I love people. I love to explore them and with them. Deep down I feel this.
Yet when I actually talk to people (be it friends, families or strangers) or when I meet up with them I feel numb or really anxious and insecure, lonely. I can’t really internally connect with them. Outwardly often I can, I talk about deep things for hours or just chat (though sometimes I am bored with chatting about how is it going what are you doing), try to find out about the other person, just make fun, open myself, talking about my problems or aspirations or feelings.
But I guess it isn’t real. While I am being “fun” really I am just terribly tense trying to mask it or turn it into something else and while I talk openly I am still inwardly closed.
Sometimes the experience is actually quite bad. I feel almost devasted. Really lonely and depressed. Still I don’t try to avoid these situations too much because I actually want to connect with people and want to get in touch with my self.
Honestly I feel closest to people when I am dreaming about them or just am relaxed and can feel them internally.
Any ideas how to change it?
Thank you very much for your ideas in advance. :)
@benjayk, So are you saying you’re able to interact with people in an extroverted manner but you’re not fully able to tune in 100% to the present moment at all times because of not feeling full satisfaction in the connection you’re making? I’m just trying to understand exactly what you mean.
@ojai, Right. Of course on some level it is reflected outwardly as well. Sometimes I tend to be restless in these situations, for example. And I might behave insecurely. But all in all I would say that I can connect to people outwardly relatively well in many circumstances. People sometimes explicitly tell me that they enjoyed the conversation or got something out of it.
I do think, though, that sooner or later people may realize, consciously or subconsciously, that the connection isn’t really there (at least on my side).
I don’t derive much satisfaction at all from the connection. To the contrary I feel really insecure or fearful.
@benjayk, I think I know exactly how you feel. But I think you might be looking for something new that isn’t there. The truth is in everything that is there. You just have to see it. Maybe your concepts of the way things should be are blocking you from experiencing the way things actually are, in a deep way. Fuck it dude. When you are talking with people go all out, make it as fuckig fun as possible or deep as possible even if you don’t feel right about it initially. Focus in others without trying to guess what they’re thinking, just see. This feels a lot deeper than what most people feel because you’re willing to push boundaries. What more real than that?
@benjayk I joined this site just so I could say I do exactly the same thing. Like you I make an effort to be sociable, even though it makes me feel incredibly anxious (though no-one ever notices this), and I don’t try to avoid social occasions. Like you, I’m friendly, I’m ‘fun’, I listen carefully to what other people are saying, I do everything I’m supposed to do but still other people just don’t feel at all real to me. I can’t connect with them. I just end up feeling incredibly lonely. Like you, I feel much closer to people in dreams than in real life.
Perhaps being more open about how we feel might help, so that we input more of ourselves into the conversation. The trouble is finding the right person to do this with… Most people just don’t really get it…
@benjayk, you feel the in-authenticity of the ego (why you can’t connect) Although this is subconscious. You are closer to your true nature (even though you are already that, but you may be more uncomfortable in your current conscious then others) then others but still aren’t out of ego based consciousness which causes all of your symptoms. Journey within yourself and discover what happens.
Or wait till you find someone who’s living from the heart, you’ll connect with them. But you should first work on yourself
If this resonates with you let me know, if it doesn’t ignore the post :)
Thanks for an articulate description. I am unsure of the exact cure. I, and you, know where you want to be but knowing the button to push to get these is less clear. For a start consider this: In order to communicate with someone you must first be aware of that other person, you need to be aware of what they are saying and why, what they are doing. You also need to be aware of what effect your words have on them. I think you are standing and performing but nothing is getting through to them because nothing from them is getting through to you. Your focus needs to be on what is happening with them, what they are thinking, what they are doing and why and on how what you do and say is affecting them. This is not all, but it is a start.
I’m glad that people are still answering after 3 months.
Since I first made the post some things changed quite a bit for me. I still can’t really connect with people, but I was able to shed more light on why.
At the root is an inability to connect with myself. If I can’t open to myself it really is no wonder I can’t open to others. And when I’m with others this inevitably leads to me trying to connect on a level that’s not natural for me, and mostly not for them, either.
Your answers all fit well with what I discovered in the past months. Like you said, Kit, it’s important to be open about our emotions. I noticed that often I do talk about my emotions, yet don’t make the connection to how I feel at the moment, which is kinda the most important thing about being open about your emotions.
