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  1. #1
    Junior Member Bokeh's Avatar
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    Default Change: How to deal with its effect

    I believe change is really simple at its root. but everything associated with change is what seems hard to surpass in order to make that change part of the new you.

    Old habits die hard? it seems the reason for that is because of the foundation those habits rest on is firmly established in oneself.

    The people I know exist in thought. If I think of my friend X, I can identify and know him without having to actually see him. X is selfish, X likes to embarrass others he is with, X drinks too much.

    Now what I know of X comes from accumulated knowledge of how he acts around me since I've known him, and what others have said about him.

    If I meet X tomorrow and he does not act like my stored memories of X, I may start to think something is wrong or different about him. (maybe this is where my thinking of this topic goes astray, maybe most people don't think this). If X started not being selfish like he has always been, and started involving others in decisons. I may thing X is up to something, I might think he is just being nice to get something at a later time. I'm just using this as an example of what ones image of another is.

    Now, as far as changing myself. I think its as simple as making the choice to change. If I want to start expressing my feelings more, or want to show more enthusiasm in others conversations, I can start doing that and eventually my skills in the unused personality skills will develop.

    But, my issue that I fear may keep me from doing what I want is: how will the people I know react to this? and if someone was to question me about it, my thought now would be that I may subconsciously think "I must be wrong" and then revert to my old ways.

    how do you overcome that fear others may react adversely to your change and stick with it?
    Last edited by Bellflower; 11-09-2010 at 08:50 AM. Reason: Title typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bokeh View Post
    [...] Now, as far as changing myself. I think its as simple as making the choice to change. If I want to start expressing my feelings more, or want to show more enthusiasm in others conversations, I can start doing that and eventually my skills in the unused personality skills will develop.

    But, my issue that I fear may keep me from doing what I want is: how will the people I know react to this? and if someone was to question me about it, my thought now would be that I may subconsciously think "I must be wrong" and then revert to my old ways.

    how do you overcome that fear others may react adversely to your change and stick with it?
    Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph.D. runs a Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast. He wrote a book entitled "Shyness: A Bold New Approach." One of the highlights of the book is that Carducci researches and examines the thought patterns or negative "self-talk" that occurs in the heads of shy people and that reinforces their shyness.

    I don't know if you would identify yourself with the term "shy." You haven't used that term about yourself. But the assumptions you use in the quoted segment (above) and in some of your other recent message threads resembles some of the self-talk that reinforces shyness. So even if your problem isn't precisely that of shyness, perhaps some of the material below will help.

    For example, here are some notes that I took from the book that could pertain to the kind of thinking you described. Obviously, not all these notes will pertain to you. It's up to you to look through them and identify those that might pertain.

    *****************************

    Not in the moment: People who are shy don't live in the present but instead are obsessed with the past and the future: Past--thinking about how past conversations have initially gone well and then deteriorated; Future--worrying about the future consequences of their words: "If I ask him where he's from, will he get bored and think I'm stupid?" (p.12)

    High standards for themselves: Shy individuals set impossibly high standards for themselves; they feel that anything less than being the life of the party won't do. When you haven't won over the crowd, you believe you've failed miserably. You become hypercritical of your performance and unable to fully relax in conversation. (p.44) Instead of merely carrying out a fundamental social exchange, you set out to prove yourself in every interaction. You put your whole self on the line each time you open your mouth. (p.50)

    Narcissism: The problem isn't so much that shy people think too little of themselves, but that they think too much of themselves. Freud believed shy people are narcissists--they interpret everything in light of themselves. They feel all eyes are on them and fail to realize that they're just a face in the crowd (p. 53)

    Fear of taking risks: Shy people may fear rejection; it would make them feel even worse about themselves. Avoidance of risk can become an organizing principle in one's daily life: You get your coffee at the same deli every morning, socialize with the regular crowd, etc. Unfortunately, protecting yourself from risk can become more important than your personal and social development. (p. 57-58)

