Awkward time and self criticism

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Jdog

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Awkward time and self criticism
« on: April 08, 2015, 04:06:18 AM »
My spouse and I just returned from dinner at the home of another couple and I had one of those experiences where I felt as though the other three were engaging perfectly in conversation while I was enclosed in a bubble, unable to find the rhythm which it seemed they all knew how to follow. I felt like a little kid at the big people's table.....and the more time that passed the less able I was to find a handle to grab onto.  This morphed into feeling sure that the others were seeing me this way as well.

But as we were leaving, our hosts embraced me warmly and I realized that it was likely fine that I wasn't very talkative.  Perhaps others didn't even think much about it.  Darned inner critic.  It will take lots of practice to learn to relax in situations where others are being more social than me without letting the critical voices in my head be prominent.  I think I am suddenly at a point of noticing this since I recently stopped drinking alcohol.  Better times ahead, most likely.

Re: Awkward time and self criticism
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 06:53:49 AM »
Oh good, not just me then. I'm sorry to hear that your evening with your friends was so fraught. How good that they hugged you in such an honest and warm-hearted way. So at least you could break through the illusion then.

I hate that kind of feeling - like I'm once again the odd one out, watching the "other kids" laugh and be all confident and strong and decisive. Growing up with a depression is the pits.

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Jdog

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Re: Awkward time and self criticism
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2015, 11:49:51 AM »
Thank you so much for the validation and support, Cat.  Although I know that it takes a long time to diffuse that inner critic, it seems to be on a tear this week.  Having you say that you feel this way sometimes helps me let a bit of it go.

Re: Awkward time and self criticism
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2015, 12:37:56 PM »
Thanks for saying that.  :hug:  And I feel like that a lot. It's the rule rather than the exception, sadly.

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keepfighting

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Re: Awkward time and self criticism
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2015, 12:55:16 PM »
There is a Dutch expression for it which translates into: "Staring the cat out of the tree". I'm sure it wasn't coined just for the three of us  :bigwink:.

It happens to me, too, and more often than I care to remember.

Sometimes, watching, listening, observing is all you're capable of because there is simply no energy to participate more. That doesn't mean that you didn't have a good time at the dinner party and judging by the way your lovely hostess reacted towards you, she didn't think anything of it. You don't have to be the heart and soul of a party to be considered a nice guest.

That was just your ICr trying to talk you down and make you feel small and insignificant and I'm glad you didn't believe it!  :hug:

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Jdog

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Re: Awkward time and self criticism
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2015, 01:59:06 PM »
Thanks, KF.  I like the Dutch expression - very apt and funny!  I think those of us with Cptsd tend to take rather ordinary human experiences such as being too tired to fully participate in something as sure signs that we are, indeed, defective.  Those darned triggers are like land mines and we have to keep working to render them harmless....easier said than done.

Thanks to you both! 

Re: Awkward time and self criticism
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 05:08:54 PM »
You're right. I'm wondering whether that isn't an effect of abuse. Living in an abusive environment often means that you ARE under constant scrutiny, and if you display any kind of behaviour that isn't to the abuser's liking, they'll act like jerks. A thing can be okay if other people do it, but if the abused person does it, she gets mocked, or commented on, or criticized, or abused, or asked what the * she thinks she's doing. I still feel sometimes like I have to fine-tune my every behaviour to make sure it doesn't offer any grounds for comment. And of course, growing up under that kind of scrutiny teaches you to be hyper-super-aware of what you're doing and how people perceive you and how they act towards you. Someone looks serious and sleepy, my first thought isn't "poor thing, they're exhausted", it's "oh no, I'm boring them". I do NOT enjoy being socially hypervigilant.

I like this mental image. Playing a game of who-looks-away-first with a cat sounds like a very long and difficult task.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 09:43:18 PM by schrödinger's cat »

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Widdiful Falling

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Re: Awkward time and self criticism
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 09:00:14 PM »
Thread disclaimer: Please don't play staring games with cats. It's a very threatening gesture to them, and they might act out afterwards.  :bigwink:

I feel the same way. I've just recently begun to open up a bit in social situations. I always wonder why people even invite me along. I guess being a quiet person is okay, but when I'm quiet, I do feel I'm boring people. But then, I have to think, it's not my job to entertain them. If I have a friend who won't like me if I don't entertain them, they're not really my friend, and I'm not the problem.

I was over a friend's house on pi day, and everyone else brought pies, but I was working, and couldn't contribute. I expressed my regrets, and my friend told me that I had contributed, just by being there. It was the first time I had truly felt that no one expected anything from me. My friend liked me because of who I am, not for what I could do for her. She didn't assume (as I had feared) that I disliked her, because I didn't bring food. No one was keeping score. It was wonderful.

I don't really know how to break the habit, but deciding to say whatever I want, as long as it comes from a place of compassion, seems to be a start. Or, at least, it's worked out for me in casual situations. At work, though, is another story.

I wouldn't be surprised if it was an effect of abuse. I've been yelled at for breathing too hard at my M. So I try to regulate everything so that it can't possibly offend anyone. Everything. Like, I'm worried my breathing is offensive, sometimes. Looking at it now, it's laughable.  :rofl:

Re: Awkward time and self criticism
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2015, 09:48:29 PM »
I think I've done that too? The thing with the non-offensive breathing.  :blink:  Yikes.

Don't worry, I'm not going to try and stare down a cat. I did go and watch that youtube video, "ninja cat comes closer without moving", because for some reason this thread reminded me of how, in social situations, I'm sometimes trying to stealth my way through them while also trying to seem veeeery relaxed.

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Jdog

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Re: Awkward time and self criticism
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2015, 02:53:51 AM »
All of the comments posted on this thread have been great.  I'm having one of those weeks of many triggers and EFs, which are totally draining (as I am sure you all understand).  Even still, the learning continues non-stop and I am grateful for that.  May we all learn to be more comfortable in our own skin in social situations. 

My t says that the key to feeling better is making a choice and taking an action.  I'm glad I chose to post this topic - the feedback has really helped!