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smallstar
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I'm not sure that I am doing this right but I wanted to give it a try. This is actually one of the things that causes me the most anxiety when I am with a group of people.

When I am in social situations and I speak and noone acknowledges me it is because what I said was really stupid and not worth being discussed.

This seems to happen whenever I say anything, I think people think I am weird and I never say the right thing. I just try to join in with the conversation that is already in action but I just always manage to come out looking like an idiot. When all I'm really doing is just trying to be like others, trying to fit in, apparently I just don't get it.

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When I am in social situations and I speak and noone acknowledges me it is because what I said was really stupid and not worth being discussed.
A beautiful and common example of the sort of thought that promotes anxiety. In this case, this is a form of jumping to (what are probably prejudged) conclusions.

So the questions to think about are (more or less)

-> what is the evidence that what you say is stupid?

-> why is what you say unworthy? by what criteria?

Probably best to not think about this in generalities, but rather to think about a specific situation you were in recently when this sort of thing happened. It would be common also to have the feeling in the situation (of embarrassment? anxiety? what feeling(s) would that be??) and only to think about the unworthiness or stupidity later, but some people are also quite acutely aware of feeling stupid because they start putting themselves down actively.

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I can relate to smallstar on this. Ok - maybe she shouldn’t jump to the conclusion of being ‘stupid’ - but why did people not acknowledge when she spoke.

I’m not the sort of person who just loves the sound of my own voice - so when I do join in with a topic and people seemingly just ignore me- I feel very hurt and angry. Mostly I’m usually asking a question because I can’t quite follow what’s going on. But no-one answers!! It’s like 6 or 7 people - I’ve asked 2 or 3 times ‘What’s this about?’ and no-one answers. It feels like being invisible in an verbal way. I have often experienced this and it really hacks me off!!

So is it just my thinking that is to blame here? Why don’t they answer? Why do I often feel that I have no voice? I feel angry just thinking about it!

Sorry for jumping in on your thread Smallstar - hope you don’t mind.

Regards

LR

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Don't mind at all LR. For me this doesn't cause anger, it's more like embarrassment, I wish I could take back what I said, just disappear. I guess it's like I feel like I just never say the right thing, makes me wonder how other people always know what to say. I don't know, I find it all very confusing.

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I do too (find it all so confusing). I have a new boss (been working for her for 4 months now) she never runs out of things to say. I can’t think of anything to say. It’s like - I feel that conversation is so important but it has to be something worth talking about. I can seldom think of things to talk about.

I once saw a bit of a program that used the word ‘fore’ as a reminder of subjects to get conversation going. F - Family, O - Occupation, R - Recreation, E- Education. They suggested that everyone (adult) has had experience of all these things - so they are good subjects to use. I’ve always remembered the word and tried to use it - but it has limited effect for me. I mean - what next? Does anyone have any tips on developing this skill further with easy to remember rules - like the word ‘fore’ being easy and memorable and usable up to a point.

My sister is very chatty and popular. I struggle to grasp why I am not like her. We grew up in the same house, with the same parents and - well I was about to say the same circumstances - but people loved her when she was a child and not me apparently. Maybe that’s all it takes - or maybe I have other problems - there from birth so to speak. I don’t know - I’m just rambling now :confused:

Regards

LR

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Hi, if I may join in on this one,

I too have experenced this all my life, I have social anxiety and went through some help with it and I've realized that most of the time that I tryed to jump into conversations or just talk in general I'm VERY quiet, I don't mean to be but I just am and so I don't actually think people hear me, I mumble and didn't have the over confedence to project myself the way the others do. I started to step into the circle more now so they physically can see me there instead of hideing behind the others. I think I'm more aware of how I came across then, I think what they have that I didn't was the confedence in themselves to be who they are regardless of who is listening.

In general I'm more of a listener in big settings I add my little bits but not alot when I do though and I've made the physical effort to 1- be seen 2- be heard and 3- just talk regardless of how I think it may sound I see people do listen and now that makes me nervous?? it go's quiet and all eyes on me ahh thats another anxiety:D

I think it is ok to just stand and listen though you don't "have" to have somthing to add there are lots of times that really there is nothing to say, in the okward quiet moments I like to ask about if people have kids/grandkids/ages/ that tend to be a good one, and they repeat it back to me and I like to tell about mine so I am more confedent to share.

anyways take care

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I have a specific goal in mind for this particular forum. I'm hoping to provide a place where people who are interested in examining their thoughts can learn to do so in the manner that cognitive behavioral therapy teaches. If this is to happen here, I need to set an expectation for how discussion happens in this forum. We can't have it be too free-form, becuase that will defeat the purpose I'm hoping to accomplish. I'm really glad to see that people are relating to one another, but my hope is that all three of you who have responded so far (and anyone else who wants to join in) will post specific answers to this question:

>>> What is the evidence to support your particular thought being true.

