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Is it bad for me to obsess over improving how I sound and how I act in social situations or do I need to stop overthinking so much?

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depressed_person18

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Hi everyone. I suffer from depression but also social anxiety. Oddly enough I have friends at school with whom I tend to be comfortable around. The only thing is that I was never able to go out places with them outside of school. I think that was due to the uncertainty of what could happen and I got very panicky about that. Anyone I didn’t know in school I had major panic attacks around when I was forced into talking to them. Like when we had to join with another class for 5 minutes and talk to a younger group of people; my ability to speak was just gone, it seemed.

I often find myself questioning things such as, “If I maybe acted a certain way, or focused on my breathing, or spoke more slowly, maybe things would have went better and I could have been more composed, calm and able to speak?” but no matter what ‘strategies’ I come up with none of them seem to work or be sustainable and I also get tired of the fact that I have to overthink so much on something which would be second nature to most other people.

I think it’s therefore bad that I’m thinking too much about how I should act in social situations. It seems no matter what I always mess up and make a fool of myself. Yet around my close friends I am fine in school (in a specific well-known setting with a specific group of people). Another example of a familiar situation is my local shop I would always go to on my way back from school. I could always compose myself fine then. But for something unfamiliar like ordering a pizza, the build up and uncertainty when waiting for the person to arrive gives me bad panic attacks and I need to use the toilet like three times before they get there because my anxiety makes me need the bathroom urgently. When I talk to the person my voice is high pitched and shaky and I can’t even carefully compose the words which are coming out of my mouth and I get really frustrated at myself for that and I don’t know why.

Do I need to stop overthinking how to act and just be myself and forgive myself for being so awful at certain social situations? It’s really hard but I hate thinking X strategy will work and make me appear more confident when it ends up never doing so.
 
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bpd2020

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I think your last paragraph hit the nail on the head, yes you do need to forgive yourself. Social anxiety is not a logical condition. We can tell ourselves we should have done this or that but in the very moment the fear can be so intense it is hard to do anything about it. I really think it is wonderful you have some friends who can feel comfortable with. That is a great start. It is common to analyse situations and behaviours when we have anxiety. Please do not be hard on yourself.
 
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depressed_person18

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I think your last paragraph hit the nail on the head, yes you do need to forgive yourself. Social anxiety is not a logical condition. We can tell ourselves we should have done this or that but in the very moment the fear can be so intense it is hard to do anything about it. I really think it is wonderful you have some friends who can feel comfortable with. That is a great start. It is common to analyse situations and behaviours when we have anxiety. Please do not be hard on yourself.
Thank you for the kind words of reassurance. I definitely needed to hear this.
 
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Nukelavee

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Ever watch Barack Obama speak? I mean, he's an awesome speaker, but, watch his mannerisms. Those pauses in his speaking are him, likely, collecting and planning his next statement. And people wait on those words.

PAusing between ideas or phrases helps remove the stress, and it makes people take you more seriously.

Try to slow down a bit, relax. You deserve to be heard - you just need to convince yourself of it.
 
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FlowerBox

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I used to overthink a strategy too much too and sometimes I still do but honestly, being so hard on yourself will only make it worse I think...in general, people probably don't notice or take note of how you are acting, and let's say they notice you are nervous or something, the average person isn't going to dwell on it or judge you for it, go easy on yourself...everyone has their own obstacles 🙏 :hug1:
 
Faith198

Faith198

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This sounds like you’re ruminating on your past actions. I do that too, part of the social anxiety. Don’t dwell on it so much, tbh I’m sure no one notices it. I have to tell myself that when speaking to people to bring myself back down again. No one is going to really analyze what you sound like or if your speech gets messed up. Occasionally when I’m talking I’ll lose my voice (due to anxiety or my throat being dry) and while it does make me feel a little upset, it happens. Forgive yourself and move on. Don’t keep dwelling on it :grouphug:

I always think about a time where I went to shake someone’s hand and I kept getting confused on what hand I should shake. If that makes sense 😂. It really made me embarrassed but when I think about it now, I laugh about it lol
 
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Purpleplum

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Yes, you should stop over thinking. It never does any good and makes things worse. If you can build your confidence you won't feel you need to prove anything to anyone and realize that you are good enough the way you are.
 
mineralgloss

mineralgloss

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I think it's great you're trying to improve your social skills and it sounds like you've been putting a lot of effort in. The thing is, when you have a very specific "strategy" you are trying to live up to, it puts even more pressure on you, and it could make your social interactions very stressful and tiring.

There is no perfect way to socialise, I don't think. Even if you look at the most confident people, you could notice their flaws. What could maybe help is thinking: "so what if I seem nervous or awkward? Maybe others will find it endearing, or even relate to me more".
 
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FlowerBox

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What could maybe help is thinking: "so what if I seem nervous or awkward? Maybe others will find it endearing, or even relate to me more".
This is exactly what I had to start telling myself..because for some reason, people DO seem to be drawn to me and like talking to me, And I think a lot of people do find it endearing and less intimidating when the other person may be a little awkward, struggle with eye contact, nervously laugh, it's all part of what makes us unique, I think...and yes, they may even relate to it too :) 🙏
 
mineralgloss

mineralgloss

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Yeah, we all feel vulnerable and insecure. Having flaws is what makes us human. If someone doesn't want to talk to me because I seem too awkward, its their loss :p
 
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