One time I talked about my deep seated fear with a friend of mine, yet I never really mentioned that I was really anxious at that very moment and I really just hid myself.
So I’ll just be open with what I am feeling right now when writing this, after all you are all people as well – or really sophisticated bots, you never know nowadays ;).
I do feel insecure when writing this and am not sure whom to answer and how. I am not sure if anyone is really interested in a deeper conversation and don’t want to appear akward by trying to deepen it. On the other hand I would be uncomfortable by just writing something that’s not relevant to me or not writing anything even though I am interested.
I understand it, when you say that you can’t connect with people properly. I know from experience that true communication turns out to be incredibly hard to do!
I was a guy who felt that I was pretty comfortable socialising with friends, I went to parties and clubbing and everything felt good. However, I’m not sure what sparked it, but a few months back I sort of stopped and looked at what I was doing, how I would act, and what I would say in social situations. I noticed myself fake laughing at jokes that weren’t funny, and saying certain coined responses just because it was a socially accepted thing to do. This really scared me. I just felt so… robotic. I actually had an LSD trip soon after which really broke me down and opened me up to the truth. It was so clear how empty and soulless I was, how much time I had wasted wearing this mask, and not experiencing the true beauty of the present moment experience. But overall it was a great and emotionally powerful experience that really ‘cleansed’ me and showed things to me in a new light.
I have since met a friend who lives from his heart and is one of the realest human beings I have met. To support what @Nick said and as I have discovered, these sorts of people really do help you understand who you are. He is really helping me change my old habits and to just be, and I feel most incredibly comfortable around him. (not homo)
I’m still trying to cut myself free from this illusion I have created and am progressing at a fast rate. Once you take away all the social, cultural and familial influences that have been imposed on a human being, you can access the true self beneath, which is pure being, a sort of calm focus. And let me tell you, from the increasing experiences I am getting of just accepting what is and just going with whatever, it is absolute bliss.
I really wish the best for you and know that you are going to grow and realise who you are. It’s so great that there are other people making the leap! For what I can offer, I don’t mind talking out anything if you need some help!
I think revealing how you’re feeling right then and there is key. I’ve told close friends about ‘how I’m feeling in general’ or ‘how I feel uncomfortable when…’, but I do so in a sort of detached and emotionless way; and that doesn’t seem to help the problem. When I talk about how I’m feeling in such an emotionless way, the connection is still lacking – perhaps because most people don’t talk about their emotions in an emotionless way!
Actually showing my emotions when they occur though is something I find incredibly difficult. I guess it’s because I don’t like to show vulnerability or weakness. Perhaps because I fear I’ll be criticised for it.
Communication, I presume, evolved so that we could help each other, so perhaps showing vulnerability is a key part to it – no-one can help you unless they think you need it. Until I get more comfortable allowing myself to appear vulnerable, I think I’ll always find communication difficult. I’ll always feel like the other person just isn’t really getting it, isn’t really getting me, because I suppose they aren’t in a way.
It’s really reassuring to know that someone else is trying to work through similar problems. I know everything I’ve posted here has been about myself, but it seems like there are some commonalities between what’s going on with me and what’s going on with you, Ben, so I thought it might be helpful to tell you about it. Let me know if it is (or if it isn’t)!
we really seem to have much in common in this respect. It was nice to hear you tell about your experience.
I feel a something to start with is daring to simply directly speak what’s really on your mind or in you heart. Like: “Right now I am not sure whether I wouldn’t prefer to go instead because I feel uncomfortable”. I feel like this all the time, but hardly ever say it because I fear being rejected because of it. Sometimes it’s hard to make clear it’s not because of them, but because how I perceive the situation.
It’s easier said than done, though, in the moment there seemingly is a huge thing blocking one from saying something like that.
The key tot he dilema is this phrase from your post: “I am just … trying to … turn it into something else.”
Start with the idea that action can be either an end in itself or a means to an end. For instance normally play in and end, but work is a means to an end. Notice that play is fun and real; work is fake and not fun. Your conversations need to be ends, not means to an end. You (note above) are trying to “turn it into something else”. You are trying to accomplish something with your conversation. I know what you are trying to accomplish (the end). Do you?