Smallstar's particular thought is that she feels stupid

it is because what I said was really stupid when noone acknowledges her. She believes that no one is acknowldging her because what she has to say is "not worth being discussed". Nighfalls and Loneranger - you are relating to this thought with similar thoughts of your own.

My question to each of you is "what is the evidence to support this interpretation"?

If you want to, I'd like you each to write out your case for why this is true, as best you can.

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I didn't reallize the section this post was in, but I think this is a good opertunity to work on this. I find it hard to see where my thought was in my post but I think one thought was

" I think they have more confedence in themselves when in the conversation to be who they are"

"people don't hear me because I'm too quiet"

I guess this stumped me because I guess I don't have real evidence, I guess I sort of arived at this conclusion in a group I was in watching the others with anxiety they came across quiet, and self concious and so I assumed that I too must appear the same to others.

I don't know if I'm doing this right, Also maybe evidence is that people talk over me like I am not there, my family, partner, it is as if they can't hear me talking.

I think that if people are able to project there voice loudly then they are more confedent too

:confused:

Edited by nightfalls
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Well my particular thought was ‘no one is listening to me’ and the evidence to support it being true was ‘I didn’t get an answer when I asked a question - even if I asked more than once.

It even happened with family a few weeks ago. There were just four of us in a car. I couldn't catch what was going on so I asked a couple of times. I got no answer.

I guess I just get angry when it happens. It hurts. I shut down and melt away.

Regards

LR

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I have a specific goal in mind for this particular forum. I'm hoping to provide a place where people who are interested in examining their thoughts can learn to do so in the manner that cognitive behavioral therapy teaches. If this is to happen here, I need to set an expectation for how discussion happens in this forum. We can't have it be too free-form, becuase that will defeat the purpose I'm hoping to accomplish. I'm really glad to see that people are relating to one another, but my hope is that all three of you who have responded so far (and anyone else who wants to join in) will post specific answers to this question:

>>> What is the evidence to support your particular thought being true.

Smallstar's particular thought is that she feels stupid

it is because what I said was really stupid when noone acknowledges her. She believes that no one is acknowldging her because what she has to say is "not worth being discussed". Nighfalls and Loneranger - you are relating to this thought with similar thoughts of your own.

My question to each of you is "what is the evidence to support this interpretation"?

If you want to, I'd like you each to write out your case for why this is true, as best you can.

Evidence to support the thought that when I speak and others don't respond it is because what I said was stupid and not worth talking about.

Well, if it was worth discussing than someone would discuss it, obviously what I have said was not important, not even important enough to get a response. It's not as if everyone is sitting in silence. Everyone else is talking to each other, the majority of the time noone speaks directly to me. When I may finally try and join in the conversation and I say something, something that I think relates and sounds like something someone else might say and then I don't even get an answer even though it' s about something that is already being discussed than my comment must have been stupid, because if it was interesting or funny or appropriate someone would answer, agree or disagree, add their own opinion. If what I said was stupid well, I would assume that out of respect for my feelings perhaps other people say nothing rather than saying that they think what I said was stupid. I don't know, this is sort of like trying to describe a feeling, not the easiest thing to do, but I think what I wrote makes sense.

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Star,

This is a case of someone believing something first, then looking for evidence. If you start that way, you always find some.

You said "if it was worth discussing then someone would discuss it". For all you know, what you said was so brilliant that no one could think of a single thing to add.

It's also possible that the people you were with did not want to talk to you. I don't know much about the atmosphere at the time, after all. Some people form cliques that close out others, or act like a--holes for some other reason of their own choosing.

Instead, you assume that they did it to spare your feelings. You know them better than I do, but that doesn't sound like most people, to me. It takes a lot of self-restraint not to point it out when someone says something stupid, even if it's only a gentle correction.

But just because certain people didn't want to talk to you, for whatever reason, doesn't mean you have to feel bad about yourself. Maybe what you need is a better class of friends.

