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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Basically, I know I have social anxiety. I've been working extremely hard at trying to not let myself think that people automatically don't like me but that thought is a constant in any social situation despite knowing it isn't true. What this has also done is make myself spread out way too thin. Maybe it's self confidence issues too but I just constantly wonder what it is anyone would like about me? I find myself boring, awkward, and unnatractive - whether this is the cause of my social anxiety, the result of my social anxiety, or part of a vicious cycle, I have no idea. But I basically have three pretty close circles of friends that I spend time with pretty regularly. I also have a girlfriend who I think I want to break up with because I feel like she doesn't value me but again, I don't know if that is my anxiety talking or not. But anyways, I'm not especially close with anyone aside from the one high school friend I still have who I talk with at most once per month. And this kills me. I constantly feel like an outsider and any sort of semi-criticism or knock on myself tends to make me completely withdrawn. Yet I know, deep down, that these people do like me. I mean, I'm constantly having to say no to plans but I never really feel truly satisfied with any of these people. Maybe someone can help me or maybe I just needed to vent. I really don't know. I just feel so lost and horrible about myself right now.
 

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Hey! I have social anxiety too (I'm 15, turning 16 within a couple of months), just wanted to let you know you're not alone. It just sucks feeling lonely and inadequate and stressed all the time - I know the feeling. I'm not really good at giving advice, but what I do know is that we (especially as INFPs) are our own worst critic. I'm not sure what else to say, but you are more than welcome to talk with me :)
 

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Hi!

I have social anxiety too, so I can relate to assuming everyone doesn't like you, withdrawing as a result and whatnot.

I saw this post at a sort of a relevant time... I've been struggling with issues at work because of my SA. Today was a day I put myself out there and forced myself to interact with others more than I typically do, and I saw positive results. Sometimes I fail and embarrass myself, but today I handled it well.

I'm probably not telling you something you don't already know, but social anxiety is not something that is easy to address, nor is it something that can be cured overnight, but the first step is to try. IMO, one of the best things you can do when plagued by an irrational fear is to face exactly what you're afraid of. When the world doesn't collapse at your feet, you might internalize the positive reinforcement. The more times you do this with positive (even neutral) results, the less likely you are going to want to stay in a fear-loop. Avoidance only perpetuates the problem, unfortunately.

A doctor is definitely a good idea for insight, knowledge and inspiration, but your progress is going to be made by you and you alone. If you're familiar with the site Meetup, I know they have social anxiety groups in some areas. In my personal opinion, a good way to test yourself is to willingly put yourself into a group of strangers... and a safe way to do that is a group that would understand, such as a support group.
 

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Sorry about that. I dealt with probable SA in high school and in my early 20's. I still have bad days, but I can survive most of the time. If any of your friends are extroverted, maybe you can have them drag you to public events? Sort of the stereotypical face your fears thing. It's honestly what I credit for helping me.

It's easy to say from here, but everybody has a fragile self-image in one way or another. If you can realize that we all think we're dorky, unattractive dolts, then we're all playing on an even playing field :). I hid myself from social events in high school for the same things you're saying. When I actually attended the high school prom, everybody was happy that I was there. Another funny story; in my good office job they let people dress up for Halloween. I tried to dress up as Johnny Cash; everybody thought I was "generic handsome guy". Almost had to shed a man-tear, after roundhouse kicking something or eating rare steak (insert manly thing here) :)

Not sure about your girlfriend, positive or negative. Have you told her about your SA?
 

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I feel you... I struggle with similar feelings. About your relationship, I'd say leave it alone. When my husband and I first started dating, I constantly questioned whether I 'deserved' him or not, and even considered breaking up with him for his sake. There was one night where I was really thinking hard about doing this, but then I realized I had the song 'Let it be'by the Beatles stuck in my head, and I decided to do just that: let it be (I feel like God often speaks to me through song lyrics...)

Anyway, about the anxiety, try reading 'The Mindful Path through Shyness' by Steve Flowers. I read our as part of a project for school and found it very helpful. Also, don't beat yourself up...this is something I've had to learn. Be a friend to yourself.
 