The fact that your conversations are a means to an end means these actions are not worth taking. They will never be satisfying. A conversation needs to be an end in itself….to communicate, which is the only purpose of conversation. Since communication is the only purpose of conversation, this should be another hint as to what you are really trying to do with your conversations.
Sounds like a spiritual thingy to me. I was the same way for years but I quit worrying about it when I started to pray. The spiritual path is a very lonely one. It is one that you walk by yourself. The only source of love and acceptance I have ever gotten in this world comes from my connection from above.
Howard Holmes may have a point. Over-thinking the conversation and thinking about whether the conversation is ‘going well’ or ‘proceeding as I want it to’ of ‘serving the right ends’ can make the conversation feel less natural. It takes you out of the moment. But again this may be linked to a fear of rejection. I know I think a lot about the things I’m saying and whether the conversation is ‘going well’ because I’m worried about how I’m being perceived.
This idea of conversations as a kind of work does seem to apply to me.
I don’t really get into the conversation itself. I just “do my job” to relieve the pressure of “having to do something” and to prevent being rejected. It really is pointless. I guess I should just start shutting up whenever I don’t really want to talk.
Frankly it’s almost like I have given up actually enjoying a conversation. It doesn’t really seem to occur to me that this is possible and I don’t have to force myself to talk in order to have meaningful conversation.
Perhaps it’s best to allow myself to relinquish the need to keep a conversation going.
Wow, I just joined this site cause I was googling “Why can’t I connect with people anymore” and came across this link, as I identify so much with a lot of other peoples issues on here
You have all given me much to think about especially to do with the having conversations as a means to a end. I need to stop trying saying things just for the sake of the other person wanting to hear it or to make the conversation flow. However I find it quite difficult to know what my own true opinions are when it comes to general everyday conversations topics, and sometimes feel like unless it’s an issue that really interests me or is quite stimulating it’s hard to say my real thoughts on things.
Also I find it quite difficult to articulate and communicate my self well, so that even when I do have something to say on a topic I think people just zone out of listening to me, which really knocks my confidence.
@shhsam, “I need to stop trying saying things just for the sake of the other person wanting to hear it or to make the conversation flow. However I find it quite difficult to know what my own true opinions are when it comes to general everyday conversations topics, and sometimes feel like unless it’s an issue that really interests me or is quite stimulating it’s hard to say my real thoughts on things.
Also I find it quite difficult to articulate and communicate my self well, so that even when I do have something to say on a topic I think people just zone out of listening to me, which really knocks my confidence.”
thats basically how i am except the second para. i think instances where humans zone out humans happens to all humans, so your not in this alone. what i do is try to keep things short and spicy with the intent to make the listener laugh or smile… also being excited about what your about to say and staying in the now helps you to portray your true thoughts.
@benjayk, when you were growing up, did you have intimate, exclusive relationships with people that were authentically interested in your emotions and thoughts, be it friends or relatives? Because I’m wrestling through an issue that sounds a lot like your case, and thought I’d ask for this detail.
@benjamin: I would really recommend you try eye-gazing meditation with a mentor/spiritual teacher/guide/close friend. For me, almost no social interaction on the level of words, or when words keep ‘interfering’, is truly fulfilling. The only way of unconditionally connecting to another human being, on the deepest level, being to being, awareness to awareness, is in the mutual gaze.
Of course, first you meet, talk a little bit, feel somewhat comfortable in the other’s presence. Then you express/share you willingness to engage in the gaze. Though before sitting face to face, close enough to cleary see your friend’s/partner’s/guide’s pupils, you begin with a 10 to 15 min. eyes-closed, solitary meditation, in which you attend to your breath, scan and relax the body, release tensions, fixations and holding in the body. Then, upon opening the eyes, and softly gazing into each other eyes, your surrender, allow all of your masks and hiding and projecting and fears to melt away in flowing acceptance, becoming totally transparent, absolutely naked. During this process, you receive moment-to-moment, undeniable feedback about the state of your mind and body, and it frequently leads to overwhelming, liberating feelings of love, equanimity, serenity, peace, joy, ecstasy, union.
