Hello, it's me again,
First a little follow up of my last letter, I forgave Apple for the robbery, he has slowed on his drug use as well as bought himself a quad which keeps him busy and off drugs :D
Since my last letter, a lot has happened, I left my home town, I traveled for awhile, I lived in a few places, I've met so many people, I saw lot of things, made a few new friends, even attended my first furry con, which really made me happy. Right now, I'm in college training to be a forestry firefighter; in two more weeks I'll be certified. I'll be protecting the forest and adding support in any disaster, Canadian or American.
But in travels, I've realized something: in my last letter, I mentioned that me and Apple were in a "Bad Environment" living there. I, without knowing it, put my personality in a shell. I can't freely express myself; my voice is deeper than normal; I stand tall rather then my normal relaxed stance; people who judge me based on my physical look often think I am angry or unhappy, when I could be just bored or shy. I also have trouble carrying a conversation. Since at home I didn't really talk, if I do talk it's usually short, quick replies straight to the point. I do this out of reflex. I wanted to know if you knew a way I could break this shell, express my personality, and speak more freely.
I'm interested in finding a mate, but if I can't express myself or learn to carry a conversation, I imagine that I'm not going to even have a relationship D:
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I am glad you and Apple have reconciled, and it’s good that he is using fewer drugs, but it really won’t be “mission accomplished” until he is off them completely. I hope he gets there.
I’m also very proud of you for pursuing an awesome career in fighting forest fires. That’s a difficult and brave and generous thing to do!
As you’ve surmised, your behavior around people has been heavily influenced by the environment in which you grew up. Your penchant for being terse with your language and even your body posture are all defense mechanisms, shields used to defend yourself from being hurt. You are probably correct that your speech and mannerisms might be off-putting to potential mates.
You can take two approaches to changing how you behave. In the behavior-therapy approach, you focus on consciously changing your behavior, forcing yourself to stand in a more relaxed position and to answer questions with longer, more detailed responses. If you practice this enough, eventually these adjusted behaviors will become second nature to you, just as, say, forcing yourself to do a backflip will eventually make backflips quite easy to perform. How you improve in this area is to work on it incrementally. Each day, consciously think of relaxing your posture, especially when around others; also, when someone talks to you, instead of, say, replying with a simple “yes” or “no,” Pause and think for a second and add a sentence or two to your reply. If you can’t think of something relevant to the question, then, after answering the question, ask the other person something about him or herself. In other words, consciously become engaged in the other person; be curious about his or her life. Example:
Acquaintance: “Hi, there! How are you today?”
You: “Fine. Same old thing.... Um, hey, you’re John’s friend, right? Do you guys work together? etc. etc.”
Try to initiate a dialogue instead of just replying and offering the minimally required response. You might benefit from reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Much of the material in the book seems like common sense, but common sense is not so common anymore, apparently.
The other approach is to address what is going on inside you and, by doing so, your outward behavior should change organically. To do so, you will need to explore and understand why you have all these mistrust issues to begin with (you might wish to consult a professional on this one). Second, you need to find people whom you can trust as friends and establish healthy relationships with them. Remembering that trust is a two-way street, start by doing small, kind things for others and see who will reciprocate, when the time is appropriate. Other things you can do to gain someone’s trust are: 1) be respectful of other people’s time (i.e., e.g., don’t show up late when you agree to meet someone); 2) make eye contact when talking to people; 3) similarly, don’t be afraid of touching others, including handshakes, a touch on the shoulder, or even a hug, if appropriate; 4) if someone tells you something in confidence, respect that absolutely; 5) be reliable; and 6) always be kind and considerate. It takes a long time to establish a new, trusting relationship (and this approach is much slower than the behavior modification method), but doing so will help you get out of your shell.
By becoming a more trusting, sociable person, you will be able to alter your behavior so that you become a more open, welcoming personality. And when your personality is more inviting, you will find that others will be more attracted to you, making finding a mate much more likely.
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