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Old 05-29-2008, 10:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

It's my biggest fear in life and probably the reason I have so much anxiety around people. Everytime someone is having a long conversation with me, I just can't keep eye contact with them. My mind starts racing and I'm so busy wondering what I look like and if I'm doing it right, that I miss what the person is saying. I can't even hold eye contact when I'm talking with my family. It's pretty f'ed up. I don't know how to get over it. I'm hoping my therapist has some ideas because I'm lost. The sad thing is, until I fix this problem, I don't have the confidence to go on dates. You know how awkward that would be? How could I ever enjoy a date without making eye contact with the girl? It seems like this should be so easy, but right now I find it impossible o do. I feel like I forgot how to use my eyes. lol uhhhhhh
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Old 05-29-2008, 11:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

i have that problem too. usually i can only keep eye contact with people for about 5 seconds, then i start looking all around where im at and for some reason i begin thinking that im making a weird, ugly, unattractive look on muh face. the few people i can look in the eyes are my "friends". i cant even hold eye contact with my sister whom im very "close" to. i've had this problem since my SA started to flourish, which would be puberty yearz.
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Old 05-30-2008, 12:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

You need to start tackling your self esteem and confidence issues, and then you'll see a change with your eye contact problem. Talk to your therapist about that and see if they can recommend something.
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Old 05-30-2008, 04:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

In reality people may think whats with the dude with flighty eyes, but really they wont think about it beyond a few hours, may be even less time.They may be compassionate even, not everyone is a butt hole.
My response is bolder than usual , I'm saying without too much thought cause I've had three wines.
If it helps any dont look them in the eyes, I do remember what it was like especially if they were the piercing type, some people have them eyes, Kirsty alley has them eyes,too piercing.
look at the space between eyes the frown line area, they cannnot tell you are not giving them eye contact.
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

Do you have any friends who know about your SA issues? You could set up staring contests with him/her to help you along!

What do you fear will happen if you maintain eye contact regularly in a conversation? Specifically? Do you think they'll somehow be more likely to see you as flawed or unattractive if you make eye contact? In reality it seems that people, in general, prefer eye contact because you come across as being engaged and interested in what they have to say. The safety behavior, looking away and refusing to make eye contact, doesn't really protect you from anything of significance...in fact, it's actually more likely to make people less interested in you...because you'll come across as less interested in them.

CBT this stuff!

What about photos you see online of someone staring at you... Can you maintain eye contact there, but just not in person?

This is an area I've improved so much in that it is really a non-issue now. I don't even think about or relate anymore to how I felt in the past (9-10 years ago, I wouldn't make eye contact at all). I think this is a problem VERY suitable for CBT though because it's easy to encounter people (plenty of test opportunities).
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Old 05-30-2008, 11:25 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

I have no problem staring people in the eyes on tv, but when I come face to face with someone I freak out. It must be some sort of confidence issue. I don't know why I'm scared. I feel weird doing it... like I'm unsure how it's supposed to feel and look like when you're making eye contact. It just feels so unnatural for me. I can't even look my parents or sisters in the eyes without feeling weird. I'm stumped.
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Old 05-30-2008, 11:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

It seems like maybe you're focusing on how you feel when you make eye contact rather than what's actually happening on the outside. If you don't feel anxiety with sterile images (like pictures or people looking at you on TV), then your anxiety is probably related to being seen (and then evaluated in some way, shape, or form).

But they still see you whether you look at them or not.

If I were you, rather than focusing on how you feel when doing something challenging... I'd focus on what I think will happen. What will happen such that I need to have my defense system (fight-or-flight adrenaline/anxiety) up?

You don't have that system up when it's just a picture, so you must not be sensing a significant enough danger there. What's the danger with real people then? What will happen (specifically, in what potentially threatening manner will they act) when you make prolonged eye contact (more than a second or two) with them?
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Old 05-30-2008, 11:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

I guess I'm afraid I will make them uncomfortable because I'm making too much eye contact and it will seem weird. I also feel like they're invading my space when looking into my eyes for long periods. Dunno how to explain... but it just feels freaky. lol
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Old 05-30-2008, 01:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tednugent2007
I guess I'm afraid I will make them uncomfortable because I'm making too much eye contact and it will seem weird. I also feel like they're invading my space when looking into my eyes for long periods. Dunno how to explain... but it just feels freaky. lol
Hehe ok. So I'd try to figure out the visual clues that would indicate that they are uncomfortable. Otherwise, it's just speculation and the mind-reading fallacy. Try to come up with tangible indicators that can either be confirmed or disconfirmed. How will you know whether they are uncomfortable? Maybe write out some ideas for what would qualify as evidence that they are uncomfortable, alongside some visual clues of evidence that they are not uncomfortable. You want to get a good, testable framework around it before you even begin the testing phase.

