I feel really uncomfortable around other people

When I'm in large crowds I get angry and I just can't deal with people. I don't really like other people (I prefer animals) they make me nervous and scared.

I lay awake at night thinking and having conversations in my head and i almost always end up making myself feel terrible and crying, I have more conversions in my head than I do with actual people.

I don't know what's wrong with me and why I feel this way. What should I do?

You are not alone.  Lots of people are uncomfortable around other people and especially in large crowds.  In therapy, I would want to know more about your feelings with people you ARE close to such as family, friends, or coworkers, how long you've had these feelings, and if there are times when other people are fine.  Sometimes this type of feeling can be traced to specific experiences and that's where I would start.  Counseling could help you find the root of these feelings and help find ways to cope when you find yourself in a situation where you're around people.  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Kellie Spear
Kellie Spear
Compassionate online support & encouragement

It can be hard to figure out why certain situations lead you to feel angry, or fearful. We all have certain rules/beliefs about living life that were created over time. When our minds seem to never shut off it can be helpful to spend some time in the present moment you are in. I am guessing that when you're having conversations in your head that you are either re-living past feelings about something that happened, or you are thinking about things that are to come possibly with dread or fear. 

Overall, we are not always good about staying present in the moment, with all the distractions and demands in life it is easy to spend your sleeping hours planning for the next day or thinking about an interaction you had that didn't go the way you hoped it would. 

Practicing mindfulness along with learning how to connect your thoughts to actions would be a great starting point. To do this spend some time making connections between what you think and what you feel. When you are in a public situation and you begin to feel uncomfortable or you notice that you are getting angry, stop for a moment and ask yourself, 'what was I just thinking about?". Perhaps a "should" rule of your own was broken by another person, leaving you feeling hurt or disregarded. 

We are often unable to control the people or things that trigger our anger, but we can control how we react to situations that make us angry. When this is hard to do, separate yourself from the situation if you can, then take time to breathe, slow down your thoughts and visualize yourself in a place that calms you. As you take in the moment give yourself permission to linger in this place long enough to change the thoughts that led to the anger. If you continue to have difficulty shutting off your mind at the end of the day, try one of the many helpful apps that offer mindfulness routines, sleep stories, and other sleep-inducing activities. 

 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor

First of all, having these thoughts and feelings does not mean there is something wrong with you.  It's very normal to worry about social relationships and how others see us because we need other people in our lives to survive and thrive.

It sounds like you may have some social anxiety, which is very workable and treatable.  Rumination is a common way the brain attempts to deal with the worry that stems from social anxiety, though not effectively.  One way we ruminate is to try to excessively plan out what we will say and how we will act in social situations that may never even occur, which ultimately ends in a lot of unneeded psychological pain and stress.

One way to cope with those thoughts is to write about the worries you have.  When we write, it forces us to slow down the thought process, which can allow for more clarity and other information to come through about our experiences.  Another benefit for this is to externalize the thoughts and feelings you are having; this can really help to organize your thoughts and feelings as well as put them outside of the mind.

Seeing a counselor may be helpful as well.  They can help sort through your anxieties and the underlying reasons why they may exist.  They can also help with individualized coping strategies and tasks that will fit for your personal needs.  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Candice Conroy, LMHC
Candice Conroy, LMHC
Find relief from anxiety, depression, and trauma.

It's common with social anxiety to replay or "pre-play" conversations in your mind - often focusing on how you believe it did or could go wrong. CBT can be helpful in pinpointing what's keeping this cycle of anxiety and avoidance going for you if it's something you wish to change. It's also important to note that adults who struggle with feeling nervous or scared in social situations often have similar experiences in childhood - namely being criticized by parents, siblings, or peers for how they speak, interact, appear, or express themselves. This often creates a pattern of becoming very self-conscious in an effort to avoid shame and embarrassment in social interactions. Working with a therapist to process through these thinking patterns and the behaviors that come from them can help to start decreasing anxiety and anger around social interactions and more importantly decreasing feelings of shame and anxiety about the way you express yourself.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Christina Aegerter, PsyD
Christina Aegerter, PsyD
Adulting is hard, don't struggle alone

What you are experiencing is totally normal and these emotions mean you are human! Humans are social creatures who were created to be in connection with others, but sometimes our life experiences or genetics can make that more difficult for some of us. 

It is possible that these reactions are based on negative reactions you have had with others in the past, maybe your family, or other traumatic interactions with others. It is also possible that they are caused by an underlying condition such as anxiety or depression, which may cause you to be more uncomfortable around others or annoyed by others. Some people are also more bothered by crowded spaces, loud interactions, and the actions of others. 

