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Smiling unnecessarily
#1
Hi Guys,

I would like to share about a concern which I am facing.

I have mentioned in a previous thread before that I developed social anxiety (https://gayspeak.com/Thread-Words-can-kill).

One of the effects I experience is that I end up smiling awkwardly when a person or people is/are looking at me (sometimes my own family). It happens involuntarily and I found it hard to control my smile.

I will hang my head slightly when I end up having the awkward smile because I feel very embarrassed. I know the smile is awkward because people have stared at me like I was a lunatic and avoided interacting me after they have seen my awkward smile. I could not make friends in university due to this.

For now, it is manageable, because I am wearing a face mask in public due to the pandemic. I am able to hide this awkward smile with the face mask. But I still experience it in restaurants when I am eating without the mask.

This meme somewhat explains partially what I am facing:
[Image: 7e6ba6ce1dada4badfff36c7b166d964abde335f...1129_1.jpg]

My concern is that whether is this really a big issue to be concerned about. I'm not sure if this is something that can be "cured" somehow.

In the future, if I am dating someone or something, I don't want this issue to frighten away all my potential dates. That is why I feel concerned that this issue might affect my social life.
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#2
Well that is a good question. In the US people do smile a lot (and make small talk) and people from other countries seem to find that weird. So if you were in the US, that would be considered normal for the most part and would really only come off odd if you gave off a weird vibe, like if people can tell you're uncomfortable, but it wouldn't be a big deal. That being said, I know nothing about the culture and social norms of where you're at, so it might be a bigger deal than it would be in the US, but I doubt it is anything to worry too much about.

When it comes to social anxiety, one way to help with it is through exposure therapy. Yes, that's right, the best way to combat social anxiety is to put yourself out there in more social situations and yes it takes a long time and in my experience it never fully goes away but you learn to deal with it much better. A lot of people are nervous on dates, even straight people are nervous on first dates so don't be surprised if your date seems a bit off as well. It is also easy to misread someone as being uninterested when they're just anxious or it could be something else. The point is to not worry so much. Sometimes dates go well and sometimes they don't, the thing to remember that just because things didn't go well doesn't make you any less of a person. Learning to be comfortable in your own skin, accepting and loving yourself is a big deal and not all too easy to do for many people, same with social anxiety, it can be dealt with but it isn't all that easy but very much worth your time and effort.

Hope that helps some.
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  • soulfulriver
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#3
Here in Britain we do awkward smiling a lot, followed by overthinking of the awkward smiling, followed by playing the situation over in our heads and picturing how we could have handled the situation in a cooler manner.

Easier said than done, but you should be more concerned over your concern of your awkward smile, more so than being concerned by the smile it's self. I doubt many people think it's awkward and are in fact, most likely thinking of something similar about an insecurity of their own rather than focusing on yours.

IBD is right, and again it's easier said than done. But put yourself out there and with time you'll feel a lot more comfortable. Remember that we all think negatively towards ourselves and if you're feeling embarrassed, maybe switch that negativity into positivity and compliment who you're with i.e. I really like your top, eyes, hair etc...
[Image: 20c62a6f57503c8c9ad8f289b603d0d4fd37b8e2_hq.gif]
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  • soulfulriver
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#4
@InbetweenDreams and @Rawr

Sorry if my question sounds silly.

Is it okay if I smile to myself out of shyness out of a sudden in front of public, friends, or partner (if I ever have one) during certain times?

I feel it's impossible to try and eliminate this behaviour from myself completely. I was focusing on trying to do this for years and I feel it has worsened my self-esteem and self-worth because I was not successful in doing so.

I think it will be better if I embrace and accept this behaviour so that I won't feel so worthless about myself. Like maybe tell myself that it's okay to smile randomly out of shyness.

But I have past experience of losing friends due to this smiling and it hurts me. It makes me feel like this is unacceptable behaviour.
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#5
The idea of smiling and losing friends because of it seems very unusual to me. That's why I ask about what the cultural norms are where you're at. Then again, I suppose you would have to understand American culture to make a comparison. If I were basing your experience from an American perspective, I'd say your "friend" is more insecure than you are.

Understand that typically smiling because you're nervous is almost like 2nd nature that you'll do it. I'm not saying you can't learn to not smile when you're nervous or shy, but it is difficult.

I think the best way to deal with it is to just explain to them that you sometimes smile when you're nervous, perhaps if they understand why you're smiling it would make it better? But if people don't want to be friends because of that I don't think they were your friends to begin with. Then again, my conclusions on this might be way off simply not understanding how things are in your part of the world. I think most people here would probably gloss over it and would probably pick up on your shyness more so than you smiling.

So in short, I think it is not worth trying to change every nuance about yourself that you feel might bother others. I mean I could understand if you chewed loudly and with your mouth open, but we're talking about smiling because you're nervous/shy.
"I’m not expecting to grow flowers in a desert, but I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime"
Check out my stuff!
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  • soulfulriver
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#6
(10-30-2021, 05:37 PM)InbetweenDreams Wrote: I think the best way to deal with it is to just explain to them that you sometimes smile when you're nervous, perhaps if they understand why you're smiling it would make it better? But if people don't want to be friends because of that I don't think they were your friends to begin with. Then again, my conclusions on this might be way off simply not understanding how things are in your part of the world. I think most people here would probably gloss over it and would probably pick up on your shyness more so than you smiling.

So in short, I think it is not worth trying to change every nuance about yourself that you feel might bother others. I mean I could understand if you chewed loudly and with your mouth open, but we're talking about smiling because you're nervous/shy.

Thanks for your suggestion InbetweenDreams. Smile

I also feel it's better to share with people whom I interact with. I will also feel more at ease after that.
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