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zkydz
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17 Apr 2016, 3:37 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
I learned some social skills throughout life, so if I learned social skills that I didn't have when younger, I would say that I am putting into practice learned social skills instead of faking anything if I apply the skills in a social situation.
I think that is a very important difference too. And, it is what I am hoping to do with this new knowledge.

That's why it's good to be hear. It is a good distinction that you bring up and it helps me focus my thoughts when things resonate with me.


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17 Apr 2016, 5:16 pm

zkydz wrote:
btbnnyr wrote:
What I mean is that the idea of faking things regularly to the point of some burnout is unintuitve.
If you take the approach that it is intentional, you would be absolutely correct.

However, keep in mind, many of us 'fakers' did it unintentionally. We were trained, many times, quite harshly to 'be a certain way.' Think of it this way. Most of us above a certain age grew up in a time when the accepted punishment then would get you arrested today. So, when I say punished harshly, I am framing it under the idea that it was harsh even for the times I am referencing. Literally beat, embarrassed, pushed to do unnatural things because it made us look weird to others and embarrassed parents and other family. And, many times, done in public so the parents could show that they did not tolerate aberrant behaviour. It was very much a sink or swim life back then. And that was easy compared to the people before.

So, most of us do it because it is all we know until we discover ourselves in a place like this. Then we realize how deadly it has been to suppress all those natural tendencies, causing even larger problems and doses of shame because all those things that were conditioned into us actually caused harm by forcing the suppression.

So, I completely agree that it is counter-intuitive to do it. But it is literally all I knew to do. The balance would be to find proactive ways to deal with things without having to fully mask.

I believe everybody has to mask at some point. I believe it is easier for NTs to do it because they can hide behind white lies and those sorts of things without any consequence. Their ability to control body language and other aspects naturally helps a lot.

I just know it's been exceptionally damaging to me.


Wow, so much of that *exactly* matches my lived experience as well. Nicely expressed, zkydz; well done!

(also, I'm going to ask my folks if I have an older sibling they never told me about, 'cause it's amazing how your description matches what I went through and how it affected me)


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Edna3362
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17 Apr 2016, 8:07 pm

zkydz wrote:
Edna3362 wrote:
I choose not to. :lol: I choose not to mask unless I see it fit or when it's absolutely necessary.
I choose to learn things and be good at it, not learn to pretend how to look good at it.
That's where I am in all of this. Trying to figure that out. About 4 weeks ago I realized that I had been suppressing a lot of behaviours. This was soon after the wife left. I'd even been suppressing them in front of her. So, when I learned to let myself go at home, it began a series of soothing actions that began to melt my stress a bit.

So, I have to learn balance. What's attainable/realistic for me.

And, I have to get out of 55 years of 'training' that it's not good to look weird while doing good work. Even though I am a working artist and that means a good deal of weird is acceptable, I was always self conscious because of the upbringing.

Some of it was good though. Manners and that sort of thing. I would say that has helped me more than any other thing.

...


Good good. :) A start is a start nonetheless.
Congrats. (If I'm not too late)
And good luck.


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zkydz
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17 Apr 2016, 8:14 pm

Edna3362 wrote:
Congrats. (If I'm not too late)
And good luck.
I accept any good wishes, no matter from whom or howm I got them. And, thank you. It's been weird for the last couple of days. Since yesterday, I feel my energies rising again and not in that malaise of not getting things done while being so preoccupied with things. I am beginning to wonder if, that for the last few months of not 'having a special interest that took hold was wrong, and this has been my special interest for this time. The research, the focus, the energy spent getting things in order so that I could find out.. It's a bit like being a released rubber band and it's unleashing my inner Mork. Stupid things like the 'whom and howm' pun above. Nobody will get it, assume it's a typo. But, I get it....how bizarre is that?

I wonder how annoying I am getting. But, I am just so exuberant. Maybe too exuberant. It's odd. Maybe too odd....


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18 Apr 2016, 2:25 am

You're on a forum for autistics, Zkydz, there's no such thing as "too odd" around here :lol:


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18 Apr 2016, 2:33 am

btbnnyr wrote:
I still don't understand the masking thing, it is completely unintuitive to me.
I just act like myself, and some people would take that as very weird, and others would take that as not that weird, and others would take that as normal.
The repressing part of masking is even harder to understand than the expressing part.


btbnnyr wrote:
I learned some social skills throughout life, so if I learned social skills that I didn't have when younger, I would say that I am putting into practice learned social skills instead of faking anything if I apply the skills in a social situation.


