I spent the weekend with school friends. As there were seven of us, there were times when I felt like a spare person. Everybody else had someone to talk to and although I had managed to sit in the middle I rarely had anything to say to any of the others. This wasn’t simply a case of being excluded from the conversation, just that I had nothing to add to any of them – was left out because I didn’t know how to enter the conversations. It feels ludicrous to even admit that in regards to my close friends, but I have to acknowledge that it isn’t only confined to this scenario.
With strangers or in strange environments I find it difficult and sometimes become anxious during long silences. I need to fill the gaps and yet I have nothing to say, can’t think of anything that will bridge whatever the gap is between me and the other person, or people. I believe it is a similar fear to the one in which I have if I need to ask a stranger for help or directions – an inevitability that I attempt to put off and put off.
This problem isn’t as bad as that of my wife’s cousins, who were so shy as to almost curl up and die whenever they were engaged in situation, but I guess it’s something I should address in counselling skills triads.
On the topic of people who do shy away from conversation, it seemed that my wife’s cousins found it emotionally painful to engage with other people, as if the ‘strokes’ provided to them by others hurt them. A session in which a person like this is a helpee/client would be exceptionally difficult to sit through.
Also, a friend with whom I am developing a strained relationship finally had some self realisation – she had told her boss that she didn’t want the extra workload and responsibility that was on offer, despite his insistence that it was the wrong decision and that she should do the extra work. Normally this friend is a workaholic with a very specific mindset that states her life ethic is the only one with any credibility.
With her self realisation that she was better off without the added responsibility was a major stepping stone in her personality, and I was able to provide her with positive encouragement that it was good for her to give herself permission about what she felt was right for her. Regardless of the needs or wants of others, she needed to step back and have some “me” time. She admitted that it made her feel empowered and a bit more adult to be able to give herself permission in that manner, as previously she would have taken on the extra work and become increasingly stressed because of it. My counselling skills enabled me to give her nothing more than the encouragement that validated her decision.