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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5578
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Im 47, due to anxiety issues and more, never been in a relationship,

Customer Question

I'm 47, due to anxiety issues and more, never been in a relationship, still in fairly entry level job. I socially isolated myself through much of my twenties and thirties. In my forties, I've begun to overcome the anxiety issues but socializing is still difficult due to awkwardness that comes from being so far behind my peers in terms of experiences and career. I feel like this is impossible to overcome 'cause I can't change it. Any ideas on approaches to take to overcome?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

Facing your anxiety is one of the best ways to help yourself to overcome the symptoms associated with it. Once you learn to face what you feel, you learn to no longer feel afraid.

It can feel awkward to start out socially when you are behind your peers. But keep in mind, you still worked and went out and interacted while you were coping with your anxiety. You may not have been socializing at the level of most of your peers, but you were still developing as a person during that time. So you have the ability to be social, you just may be a little rusty at it.

Here are some tips to help you get started socially:

When it comes to talking with other people and being social, it helps to keep in mind that many people experience fears. One of the most significant is not knowing what to say, even for people who have been social all their lives. Everyone has a bad day or experiences fears that they will say something wrong to someone. So you are not alone in what you feel.

One of the best ways to approach this is to have in mind at least three topics that fit any social situation, such as current events, social events involving the group or person you are talking to and something about the person you are talking to such as what they do for a living or where they live (general area). These three topics are almost always interesting to most anyone.

Another fear is that people will notice how nervous you are or that you are socially awkward. To deal with these feelings, it helps to confront it by asking yourself "so what?". What can happen if they notice? Everyone has been afraid or felt socially awkward at one time or another so realizing that can help you feel less nervous.

Take along a comforting object, one that gives you tactile sensation, like a smooth stone. It can help to play with this object as you talk to not only distract you from feeling nervous, but also to calm you.

When in doubt, bring up something about the other person. A simple compliment can break the ice and make the other person perceive you as approachable and kind. People love to talk about themselves so whenever you feel stuck, ask a question about that person. Learn their interests and ask them about it when you see them, like "how was the game?"

Also, practice with people you feel safe with. Family often is good for helping you overcome social awkwardness. And try listening to interviews on TV or radio which is another way to get an idea of what people talk about, the rhythm of conversation and how to come across as friendly and informative.

Also, try to remember to relax. Keep in mind that you are acceptable as a person and no one is there to judge you. It can help to practice relaxation so when you feel nervous, you can train yourself to relax. Here is a link to a commonly used technique for anxiety:

http://www.guidetopsychology.com/pmr.htm

Practice this until you can do it automatically. It will help you.

I hope this has helped you,
Kate










May I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or above? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer. Thank you so much!
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5578
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much for the positive rating and bonus. I appreciate it!

My best to you,
Kate

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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
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Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.