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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently, and throughout a lot of periods of my life, I've thought about why it is so difficult for me to meet new people. I've read a few self help sites, and I've watched a few youtube videos like this one:


The common theme to me seems to be turning off what I call the "social filter", which is the filter that people like me throw up to hide my true self. Personally, I created this filter so I wouldn't, A.) look or say something stupid, B.) say something offensive, or C.) give a messed up person fuel to make me feel bad. Now, this general filter I have in my mind has stopped me from meeting new people completely, and I don't really have any social skills at the age of 23. One of the questions that pops into my mind is, would it be easy to just get rid of this filter? Would it be possible to just talk to people like I talk to my cousin and the few friends that I've made over the years just by saying what's on my mind? It would probably be really easy to do so, but I think the thing that holds me back is the second question that comes to mind: would it be socially acceptable to do so? The fears that I stated earlier are tied directly to this. Are the thoughts in my head something that the people around me would accept? This is the fear that holds me back from doing pretty much anything socially. Since people are unpredictable, it is impossible to know their response until I say something. As you could imagine, this is a frustrating loop that gets me trapped, but it only gets me trapped because I let it. Now, I know there is a problem, and I know what the problem is, but I don't know the approach to fixing it. I've spent 23 years developing this mindset, and it's hard to ignore all of that to the point where I move on and try something different.

Recently, this revelation has caused me to apply this question on a social level. Would it be possible for things like sexism, chauvinism, racism, homophobia, etc to disappear if everyone acknowledged that they were just a mindset that our minds have created over time, or have these things become so ingrained into our minds with such a loaded and heavy history that it would be impossible to ever erase them from our minds completely? Is there a way to get ourselves to change such set in mindsets on both an individual and societal level, or are we stuck with the lessons and philosophies we've learned in the past?

Feel free to give your opinion on either my personal situation, or the social situation that I have outlined, or both if you prefer. Changing how we think seems like an easy thing to do when we say it like it's an action like taking out the trash, but it is a process.
 

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I think what's socially acceptable is meaningless, it is a creation of ours. And so are those barriers you speak of. I can see you are someone introverted, really, really introverted. Meeting new people, if you want, is easy, just talk! That's all there is to it. There isn't a science to it. Interact with others but always make sure you feel confortable.

About mindsets...as generations go by they tend to have an easier time accepting things older generations have a hard time grasping, such as people of the same gender sharing a loving relationship. However, it isn't a sea of roses. A good bunch of my acquantainces are homophobic and quite sexist. It just depends on the people, I myself think everything is normal, and am not surprised by it much. Though, I think men tend to be more judging than women.
 

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This is just my perspective. I hope some of this is helpful :)

My realization is that the social constructs we build holding society together are just arbitrary. They are built on what signs we have learned through our lives. It is naive to think this has always been and will always be. These mindsets you speak of may be seen as rigid today, however how did they come into existence? They were taught to us, or interpreted in some way through our early development. We pick up these constructs and pass them to the next generation. This process is not perfect, meaning shifts and changes occur, and this affects the mindset from generation to generation.

When we look back at history, we may project how we would have experienced that time, however what the human experience at that time actually was may be something we may not be able to conceive because these constructs (be it every social convention, every sign, every symbol, every mental construct built through our lenses and understanding of these things, even language or the lack of words, or even words whose meaning we can not today comprehend) are not known to us, and our constructs not known to them. I believe one fo the first humans who walked the earth would not understand us or our ways today.

Perhaps there is something underlining these mindsets I have yet to realize?
Perhaps it is the ability we have tonform these constructs is the connecting thread. Now I do not think we can just change people's mindsets, I do think however with time mindsets will change, this change partially controllable (that is what we pass onto our children).




As for social interaction, I ask, what have you got to lose just speaking to someone?
Another thing, if you say what is on your mind, and it is received badly, what have you learnt? This person will probably not make a good friend.
If what is on your mind intrigues another, what have you learnt? That person may be an interesting person to keep around and become a potential friend.