    Personal control: Shy people may experience ambivalence about their sense of personal control. They may either feel that they have no control over themselves and the other person's attitude toward them, or they may try to over-control so that they can ensure they're making a good impression. Shy people often bear too much responsibility for making a conversation work. They are trying to manage the other person's impression of them, even though there is only so much they can do. If the encounter fails, they feel defeated and they shut down. (p.65)

    Unrealistic expectations: Shy people often have unrealistic expectations. For example, they don't take into account that they may need to indulge a "warm-up period". They anticipate that they will "turn on" socially as soon as they walk into a party. When they can't, they believe they are less socially skilled than everyone else. (p.67)

    Comfort zone: Establishing a comfort zone renders the unfamiliar familiar. A comfort zone has no limits and is constantly changing and growing. Unfortunately, shyness can have the opposite effect. It can lead people to develop a stagnant, constricting, inflexible--or, in the worst case, shrinking--comfort zone. (p.71)

    Being withdrawn: When you expend most of your energy thinking about yourself, your nervousness, and your frustration, you have little energy left for those around you. (This is the source of the "aloof" label.) Very few people can break through and reach you when you are so withdrawn. (p.92)

    Narcissism: Shy people are the center of attention in their own minds; during interactions with others, they star in their own dramas. In a conversation, they begin to believe that others are listening to their every word, watching their every gesture, evaluating their every pore. This is a fallacy. Other people have their own issues to deal with and do not focus on you with such intensity. Once you let go of evaluating yourself and the myth that everyone else is watching you, you can be free to think about what others are saying. You can plan your next rejoinder and observe environmental cues. When you shift the focus away from your reactions, it's like turning off a radio inside your head; you can develop an outward view. (p. 105)

    Feeling of being scrutinized: You may feel that you're constantly being evaluated. This thought process is due to a phenomenon called objective self-awareness, a trick the mind plays when you feel self-conscious. You are so self-conscious, you actually step outside of yourself and observe your actions. You're not your usual self because you're so absorbed in what you're doing and how you're performing. (p. 106)

    Negativity: Negativity arises when you narcissistically focus on yourself, your fleeting thoughts and fears, your need for approval and acceptance, and your constant search for perfection. "I'm usually more worried about what they're thinking about me than what they're saying." The truth is, however, that you don't have much to fear. Others are simply too busy, disinterested, or self-absorbed to notice what you do throughout the day. You do not live under a microscope. (p.108-109)

    Fear of success: You may avoid risks for fear of success. That would force you to reexamine the myths you have come to believe, and even your identity. (p.109)

    Pessimistic attribution: Shy people take too much responsibility for the bad times and none at all for the good. You blame yourself for whatever goes wrong in your social life by relying on internal, stable, and global attributions: "Something is wrong with me; it has always been that way; if affects everything I do." It matters little what the situation is--a brief pause in a conversation, no dance partners at a singles mixer, or a rough start with a new client--you hold yourself responsible for every difficulty. In fact, you may be unable to fathom how others could be responsible for mistakes. What's worse, when you do have successes, you take no responsibility for them or pleasure from them. You attribute a great conversation to external, unstable, and specific causes--luck, an extroverted conversational partner, loose lips from alcohol, or a good mood. You never take credit for your successes. (Not surprisingly, shy people share this bleak view of life with those who are depressed.) (p. 112-113)

    Despairing self-image: Continual reinforcement of negativity may fit into a despairing self-image. People with low self-esteem have difficulty accepting new information (such as compliments) about themselves because that would force them to alter their self-image. Consequently, they become stuck in a safe and familiar albeit painful myth about themselves that they are unworthy of praise. (p.117)

    Unfair comparisons: Shy people often compare themselves unfavorably to others and as a result constantly feel inferior. When you focus on people at the center of attention--the speaker on the podium, the life of the party, or the celebrity at the premier--rather than audience members or other quiet people lost in the crowd--you can't help but think of yourself as deficient. You will feel less socially accomplished if you only notice the most outgoing people in every crowd and fail to pick out those who are more reticent or awkward. (p. 122)

    *****************************
    These notes on shyness (above) come from the first half of Carducci's book, where he describes the origins and nature of shyness and how it shows up in our thought patterns. There are a number of other "types of thinking" that can occur with shyness, but I left them out because they didn't seem to apply to you at all.

