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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

For the last couple of months I've been turning my attention to my SA, going to CBT, etc.

One thing I've become aware sometimes that I could respond to comments, situations, etc. in a jovial manner, but I instead respond relatively seriously. I feel incapable of responding mirthfully, as if I'm weighed down by a heavy wet blanket. Basically, I feel that there might be a jovial person inside me, but that I don't know how to let him out. (As an aside, I don't laugh easily. I'm sure that this is related.)

Of course, I'm more relaxed around my family, but I'm still impeded in this way. For example, if my wife says something playful (which I'm always 100% aware is happening, because I suck at banter), I'm somewhat aware that I could be playful back, but I feel inhibited, almost as if my mind/body can't be loose or relax. So my responses might be slightly playful at very best. I also feel that my baseline mood is low, but not clinically depressed, and the rare times that I feel "jovial," (this is relative) my mood is elevated.

Can anyone relate to the feelings/sensations that I have? Have any of you had success in improving this, and if so, what was most effective for you?
 

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I really think that no matter how serious you are when you are anxious, you can be joyful, playful and jovial in once you find a way to take the fog of anxiety away.

I know for me I have ZERO anxiety around working with kids (gymnastics coach) and while at times I worry that the other coaches are judging me, the more kids that are positively responding to my every actions, the less I care and often it is not at all.

I have just been working on a theory, often describing my problems combined with suggesting solutions to other people's problems lead me into interesting theories, I thought back and realized that I am relatively relaxed when there are more people I know well than strangers. I don't know where the tipping point is, maybe it is a fuzzy line.. but basically FOR ME level of anxiety correlates quite reliably with:
people I know : people I don't know ratio
as well as
people who are listening/positively responding : me to people who are indifferent/not listening/not caring ratio.

So what I think is that as you start getting more and more comfortable, whether from CBT, medication or exposure therapy, or w/e then you will have increasing instances of joviality, I have noticed this shift somewhat in my life and I really hope it continues!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
DMOIK,

Thanks for your reply. I'm glad you can recognize the differences in your response depending on the people around you. I also notice considerable differences along the same familiar -- unfamiliar axis that you describe.

However, the odd thing for me is that I feel most relaxed around my wife (of 21 years) and kids (12-20 years old), but I still feel inhibited to a certain degree. Not that I can't or don't joke around or be silly, but that overall my positive emotions are "tamped down" and I'm not sure if anxiety is the reason behind this. When watching a favorite funny show, my wife will be cracking up laughing, but I don't even crack a smile. I think it's amusing, but not funny enough to smile, let alone bust out with laughter. Something has to be riotously funny to elicit a genuine laugh from me. I feel the same way when I'm alone, and don't react any differently just because other people are not around me...if social anxiety were the only cause, then removing other people should cure it, right?

My wife is extroverted and laughs easily when alone or with other people. In fact, she laughs a lot more when she's around people that those she is less familiar with! I'm really confused about this. Might this just be an ingrained personality trait I have and it can't be fixed?

I've tried several SSRIs over the years. One of them definitely made me more relaxed and at peace with the world. Unfortunately, it killed my sex life, and eventually caused bad insomnia, which was the real deal breaker.
 

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The way i interact with people and the way i would like interact with people are completely different. If I'm in a very convertible situation (with someone i have known for a long time who isn't judgmental) then I'm talkative and jovial, this feels natural to me and i am more "me" in these situations. These situations don't come by very often though. when I'm in an uncomfortable situation though I'm very quite and tend not to show or feel any emotion other than anxiety. I don't think this reflects who i am. I would like to and try to be more cheerful around people but it seems theres something (my SA) blocking my ability to feel good around people and truly express myself. So i think DMOIK is right, its about being comfortable, not just with other people but with yourself as well.
If your not a person who laughs easily maby being jovial just isnt in your nature. you might be wanting to be a person you are not because you think it will bring you happiness. a big part of being comfortable with yourself is accepting yourself for who you really are. and maby its cyclical, with that comfort you might become a more jovial person.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Xeepers,

Thanks for your comments. With certain aspects of my behavior, such as my SA, I'm not wanting to accept things the way they are. Similarly, I've become aware that expressing negative emotions is easier for me than positive emotions. This is something I really want to change as well. The trick is ... how? It's tough to pick apart what's really going on in a situation like this. I don't know if it's an inborn personality trait that can't be changed, or if it is related to SA and can be changed, or perhaps it Asperger's. Aspies generally come off as very serious people. When I'm in social situations, such as at a movie where my friends around me are laughing spontaneously, I have to force laughter (well, small giggles actually) so as not to come off as not enjoying the humor. I hate having to do that.

I guess another way of putting it is - I feel better when I laugh. I'd like to be able to laugh more, not necessarily as much as "normal" people, but more than do now. I see it as a threshold - why is my threshold so high, and how do I lower it?
 

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This is exactly how I feel. I know deep down inside I'm funny and outgoing. But everything I do comes out seriously some how. I"m not sure why, but it does. It's weird. At my job, I'm pretty quiet, but we have this little chatroom to talk to other associates (call center). Some people find it hard to belive I"m the same person in the chat room because I"m a lot funnier and talk a lot more. Come to think of it, I talk the most in the chat room. But in real life, I just can't as it all turns serious.:afr
 
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