain. I will probably have to clarify it a bit later, but for now i'll try to make it brief.

As the topic implies i'm looking for help in becoming more open and extroverted as a person. What i'm referring to, however, is not just about basic social skills - that's pretty simple. I'm talking more about being completely free and open towards others. This could for example mean being better at initiating contact with others(especially women, I guess), being clear, honest and straightforward when showing both thoughts and feelings... and, perhaps above all, speaking and acting in the way you want just because you want to - because it gives you pleasure just being the way you are without boundaries and percieved social limits.

Or to put it more simply; how can I become better at showing others my lovely wonderfull self? :o

Seriously though, I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this matter. I need to get some sleep now but later on, if needed, I can perhaps try and tie this more into some sort of context

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I think the key is self-confidence. If you are confident about yourself, you should naturally feel comfortable in sharing your ideas and emotions with others.

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I think the key is self-confidence. If you are confident about yourself, you should naturally feel comfortable in sharing your ideas and emotions with others.

What helps me talk to people...and I'm a bit of a chatty-Kathy...is that, most people, I don't respect enough to care what they think and the ones who I do will probably like me to the extent I am what I admire-our values and evaluations would be similar. So as long as I am me and me is good...it works out fine either way. The problem I suppose is when you over idealize others and then try to present yourself in a way which you think they would respond to.

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I think I have a serious problem being confident with myself. I don't have a single reason to feel unconfident, really. I'm the best classical guitarist in my grade, I'm in good shape, I get good grades, but it's very rare that I feel good about myself. It's terrible.

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I think I have a serious problem being confident with myself. I don't have a single reason to feel unconfident, really. I'm the best classical guitarist in my grade, I'm in good shape, I get good grades, but it's very rare that I feel good about myself. It's terrible.

What do you think is missing in your life?

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What do you think is missing in your life?

Friends. Primarily those of the opposite sex. However, I can't meet anyone easily when I feel depressed all the time, and the only thing that will make me less depressed is to meet people. It's what they call a Catch-22.

I mean, I know I don't need other people. I got through 18 years with minimal human contact. I haven't been so much as hugged since I was 6 years old. But it's hard to see everyone else around me in big groups laughing and having fun. Why can't I have that?

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... a Catch-22.
These "Catch-22s" are for real. One way out is: baby steps. While X prevents you from doing Y, you can trying doing just a tiny, itsy-bitsy bit more of Y than you otherwise do. Where it does not come "naturally", use your will. Change the circle into an outward spiral, even if the change happens nearly imperceptibly. Use your will to get going, and -- more important -- use it to recover from the inevitable set-backs and consequent doubts that you will encounter. Edited by softwareNerd

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These "Catch-22s" are for real. One way out is: baby steps. While X prevents you from doing Y, you can trying doing just a tiny, itsy-bitsy bit more of Y than you otherwise do. Where it does not come "naturally", use your will. Change the circle into an outward spiral, even if the change happens nearly imperceptibly. Use your will to get going, and -- more important -- use it to recover from the inevitable set-backs and consequent doubts that you will encounter.

Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. I know I need to stop expecting things to change overnight just because I was able to walk confidently for a few hours. I just feel like I'm standing in quicksand. I can do things to sink more slowly and to pull myself out in tiny increments, but it seems like I'm going to be here for a long time if someone with a rope doesn't show up soon, you know?

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Get yourself into a position where you have to talk to people (sports, hobbies, a small job at the weekend or during your vacation) regularly. Be more 'rude', ignore what 'others might think of you'. Just because you don't have friends doesn't mean that you have to be extraordinarily cautious when meeting a potential new friend.

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These "Catch-22s" are for real. One way out is: baby steps. While X prevents you from doing Y, you can trying doing just a tiny, itsy-bitsy bit more of Y than you otherwise do. Where it does not come "naturally", use your will. Change the circle into an outward spiral, even if the change happens nearly imperceptibly. Use your will to get going, and -- more important -- use it to recover from the inevitable set-backs and consequent doubts that you will encounter.

That's how i've been going about it. Only problem is that this makes social situations really exhausting, when you have to force yourself to do things.