    The second half of the book describes shyness in the various stages of our life (childhood, teen years, adulthood) and how to deal with it. It includes advice on how to parent a shy child or teen. It also discusses shyness in specific contexts: love, work, culture, and technology. It's the author's belief that shy individuals can live, work, and love successfully by continuously expanding their comfort zone in an ever-changing global environment.

    *****************************
    One more point:

    You specifically ask what would happen if you were to try to adopt new social habits and someone were to ask you about them or even react negatively to them.

    Carducci is pretty clear in his response: That's just your narcissism at work. You worry that everyone is going to notice and pounce on you if you so much as lift your head and look around you; so you keep your head down and stay under cover at all times. But the truth is that you're just a face in the crowd; most people don't care what you're trying to adopt.

    I concur with Carducci for the most part. Still, it's true that the people closest to you may notice and comment on the more visible changes occurring in you, such as new clothes or a new hairstyle. They may ask, "New haircut?", and the question may be entirely neutral. But you may still feel like a rabbit caught in a spotlight.

    Worse yet, some people are very good at spotting other people's insecurities and digging at them just for the fun of it. They may be quick to challenge you on any novelty just to see your reaction.

    Still, Carducci is right in essence. That is, if anyone questions you or even challenges you on a personal change, you may be assured that either their question is neutral or the challenge is entirely superficial. All you need to do to get past the moment is to deflect the question or provide a bare minimum of push-back. For example, you can say, "Yeah, it's a new look I'm trying out. I don't know if I'll stick with it yet. I'm just trying it on for size." If the person insists on digging at you and says, "Well, it looks stupid!", then respond, "Okay, I appreciate your opinion. I'll take it into account when I make my final decision on this new look."

    If you want, you can even get creative in your push-back: "Well, my girlfriend/family/therapist wanted me to try this new look, and I thought I would be fair and give it an honest try." If your critic challenges you on it again at a later date, you can follow up and say, "Well, my girlfriend/family/therapist loved the new look, and now I'm afraid I'm stuck with it."

    Anyway, the point here is that even when someone questions or criticizes, Carducci is essentially still right: They still don't care much. You can get past the moment by deflecting the question or providing a bare minimum of push-back.

    *****************************

    What happens when someone really criticizes you hard, to the point where you genuinely have to fear that you're doing something seriously wrong? In a different thread, you described how you were criticized years ago for having an intense stare or something like that, and as a result of the criticism you had trouble looking people in the eye for some time afterwards.

    Basically, the rule is that you can ignore a single negative comment about a feature; you can blame that comment on the passing peevishness or ill feelings of the other party. On the other hand if you get multiple negative comments about a feature or your receive some other confirmation that the initial critic might have been right, then don't take any drastic action right away; you may just need the slightest of adjustments. Instead, go to a trusted confidant or even just a neutral party (friend, family, work acquaintance, therapist), relay to them that you've gotten a negative comment on this or that feature, and ask them for a candid critique. Again, most people don't care about your appearance. If you ask them for help, they'll usually help out. It's just not a big deal for them one way or the other, so they shouldn't have any problem being honest with you. The main thing is not to get defensive or put the other person on the spot. Just handle the situation casually, and everything should be fine.

    In the case of your intense stare, your confidante may in fact agree that you tend to fix your eyes on people a little too long when conversing. It's not a big problem--lots of people do it. So then, if you want to address the situation, you can do a little research on the internet; there have been studies on that sort of thing. Or you can just watch others when conversing and see what they do with their eyes.

