Social Question

WhenAllLightDies's avatar

How can I comfortably interact with people?

Asked by WhenAllLightDies (144points) January 7th, 2011

I am rather awkward in most social situations. I was just wondering if there was anyone that has experience with anxiety, anger, fear, or any combination of said emotions and how to deal with them in public or the workplace.

I value the opinion of anyone that replies, but hope that I will receive an empathic response. If you wish for more information, just ask.

Thank you – WhenAllLightDies

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16 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Welcome to Fluther. I am sorry that you are experiencing such high-level anxiety.

The best thing I did for mine was take an anti-anxiety medication.

Seelix's avatar

I hate to jump on the medication bandwagon, but I’ve been on meds for a few years to deal with self-esteem and anxiety issues. I still have occasions where I’m uncomfortable, but the medication and coping strategies I learned from my doctor and from the book Mind Over Mood have really helped me.

Kardamom's avatar

You might want to consider going to a therapist for a short while. They can give you exercises on how to become more able to interact with people and other exercises on how to relieve your anxiety. If you need some type of anti-anxiety meds they can help you with that too. Ask your primary care physician to recommend a good therapist. Or you can get a referral through the health system at your school if you are a student.

Another idea is to join a group called Toastmasters which you can see here It’s an organization dedicated to teaching leadership skills, especially with regards to public speaking. They are very good at helping shy people overcome their fears.

You might also consider joining a book club (with a friend) and let the host know that you are a little shy and are using the club to help yourself come out of your shell. Have your friend read the books too and go with you to the meetings so she/he can start off and show you by example how to talk with the other members.

If you are a person of faith, you could talk to your spiriual leader and let them know that you are having some trouble and ask how they can help you.

Also, look online in your area to see if there are any classes/worshops that deal with anxiety. Sometimes the Learning Annex has classes like that, but they also might have some that are run through the adult education center or community college system.

erichw1504's avatar

@Kardamom I second Toastmasters! My father is a member.

WhenAllLightDies's avatar

Thank you people of Fluther.

I had a therapist at one stage and she encouraged me to try compartmentalisation. I find it helps, but only if I am at home.

Crowds are horrible. Nothing works in or near groups of people.

I am completely against any medication for my problems, I am glad if they help you, but it is not for me.

I am not religious at all, but I own Bhuddist mala beads, and they can sometimes keep me occupied and calm.

Thank you all again.

marinelife's avatar

@WhenAllLightDies How do you feel about natural stuff? Herbs? I left behind my anti-anxiety medication because of the side effects and went to Calms Forte after researching herbs that help with anxiety. It works well enough for me that I stop taking my prescription stuff.

Other non-medication things that help me stay centered and avoid panic are yoga and meditation.

WhenAllLightDies's avatar

Natural medicines and drugs are still medicines and drugs.

So far it seems as though I should go back to a therapist. And have a look in one of the local bookshops.

The more advice the better.

stump's avatar

Anxiety can be lessened by using relaxation exercises. All emotions are patterns of tension and relaxation in the body activated by ideas. These patterns can be consciously altered with practice. I suggest investigating deep breathing exercises and pranayama yoga. I have been an actor both professionally and in community theatre for many years, and still sometimes have bouts of stage fright. But I have found a few short breathing exercises before a performance almost (not quite) eliminates that anxiety.

Kardamom's avatar

@WhenAllLightDies You might want to find a therapist that deals with agoraphobia if you have some problems with crowds, in addition to the general anxiety you feel around people.

Also, write yourself a list of things that you could do each day (just baby steps) that can help you to practice overcoming your fears about interacting with people. Some of those things could be going to the post office to buy some stamps and asking the clerk how she’s doing today. Going to the grocery store to buy milk and ask the clerk if she thinks it’s supposed to rain today. Go to the gas/convenience store and ask the clerk if she thinks the lotto is going to turn over again. Just little things like that, if done once a day can give you a little boost in confidence. Small talk is kind of like your foot in the door to the party. So sit down today and make yourself a list of 30 things. That will keep you busy for a whole month.