Of course you prefer animals (me too!), they provide unconditional love and support, do not judge you, and do not require you to have conversations with them. 

The fact that you have conversations in your head at night tells me that although you say you do not like people, you are craving some social connection. What is probably the case is that you were never really taught how to interact and have those conversations. The good news is that there is nothing wrong with you, you just need a little help learning how to have these conversations and taking some healthy risks to initiate conversations and that is something that I help many of my clients with in therapy. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Reanna Waugh
Reanna Waugh
Waugh's Holistic Wellness Center

I am very sorry to hear that you are going through this! While animals can be a wonderful way to experience emotional support, you may want to consider opening up to a Life Coach or therapist to discuss some of your concerns. You are not alone, and many people are experiencing very similar anxieties. A Life Coach or professional therapist could help to guide you through these emotions and refer you to additional professional help if needed. It sounds as though you want to address some of these issues by first asking the question. Finding additional support from a trained professional whom you feel comfortable with could be the best way to get the help that you need. I wish you the best of luck on your journey!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Susan Haberkorn
Susan Haberkorn
Online Christian Counseling for Women

You are a unique individual exhibiting some of the traits of a specific type of temperament. Through temperament counseling you can come to know, accept, and manage your God-given temperament to become all that God intended. There is nothing wrong with you -- God loves you as you are and wants to help you balance your temperament needs.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Jennifer Molinari
Jennifer Molinari
Hypnotherapist & Licensed Counselor
Hi, I can only imagine how difficult social situations must...  (more)Hi, I can only imagine how difficult social situations must be for you when being around people makes you feel "nervous and scared." It completely makes sense to not really like people when feeling this way. Based on what you have stated, it sounds like you could be experiencing social anxiety. People experience different levels of comfort when they are around people. Some people derive energy from being around people (extroverts) and some people recharge by being alone (introverts.) Most people are some combination of both. For the most part, we are social creatures and having social interaction is needed and beneficial in order to be happy and healthy. If I am reading what you have said correctly, it sounds like you feel scared, nervous, and anxious around people (perhaps more so in large crowds) but it also sound like you would like to know what to do so that you don't feel this way. The good news is that Social anxiety is very common and very treatable. If you are able to find a therapist in your area that specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) then I believe that you will find significant relief from those symptoms when you are in social situations. In therapy you will learn relaxation skills and ways to feel more confident in social situations. Who knows? You may even get to the point where you enjoy social situations! Anything is possible. The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
David Klein
David Klein
Humanistic, LGBT-Affirmative Psychotherapy for Individuals & Couples

The thing I picked up immediately in what you're asking is how you don't like other people because "they make me nervous and scared." If someone said that to me in a therapy session, I'd want to understand this much more with them, and what this "nervous and scared" experience is all about: perhaps starting with the question, "what's the earliest memory you have of feeling uncomfortable around people." The idea would be to try to understand all of what it means for you to be around people, and the history of the experience, without labeling it wrong or passing judgment on it.

From there what might come is that certain people, and their character traits, might be harder to be around for you because of experiences that you've had with similar situations in your life. Or, it could certainly be something completely different. It would be most important to understand it much more deeply considering the amount of distress it causes you, and in doing so we could begin to see it as "normal for me."

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Laura Jordan
Laura Jordan
Get the support you deserve!

What you're experiencing is anxiety, it's actually quite common. Good news - you're not alone in this experience! That being said, it can be so frustrating and upsetting to have to contend with the anxious thoughts that come up in our heads, sometimes without any warning. Additionally, nighttime is a particularly vulnerable time for a lot of people wherein anxiety rears its' ugly head even more so. We aren't as distracted at night and our resources are more depleted so we can't fight back against these thoughts as effectively as usual. 

It can be helpful to externalize our anxiety, give it a name, like "Judy" or "Bill" for example (or perhaps something more sinister like Lord Garmadon??). The naming is all up to you, what comes to mind for you when you think of your anxiety, now what is a name that's fitting? The act of externalizing separates us from the anxiety a bit and makes it a little more tolerable. If you can think of your anxiety as just something else to handle rather than it being a part of your personality, this is usually helpful. 