    No one is perfect; everyone has little social tics and bad habits. And people have their pet peeves; they think they're doing you a favor by informing you of something that irritates them. So don't freak out when people criticize. If you want to take it as a learning opportunity, then ask around or research until you find out the correct way to do things. If you can avoid getting defensive, you can even ask the initial critic what they think would be a better way of doing things.

    Here's a good website for studying little social courtesies taken in isolation. It describes what those courtesies mean when executed in the right amount versus what gets transmitted when those same courtesies are omitted or are done in excess: http://www.firstimpressionsconsultin...ooktables.html

    Another option is to seek out some kind of life coach or service that provides coaching on social skills (like the service at that website I just linked). That will cost you some money, but they will give you extra confidence that your "look" has passed inspection by a professional.

    Good luck! And welcome to TypoC! It seems like you have some good thoughts to contribute.

    (I'm not a shrink or a professional in these matters.)


  3. #3
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    ^^Nice post. It's too long for me to comment on, but it pretty much speaks for itself.

    I did identify with a lot of the attributes listed in the early part of the thread and have had to work through those issues... and yes, a lot of it has been basically learning how to stop trying to be more than I was and just allow myself to be a normal, average, typical, fallible human being without feeling any shame over being such. Once one accepts that, one can start focusing on others and the external world.


    @OP: How to respond to the possibility others might not be comfortable with your change?

    Haaaa.... I know this one well, I've been through the forge.

    Stop trying to carry everyone else on your back, if you feel you need to make a large change to your life.
    It's not your responsibility to make them accommodate you.

    Basically, what you can do realistically is engage them if they are curious as to what change has occurred and why, and be understanding if they are confused or need a period of adjustment.

    But making changes to your life is essentially about self-care. If you're making the change, you're doing it for you; and you should be prepared for some people to either give you resistance (maybe not even consciously) or even being against it because they do not like you changing their world or feel that your self-care is selfish in some way. That's okay, that is their perogative. But your perogative is you and making sure that you are doing what is best for yourself in the long-term. People can't function without eventually taking care of themselves.

    You mention feeling pressure to perhaps slip back to old ways. Yes. For a P, that's pretty typical. That's why you have to be committed to the change and know why you're doing it and believe it's the right thing. Otherwise you'll be tempted to flip-flop. Rest assured that doing that will only make you look more unstable to the people who were resisting the change to begin with.

    As far as the fear goes: Ask yourself why you are afraid. What are you afraid of losing, exactly?

    Then accept that you're afraid, and it's okay to be afraid.
    In my life, I've been afraid a lot, I just don't let people see it and I try not to let it control my behavior.
    I trust my mind to guide me through, even when I'm scared of what I might lose or not remain in control of.

    After awhile, you will start to realize how capable and resilient you are, and the worst that you were afraid of won't actually kill you and might not really even slow you down.

    So the fear is just fear, but you're still okay.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Senior Member Moiety's Avatar
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    Yes, like Jennifer said, you must understand you are changing for yourself.

    I even have a bigger problem with change. I'm not afraid people think I'm up to something. I'm afraid people will not deem me trustworthy anymore after pulling a 180.

    But I'll let you in on a little secret : people are shit.

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    Senior Member Keps Mnemnosyne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    Nice Post. The only thing I would add is that shyness is often a learned behavior (some may disagree to the percentage of learned versus genetic; debate over nature and nurture), and can be advantageous in certain abnormal situations, however unhelpful it is later in life.
    Love wouldn't exist without loneliness to inspire it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    [...] Haaaa.... I know this one well, I've been through the forge. [...]
    I don't doubt it.