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Basically, I know I have social anxiety. I've been working extremely hard at trying to not let myself think that people automatically don't like me but that thought is a constant in any social situation despite knowing it isn't true. What this has also done is make myself spread out way too thin. Maybe it's self confidence issues too but I just constantly wonder what it is anyone would like about me? I find myself boring, awkward, and unnatractive - whether this is the cause of my social anxiety, the result of my social anxiety, or part of a vicious cycle, I have no idea. But I basically have three pretty close circles of friends that I spend time with pretty regularly. I also have a girlfriend who I think I want to break up with because I feel like she doesn't value me but again, I don't know if that is my anxiety talking or not. But anyways, I'm not especially close with anyone aside from the one high school friend I still have who I talk with at most once per month. And this kills me. I constantly feel like an outsider and any sort of semi-criticism or knock on myself tends to make me completely withdrawn. Yet I know, deep down, that these people do like me. I mean, I'm constantly having to say no to plans but I never really feel truly satisfied with any of these people. Maybe someone can help me or maybe I just needed to vent. I really don't know. I just feel so lost and horrible about myself right now.
Hi @LandOfTheSnakes... social anxiety is awful and as you can see you are not alone in these feelings.

You have asked exactly the right question (in bold above).

It is good that you have identified that part of the issue is how you feel about yourself.

It is a vicious cycle and when I was caught up in it, it went like this:

1. I'd think to myself myself "I'm so boring and ugly and weird, who could ever love/accept me for who I really am"
2. Interested person sees a spark or a trait that they admire in me and draws closer
3. Part of me craves the love/acceptance and part of me wonders what their agenda is because my world view is "no-one could ever really love/accept someone like me"
4. I then hope for the first but begin looking for evidence of the latter and eventually succumb to confirmation bias
4. This reinforces the initial belief (see step 1 and repeat)

I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that you aren't just venting and would like some suggestions from someone who has learned how to keep this in check (welllll... 95% of the time anyway).

The next hurdles for me were:
a). Identifying ways that I could change my view of myself; and
b). Having the emotional, mental and physical stamina to implement the changes.

For a).
- I evaluated myself for "the things I don't completely suck at" (because I could not admit that I was actually "good" at anything)
- I spent as much time as I could doing those things
- I went to a life coach instead of a counsellor because life coaches are more future focused and I was sick to death of going over my crappy past
- I wrote down one positive thing about myself every night for a year (on bad days it would be something like "I have never committed a felony" or "I am capable of kindness")
- I made myself accept compliments graciously then looked for kernels of truth in the compliment rather than looking for fallacies
- I developed my emotional intelligence
- I used my Ne to build creative visualisations that strengthened me

For b).
- I made sure I got into regular sleeping patterns
- When I had negative thoughts about myself I would imagine writing them down and burning them, scattering the ashes to the wind
- I made sure I did something active each day
- I asked my SO for lots of cuddles

I don't know if that helps you but it certainly helped me.

Out of interest, how do you other INFP's keep negative self perception at bay?
 
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Sorry you are feeling so isolated.

I get into phases where I feel like you are describing. I've went through years where I was a total hermit because of it.

I find setting goals and then taking action impersonally is the only thing that gets me out of it. I call it, "Leaving emotion island and getting mental."