Additionally, I recommend not avoiding the situations that make you feel this way. Our brains have to learn what is an actual threat and what is not. Right now, your brain thinks that crowds are a threat, if you can practice some deep breathing and stay in the crowd, you will start to teach (or rewire) your brain, letting it know that the crowd is not dangerous to you. Think of your brain as an overprotective parent. Your brain is overreacting in these situations to try and keep you safe. It just needs to learn that the situation is not a danger to begin with. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

I think you have a lot of insight into what’s going on - being able to pinpoint the issue you’re facing and describe the responses it evokes. It sounds like you may be dealing with social anxiety and it may be beneficial to talk to a professional counselor about this. A therapist can help you develop tools (or coping strategies) for dealing with these situations. From what you’ve shared, you might benefit from animal assisted therapy. Equine therapy is a great approach, or even just working with a therapist who uses animal assisted therapy integrated with a traditional approach to counseling.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Joshua Weinreb
Joshua Weinreb
Cognitive Behavioral & Mindfulness Based Counselor

Reaching out to talk about these issues is an important first step. Finding professional services might be recommended if these issues are happening more and more. A few things to note...

Anger is an important secondary feeling to be aware of- it keeps us safe, allows us to stand up for ourselves or others....but it also harbors a myriad of disadvantages. But its secondary. It's more necessary to understand the primary emotions behind the anger- worry, confusion, frustration, fear, loneliness, etc...

Anxiety has a lot to do with worrying about the future, especially things that we might not be able to control. If we focus our worry on negative things- mistakes, failures, or messups then we will inherently tell ourselves negative things about ourselves.  People tend to dwell on the negatives without embracing, or as t least recognizing, the positives.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sarah Parker
Sarah Parker
Specialize in healing painful emotions and restoring relationships
It's totally normal to feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable in large crowds, or large family gatherings. You may worry about not fitting in, or having anything to say. It is important to have a friend or two. Try to find someone with similar interests. Maybe you can do things that don't involve a lot of face to face contact, like going to see a movie, play or sporting event. Many people are perfectly happy doing things in small groups. If you have ongoing conversations in your head, it is usually due to worry about being judged, and wanting to do or say the exact right thing, as mentioned above. Finding someone to talk to, either a supportive friend or therapist, would allow you to get some of those thoughts our of your head, and realize that you are more accepted than you think. Good luck!
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Since you're aware of your sensitivity to being among large groups of people, then continue to satisfy this and stay away from crowds as much as reasonably possible.

It is also fine to prefer the companionship of animals, as long as it is not to the exclusion of relationships with people.

Recognizing this feature about yourself is another example of self-understanding.

The only point to consider is the reason you avoid talking with other people.

If its because of bad or stressful encounters, betrayals or some type of violation, then having this relationship pattern remain in your mind, may introduce new problems such as loneliness from lack of close friends.

What you should do is honestly understand whether you avoid people from fear of being hurt or exploited in some way or because you genuinely prefer solitude.

If you have the right combination of people/solitude/animals, then great!

If not, then consider the confidential office of a therapist for new understanding of yourself and your social interests.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Janna Kinner
Janna Kinner
Flourish Christian Counseling

Thanks for sharing your concern!  I think you'd be surprised if you knew how many people feel the same way.  Being in crowds can provoke anxiety (one of the symptoms of anxiety is irritability or anger, like you described).  For some people, that's just because of their personality (if you tend to be more introverted, being around lot of people is really draining).  For others, it can point to a diagnosis of social anxiety.

I'd recommend starting by writing down your self-talk.  It sounds like you are telling yourself a lot of negative messages (as you mentioned, having imaginary conversations and assuming people are judging you).  Write down the thoughts that are leading to you feeling terrible and crying.  Maybe that's:  I'm stupid, Everyone else is having a good time so I should be too, There's something wrong with me.  Just writing these down is an important starting point because it allows you to be objective to your thoughts.  When you see them on paper, you can start to identify the lies and reframe them.  Next to your negative thoughts, write some positives:  I have something to offer, I'm okay the way I am, It's okay to prefer 1:1 relationships, etc.  Hopefully even as you read some of those suggestions, you feel a little lighter and more okay with yourself.  

Take care!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Amy Higgs OTR/L, CLT, CAPS
Amy Higgs OTR/L, CLT, CAPS
Mobile Occupational Therapist: sensory bus for children with ASD, SPD, ADD/ADHD and trauma

So amazing that you are aware of your social anxiety and distress with others you are in relationships with. You have taken the first step toward a journey of healing! 

Secondly, make an appointment with a therapist who specializes in neurofeedback and biofeedback treatment. A test is needed to determine which areas of your brain are ‘on’ and which areas of your brain are ‘off’. Then it will be focused treatment which will speed your healing. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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