The safety behavior is looking away and avoiding eye contact. What is the benefit that you think this behavior causes? Does it prevent them from acting in an uncomfortable or mean way? Does it make them act more comfortable and friendly? I'm not trying to answer for you, as obviously you only know the answer to that, hehe. This is another way though to come up with a testable way to see just how effective the safety behavior is from what you think it's protecting you from.

It can get pretty deep at times (for me at least), so I'd recommend writing it down as you get ideas. Just remember to make notes of things that can be tested. You can't read minds, so testing whether someone feels this way or that way isn't going to be effective for either confirming or disconfirming anything. Keep the tests on a level that you can confirm or disconfirm with clear visual cues.
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Old 05-30-2008, 03:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

You don't have to stare into their eyes the entire time you're talking to them. Just look for brief periods, and then focus on their eyebrows or their nose for a short time, and then go back to their eyes and repeat. You can even look away completely for a short time, like glance at something on the wall or something your holding, and then look back at them.
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Old 05-30-2008, 05:59 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

Ideally, you reach a point where you aren't even thinking about it. I went from extreme self-consciousness in regards to eye contact a decade ago to where I don't even think about it now (I'm just automatically making eye contact in presumably normal ways...it's not like anyone has scolded me for too little or too much).

I'm just not sure if increasing one's attention on how long they stare at this or that part of the face is going to reduce self-consciousness much. Too much planning = more perceived rules to follow = more opportunities to break perceived rules = more pressure = more anxiety.
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Old 05-30-2008, 09:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

I can only look their eyes a second, I think I am scared to look their eyes because they don't like me to look at them, if I look them they will hate me.
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Old 05-30-2008, 09:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Why am I scared to look people in the eyes?

I never look people in the eyes. I look at their mouths. No one's noticed so maybe you should try it...?
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:14 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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I know no ones posted here in a while, but i came across it in a Google search. Anyway, i have had major problems with this since i started becoming depressed, anxious, and just generally way too self aware/conscious. But, in the last month i have become way more comfortable with eye contact, to the point where i'm like, wow, how did i make this so difficult in the past? I think the reason i have become more confident is because of a lifestyle change i have made, which im not sure i should mention here, but i guess its given me that slight but of confidence i needed to more consistently feel i am allowed to look others in their eyes.

But, now my only problem is certain people. Theres certain people i cant make good eye contact. Surprisingly, its usually nice, quiet people that i have the most trouble looking in the eye. This is most likely because im a kind of loud person i guess, but get very shy around some people when im feeling scared. Like my confidence is very easily taken out from under me. I think most of my anxiety is because of my overbearing dad, i always feel like hes a part of me when i think im making a nice, quiet person feel uncomfortable, like when im looking them in the eye, and they show the slightest bit of discomfort.
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:20 AM   #15 (permalink)
 
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i cant but i think it might be because a massive lack of sleep drags my eyes down, or feels like it. I feel drowzy if i look up for a while for a conversation, or in the same place
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Old 06-16-2010, 11:21 AM   #16 (permalink)
 
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For some reason when I look people in the eyes I feel exposed and like people will either dislike how my face looks, or notice the insecurity I have bottled up inside by looking straight in my eyes. I'm nervous about other peoples' perception of me. When I look down or away I feel safer because it allows me to pretend that thay can't see me, sort of like the baby with peekaboo type of deal. It's definitely a self esteem problem.
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Old 09-08-2011, 05:13 AM   #17 (permalink)
 
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U seem so much as me..i m too suffering from this altough i work somewhere but when i have to make some eye contact..i cant make...it..i feel however confident but looking to their eyes i cant do it...
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Old 09-08-2011, 05:44 AM   #18 (permalink)
 
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I remind myself to work on it form time to time but it still feels extemely weird. I usually just pretend to be preoccupied with something.
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:58 AM   #19 (permalink)
 
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I am the same exact way!! I'm always afraid that when I do try to make eye contact people think I'm scared or nervous. Then I miss everything they say..
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:53 AM   #20 (permalink)
 
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I don't look people in the eyes unless I'm dating them. They say if you stare into someone's eyes for four minutes they'll feel like they're falling in love. Yet another reason not to do it. I forget where I read that though. Maybe it was television.

But it's like exposing myself and I refuse to do that.

(Ironic, listening to "Make Me Wanna Die" - "Every time I look into your eyes, it makes me wanna die.")
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