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Well, it's not a one time deal, that's what makes me think there's something definitely wrong. It usually happens when I am out with my brother, sister, and their friends. They are very socialable and everyone likes them. It's like everything they say is the best thing anyone could have ever said, it might as well be Jesus Christ himself speaking. That's why I feel that what I say is stupid, I mean they invite me out, it's not like I just barge in, believe me I am more likely to avoid these situations than ask to join them. I just don't understand it. It's just very uncomfortable.

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Well, sure, they believe that everything they say is golden, and clearly they don't think what you say is important. But why do you agree with them? I think they're deliberately trying to exclude you, and rather than saying, "Who needs you?" (or what I'm thinking, which isn't nice enough to print), you think that means you're not a good person.

So why are they inviting you -- They could feel an obligation to include you (are you the youngest?), they might be the kind of person who needs an audience, they might need another person to get into the HOV lane (;-P), I don't know. Maybe they enjoy making people (or just you) feel stupid.

My guess is that you're the good person, and them, not so much. I'm glad you're beginning to be aware of the second half, at least.

("Christ-like"?! Really? My recollection was that Christ was benevolent, listened to those around him, and tried to include as many people as possible. What did I miss?)

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Okay, maybe not Christ like, lol, but they are pretty full of themselves. I'm not saying they're bad people, they don't hate me, they just don't understand me. I'm not the youngest, but I've just always been different than them, I mean I do think they feel obligated to invite me in the sense that they always go out together, they are all so similiar, the way they think, the things they care about. They are selfish people, I feel bad writing this about them cause they are my siblings. When I say they're selfish I don't mean with items or money, I mean for them it's all about fun, they don't consider who they are hurting, which they don't do on purpose, I suppose they if they don't understand why someone would feel the way they do they just don't consider it when making decisions. Seriously, I love them, and I know they love me, I just am not like them. I say they feel obligated because with them it will often be my older brother and his wife, and my younger brother and younger sister so it becomes like a family thing that's where the obligation thing comes in. The only one not invited is my youngest brother and that's only cause he's not 21. But anyway, I can see it on their faces when I say certain things to their friends, their faces pretty much say, shut up you sound like an idiot. And I guess I do but I think it's just because I try too hard and come on too strong. I don't know but really they're not bad people, they all have good hearts, they just think I'm weird, I think they mistake what is me trying so hard to be normal for wierd. I don't think I'm as weird as they think I am. By the way, we live in a small town, no hov lane ;)

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Okay, they're not "bad" people. No one's completely "bad", anyway. And you seem to have a grip on the fact that they're not perfect, and that you're different from them in some ways.

What I don't understand, then, is the assumption that what you said to them was stupid. It sounds like it was just a different point of view, yours, that they weren't prepared to include in their conversation. That just makes you unique, not stupid. And them, somewhat closed-minded.

But remember, the conclusion you came to was that not only what you said, but you yourself, were stupid. I don't see any evidence of that.

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Not good at reframing, when doing it in therapy its usually frustrating. But I could use the practice so I'm going to give this a try.

Mark asked -

"what is the evidence to support this interpretation"? in regards to smallstar's post.

I can relate to smallstar. I too have felt like this. If I feel that someones not listening to me I usually choice to withdraw and get really quite and tell myself that what I have to say wasn't important anyway.

There is no evidence it's just how you feel. Unless someone specifically says to you what you said is stupid then it's just how you choose to perceive the situation or how you choose to interpret their response or lack of response.

I think for me if I was looking for an alternative to withdrawing I'd try to be more assertive. Maybe they didn't hear me the first time. Maybe share with them how I feel. Maybe take a step back and reevaluate the situation. Also instead of cutting myself down and telling myself I'm stupid or what I have to say isn't important, I should try something more positive like I know what I have to say is important and my opinion is important. Ideally that's what I'd try, in reality, I'd probably withdraw.

Hope this didn't make things more confusing.

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People are concerned that they're "doing this wrong" but that's not the case. There isn't really a right way to do this. We're just trying to unpack some of the assumptions that are being made, frequently without people knowing that they've made assumptions.

So the theme here (and both Smallstar and Loneranger) have variations on the same theme is

I say something and I don't get a response so -> that means that what I have said is stupid/worthless.

It may seem like the one thing implies the other, but that really is not the case. There is a set of assumptions that has been made that has narrowed the range of possible interpretations of what this event might mean. These alternative and plausible explanations are being discarded out of hand and we are instead going right for a particularly negative interpretation that reflects badly on the person who has spoken.

If what I had to say was worthy, then IT HAS TO BE THE CASE that people would respond to it. Any situation where I say something and don't get a response must mean that I'm unworthy.