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I had a go at writing a short piece about this sort of thing recently, and it echoes what SoftwareNerd said.

If you take something like a phobia, it is a perfect example of a Catch 22. Phobias generally have two causes:

1) A repressed memory (of course, repressed memories aren't fully erased, otherwise we wouldn't have methods for treating them)

2) Repeated association of fear.

Now, these two can usually work together, but they don't have to. If they do, then someone can be jumped on by an angry dog one day, as a child. The scene is so shocking, the child represses it. However, whilst he can never consciously approach the topic, his subconscious is still able to make the subliminal connection between 'dog' and 'fear!'.

The thing that makes this into a phobia however, is repetition. Every time the child goes near a dog from then on, the fear is compounded, and the memory is more deeply buried. The emotional response becomes more automatic and less rational (due to the fact that the actual related value is being buried).

The thing is, whilst the repression is important, it is this second stage that is most important, because it is what allows a phobia to be born from even the tiniest traumatic moment; there could even be no trauma, and the child could just convince themselves there's a reason to be scared.

Essentially, the same is true of social phobia/anxiety and with depression. By repeatedly making 'bad connections' and (more like 'ir') rationalisations about reality, one programs oneself to be automatically depressed about oneself. This is a gross over-simplification, I'm sure, but that is what happens. If you repeatedly see yourself as unworthy of others company, then you'll cause this automatic reaction.

The lucky thing is, as emotionally responsive as we are, we are not ruled by our emotions. We still have Reason, and we can still ignore what might feel like the easy way, to do what is right. It might be easier, in the short term, to shrug off friendship, because one doesn't want to go through the long effort of creating a positive, rational evaluation of oneself; but that doesn't mean one has to shrug it off.

You are capable of reasoning for yourself what you are capable of; what other people have proved they can do in worse situations than yours; what other people are doing right now to achieve what you want to achieve. It takes time, but I can't give any more evidence than to say 'it does really work!' and to ask you to examine the methods of a good psychologist. They don't strap their patient to a chair and demand that they get better -- they tease the cure out of their patient, by getting them to realise how capable they are of curing themselves, by simply taking steps in their daily lives.

I know it's cliched, but the hardest step in any journey, is always the first step. After you see that you can accomplish that first step, there's no rational reason to stop going, unless you lack the will power. I suppose the difficult part is finding the will-power. Personally, I look to art. Art that I enjoy concretises me long-term goals and values in life; it gives me hope that everything I'm striving towards is possible and achievable.

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That's how i've been going about it. Only problem is that this makes social situations really exhausting, when you have to force yourself to do things.
Yes, I think I get what you mean. If you've overcome a habit of shunning away from people, consider if it's time to explore the next step: the nature of those interactions. A common mistake is to frame your interaction with some expectation about what the other person wants, forgetting about yourself. If you've given yourself a personal goal of "interacting" it might seem quite okay to suffer boredom to acheive that goal. This could make it not-fun; it'll also undemine your motivation to continue this process. So, perhaps you can start to work on getting more of what you want out of the interactions.

Would the interaction be exhausting if the conversation is about something you love to talk about, if you're going to places and events you want to go, and doing things you want to do? It probably would not. If it would, then one needs to step back and evaluate the premise that these interactions are a value in the first place. It makes sense to go the next step and start making these interactions what you want them to be.

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I had a go at writing a short piece about this sort of thing recently, and it echoes what SoftwareNerd said.

If you take something like a phobia, it is a perfect example of a Catch 22. Phobias generally have two causes:

1) A repressed memory (of course, repressed memories aren't fully erased, otherwise we wouldn't have methods for treating them)

2) Repeated association of fear.

Now, these two can usually work together, but they don't have to. If they do, then someone can be jumped on by an angry dog one day, as a child. The scene is so shocking, the child represses it. However, whilst he can never consciously approach the topic, his subconscious is still able to make the subliminal connection between 'dog' and 'fear!'.

The thing that makes this into a phobia however, is repetition. Every time the child goes near a dog from then on, the fear is compounded, and the memory is more deeply buried. The emotional response becomes more automatic and less rational (due to the fact that the actual related value is being buried).

