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I Have Trouble Talking to People and Empathizing with Others

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I’m in my last year in high school and I have absolutely no friends. This problem of mine started around my freshman year. I had two childhood friends who I used to spend most of my days with since the second grade. After the transition from middle school to high school, they both have found different groups of friends, and I have lost all connection with them. I have found some substitutes for them, a group of people who I used to go to the same middle school with. I never really talked much with them until I had class with them. To this day, I would not really consider them friends, but more of acquaintances. I mainly just used them to have a group of friends to hang around with during lunch time. Around my sophmore year, I had detached myself from everyone in my school. I am just alone on my phone during lunch time, I don’t really talk to many people, the only time I do talk is when I am required to. I have looked into the Avoidant Personality Disorder symptoms, and they seem to line up perfectly with my personality. I feel like I shouldn’t talk to people because they won’t like me for being boring. I just sit home all day, mostly do independent activities all day like programming. The only friends I have are people I have met within the programming community. The only people I would feel comfortable around are the people who I feel I have some form of superiority over.I think the main cause of this is from my sister. She has talked down to everything I ever thought or have done ever since my early child hood. Everything from the music I listened to and even made fun of the types of friends I had at the time. I have confronted her with this and told her how I think this is the main reason for my mentality of being unaccepted by everyone, and she had stopped putting me down for everything for about a year now. The problem is, my social life doesn’t seem to be getting better. As I go through my senior year, it seems to be getting worse. I just need some beginners advice on what to do before this problem becomes permanent. (age 18, from US)

I Have Trouble Talking to People and Empathizing with Others

Answered by on -

A.

Thanks for writing in with your question. I’m glad that you are concerned about these issues and are taking the initiative to do something about it. Your sister’s treatment of you may very well have contributed to the problem, but part of becoming an adult is figuring out who you want to be and taking responsibility for yourself.

Social skills can be learned and improved, but just like any other skill or talent, it takes practice, practice, practice. So in order to feel more comfortable around people, you need to force yourself to interact with others regularly. Don’t just sit in the lunchroom looking at your phone, find someone you know (or someone who you think is kind) and ask to sit with them. It also helps to put yourself in different types of situations — so you would benefit from taking a class outside of your school, such as karate or yoga. Volunteering in your community is another great way to be around like minded people and improve self-esteem, while helping the cause. If you reach out often enough, eventually others will reach back.

Finally, I would suggest seeing a therapist or looking for a support group or social skills group. These are safe ways to improve (and practice) your interactions with others.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts

I Have Trouble Talking to People and Empathizing with Others

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). I Have Trouble Talking to People and Empathizing with Others. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/06/29/i-have-trouble-talking-to-people-and-empathizing-with-others/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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