Relationships are an important part of life. How we relate to others, interact, initiate and maintain relationships is an integral part the day. When relationships are going well they can be fulfilling, enriching, rewarding and fruitful. However sometimes relationships can start to feel more difficult, it can feel harder to engage with others and take part in the social world. Sometimes the relationships we are already in can also start to suffer. Sometimes it is the relationship we have with ourselves that can start to break down.

What are the signs?

When our relationships, whether that is with others or ourself, start to feel more difficult it can affect us in a number of ways. For example, you may notice that you start to feel more anxious about attending social engagements, that you become more aware of how you are talking to others or become self conscious of your body language. You may find yourself avoiding social interactions altogether. Alternatively, you may notice that you are becoming less interested in engaging in relationships, that you feel more withdrawn and less motivated to get involved with others. You may notice that your self esteem, confidence and energy levels have changed and that you become more negative about how you think and feel about yourself.

When is it a problem?

Although it can be quite normal to feel a little socially anxious at times, to struggle with self esteem and confidence and to feel less motivated to interact with others, it can start to become more problematic. For example, you may become aware that it is holding you back from moving in the direction of what is important to you. It may be that you are not building or maintaining important relationships such as friendships or romantic relationships. You may notice it becoming a problem in your job or your activities or possibly that you have stopped engaging in these types of activities altogether. When these types of problems start to become an obstacle to your life goals and values, it may be helpful to think about alternative ways of coping with and managing these difficulties so that you are more able to make the changes necessary to move in your desired direction.