The thing is, whilst the repression is important, it is this second stage that is most important, because it is what allows a phobia to be born from even the tiniest traumatic moment; there could even be no trauma, and the child could just convince themselves there's a reason to be scared.

Essentially, the same is true of social phobia/anxiety and with depression. By repeatedly making 'bad connections' and (more like 'ir') rationalisations about reality, one programs oneself to be automatically depressed about oneself. This is a gross over-simplification, I'm sure, but that is what happens. If you repeatedly see yourself as unworthy of others company, then you'll cause this automatic reaction.

The lucky thing is, as emotionally responsive as we are, we are not ruled by our emotions. We still have Reason, and we can still ignore what might feel like the easy way, to do what is right. It might be easier, in the short term, to shrug off friendship, because one doesn't want to go through the long effort of creating a positive, rational evaluation of oneself; but that doesn't mean one has to shrug it off.

You are capable of reasoning for yourself what you are capable of; what other people have proved they can do in worse situations than yours; what other people are doing right now to achieve what you want to achieve. It takes time, but I can't give any more evidence than to say 'it does really work!' and to ask you to examine the methods of a good psychologist. They don't strap their patient to a chair and demand that they get better -- they tease the cure out of their patient, by getting them to realise how capable they are of curing themselves, by simply taking steps in their daily lives.

I know it's cliched, but the hardest step in any journey, is always the first step. After you see that you can accomplish that first step, there's no rational reason to stop going, unless you lack the will power. I suppose the difficult part is finding the will-power. Personally, I look to art. Art that I enjoy concretises me long-term goals and values in life; it gives me hope that everything I'm striving towards is possible and achievable.

This is a very interesting response.

I have often felt "unworthy" because in many ways that's how i've been treated by others, pretty much since I was a kid. Also i've been unhappy about where I am in life and some pretty tough failures i've had to deal with. This has not exactly helped my self esteem. However it's not until recently that i've realised this and started doing something about it; pushing aside those negative influences and starting to find out things about myself that like, that are good and that I even think are admirable.

Many times when I have dealt with people it has left me very disappointed. And when you feel bitterness and only expect people to dissapoint you, well, I guess a natural reaction is to distance yourself from them. But I have found that that's the exact opposite to how I want to live my life.

Um, I guess what i'm trying to say is that I have sort of found the right mindset and self confidence. The difficult part I guess is how to proceed practically and integrate everything.

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Yes, I think I get what you mean. If you've overcome a habit of shunning away from people, consider if it's time to explore the next step: the nature of those interactions. A common mistake is to frame your interaction with some expectation about what the other person wants, forgetting about yourself. If you've given yourself a personal goal of "interacting" it might seem quite okay to suffer boredom to acheive that goal. This could make it not-fun; it'll also undemine your motivation to continue this process. So, perhaps you can start to work on getting more of what you want out of the interactions.

Would the interaction be exhausting if the conversation is about something you love to talk about, if you're going to places and events you want to go, and doing things you want to do? It probably would not. If it would, then one needs to step back and evaluate the premise that these interactions are a value in the first place. It makes sense to go the next step and start making these interactions what you want them to be.

I think that's a very good idea, but I really don't have a clue how to do it.

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Or to put it more simply; how can I become better at showing others my lovely wonderfull self? :thumbsup:

What helps me unease the pressure of socializing with others is to first start with a simple thing to say in order to get the ball rolling. "hey, how's it going?", "got any plans for later on?", etc. It can be anything, it just needs to be something. I find that once the opening statement is made, there is less anxiety between me and them. I do this with everybody I'm around regularly now so I don't have to feel uncomfertable around anybody. I still don't like most people, but it gets me in a comfertable and secure position which allows me to create opportunities if I do like someone.

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What helps me unease the pressure of socializing with others is to first start with a simple thing to say in order to get the ball rolling. "hey, how's it going?", "got any plans for later on?", etc. It can be anything, it just needs to be something. I find that once the opening statement is made, there is less anxiety between me and them. I do this with everybody I'm around regularly now so I don't have to feel uncomfertable around anybody. I still don't like most people, but it gets me in a comfertable and secure position which allows me to create opportunities if I do like someone.