If being afraid of this being socially acceptable is holding you back, place yourself in an environment where striking up conversations is socially acceptable. Joining a new club of something that interests you is a good start. Here it is perfectly acceptable to talk to people you barely know as you are joining the club, and if really stuck you have something in common to talk about :)




As for shifting mindsets, this can be difficult but not impossible. The hard part you have done, to be aware of the mindset holding you back.

The harder part that comes next, learning the truth to this insecurity that has created the mindset. This requires facing your own inner truths (something the mind may even hide frome itself).

Then the next step, to challenge this insecurity. Often our insecurities aren't based on fact. It may start as a fact (could be an event that happened) and becomes an idea we build upon in our minds until it reaches such proportions it is no longer connected to the reality. Challenging the idea and seeing how it does not stack up to reality now helps to dismantle it.

Through this dismantling our mindset begins to shift.


What also helps is identifying this is indeed a choice, that is "you let it" happen. For this to work you have to want this to change, and you have to believe you can change this. Being a choice, you can change this.
 

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I'm really pleased this thread is here as it's helped me identify that I've been doing the same thing myself. I've also found it difficult to meet new people and I have put up a lot of social barriers, particularly at stressful times in my life. I find myself becoming quite defensive and while I don't want to put barriers up, I do find it difficult to think clearly and realise what I'm doing and how it's the exact opposite of what I want or need. I think it is related to my self confidence, I found it particularly difficult in the past although went through a good few years where it didn't bother me as much and was able to make friends much more easily. I found when my confidence was growing that I was able to ignore these barriers more, which made it easier to communicate and make friends, which in turn improved my confidence. The last two years I've had a lot of knocks to my confidence, and now found it very difficult to relate to people and I've put these walls up again out of fear of being rejected. In the past I've found alcohol was a very useful way of removing that social filter, and I over-indulged in alcohol for that reason. I felt like I was able to relax and not worry about how I was communicating with other people, of course I wouldn't do that now and wouldn't advise others do that as it didn't fix the issue, as I said above it was taking the steps to improve my confidence that worked in the past.

I do think its utterly stupid that we create these social barriers, it is self destructive, before I even give myself the chance to speak to someone and get to know someone there's a voice in my head which tells me what I should or shouldn't do or say under the guise of being 'socially acceptable' when others here have quite rightly said that we create that ourselves. Other people just seem to ignore that and say what they feel. I'm not critical of what other people say or how they behave, so I don't know why I'm so critical of myself. It's probably much better to just say something, anything, even if it is stupid, because at least that way the lines of communication are open, which will help people feel at ease around you and open up to you, so you open up to them and it helps remove these barriers. As Ksara said, finding a place where it's socially acceptable to talk might really help in this regard, like clubs where there is a chance to get to know people. I know this has helped me in the past.

The sexism, chauvinism, homophobic, racist etc. point almost goes against what I've just said about the social barrier - I would prefer people to think twice before making such idiotic and hurtful comments. Perhaps if people thought twice about how it makes others feel we might have a nicer society. Then again, I go too far the other way and think far too much about the effect of what I would say, so much so that by the time I'm ready to say it, the conversation has moved on and I've missed my chance. I know that's not what the OP was referring to though, I do think these are mindsets that people have, and sometimes it takes time for people to re-evaluate these mindsets but there has to be the will to do it.
 

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Try asking everyone how they're doing. Not just friends or family, but people in shops, bus drivers, receptionists at hotels or anyone else you'd normally have to speak to anyway, but wouldn't normally do so in a casual manner. It may not start many conversations, but they might ask you the same in return and eventually build up a little rapport. I very much doubt this is often the way lifelong friends are made, but I think it could be a good way for you to work out a few more of the real boundaries people adhere to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Try asking everyone how they're doing. Not just friends or family, but people in shops, bus drivers, receptionists at hotels or anyone else you'd normally have to speak to anyway, but wouldn't normally do so in a casual manner. It may not start many conversations, but they might ask you the same in return and eventually build up a little rapport. I very much doubt this is often the way lifelong friends are made, but I think it could be a good way for you to work out a few more of the real boundaries people adhere to.
Good idea. It would also be a good chance to hear some interesting stories. Getting to hear a good, real story is one of my favorite things, honestly. It's one of the few good things about riding the bus a lot.
 
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