I Have Trouble Being Around People

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I like to be alone ,and I just don’t know what to do about it to be a normal girl. I feel a sense of relief when I am alone ,and I don’t like to put in an effort to get ready ,and go out. I would rather be alone ,and not have everyone around me, even while I am writting about being around people I start to feel a sort of anxiety of sorts I can’t really explain it. I like to stay home ,and away from people ,and I feel calmer when I am the only one at my house ,and I feel better when my parents leave. I know that since I am in high school I should feel that need to be going out with friends ,and I find myself making up excuses to when I get invited to go somewhere just so that I can be alone. Only my family knows my aversion of being around people ,but even then they don’t know the extent of how I feel of just the thought of being around people, the fear that rises in the pit of my stomach ,and the feeling of becoming trapped, and not being able to breath as if someone is chocking me. I am known for being a rather friendly person and I have been told of how I am good at making new friends and when meeting new people I could be described as a loud person that is very open about her feelings. I can not say that I am truly comfortable with someone I always feel like I can’t trust anyone and that I am going to get hurt. I know that I was touched inappropriately twice when I was younger by a family member ,but when I told my mother about being touched she just brushed me off and changed the topic so I am not sure if she doesn’t believe me or if she knows something that she would rather not talk about. So I am not sure if that is involved with the way I am now ,or if it has nothing to do with it. I honestly enjoy being alone ,and not having to worry about anything ,or anyone, whenever I have to go out and be around people I get jumpy and my heart starts to race , so how can I become normal?

A. The desire for solitude and privacy is not unhealthy. In fact, it’s a preference for many psychologically healthy people. That is not to say that they avoid people and fail to develop deep, meaningful relationships but they’re comfortable, more so than the average person, with solitude.

Your desire for solitude, however, is based upon fear. That is unhealthy. You avoid people because you can’t trust them. You fear that you’re going to be hurt. Keeping your distance is a form of protection.

In essence, this is a trust issue. Sometimes people have trust issues if they’ve been hurt in the past. They may have never had close relationships and aren’t sure how to navigate or manage those relationships. People fear the unknown.

You asked about how can you become “normal.” Normal is relative but I think what you mean is how you can learn to normally interact with people. One immediate strategy is face your fears. This means forcing yourself to interact with people even when you feel anxiety. Each time you avoid these interactions due to anxiety, it reinforces your fears. It hurts you every time you give into your anxiety. Sit with your anxiety and force yourself to interact with people even if it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant (and it will be). Ideally, you should work with a therapist who can support and guide you through this process.

Therapy may be a challenge because of your trust issues but many people enter therapy because of trust issues. You’re not alone and therapy can be immensely helpful. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Jun 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). I Have Trouble Being Around People. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/06/14/i-have-trouble-being-around-people/