But there are plausible alternative explainations. One of them is that both smallstar and loneranger are newer community members, and some of the most active discussion members are less familiar with them than they are other older participants. There is less "time in the saddle" so to speak. Very new members get some special consideration just becuase they are new, but after a little bit there is a gap that maybe opens up where people are not part of an established social group (a clique if you will) and so don't get responded to. If this is the case (and I think it at least fairly likely that it is), then the fact that you are not getting responded to may have more to do with membership status than it does with the actual worthiness of what has been said. People just pay more attention to people they know well than they do to newer acquaintances.

I'm not at all sure what the "real" reason is here but I mention this to point out that there are alternative explainations for why someone might be ignored which do not have to do with one's worthiness. Another might be that someone has said something painful and the other people reading it find it painful to read and so are shyer in responding - perhaps they don't know what to say. There are a lot of different angles that are possible.

Here's another story that illustrates the point. A few days ago my wife got some photos of our child back from the photographer and immediately sent them out (with a parent's pride) to various family members and friends. One of them had not responded and my wife was insulted thinking that they should have. When contact was actually made it turned out that that person had a medical procedure and was literally not aware that the photos had been sent. So my wife was upset for nothing. Again, a negative conclusion had been jumped to which was not merited by the actual facts of the situation.

This is what is meant by reframing - that you sit back from your observed event and your conclusion about the meaning of that event, and you start to take apart why you came to that conclusion and whether you took any shortcuts in your thinking (ruled out some alternative possible reasons for why the event happened prematurely). If you find that you maybe did rule out plausible reasons prematurely then you have a new "frame" or explaination for thinking about the situation available to you AND it is likely that some of the plausible frames will result in you feeling better about yourself than the negative one that you initially leaped into. For some reason, depressed people always conclude the worst even when the worst is not merrited.

So - what I'd like folks to do here please (if you want to) is to write about what some of the plausible reasons why being "ignored" is not necessarily reflective of a negative judgement that others are passing on you. What are some other reasons why "being ignored" could happen that don't involve you being unworthy?

Mark

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Well my particular thought was ‘no one is listening to me’ and the evidence to support it being true was ‘I didn’t get an answer when I asked a question - even if I asked more than once.

It even happened with family a few weeks ago. There were just four of us in a car. I couldn't catch what was going on so I asked a couple of times. I got no answer.

Loneranger's quote I think:

It may be possible that you were being actively ignored here just like you think, but even if that is the case, why does this necessarily mean that this would make you unworthy? or phrased another way, even if everyone is actually sending you negative messages (e.g., the worst case interpretation here), why does that mean that they must be right and you are in fact saying stupid things? Could it not also mean that you've thrown "pearls before swine" and they just don't get you? I'm trying here to point out that there is an INTERPRETATION being made about what the event means, and the one that you are going for is one that reflects badly on yourself, for some reason. And that is curious, because it is a habit to do this; it'sn not actually the case that it must be this way.

What I don't understand, then, is the assumption that what you said to them was stupid. It sounds like it was just a different point of view, yours, that they weren't prepared to include in their conversation. That just makes you unique, not stupid. And them, somewhat closed-minded.

Malign makes my point for me (yay!) so we're on the same track here. There is an interpretation you're making to see things in a particular light BUT YOU ARE NOT AWARE THAT YOU ARE MAKING AN INTERPRETATION - you are seeing it as though it is inevitable fact. It's not.

Edited by Mark
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I think for me if I was looking for an alternative to withdrawing I'd try to be more assertive. Maybe they didn't hear me the first time. Maybe share with them how I feel. Maybe take a step back and reevaluate the situation. Also instead of cutting myself down and telling myself I'm stupid or what I have to say isn't important, I should try something more positive like I know what I have to say is important and my opinion is important. Ideally that's what I'd try, in reality, I'd probably withdraw.

The other path is to work on acceptance. Which is to say - not taking the feeling personally. Sometimes you're just going to get your buttons pushed and you will feel crappy. And when you feel crappy your brain - which tries to make sense out of things - will try to find a "reason" for why you feel that way, and you will find it easy to believe that the reason you feel bad is because you are bad. But this is just after the fact rationalization that your brain is engaging in. Your brain is not you. You can learn how to get better at stepping back from the feelings and watching them rather than simply being defined by them and embedded inside them. The method for learning how to do this is - more or less - various forms of meditation. If you can separate yourself from your feeling just a little bit it becomes much easier to tolerate the feeling, and it passes quicker too becuase you struggle against it less.

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