    You raised some good points. In my post I considered the situation in the context of shyness keeping an individual from making small changes such as the OP described, or such as Bokeh's past inability to look people in the eye. You took the situation to the next level, to the context of larger changes where it may be necessary to steel oneself against one's own inertia or wavering, or to actively confront others and possibly affect their lives as well, etc. I think it's good to consider that larger context as well. You never know where these things take you once you get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moiety View Post
    But I'll let you in on a little secret : people are shit.
    And then there's that point to be considered as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keps Mnemnosyne View Post
    Nice Post. The only thing I would add is that shyness is often a learned behavior (some may disagree to the percentage of learned versus genetic; debate over nature and nurture), and can be advantageous in certain abnormal situations, however unhelpful it is later in life.
    Absolutely. Carducci points out that the foundation underlying shyness serves a positive function in that it "can help to facilitate cooperative living; it inhibits behaviors that are socially unacceptable. In short, it keeps us in line." It is correlated with personal accountability and a healthy fear of shame; it is also correlated with sensitivity, good listening, and empathy.

    That positive foundation of sensitivity and accountability turns negative when it results in an approach/avoidance conflict, creating an internal battle of wills. The shy individual wishes to be more social but fears risk and rejection. Where this conflict creates anxiety and/or limits personal development, you get the negative burden of shyness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine
    don't doubt it.

    You raised some good points. In my post I considered the situation in the context of shyness keeping an individual from making small changes such as the OP described, or such as Bokeh's past inability to look people in the eye. You took the situation to the next level, to the context of larger changes where it may be necessary to steel oneself against one's own inertia or wavering, or to actively confront others and possibly affect their lives as well, etc. I think it's good to consider that larger context as well. You never know where these things take you once you get started.
    I know, I know -- one day you're looking someone in the eye, next day you're a color-changing, career-hopping, polyamorous, Tibetian monk socialist capitalist bassoon-playing hirsute lizard buffalo boy hailing from Yuma, Arizona.

    Life's funny that way.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Senior Member Sparrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bokeh View Post

    how do you overcome that fear others may react adversely to your change and stick with it?
    If the others act negatively towards you because you want to break out of your shell by making an effort to grow then they are lame....f*ck them! The people who are true in your life will support you .
    Fe | Ni | Se | Ti ... 3w4 ... Lawful Neutral ... Johari -Nohari

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I know, I know -- one day you're looking someone in the eye, next day you're a color-changing, career-hopping, polyamorous, Tibetian monk socialist capitalist bassoon-playing hirsute lizard buffalo boy hailing from Yuma, Arizona.

    Life's funny that way.
    It's all just one long slippery slope...

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    Junior Member Bokeh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    ...

    Carducci is pretty clear in his response: That's just your narcissism at work. You worry that everyone is going to notice and pounce on you if you so much as lift your head and look around you; so you keep your head down and stay under cover at all times. But the truth is that you're just a face in the crowd; most people don't care what you're trying to adopt.

    ...

    I left that quote, not because it was all that helped, but it is because it answered the original question I had. But your post also made me aware of many more things I do. Thanks for sharing your notes.

    You're correct about being shy. I've been shy pretty much since I can remember, and I'm 40 now. I do believe is is a learned behavior, and once in the trap of shyness it becomes a comfort zone to retreat to for so many reasons. With the notes you shared, it has showed me many other reasons that I've used to retreat back to that comfort zone of shyness that I wasn't aware of. I am able to agree that I am guilty of every attribute you have noted

    When I was posting this thread, I thought that once I figured out how to deal with the way people may handle myself changing I could work on things, shyness included. Not realizing shyness could well be the cause of this way of thinking.

    thanks again for sharing. I have allot of points to catch myself on now and stop the narcissism associated with shyness.



    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    ... Stop trying to carry everyone else on your back, if you feel you need to make a large change to your life.
    It's not your responsibility to make them accommodate you.

    Basically, what you can do realistically is engage them if they are curious as to what change has occurred and why, and be understanding if they are confused or need a period of adjustment. ...
    Thanks, it's good to hear from someone who has been through this situation and came out the other side. The narcissism attribute above in Fineline's post is how I would normally think of the effects, as only how I would handle their reactions. Your comment about how they probably need a period of adjustment makes sense.


    Quote Originally Posted by Moiety
    But I'll let you in on a little secret : people are shit.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sparrow
    ... The people who are true in your life will support you .
    thanks for making me look at whos(externally) opinion of my change really matters

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