I can't even do that :thumbsup:. I seriously tried today. I had a perfect opportunity to do so, too. I was waiting in line to get my math grades and I noticed the girl standing in front of me was pretty cute. I thought about asking how she thought she did on the test, but decided that might've sounded a little too pretentious. So I tried to come up with something funny instead. We'd been waiting in line for a good ten minutes, so I thought about saying something like "man, I wish I would've brought a book" or something like that. That could work as an icebreaker which could lead to further conversation. I decided it was worth a shot. I opened my mouth to speak, and no matter how hard I tried no sound came out. I couldn't even make a simple, innocent comment in public! This sucks! >:(

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Friends. Primarily those of the opposite sex. However, I can't meet anyone easily when I feel depressed all the time, and the only thing that will make me less depressed is to meet people. It's what they call a Catch-22.

I mean, I know I don't need other people. I got through 18 years with minimal human contact. I haven't been so much as hugged since I was 6 years old. But it's hard to see everyone else around me in big groups laughing and having fun. Why can't I have that?

I am afraid I must reject the notion of a catch-22 in your circumstance. If your depression seems to come from not meeting people(women) then it means that your evaluation of yourself or your life(which is primarily negative) is standing on poor foundations. Essentially, you are hoping to derive self-esteem or self-value through your relationships which is actually a little second-handed. What I would recommend, is doing some serious introspection into your standards of evaluation.

Try to understand how you determine happiness and worth in other people...is it how popular they are, how often they laugh in public, or their private accomplishments? Once you understand how you rank them, apply reason to those standards and determine their correctness. Why are popular people popular? Is it their perfect moral character? Their appearance? Their parents wealth? Why do people laugh? Is it because they have a genuinely benevolent outlook on life? Because they are nervous? Because everyone else does?

Later, see how you apply those same standards to yourself. If they are incorrect, which I highly suspect they are, then consciously begin using better standards when observing others. The more you begin to see the proper cause and effect involved the more those proper evaluative behaviors will integrate into your views and begin being used on yourself subconsciously equating to a more genuinely positive outlook. It will take a lot of time, but being truly happy does not allow for shortcuts. Once you are happy people will want to be around you more then you want them around. Especially people with holes to fill. Then the problem becomes, determining how much value you are receiving from people; whether they are(or will be) worth your time or not. When you know beyond doubt that your effect on people is overwhelmingly positive for their life, (you will know this when because you will be overwhelmingly positive for your own life) then approaching people is very easy. Their rejection is only evidence of their poor or unfounded judgment of character and they will ultimately suffer the consequences of it.

A practical way of practicing this behavior is to try to recognize value or ability in others and then tell them about it. Men and women. It sometimes throws them off a bit, but no one complains about being noticed for things they really are good at(that's critical, don't make shit up). So small acts of honesty or athletic,musical, and mathematical feats....things that really should be recognized, require notice as an act of justice, more so then immoral behavior. Doing so gives you an easy opportunity to speak to people while at the same time allowing you to practice evaluation based on virtue rather than result....or even worse...appearance of result.

I can't even do that :thumbsup:. I seriously tried today. I had a perfect opportunity to do so, too. I was waiting in line to get my math grades and I noticed the girl standing in front of me was pretty cute. I thought about asking how she thought she did on the test, but decided that might've sounded a little too pretentious. So I tried to come up with something funny instead. We'd been waiting in line for a good ten minutes, so I thought about saying something like "man, I wish I would've brought a book" or something like that. That could work as an icebreaker which could lead to further conversation. I decided it was worth a shot. I opened my mouth to speak, and no matter how hard I tried no sound came out. I couldn't even make a simple, innocent comment in public! This sucks! >:(

Or even better, try this one...

he: "how much does a polar bear weigh?"

she"I don't know."

he:"Me either, but hopefully enough to break the ice."

But don't do that! Work on yourself first. Believe me when I say that trying to use someone else to prop up your self esteem is not a habit you want to start. It can only end badly.