Honestly, the way you are describing things is hard for me to understand. I am guessing that you are saying that you don't try to hide anything when you socialize, and that you feel that applying social skills is not really masking anything, just using learned skills.

I feel that when I apply certain social skills it is actually like acting, not using learned skills. And I can't even really call them "skills." Because I'm not skillful when using them at all. Perhaps that is the difference. Maybe you are better at applying learned skills than I am.

There are skills that I can successfully use. Manners come quite easily to me. However, I tend to be more formal in many circumstances than most people. And when I try to be informal, I think I go too far. I don't have a good sense of when formality is required, when informality is best, and what level of informality is acceptable in many situations.

I have learned how to talk on the phone. It's easier, because the rules are simpler. Certain phrases are used often, and a particular tone of voice, "the phone voice," seems to be used by most women.

I still don't quite understand small talk. I was never taught. I didn't learn it intuitively, and I never really noticed it or understood its function or necessity. I also never realized that I was supposed to ask others questions of themselves until just a couple of years ago (or less). It was never taught to me, and I didn't learn it until recently. I figured that asking others questions was rude or nosy. I also was not generally interested in other people's lives.

There are so many social skills that I still do not have or understand. And many things I just can't seem to get. I can't figure out what things are appropriate to say. I know the obvious things that are not appropriate. But I say things all the time that seem to offend people, because I don't understand how others will perceive them. I have to have enough time to think about how others may feel about what I say. I just don't have that time in a social situation.

And at the same time as I am trying to have normal conversations, I have to try to make eye contact. I can't really do it well, so I must pretend that I am.

I never seem to know what subjects are good to talk about either. Another thing which I wasn't taught and didn't learn intuitively. I know now that I talk in too much detail about intellectual topics. And I speak too quickly. I have difficulty controlling it. I don't know how much is too much when it comes to intellectual topics. But other people have referred to me as being like an encyclopedia. I know that I say too much and probably bore people, or seem strange.

I'm thinking now that I feel like I am wearing a mask or faking for two reasons. The first is that I am pretending to have social skills that I do not possess. So I am constantly on edge and anxious while trying to keep up with everyone else and trying not to reveal my awkwardness and anxiety. It's almost like pretending to be fluent in a language that one is barely conversational in.

The second reason is that I'm lying or not being true to my nature. I often must lie, pretend to be interested in things, pretend to be confident, pretend to be relaxed, pretend to be looking at or listening to people, hide things about myself, etc. And I dislike having to do this. So to me that is faking. I'm only acting.

I don't know how much NTs lie, hide things, or pretend during social interactions, but from what I have learned, most of them seem to do it regularly. So I suppose that the faking I do is something that is a necessary part of socializing. It's just that I don't like it, and it does not feel natural to me.



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18 Apr 2016, 4:40 am

I would say that a learned social skill is something that I have picked up or been taught, like polite manners - holding doors open, saying 'please' and 'thank you. Things that you naturally think are the right thing to do, or that someone thinks to teach you because it's something that people usually need to be taught.

Whereas 'masking' is a conscious effort to go against what feels natural, or things that nobody taught you because it's just assumed that you would know it, or things that you really have to think about every time and that never become intuitive.



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18 Apr 2016, 8:13 am

ArielsSong wrote:
I would say that a learned social skill is something that I have picked up or been taught, like polite manners - holding doors open, saying 'please' and 'thank you. Things that you naturally think are the right thing to do, or that someone thinks to teach you because it's something that people usually need to be taught.

Whereas 'masking' is a conscious effort to go against what feels natural, or things that nobody taught you because it's just assumed that you would know it, or things that you really have to think about every time and that never become intuitive.
I would agree with that except for the severity of the 'lessons' that may be applied.

Those 'lessons' can take something like your positive example (and it is spot on) and turn it ugly and twist it into something you resent. And, because that positive thing was forced so strongly, it feels 'wrong.'


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18 Apr 2016, 9:52 am

zkydz wrote:
ArielsSong wrote:
I would say that a learned social skill is something that I have picked up or been taught, like polite manners - holding doors open, saying 'please' and 'thank you. Things that you naturally think are the right thing to do, or that someone thinks to teach you because it's something that people usually need to be taught.