Then, if either or both of you so desires, you can talk about the experience, or about anything else that matters to you, and is genuine. But the exchange will happen in complete openness, trust and energetic atonement, and thus the words will flow much more freely, without or with much less charge, with much more honesty, sincerity, and directness.
A great manual/book for this practice is: ‘Rumi – Gazing at the Beloved’, by Will Johnson.
In the beginning it can be very frightening and uncomfortable, because you are wordlessly confessing and revealing yourself as you are, without the manicure-effect of words. You will feel exposes as never before. You might want to close your eyes, look away etc. But, if you can, don’t. Keep looking, surrender, trust. It’s so worth it. It will transform every relationship more than you can imagine, if you practice this regular with a person in your life. And it doesn’t need to be a wife/husband/girlfirend/boyfriend/partner-deal only. No sexuality is required, necessary, or even advised. You will be infinitely closer and connected than two bodies can ever be.
I made some progress. I discovered that it is way easier for me to connect with kids than with adults. It seems they are more appreciative and are open to a lot things that adults mostly consider immature. And they tend to be more interesting and fun (and annoying, at times), they aren’t yet stuck in their patterns so much, very fluid. Also, their vulnerabilty makes it a lot easier for me to be vulnerable and kind as well.
Thanks for asking.
Mostly I have to say no. My parents were interested in my thoughts, but not really in an intimate way, and we rarely spoke about or expressed our deep emotions.
In the first years of my school time I did have (few) friends with whom I often could exchange ideas and be relatively open about myself (though I was also bullied sometimes), but I guess that’s not a substitute for a more mature person, especially being that young.
During most of my adolescence I had no friends, and no intimate relationship with my parents either. My computer was my “friend”. :/ During this time my social anxiety deepened.
In my late teens I had a lot more deep social contact, and started to have genuine friendships, which helped me to ease some of my social anxiety and akwardness. Unfortunately these don’t exist anymore in the same way they did.
That sounds great. I am generally afraid to look someone deeply into their eyes, so doing it deliberately as a meditation may be very interesting and opening. I am sure that it won’t be easy to open myself in such a situation, but it definitely sounds like it is very much worth a try.
Not sure who to try this with, though. At the moment I don’t feel close enough with anyone in my immediate environment (or know anyone who is open to such things) to be comfortable with suggesting to do it. Most of my family and friends will probably find it really akward and/or nonsensical.
There are some persons that live rather far away that might be open to it, who are among the people that are most close to me. I might try it when we meet again.
@benjayk, I feel like I could say the same thing (and funny but I really didn’t notice this about myself until first person that really got to know me pointed it out to me a handful of years ago). I typed a lot initially, including what happened to me to cause me to feel how you feel, but I feel like I’m not willing to share things in fear of it being irrelevant to you/post. The two cents that I can leave here is that it helped me to reach out and develop ‘ships with people who have particularly similar social situations and past as me (and as secondary share my world perception). What seems to have helped the most is various natures of conversations with people/friends that could benefit from my personal insight that I could “cook” for them to investigate in themselves… I guess a more simpler way of saying it is that I helped them with things that I was helping myself with in life. It wasn’t their reactions, it was something that I can’t describe that I got out of it. But I carried something new inside of me after these discussions, and questioning and reflecting upon it, I started to have a different relationship with myself. Its like a tiny place in the world opened and called my name, and over time, I slowly started to form/ feel a relation to people that came through my authentic self.
@paintedbeings, You touch upon a very important thing here. I don’t really know anyone in a similar situation as me, I guess it’s time to get to know someone. It’s just not that easy to find someone, given that my situation isn’t that common (I am in kind of a spiritual depression and also had a psychosis interwoven with spiritual issues). Most people live a completely different “normal” life and can’t relate to what I am experiencing.
@benjayk, I think I can relate. The spiritual road that I have traveled upon has as many demons hitching rides as it does angels. At any given time either one could be at my back, whispering in my ear. I have learned to accept this as part of the journey. Unfortunately I’ve also learned that I cannot share the experience with others. It is mine to bare and in the long run, I’m certain that I will benefit greatly. Indeed, I already have.
Resistance and panic will only lead you to the dark corner of a hospital. Trust yourself and in time you will connect with others naturally. Until such time, learn to enjoy solitude and superficial encounters (after all even strangers can alter our perceptions).