After that, I let things take a life of their own.

~~~

It's possible that your SO is not a good one. I don't know your situation. An SO who breaks commitments and/or says demeaning things to you is not a good one to keep around.

If you SO does neither of these things, remember that another person can neither heal you or emotionally fulfill you beyond a very limited point. A sweetheart is very nice to have, as social relationships are important to all mammals, but they ultimately can't make you a content or engaged person.

INFPs who dream of a savior are putting themselves in a very unempowered position. They are practically setting themselves up for future unhappiness. If you are an adult, you must be your own hero in life 99% of the time. This can either be incredibly sad news or fantastically empowering news, depending on how you choose to look at it! The keys to an empowered life are largely in your own hands.
 

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Basically, I know I have social anxiety. I've been working extremely hard at trying to not let myself think that people automatically don't like me but that thought is a constant in any social situation despite knowing it isn't true. What this has also done is make myself spread out way too thin. Maybe it's self confidence issues too but I just constantly wonder what it is anyone would like about me? I find myself boring, awkward, and unnatractive - whether this is the cause of my social anxiety, the result of my social anxiety, or part of a vicious cycle, I have no idea. But I basically have three pretty close circles of friends that I spend time with pretty regularly. I also have a girlfriend who I think I want to break up with because I feel like she doesn't value me but again, I don't know if that is my anxiety talking or not. But anyways, I'm not especially close with anyone aside from the one high school friend I still have who I talk with at most once per month. And this kills me. I constantly feel like an outsider and any sort of semi-criticism or knock on myself tends to make me completely withdrawn. Yet I know, deep down, that these people do like me. I mean, I'm constantly having to say no to plans but I never really feel truly satisfied with any of these people. Maybe someone can help me or maybe I just needed to vent. I really don't know. I just feel so lost and horrible about myself right now.
I'm in my 50s now but when I was just out of high school, I could have written a very similar summary of myself.

Anxiety comes from not having had enough personal experiences that would prove yourself to yourself. You have not established a track record yet of proficiency on relationships, business, and other aspects of life.

I went through a lot, and I mean a lot, of anxiety throughout much of my life. It ended once I saw myself as who I truly am and stopped pressuring myself to emulate others who I perceived as more successful at appearing smooth and in control.

You will appear smooth and in control once you accept yourself just the way you are. There's a lot of pressure from others who cannot see any success for an INFP the way they are. They're full of advice that you should change things about yourself.

The idea that you are inherently inferior is a falsehood and your greatest success in life will come when you figure out your own unique way of dealing with the challenges of life.

Read up on INFP. Recognize what works for you and what doesn't and refuse to walk the way other people feel you ought to walk.

Then follow your heart and trust that you already know what you want. Opportunities to make money, have a family, and anything else will spring up, be certain to take them in stride and trust your instincts to handle them as you see fit. If others criticize you, just realize they aren't in your shoes and are only reflecting how they would handle things.
 

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Basically, I know I have social anxiety. I've been working extremely hard at trying to not let myself think that people automatically don't like me but that thought is a constant in any social situation despite knowing it isn't true. What this has also done is make myself spread out way too thin. Maybe it's self confidence issues too but I just constantly wonder what it is anyone would like about me? I find myself boring, awkward, and unnatractive - whether this is the cause of my social anxiety, the result of my social anxiety, or part of a vicious cycle, I have no idea. But I basically have three pretty close circles of friends that I spend time with pretty regularly. I also have a girlfriend who I think I want to break up with because I feel like she doesn't value me but again, I don't know if that is my anxiety talking or not. But anyways, I'm not especially close with anyone aside from the one high school friend I still have who I talk with at most once per month. And this kills me. I constantly feel like an outsider and any sort of semi-criticism or knock on myself tends to make me completely withdrawn. Yet I know, deep down, that these people do like me. I mean, I'm constantly having to say no to plans but I never really feel truly satisfied with any of these people. Maybe someone can help me or maybe I just needed to vent. I really don't know. I just feel so lost and horrible about myself right now.
You know what's interesting? Even though I don't see you post near as much as some of the more regular members, I distinctly remember something about you. I vividly recall a thread about Israel and Gaza and you responding that you had been in the area for a couple months and reporting what you had witnessed to the folks here debating the events from a safe distance. I remember thinking, wow, this person actually has boots on the ground, is observant of the people around them and is *doing something*. That might seem a small praise, but I can tell you it stuck with me all this time.

To put it in perspective, I also read a thread not too long ago, probably a random INFP lamenting their existence (as we tend to do), and someone replied with videos of interviews of different folks who reacted to the (questionable) death of Heath Ledger. Regardless of whether his death was accidental or intentional, the fact remains that he was depressed and self-loathing at the time. But it turns out all these people who had known him had an impression of him that was entirely different from how he saw himself. They found him incredibly gifted, an amazing ability to make people smile and feel good and are devestated by his death. And for that matter, look at Robin Williams.

The connection I'm trying to make here, albeit probably rather poorly, is you yourself have left an impression out there to someone who sees you in a different light than you see yourself. If I'm just one random person who read a post of yours months ago and still remembers it, imagine the difference you've made for people even closer to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I really appreciate all the responses. Honestly, this all has a whole lot more to it than what I originally posted - one of the huge barriers to me actually going to get help is, 1, I think I am a pretty strong person and can get through this and, 2, I am strongly interested in the Peace Corps when I graduate and I've seen that mental health can be a a barrier or even a straight up disqualifier to be accepted. But since posting this, I've worked at opening up. It's really helped me find out who actually cares about me, even though I've only attempted to tell five people, three have really, genuinely cared, one been indifferent, and possibly the thing that hurt the most is that the one person who didn't make an effort to make me feel better is my mother, who I identified as a narcissist years ago but for some reason keep believing something will change. And I guess the thing that scares me the most about my relationship is that my girlfriend reminds me a bit of my mom, which obviously is raising major red flags.

But really, I just want to thank everyone who responded here. Your kind words have helped me so much and I know things will improve :)
 
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