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Avoiding looking at people's faces

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Darby

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My therapist is telling me to avoid looking at people at all because we both agreed that I’m looking at people's faces to see if they are giving me a disapproving look. So say I'm walking down the street I'll be on instinct looking at people's faces in their cars or walking around me to see if they're A looking at me and B disapproving of me in some way. It causes insane anxiety basically just walking past people, but since avoiding people’s faces it isn’t getting any better... is this not avoidance in itself?

What do you think of this suggestion he made? Do you think it’s beneficial for me? Personally, I feel it’s making me stand out even more because people are wondering why am not looking at them even for a split second, like I've got something to hide, and like I said it’s causing me anxiety when I don't use the safety behaviour of looking at people.

But, surely it's natural to look at people, to hold your head up high and walk and glance at others is totally normal, I just feel stuck because this technique doesn't seem to be helpful.
 
bpd2020

bpd2020

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I think when we look at people to see if they are looking at us, we are encouraging them to look. This will make us feel worse as we are attracting their attention which is what we do not want. To just walk and glance at people is okay but it sounds like you were actually looking at people to see if they were looking at you. That will make you feel very anxious.
 
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Darby

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I think when we look at people to see if they are looking at us, we are encouraging them to look. This will make us feel worse as we are attracting their attention which is what we do not want. To just walk and glance at people is okay but it sounds like you were actually looking at people to see if they were looking at you. That will make you feel very anxious.
Yes, when you over-analyze these things, the little details explode into massive issues... all these little nuances that are causing me problems, I don't know how to solve, there isn't any correct way to walk past people I know.

I think I'm addicted to thinking about what others are thinking about me (Even though they probably think very little about me if anything) So when I'm out walking, for instance, all my focus is on other people's approval but I find it difficult to think of anything else as I have very bad depression and my interests are few...
 
bpd2020

bpd2020

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I can understand that. When we have low self worth or have been bullied we will think people outside will judge us. If it helps, maybe you could listen to something while you are out so you have a bit more of a distraction.
 
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Darby

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I can understand that. When we have low self worth or have been bullied we will think people outside will judge us. If it helps, maybe you could listen to something while you are out so you have a bit more of a distraction.
the tough part of it is they look at me even when I’m making an effort to mind my own business and look at other things. I wonder if it’s my negative energy and aura that’s causing people to look at me all the time with disapproving or bewildered looks on their faces

also it’s like I can tell when they think I’m being rude by not giving someone a nod or a smile or a hello to them as I pass them by... 3 things I literally find so so hard, I can’t do those things naturally and I always either get ignored which isa massive blow to my self esteem or they give me a dour reply in response

I mean what’s the point in even trying when they can tell I’m faking it and don’t want to do it
 
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Darby

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P.s I do listen to podcasts while I’m out it helps somewhat but I find i only listen properly when no ones around
 
bpd2020

bpd2020

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I do not know where you live but I live in London were nobody acknowledges strangers. I do not see why you have to smile or nod at people you do not know. I do understand how you feel because I attract negative looks too. I always have done. It is horrible and no wonder you feel bad about yourself when this has happened.
 
jajingna

jajingna

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I'm not much for eye contact really. I find it a bit overwhelming, like an excess of information. We were not raised in my family, to communicate really properly, so it sort of feels like acting just having a conversation. I've got similar thoughts to Darby, concerned what others might be thinking if they even are.
 
Fairy Lucretia

Fairy Lucretia

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i have a thing about eye contact too ,they say they are the windows to the soul and i feel uncomfortable letting people in x plus i don't like people looking at me as i often read what they are thinking of me wrongly x
 
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Purpleplum

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I don't think anyone will wonder why you're not looking at them. If you're in my country, no one cares. People are concerned with themselves. Other countries might expect engagement with one another....that, I'm not sure.
 
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Darby

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Thanks, guys for your replies, I live in a village where all the streets are narrow plus I'm walking a dog and there seems to be an unwritten rule that you must acknowledge other dog walkers. It's been a while since I've walked without my dog so I'd probably find it easier.
 
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Darby

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So true, they don't notice half as much as we believe, but this is not the most rational belief system is it?
It's true that they are but that doesn't stop them from being nasty and rude or if anything it amplifies it.
 
toutatis

toutatis

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I think the advice to not look at peoples faces at all is a bit unrealistic. I suffer with a very similar problem involving peoples facial expressions and body language so, for me, I try to limit how much I look at people which does help. I do notice that not everyone looks at people, a lot of people obviously have other things on their minds, but as I say, it does help me to just not look at people all the time. If they want to judge me on that then you really can't stop them from doing so. Having music, headphones and a phone to absorb my attention (like half the human race these days) helps as well, because all I want to do is go for a walk and survive it, mentally, in one piece. It's a friggin' curse this social anxiety, I will say that.
 
Rex Smith

Rex Smith

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It's horrible advice. Avoiding your weaknesses only makes them stronger. Is your therapist a psychiatrist also?

Covid and social distancing has deteriorated the progression I've made over the years. Social interaction and gatherings is my weakness. Even though I hated being around people and very exhausting, it's necessary to stay connected with society. I was on anxiety medication to help while I was playing pretend with others. It's been several months of isolation and now I don't know how to act around people. I've noticed I'm more hostile and aggressive towards people when in public. People feelings are hurt often because I was too insensitive. The world is full of emotionally weak minded individuals. My psychiatrist wants me to contact and attend the outpatient program to work on my view about social interaction and people. I had my appointment today and she's concerned about me.

Therapists are a bunch of idiots. In California they aren't allowed to give advice on your condition. They can only listen, be supportive, and talk about feelings. Any medical questions needs to be addressed with your psychiatrist. In most cases therapists corresponds with the psychiatrist on the concerns and questions they received during therapy.

My suggestion, only take medical advice from your MD and psych doctor. What's your psychiatrist view about therapists giving you advice on your condition? I've known a ton of doctors and they're touchy about their own colleagues differences of practice and couldn't even imagine how pissed they'd be about non doctors giving guidance to their patients. Therapists are like the nurse assistants in the medical field. I wouldn't take medical advice from a nurse assistant and wouldn't take mental health advice from therapists either.

I wonder how you would react after months of avoidance with people. If you have high anxiety reactions now during your daily routine then you could have a ridiculously insane reaction. Maybe become so terrified that you'll shit and piss yourself right then and there. Screaming your head off like someone was trying to kill you. Passing out would be another extreme possibility.
 
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