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Social Anxiety

I can't make eye contact with anyone, even with my family.

(this is raw unedited text, computer transcribed directly from the audio, without voice inflection, pauses etc. Sometimes this results in the text implying the opposite of the intended meaning.)

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Here's a question from nev about eye contact. This is a gentleman from Iran. He is 30 years old and you think of yourself in your own life? Did you ever have difficulty making eye contact with people you feel a little shy? or awkward and it's hard to look them in the eyes? Here's his question. Hi, Dr. Kenner. I am 30 years old, I have had problems making eye contact for over 10 years, I feel panic and stressed when I attempt to do so and I lose myself confidence. I ought to look at people when I communicate with them. Otherwise, people think I'm reluctant to talk to them or listen to what they have to say, I cannot even make eye contact with my wife, or with my mom. I made much effort to get rid of this nasty feeling. Going to doctors in my country, that's Iran. They can't they cannot help me. And they think I'm faking it. I now feel no one can help me and then I'll be trapped with this problem for life. What can I do? nev.

Sandeep let me share with you that I as a young kid was a shy kid. My father was very outgoing. And I can remember lowering my eyes I that internal feeling so many of us can relate to those moments in our life, lives or periods in our lives, when we were shy, when it was difficult to look someone in the eyes. And so first, I want to let you know that that is a common feeling. It's not something we want to have for 10 years, let alone for life. And I think you want to be your own best friend and not tell yourself that you will have this problem for life. With cognitive therapy that's cognitive is adresi word for thinking therapy. There are many, many skills you can learn to help you with this. One of the most important is to know that change is possible for you. So let me give you just some ideas, a little bit about anxiety. It first of all anxiety. If it's not that you've just had too much coffee, too much caffeine in your system. But if you're shaking and nervous or afraid to make eye contact, take a look at what you say to yourself privately. And many times when you ask when I ask a person as a psychologist, what are you saying to yourself when you're feeling anxious? And people's first response is typically? I don't know. I don't know. And I don't know is the beginning of a thinking process. You want to just let the emotion simmer. What am I thinking? I'm not sure right now let the thoughts come to the surface. I from I have in front of me a book that's called 10 simple solutions to shyness how to overcome shyness, social anxiety and fear of public speaking by Martin Anthony. And let me just give you an idea of the type of thoughts that you might find inside of yourself when you're feeling shy or any of us might feel we might feel . . .

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Let me just give you an idea of the type of thoughts that you might find inside of yourself when you're feeling shy or any of us might feel we might feel oh my god, it's important that everyone likes me all the time. And what if I look in their eyes? I'm at an ad libbing a little here. What if I look in their eyes and I can see they don't like me? Or what if I look stupid? Or what if they see that I'm nervous? It's not okay to be anxious. Let me tell you everybody in the world has had periods of anxiety. Probably, maybe more than maybe daily. Just a little moment of anxiety or so you don't want to beat yourself up for an emotion you want to figure out how to focus on getting some skills to help yourself. Here's another thought. If I make a mistake if I say something wrong, people will think I'm incompetent. So again worried about what people are thinking. What if someone stares at me? Maybe they're thinking negative thoughts about me or maybe people I can see through me, maybe anxiety is a sign of weakness, maybe I won't be able to speak if I actually look at them. So those types of thoughts would would activate a part of our nervous system that is activated. If someone just says boo to you, you know, they scare you a little bit. It's, it's the our involuntary nervous system called the autonomic nervous system. It's one branch of that, you don't need to know this is a sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system that makes us tighten up muscles breathe a little more to get some more oxygen in that fight or flight failing. And we experience it as anxiety. So what do you what can you do? You can ask yourself some detective questions. And you certainly can get if they if you can find a cognitive therapist in Iran, or if you can go to the Academy of Academy of cognitive And maybe ask them a question to see if where you could find a psychologist and maybe do something online. But you look for clues. When did I first notice my eye contact problem? You said you've had it for over 10 years? What do I remember anything happening in your subconscious may not feed you the answer right away? Maybe never. But maybe something will pop into your mind. And you'll have some memories and say, oh my gosh, now I understand why I was afraid to look in people's eyes. People used to look at me lightly with this mean, look, this dagger look. Has there been pressure over the years pushing you to make eye contact, you have to make eye contact. If we try to motivate ourselves through I should be making eye contact, I have to it's very hard to do anything, I should go to the gym, I have to. It's hard to motivate myself to do that. To go to the gym. If I say it that way. If I say I want to go to the gym, or in your case, I want to overcome this fear. And I want to be able to look people in the eyes, that is very healthy for you. So you want to change it to an eye want to focus. You want to take small steps, maybe look in a mirror, practice looking at yourself in the mirror making eye contact with yourself. Maybe even looking at a doll of this a younger family members look at the doll in the eye that's safer, maybe an infant or a young child, and you can play peekaboo with them. And that might feel safer. The more you practice making that eye contact the more you'll build self confidence that you can overcome the fear. I also would like you to try to figure out what you like about yourself because Self confidence is something you build. If you like yourself and know what you like about yourself. It's easier to look into someone else's eyes. And you know people famous people several has been attributed to several people have said the eyes are the window to the soul not in a mystical sense. But we connect through the eyes and you don't want to rob yourself of the intimacy with your wife or your mom by not being able to make that warm contact with other friends. So I wish you the best with this and i i hope i hope that you overcome this sooner and that you can enjoy your life.


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Romantic relationships should not be sacrificed on the altar of children. A note to a love columnists reported that five husbands among a circle of friends got divorced all for the same reason. With each succeeding child, the husbands became increasingly less important to their wives, until they felt totally abandoned. The husbands eventually turned to other women who treated them as important. The wife's ironically had no idea why their marriages ended. One problem was obviously the breakdown in communication. But the core problem was that the husbands were no longer their wife's highest values.

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