I was recently reading online that children with SM have difficulty speaking to people they’re already not talking to. In other words, it’s easier to start talking to a stranger right off the bat than speak to someone with whom they’ve already established a pattern of silence. It’s a really interesting point, and someone asked why this was.
I can tell you that this was definitely the case with me. When I was a senior in high school, I was talking a little bit to my classmates, but I was still very much very withdrawn and suffering from various issues – depression, social anxiety, love sickness. That’s when I decided to run away to a different city (I came back a week later). I took a bus to Austin, Texas where one of my musical heroes, Stevie Ray Vaughn, used to live.
What happened during the trip was unexpected. I was able to let go of everything I was holding on to and get into the moment of things. I started talking to people on the bus and met some nice people, talked to the people in the hostel where I was staying, made new friends, played in a band, etc. Because these people had no idea that I “didn’t talk” it was a lot easier to establish a relationship with people where I did talk from the beginning. Of course, I still wasn’t super talkative or the most social person around, but I was no longer at that level where not being able to talk was emotionally crippling to my life.
To get back to that person’s original question, why is it so hard for SM’s to change in their existing relationships? It’s not exclusive to SM kids alone. It’s human nature to try to stay within your comfort zone. For example, for many people it’s extremely difficult to start an exercise routine. They get through with work, go to the gym, work out, and they’ll stick with that for a couple of days maybe even weeks. Then what happens? “Eh, I can miss one day.” Then that becomes two days, three days, and eventually they stop going. They tried stepping out of their comfort zone by going to the gym, and then reverted back to what they were comfortable with when it got difficult.
Here’s an example for people who don’t have SM. Say you are at a bar having a great time with your friends, laughing and joking around. All of a sudden your boss from work comes in the bar. For a moment, when you see your boss come up to you, you’ll revert back to work mode, and you’ll want to act in a different, more reserved way. If you don’t snap yourself out of that zone, you might stay this way throughout the night.
In the same way, kids with SM want to preserve the status quo around people they already know, and once you establish a pattern of silence it can be difficult to break out of it (although it can be done). I’ve heard about many cases where kids switch schools, and they become talkative almost instantly. However, there are counter examples to that where kids do move to a different school and then fall into the same pattern of SM. So it all just depends. A big factor that’s affecting that dynamic is forming an identity around SM, which I’ll talk about in another article.
Another example of a clash of comfort zones might be when you were a kid you had this really cool teacher at school. And one day you’re out shopping with your mom and you see that really cool teacher out in a non-school setting. It blows your mind because the two roles you play – your mom’s child and student – could conflict with each other, and whichever role is stronger will take over. If that kid had SM, he or she will most likely go silent because the ramifications of talking are much more immediate and perceived as a danger in the child’s mind.
Hopefully this provided some insight into the world of SM, and it was relatable to you in some way. Once you start to see these things happening in your own life, then you can take the next step to get out of your comfort zone. Constantly challenging yourself is the way to continue growing as a person, which is what it boils down to – and that goes for everyone. I’ll leave you with this quote.
“If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
I found a really cool video on a guy who overcame his SM. He mentions breaking through your comfort zone, along with some other really inspirational stuff. Check it out!