Whereas 'masking' is a conscious effort to go against what feels natural, or things that nobody taught you because it's just assumed that you would know it, or things that you really have to think about every time and that never become intuitive.
I would agree with that except for the severity of the 'lessons' that may be applied.

Those 'lessons' can take something like your positive example (and it is spot on) and turn it ugly and twist it into something you resent. And, because that positive thing was forced so strongly, it feels 'wrong.'


I think this sums it up extremely well.

Its the twisting and the loss of autonomy which feels so challenging. I have found it is easy to feel as though i don't have control over how i act, because the internal "self enforced" police take over.

For example, my friends don't mind me flapping / stimming etc, but even then, i often catch the stim, feel bad and suppress it as that is what i had been taught to do. My friends often remind me its okay / not a problem.

Unlearning the self policing pattern (aka, the Mask) is taking time and lots and lots of energy. But long term, its far more positive for my and my environment.

J&L


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18 Apr 2016, 10:02 am

SpacedOutAndSmiling wrote:
Its the twisting and the loss of autonomy which feels so challenging. I have found it is easy to feel as though i don't have control over how i act, because the internal "self enforced" police take over.

For example, my friends don't mind me flapping / stimming etc, but even then, i often catch the stim, feel bad and suppress it as that is what i had been taught to do. My friends often remind me its okay / not a problem.
That's where I am. Until just a few weeks ago, I did not realize how much that suppressed action had created problems for me. I am learning to accept and use the stimming for positive purposes. But, in public, it is suppressed unless I am really, really stressed. I didn't even realize to the severity it was until recently.

It will take time. However, I do not have friends to say it's ok or provide feedback honestly. That's what my new avenue of counseling and support mechanisms will do. So, a bit on the 'on my own' at this time phase.

But, it is something that I am going to have to unlearn and then learn new techniques and how to employ them properly.

But, it has been so soothing when I accepted it in the privacy of my home. And, when I accepted it, and employed it, it worked. And, the 'need and severity' has begun to dissipate over this time. It is still there. Just not so energetic and strong most times.


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18 Apr 2016, 10:55 am

My pacing has always made people nervous so telling me to sit was like making me do something against something that is so natural to me. That is like me telling someone to stop moving their hands as they speak or stop looking at me when they talk. So me making myself sit because kids were telling me to sit, I never saw it as me faking it, same as for when I would make myself sit in my own apartment than pace so I wouldn't disturb the men below me giving them an excuse to blast their music loud. But I guess I have my own definition of faking and masking because to me there is no such thing. You either do it or you don't so if I decided to be rude to someone, I am faking it because it's against my own personality?

I also remember having to hold a pair of scissors and I would do it the right way in school to avoid drawing attention but at home I held them in a way I felt comfortable with that felt natural to me. Then in the 3rd grade my mother made me hold them the right way and told me I would get used to it and she would correct me every time she caught me using them wrong. I did get used to it and now it feels weird to hold them the old way I used to hold them. It doesn't feel natural anymore. I am sure I can adapt to using my left hand if I had to write with it. So was I faking holding the scissors the right way?

That is how I view social skills. Oh someone wants to hug me, I let them since it's only a few seconds even though I don't wanna do it but I am just being polite.

I get anxious in social situations so I feel anxiety and I have to force myself to be in it like having to make a phone call to book an appointment, having to stop at a school to pick up an enrollment form for my son for kindergarten and I am thinking in my head of what to say. No way would I say I am faking it. Am I faking not having social anxiety?

But I guess I have my own perspective than the majority here about what it means to fake it.


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18 Apr 2016, 11:20 am

League_Girl wrote:
But I guess I have my own perspective than the majority here about what it means to fake it.
It's not so different from my perspective if I put it this way:

I also learned a lot if things that were not negative. A lot of social graces by way of southern hospitality. That has allowed me to get by a lot of things. Most of it does feel naturally.....for about ten minutes. Then I get lost.....But that has nothing to do with 'faking it' on that level. Practiced mannerisms can be helpful and I am grateful for that.

What is disturbing though is that for all my life, I never could connect the discomfort and disconnect to why some things, though like what you said, a 'hug is ok, but it is uncomfortable' was a conundrum I could not solve. Just could not slice that Gordian knot to save my life.