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I get what you're saying, but I believe you misunderstood me. I do not wish to be popular, I wish to not be alone anymore. This desire is so overpowering that it is effectively consuming my life. Everything I do seems to be focused on meeting girls, and I avoid things I used to like doing that generate no chance of meeting them. Chronic loneliness is a very painful thing no matter how highly you think of yourself. I think I'm definitely better than 75% of the people out there right now in terms of physical, mental, and musical ability. There is no reason for me to have low self-esteem, but I'm constantly plagued by the gnawing, empty pain of loneliness. Seeing other people in relationships only amplifies the pain. It is difficult to focus on the things you love to do when you're always in pain. Step on a bear trap and leave it clamped to your leg for a few days if you don't believe me. It's getting to the point now that I can rarely ever drive home without having to pull over halfway through the trip and wait until I stop crying. Loneliness is killing me, to put it simply. How am I going to fix something myself when I barely have any control over myself?

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I thought about asking how she thought she did on the test, but decided that might've sounded a little too pretentious.

You're overthinking it. That would've been fine to say. I don't think most people will judge you harshly based on a simple question or comment. They will just answer it innocently.

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If your depression seems to come from not meeting people(women) then it means that your evaluation of yourself or your life(which is primarily negative) is standing on poor foundations.

Not necessarily. His depression may come from his incompetence with socializing, which would make sense then to work on that. Afterall, who is happy when they suck at something that is recurrent.

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Not necessarily. His depression may come from his incompetence with socializing, which would make sense then to work on that. Afterall, who is happy when they suck at something that is recurrent.

I really don't think so. He needs to look deeper and understand why he can't make himself talk to women. Being "bad at it" is not a static fact of nature. If that was the case, simply practicing would fix all woes. His trouble is in being unable to make himself try. So that's what he(you, if you are listening ;) ) needs to understand. Why causes you to chicken out. Why is he so very concerned with how they will react to him?

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I get what you're saying, but I believe you misunderstood me. I do not wish to be popular, I wish to not be alone anymore. This desire is so overpowering that it is effectively consuming my life. Everything I do seems to be focused on meeting girls, and I avoid things I used to like doing that generate no chance of meeting them. Chronic loneliness is a very painful thing no matter how highly you think of yourself. I think I'm definitely better than 75% of the people out there right now in terms of physical, mental, and musical ability. There is no reason for me to have low self-esteem, but I'm constantly plagued by the gnawing, empty pain of loneliness. Seeing other people in relationships only amplifies the pain. It is difficult to focus on the things you love to do when you're always in pain. Step on a bear trap and leave it clamped to your leg for a few days if you don't believe me. It's getting to the point now that I can rarely ever drive home without having to pull over halfway through the trip and wait until I stop crying. Loneliness is killing me, to put it simply. How am I going to fix something myself when I barely have any control over myself?

Like I said to progressive man, don't fixate on these peripheral issues. Relationships are a secondary value. Someone responds to you and you respond to them because of the primary values that you both possess. You can be happy while alone. Physical, mental, and musical abilities are great but they don't define you totally. The problem could be elsewhere. Anywhere really. What(or who) makes you feel inferior?

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Loneliness is killing me, to put it simply. How am I going to fix something myself when I barely have any control over myself?

The fact that you think that you don't have a control over yourself is a part of the problem. Loneliness is a state of mind (and not a state of being). It is a state of passivity and to erase it you have to be active. The fact that you have not assumed a position of control and thus self actualizing/responsibility is preventing you from taking that action.

You have an option to either succumb to loneliness and wallow in self-pity or you can recognize that it is a natural and inevitable experience (you can be in a room full of "friends" and still feel lonly).

If it is to be, it is up to you.

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I was waiting in line to get my math grades and I noticed the girl standing in front of me was pretty cute.

Try starting a conversation with a girl who you don't consider cute. Less pressure when you don't care about the outcome.

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Try starting a conversation with a girl who you don't consider cute. Less pressure when you don't care about the outcome.

I can't believe you just told him to hit on ugly chicks for practice. ;) You clearly haven't thought this through. What if they are interested? :P

He could also try to pretend he's gay while he talks to hot woman. Which actually is more to the point. You need to not need anything from them when you talk to them. They smell fear and weakness. As long as you think you need them to be happy, they are mostly not going to be interested in you.

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