Here are some common places that people go. If you don’t go to these places, make a point to do so and then come up with some small talk questions or comments to make to at least one person that you meet there.

Grocery store, mall, post office, gas station, gym, park, movie theater, fast food joint, out to the mailbox on your street (or wait for the postman) call up some place and ask for directions, go to the gas station to ask for directions, go to AAA to get some maps, go to the bookstore and ask if they have such and such a book. Ask if they have any good recommendations for a certain type of genre of book. Ask the ice cream server what kind of ice cream he/she likes best. Call a restaurant and ask how late they are open or how much a certain item costs. Go to Home Depot and ask on which aisle the light bulbs are kept. Or go to the plant section and ask the clerk what types of plants are best for a yard with low sun light or lots of sunlight. Or better yet, go to the mall and go into 10 different stores and ask each of the clerks a question (even if it’s the same question) Such as where is the food court.

Good luck : )

WhenAllLightDies's avatar

That is a bunch of good ideas!

And then you mentioned the word ‘party’... Which made me a bit anxious… Bahaha…

Thank you.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Just remember: they’re more afraid of you than you are of them.

No wait, that’s bears.

Axemusica's avatar

Don’t really have an answer for you @WhenAllLightDies but I did want to say I love your name. Is it a band name? Because it’d make an awesome one! (o.o”)-b

WhenAllLightDies's avatar


Close, It is the title of a song by Trivium, album Ember to Inferno.

“In this chasm lying broken
Is a child charred inside
No more is there any hope
Shattered bones bloodied scars
Deliver me towards the soil
Close up the sun grant me rest
In worms coil
It’s so beautiful
World outside of this cell
With a somber gaze
I take in what will never be

Prayed to be free
Broken on my knees
God won’t appear
When all light dies
It’s my only wish to die
Free myself from your reign of terror
So many times swear I died
Why won’t the blood loss kill me
Deliver me towards the soil
Close up the sun grant me rest
In worms coil
It’s so beautiful
World outside of this cell
With a somber gaze
I take in what will never be

Make me swear if I see your face again
I’d make you pay for the years of abuse
F*ck you
Tie you up make you bleed tear you apart
Limb from limb so many years I’ve held this in
I want to take your life
Make me swear if I see your face again
Tie you up make you bleed
Just like me.”

Good song.

lilidauphin's avatar

Your situation may be caused by fear. The best way to get over our fears is to do what we fear the most. Although some issues may also be caused by emotional issues that we may have encountered as kids. However, we have the power to change our destiny by facing our fears head on and say:“Hello Mr. Fear, what can I do for you?” I used to be so shy that whenever I was asked a question in class, I would nearly pass out. Not anymore child. Those days are gone. Although I have yet to conquer my fear of public speaking. I am working on it.

Whenever you feel fear, take a deep breath and confront that fear. Take control of the fear. Stand strong and tall and say to yourself:“Yes I can do it.” My dear, if you believe you can do it, you will do it. That’s just the way it is. You must believe in yourself strong enough to conquer anything. I know you can and you will. Let’s do it together. Yes, you can and we’re right behind you.

WhenAllLightDies's avatar

According to my new therapist, I am possibly schizophrenic, I doubt it though. She just suggested it as a possibility, and from one of my friends, I know how people with mental ilnesses are treated by everyone. I think that I just like being in control, I fear the loss of any control, ie, situational control, emotional, physical, etc.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and asume that you aren’t telling me to just walk into a crowd of people and drop my bag of marbles, as that would only achieve more anxiety… And not just for me…

I understand your point of veiw, but unless the world slows down I might just have to avoid masses/groups/mobs of humans.

And horses.


Seelix's avatar

@WhenAllLightDies – I’m happy that you’re seeing a therapist, and I’m happy that she’s exploring potential reasons for your discomfort. I’m not saying that schizophrenia is probable in your case – I don’t know enough about it to be able to make any kind of assessment.

I do want to say, though, that no matter what your diagnosis, it’s nobody’s business. You said “I know how people with mental ilnesses are treated by everyone” – you do know that you don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to, right? Whatever you and your doctor decide is the best treatment/therapy for you, it’ll only serve to help you, not hinder you.

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