So, my goal is to recognize why and how to overcome things that are buried that are harmful, just uncomfortabel and how to deal with that in a proactive way and learn the things that I do not know how to do, or just unaware of. I learned things in my diagnosis review that are new and now must also be considered. And that was just during evaluation. Who knows what my therapist will observe over longer times.

But, it's also the way those skills were taught. No gentleness vs. Pain and anger and embarrassment.

That has a negative effect that is put in place when these 'faking it' actions are employed. A negative feedback loop that is happening and you don't know why.

"These people are friendly, so, why do I feel so ill at ease?"
"These people are nice...why am I not interested at all?"

So, I know I am hoping to unlearn those negative things associated with 'proper behaviour' as well as learn a new level of 'proper behaviour'.

And, I need to learn all the things I have been unaware of, and the things I will become aware of and how to deal with it.


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19 Apr 2016, 12:17 am

I am now retired, so I don't have to "mask" so much any longer. Masking is exhausting, I've found.I don't have a lot of friends; most of my friends now know that I've been officially diagnosed with ASD. My new therapist (the psychiatrist who recently diagnosed me) suggested that I connect with "Meet-Up" groups, specifically those for adults on the autistic spectrum. I took her advice and I've been very happy to meet up with other spectrumites; I can be as socially awkward as I want because everyone else is also socially awkward. We have fun with various activities such as meeting at a coffee house or going to the movies. And I can come here and interact with other auties like me. :D



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21 Apr 2016, 11:58 am

Yigeren wrote:
btbnnyr wrote:
I still don't understand the masking thing, it is completely unintuitive to me.
I just act like myself, and some people would take that as very weird, and others would take that as not that weird, and others would take that as normal.
The repressing part of masking is even harder to understand than the expressing part.


btbnnyr wrote:
I learned some social skills throughout life, so if I learned social skills that I didn't have when younger, I would say that I am putting into practice learned social skills instead of faking anything if I apply the skills in a social situation.


Honestly, the way you are describing things is hard for me to understand. I am guessing that you are saying that you don't try to hide anything when you socialize, and that you feel that applying social skills is not really masking anything, just using learned skills.

I feel that when I apply certain social skills it is actually like acting, not using learned skills. And I can't even really call them "skills." Because I'm not skillful when using them at all. Perhaps that is the difference. Maybe you are better at applying learned skills than I am.

There are skills that I can successfully use. Manners come quite easily to me. However, I tend to be more formal in many circumstances than most people. And when I try to be informal, I think I go too far. I don't have a good sense of when formality is required, when informality is best, and what level of informality is acceptable in many situations.

I have learned how to talk on the phone. It's easier, because the rules are simpler. Certain phrases are used often, and a particular tone of voice, "the phone voice," seems to be used by most women.

I still don't quite understand small talk. I was never taught. I didn't learn it intuitively, and I never really noticed it or understood its function or necessity. I also never realized that I was supposed to ask others questions of themselves until just a couple of years ago (or less). It was never taught to me, and I didn't learn it until recently. I figured that asking others questions was rude or nosy. I also was not generally interested in other people's lives.

There are so many social skills that I still do not have or understand. And many things I just can't seem to get. I can't figure out what things are appropriate to say. I know the obvious things that are not appropriate. But I say things all the time that seem to offend people, because I don't understand how others will perceive them. I have to have enough time to think about how others may feel about what I say. I just don't have that time in a social situation.

And at the same time as I am trying to have normal conversations, I have to try to make eye contact. I can't really do it well, so I must pretend that I am.

I never seem to know what subjects are good to talk about either. Another thing which I wasn't taught and didn't learn intuitively. I know now that I talk in too much detail about intellectual topics. And I speak too quickly. I have difficulty controlling it. I don't know how much is too much when it comes to intellectual topics. But other people have referred to me as being like an encyclopedia. I know that I say too much and probably bore people, or seem strange.

I'm thinking now that I feel like I am wearing a mask or faking for two reasons. The first is that I am pretending to have social skills that I do not possess. So I am constantly on edge and anxious while trying to keep up with everyone else and trying not to reveal my awkwardness and anxiety. It's almost like pretending to be fluent in a language that one is barely conversational in.

