Monday, February 13, 2017
Myth: You need to be humorous to attract friends
Do you know people who don't have a sense of humor but still have friends? Plenty! Having a sense of humor is not a prerequisite
for people to want to spend time with you. Can you imagine how sometimes some people might actually be turned off by
someone who is humorous. They might think "everything's a joke with him, he's never serious, how can he empathize,
everything's great with him, he couldn't relate to my life." So being humorous is neither a requirement nor is
it a guarantee people will want to spend time with you.
12:02 am est
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Another myth: People want to be with attractive people. Not!
Think of how much money people spend on their appearance, even more than their physical health! But does it really pay
off? People might have an initial attraction or curiosity to an attractive person, but after their curiosity is satisfied
they don't necessarily stick around. Do you know people who are not particularly attractive but still have friends.
Of course. Can you imagine how some times some people would be uncomfortable around an attractive person? They might
feel insecure and jealous. They might not try to ask the person out for a date. They might think the person is shallow
or even dumb. So, being attractive is neither a prerequisite for others to hang out with you, nor is it a guarantee.
12:10 am est
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Why do people want to spend time with you?
I blogged on December 27th that people with social anxiety have some pretty demanding standards that they think they have
to satisfy just to get others to spend time with them. For example, they think they have to be extremely intelligent
and have smart things to say. Is this true? No! People who are not smart have friends too. So sounding intelligent
is not a prerequisite for people to spend time with you. In fact, sometimes some people might actually be more uncomfortable
if you frequently say smart things. They might not understand you. They might feel jealous or insecure and not stick
around. They might feel you're too removed from the reality of their day-to-day lives and that you couldn't possibly relate
to their feelings. In sum, being very intelligent is neither a prerequisite nor a guarantee that people will feel comfortable
9:12 pm est
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
6:37 pm est
"I know what people think of me."
6:35 pm est
Do you believe this? People with social anxiety do. Is it even possible to read people's minds? Of
course not. But there is a good indicator whether someone is comfortable being with you. It's very simple: they stay
with you for 5 minutes. It's not a question of whether someone is comfortable or uncomfortable around you. It's a question
of degree, not all or nothing. The question is how uncomfortable are they. Are they uncomfortable enough to matter?
If they're still with you for 5 minutes then they're not "uncomfortable enough to matter." Or "they're
comfortable enough" to want to stay with you. The other question is how frequently are they uncomfortable enough to matter.
If they're sometimes staying and sometimes leaving it's a pretty sure bet they're generally comfortable with you. Everyone
has competing priorities for their time and also have obligations or other friends they also wish to see.
the bottom line is this: People would have to leave you most of the time after just a minute to prove that they're uncomfortable
enough to matter. And what would you have to do to make them want to leave you consistently most of the time? It would
have to be something extreme. You'd have to scream and threaten them, punch them in the stomach, or consistently curse them
out, not shower for a month, or sleep with their significant other.
So this begs the question: why are
people willing to spend time with you, despite the ordinary risk of them once in a blue moon feeling uncomfortable with you?
Read future posts to this blog to find out.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Why is making friends so hard?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? People with social anxiety do all the time. They place extreme demands
on themselves to be accepted. They think others somehow have cracked a code and know exactly what to do. They think
others are interested only if they know what to say, are smart, attractive, humorous, friendly, outgoing, a good listener,
successful, have similar interests, backgrounds and values, etc. It's daunting; it's also not true.
11:08 pm est
Monday, November 21, 2016
YOU CAN ONLY GET BETTER
We cross the street every day
without thinking we could be hit by a car. Does that guarantee we can't be a fatality? Of course not. Accidents
happen all the time. We've learned to live with these everyday risks not because we've been reassured, but because we
simply are habituated to it. The good news is that if you've overcome fears of these everyday situations--learning to
ride a bicycle, learning to swim, etc.--then you WILL also overcome the anxiety that has put your life on hold. You,
and millions of people going through the same thing, can be hopeful of overcoming this problem once and for all!
6:57 pm est
Thursday, November 17, 2016
The natural way of overcoming fear
By contrast, we know the more
we avoid uncomfortable things, the more we become fearful of them. In fact, we could make you afraid of something simply
by telling you to avoid it, even if you never actually encountered it. Isn't it surprising how fearful people can be
of others who are different from ourselves or who live in other countries, despite never even meeting them? That's because
they grew up being told to avoid certain types of people. Yet when we are exposed to them long enough, we become more
comfortable around them. In fact people can be quite comfortable with even negative people and negative situations,
for better or worse, simply through exposure and familiarity. As long as they know what they are getting themselves
into, good or bad, they're comfortable.
12:07 am est
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
9:55 pm est
In fact, it is physiologically impossible to remain
fearful of anything with continued exposure to it. Think of firefighters, police, soldiers, doctors, and pilots. They
weren't born fearless; they slowly became that way by exposure to successive approximations of their occupations. Sadly,
this is true even of people in war torn countries. We are dumbfounded watching people go to work, school, hairdressers,
and weddings while bullets fly over their heads. They've been exposed enough times to become desensitized to it.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
OCD, panic, PTSD, and social anxiety are just like other common phobias.
3:34 am edt
Exposure is the natural way people overcome fear of anything. Even the most primitive
animal organisms eventually habituate to uncomfortable stimuli through exposure. We all know people who have phobias--flying,
dogs, darkness, tall buildings. (I have a phobia of mice!) We know that people overcome these common fears just
by gradually getting closer to and spending more time in those feared situations in small baby steps. But those baby steps
eventually add up to a dramatic difference. OCD, social anxiety, and panic are no different from these phobias, except
it's harder to avoid thoughts, people, and travel. But it's the same thing and is equally treatable.