How Can I Have a Normal Relationship With People?

lately, I have been noticing I cannot make good healthy relationships with many people around me like new people, coworkers and friends there is a weird feeling inside me, I don't know where it's coming from, I don't know if I can call it fear, freeze response, I'm thinking that I have a strange energy in my eye while looking into people and sometimes I try hard to act normal while interacting with people but it is just not feeling normal. I think about myself that I have some fears inside me, and I can meet people only on the surface level, in other words: can't go along/deeper with people. I'm concerned about relationships because I'm thinking that my work, my life, my goals, and my happiness, is depending on having a healthy relationship, and not having that makes me feel ashamed and think that there must be something wrong with me. I'm bad, I'm destined to fail. I have 3 close friends who I trust and feel normal around them, but I just can not do that with others, even if the relationship that went well in the beginning, I start to have ideas that this won't get further and tell myself that this will be the same as the past. I NEED HELP
Asked by Misha

Hi Misha! Thank you for asking this important question on the BetterHelp platform. It is really great that you are willing to address the topic of building and maintaining healthy relationships. It is a really good thing that you have reached out for support at this time. Have you attended counseling or therapy services in the past? I hope that you consider participating in online therapy sessions on BetterHelp!

Based on what you wrote in your question, I can see why you are feeling concerned about having a normal relationship with other people. When did you first notice that you were feeling this way? Who is in your circle of support? Would you be able to reflect on some of your relationship strengths? What would an ideal relationship look like for you? What efforts would you need to put forward in order to get there?

I recommend that you answer and address some of these questions, as well as some of your own thoughts, through therapeutic writing. Have you tried journaling in the past? Journaling and writing poetry are wonderful and creative outlets that allow for safe emotional expression as well as contemplation. There are daily journal prompts on the BetterHelp app if you would like to respond to some pre-written prompts as a means to get started with establishing ideas for the creative writing process. Also, if you are interested in hearing more about the nature and benefits of writing and journaling, feel free to look up the Therapeutic Writing Institute! They consistently have classes and trainings on the phenomenal effects of writing on the brain.

I realize that you had mentioned that you are unable to make healthy and meaningful relationships with people in your life. When you say that you are experiencing a weird feeling, what are the ways in which you would describe this sensation? It sounds like you have considered the possibility that this would be the flight or fight response, which is a physiological response to fear or perceived danger. It sounds like you feel like making eye contact with people does not feel normal for you. What behaviors or actions allow you to feel normal? I can imagine that these experiences must be very uncomfortable for you, to say the least.

I think that you have some very good insight into your experience. I see what you mean when you mention that you feel as if you can only interact with others on a surface level. It seems like you are willing to connect with other individuals on a deeper level but perhaps you are unsure as to how to go about doing this. I would like to encourage you to steer clear of thinking that something is inherently wrong with yourself. Try to be kind to yourself and practice being patient and understanding with who you are. There is always going to be room for personal growth and change if you are willing to give it a try! I truly appreciate your sense of determination. What are some of your other strengths and positive qualities?

I hear what you are saying when you state that you have some fears about failure in pursuing deeper and meaningful connections. I know that you mentioned that you feel like you are "destined to fail." I realize that the concept of failure may seem to be inevitable for you. I would be interested in hearing more about why you think that you will fail. How would it feel to hear someone say, "You won't fail." If you can, take some time to try to adapt to this way of thinking. Changing thoughts is one of the fundamental attributes of the cognitive behavioral therapy approach. Take some time to consider how your thoughts, feelings, and behavior are interrelated. I recommend looking into some positive affirmations online. A positive, self affirmation statement, once said by H. Jackson Brown Jr., is: "When you can't change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails."

In addition to utilizing positive affirmations and motivational quotes, I would like to encourage you to participate in art based interventions. You had mentioned that you set some goals for yourself. Would you be willing to draw a timeline about how long it will take to realistically attain those goals? Would you consider participating in therapeutic drawing and painting techniques as a means to build self esteem and establish a sense of control? Paint a picture of yourself in the future. Also, draw a person in the rain. This is a standardized, reliable, and validated art therapy directive that could help you to further realize your resiliency. Try to think of resilience in terms of being a form of flexibility. Have some hope that you can improve your current relationships as well as build new connections in the future.

At this time, I recommend attending individual counseling sessions It sounds like you could benefit from talking to a licensed mental health counselor about how you have been doing. A trained therapist can assist you in addressing your relationship concerns as well as your aspirations for future relationships. You may have the opportunity to review important information on topics such as attachment style, boundaries and socialization skills. If you are interested in joining a group therapy session or groupinar, those are additional options on BetterHelp. A cohesive group setting can assist individual participants in developing social skills and establishing healthy connections. Check out Irvin David Yalom's book titled: "The Gift of Therapy." In his book, Yalom outlines eleven principles of group therapy. There are many resources online if you would like to learn more about the therapeutic nature of group therapy.

Thank you again for your time asking this vital question on the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" Forum. I wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey. I hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. Take good care and enjoy your day!