The second reason is that I'm lying or not being true to my nature. I often must lie, pretend to be interested in things, pretend to be confident, pretend to be relaxed, pretend to be looking at or listening to people, hide things about myself, etc. And I dislike having to do this. So to me that is faking. I'm only acting.

I don't know how much NTs lie, hide things, or pretend during social interactions, but from what I have learned, most of them seem to do it regularly. So I suppose that the faking I do is something that is a necessary part of socializing. It's just that I don't like it, and it does not feel natural to me.


To me, masking is trying to hide something or fake something, otherwise the word masking seems inappropriate.
Applying a social skill like if someone I know says hi to me, I say hi to them, is not masking to me, since I am not faking anything or hiding anything, and I do want to greet people I know, as I am on good terms with everyone I know.
I don't pretend to have social skills I don't have, so I think that may be a difference between applying social skills I do have vs. pretending to have better social skills than I have.
Applying skills that I have learned doesn't take a lot of effort, because I already learned them, so they have become easy, but pretending seems to require a lot of effort, it seems like the pretending is what is causing people problems?
I don't pretend, in any situation, I just say what comes to mind, the social interactions are not always smooth, and everyone can see that I am socially awkward, but the communications that need to get done do get done this way.


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21 Apr 2016, 12:30 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
To me, masking is trying to hide something or fake something, otherwise the word masking seems inappropriate.
Applying a social skill like if someone I know says hi to me, I say hi to them, is not masking to me, since I am not faking anything or hiding anything, and I do want to greet people I know, as I am on good terms with everyone I know.
I don't pretend to have social skills I don't have, so I think that may be a difference between applying social skills I do have vs. pretending to have better social skills than I have.
Applying skills that I have learned doesn't take a lot of effort, because I already learned them, so they have become easy, but pretending seems to require a lot of effort, it seems like the pretending is what is causing people problems?
I don't pretend, in any situation, I just say what comes to mind, the social interactions are not always smooth, and everyone can see that I am socially awkward, but the communications that need to get done do get done this way.
I'm thinking that this has a lot validity. The separation is important to discuss though.

There are certain things that can cross from masking into a more natural/practiced action. I agree. I do a lot of things out of habit and training.

But, the mask is something I have developed for a long time. It goes on automatically and is not natural at all. I was visited by a social worked one time. They asked me how I was doing. I said fine. They believed me. 36 hours I was in the emergency intake for a suicide attempt.

The difference is that I could mask the real things going on inside to the point that they do not or cannot see. Even being completely suicidal, and a bazillion other things that should have tipped them off if I wasn't so convincing that things are good. Trained professionals take a while to see things with me.

But, even now, I feel like Roy Schieder in "All that Jazz"..."It's show time folks" is all I can say.

Think of it this way. You have a gay man. On the outside, completely manly and sees women for the beard. That person masks their sexuality. It is not natural for them. But, many other activities are just as natural.

With that in mind, not everybody masks and feels natural the same way.

Today I was in the therapist (just got back) she's all glowy and telling me that she can see a marked difference and I look better. But, I'm still a walking mess of crap. I go to the window to get my transportation card. There is nobody in line and they have no markers to designate where the 'line' should form. As the window opens up some guy just walks past me. Now, he was nice, he realized I was there. He said so, The idiot behind the window wouldn't listen to us and argued who was first and she was not going to take me even though I had waited in plain view for 5 minutes anyway.

Time was not a problem. But the fact that it was confusing where to stand (Stress for me like you wouldn't believe), and some idiot arguing with the people in line as to who was first, well, I wanted to figuratively rip her head off and use a megaphone to pour the words into her.

I looked better, but was ready to jump into this woman's crap because of *my* issues. Was she right? Hell no. I am not saying that. But, the mask said I was 'better' just ten minutes before. But the reality is that I am not any better or relaxed or anything. I'm just as ready to freak out. I'm just a bit more personable because I'm not on the brink of collapse.

But, *MY* issues just let that get out of proportion to what was really going on. I got angry, panicked and just walked out. I left money on the table, so to speak, because I did not want to explode all over this person. I could feel my language skills start to drop and my brain just started to jump from fact to fact to fact just to start organizing my script.

Not good. And that is why the mask hurts me.

But, even with most of the things I do out of habit, say hello, smile when greeted, etc. are only temporary and not always natural feeling. Mos times yes. But when it doesn't feel natural, it really stands out.


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