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Dear Dr Matt,
My name is Rulon. I am 25 yrs old. I live in Deltona, Florida. Never been married and no children.
In my twenty five years of living on this earth I would say 90% of it has been absolute hell. I have been extremely shy ever since I was a child. Shyness is not something that just started. When I was little I didn't think that much about it. It wasn't until my teenage years that I realized it was a big problem. I wanted to talk to someone really bad, but I have been unemployed for over 2 yrs now and just can't afford it.
I am a virgin. I have had a few girlfriends and the longest one lasted about 3 weeks. Just to tell you some of the things I do. I went in Walmart the other day and thought I saw someone I used to work with. I avoided her and went back out through the garden section. Why I avoided running into her I don't know.
I change clothes 3 or 4 times a day and my shirts have to fit my neck just right or I won't wear them. I look in the mirror more than most women. My shyness is probably one of the reasons I am still unemployed. I live with my mother and grandpa and rarely go out of the house, except to go to town. When I walk through a store its I feel like everyone is watching me. I do fantasize a lot
I used to smoke pot everyday and live out my fantasies in my head. I have been off of pot for about 7 months now. I used to take every kind of pill I could find. Drugs seem to be the only friend I had. Life is just not worth living without people in it.
One day I wanted some ice cream but did not want to go in the store and get it because I was scared of what people would think of me. In my mind I have created this persona where to me ice cream is for kids. I don't know what is wrong with me. I was looking at some of the symptoms of Avoidance Personality Disorder and they seemed to fit perfect — but I am not a doctor.
All I know is that this fear has ruined my whole life. Any feedback would be appreciated.
Related Articles: The Cure for Narcissism and the Key to Joyful Living!
You are like a million other people in this world: When you think that "everyone is watching" you, fact is, the majority of people you think are "watching," are spending little time even noticing you — and even less time forming an opinion of you.
If people really did take the time to form an opinion of you, surely they would do the same for the hundreds of other people they pass along the streets, or at stores, or at school. And if this really were the case, then people couldn't get much done, because they'd constantly be noticing other people and forming opinions about them.
Here's the Truth: People DO get things done precisely because they don't spend much time thinking about strangers that enter into their line of vision. For example, when you are watching a movie, how much time do you spend noticing people in a crowd in the background, while the main actors are portraying the story of the movie in the foreground?
SEE through the eyes of other people for a moment: YOU are "one person in the crowd" in the background, and the "main actors" in the foreground are comparable to the plot of each person's Life. This means that the overwhelming majority of people are really watching the MAIN PLOT of their own Life Story — and are NOT noticing one person in the crowd in the background — you.
Rulon, you only think that others are "watching" you, because YOU are being SELF-CONSCIOUS — meaning, you are living Life with YOU on Center Stage. Thus, you erroneously imagine that the audience is taking time to watch YOU with bated breath, to see what YOU will do next. This is the false assumption of SELF-CONSCIOUS people.
"What other people think
Rulon, you need to get off Center Stage and join the audience, realizing that people in the audience are focused mostly on their own show, their own Life — just like you.
"Those who live ego-centered lives tend to shape their thinking and behavior
I'm NOT immune to being self-conscious on occasion. I too live Life on Center Stage, at times. Recently, I walked to the Post Office. The temperature in my town was about 20 degrees — that's pretty cold. But because I lived in Canada for a couple of years, I know how to bundle up.
In Canada, the temperatures get extremely cold, like 35 below zero; and when the wind blows, you can experience wind chill temperatures of 50 to 80 below zero. As a result, Canadians do not expose any skin when they walk outside in winter — they only expose one small opening around the eyes, and everything else is covered up.
Well, here I am bundled up like a Canadian walking to the Post Office. In Canada, being bundled up is a matter of survival, and everyone knows it. But here in Utah, people don't usually wear scarves to cover their face.
So, as I'm walking, I'm thinking that the people in every car that passes by me is surely noticing how stupid I look with a scarf around my face.
I entertained this thought even though, if I had to bet money on it, I'd bet that most people did NOT notice me at all; and even if they did notice me, they really don't care because they are focused upon what they are doing in their personal world.
I tell you this story only to illustrate that what you are thinking and doing is NOT unique: there are literally millions like you, and sometimes I am like you. Self-Conscious & Living on Center Stage.
The fact that you feel like 90% of your life thus far is "hell," means you are not living Life Right; it means you need to make an adjustment and experience a Change.
You will NOT be able to make your Life better simply by THINKING your way into a new direction. Why so? Because of truth taught by Albert Einstein: I call it Einstein's Mind Bind -- You Can't Change Your Mind using the Same Mind that Needs Changing. Learning about Einstein's Mind Bind will be KEY to escaping the Self-Defeating Trap that YOU are in — and millions like you.
Said in another way: It is your present Mind that is creating and harboring "this fear" that is ruining your whole life. When you get a New Heart and a New Mind through Christ, you will no longer "fear." Consider these words from the Bible:
"God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God,
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
So get going! While you Can't simply THINK your way into a new direction, it IS up to you to choose the Change process: You do this by choosing the Author of Lasting Change. It is Jesus who makes the miracle of personal transformation possible:
"Old things pass away, and all things become new;
Matt Moody, Ph.D.
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