Some Reasons People May Put Off Working On Their Social Issues In Real Life

It doesn't happen to everyone, but here's a response some people have to finding a site like this:

  1. If the advice seems solid, they get really excited to have finally found a trove of information that will help them with their social issues.
  2. They hole up for the next few weeks and read everything that seems applicable to them.
  3. Once they've felt like they've absorbed enough, they decide to head out into the world to try some of the ideas on for size...
  4. ...Before they do that they change their mind and decide they haven't learned enough yet and need to go over everything a second time, or research what some other sources have to say.
  5. In the months that follow, they never get around to applying any of the advice they've found in real life, and feel like they could always stand to learn a little bit more.

Of course you shouldn't just read endlessly. You need to get out there. Practicing in real life is key.

Still, when it comes to potentially anxiety-provoking or ego-damaging areas like talking to new people or trying to make friends, there can be a tendency to keep researching various tips and tricks and endlessly put off actually doing anything to improve in the real world. I can think of a few reasons people do this:

They're just not ready to make any real changes yet

This is fair enough. If you're not ready, you're not ready. Maybe you're mulling over the idea of working on your social skills, and are fine with reading up on the topic, but you honestly don't feel like doing anything more concrete yet. That's alright. Get more serious when you feel like it.

This article goes into a ton more detail about that topic: Are You Fully Ready To Begin Working On Your Social Problems?

They don't feel they have enough information to start improving in real life yet

This is fair enough as well. If you honestly feel clueless then there's no harm in attaining some basic knowledge first. The problem is when people have read more advice than they'll ever need and still feel a reluctance to try to put it into practice. Maybe they think that if they pre-load themselves with enough info that when they get out there they'll never screw up or get rejected. You can never be too prepared, right? Nah, you've still got to take your lumps learning firsthand.

In my own experience, people can read as much as they want about something ahead of time, but it'll all go out the window as soon as they do it for real. They'll still make a load of newbie mistakes when they try applying the skills they've studied. Nothing ever turns out to be exactly how they imagined when they were learning about it. In the heat of the moment they'll forget most of what they memorized about how they should act. Things they've already read about, and should be prepared for, will catch them by surprise the first time they face them in the wild. Things they never read about will happen too. Other people will act unpredictably, throwing their whole plan off and forcing them to ineptly improvise. And at the end of the day they'll end up going through a chunk of the material again anyway, because before they were reading up on something they were ignorant about. Advice gains a new level of meaning when you've experienced what it's talking about firsthand.

Another problem is that you can functionally end up forgetting like 90% of what you've read if you try to learn everything about a skill ahead of time. It feels like you'll remember at that moment, and maybe if someone reminded you you'd go, "Oh yeah, I've read that before", but effectively the information will never cross your mind again. If you've never done something in real life, the advice has no context or previous experience to "stick" to. You're almost trying to memorize random facts, and our brains aren't great at retaining that kind of knowledge. But when you've had prior exposure to something, your mind has a spot it can slot the advice into.

They're holding out for the magic pill

It doesn't exist, as I discuss here: There's No Quick, Effortless Way To Fix Your Social Problems

Deep down they know what they have to do, but they don't want to admit it, so they're waiting for better advice to come along

This is kind of like searching for the magic bullet. Sometimes you read some advice, and a part of you knows it's what you have to do, but it's unpalatable. Maybe following it will take too long, force you to change your habits, or put you in nervousness-inducing situations. So you put it off and keep looking for something easier. Maybe you will find an approach more to your liking, or maybe you'll waste a few months and eventually come back to the original suggestions.

Another reason someone could be holding out for better advice is that they're new to a field, and are too inexperienced to recognize good recommendations when they see them. So they naively keep researching in the hope of finding something else.

They think all you have to do is read about something to learn it

Some advice has an instant effect. You read a particular observation and your attitude or outlook changes right then and there. Or you learn of a mistake you were making and never do it again. You could call that real progress. For the most part however, you can't say you've made any true improvement until you start seeing some results in the real world. Reading about a skill can make you think you're becoming better at it, but you really aren't because you haven't practiced and built up your proficiency. An example that comes to mind is learning how to play poker. Plenty of people have gotten interested in the game, read some books on strategy and felt like they knew what they were doing, only to lose a bunch of money when they played for real against decent opponents.

Even abstract skills without an obvious physical or performance component need to be honed over time. You can read a piece of advice on how to make conversation, but you'll still need to try it out several times before you get the hang of it. Similarly, some attitude changes require that you work to make them permanent. Getting rid of a bad habit or personality trait may take longer than just becoming aware of it and committing to not do it anymore.

They're bored and the advice is just something entertaining to read

Self-improvement and communication skills can be really interesting topics for their own sake. Sometimes people will read about them as infotainment. They'll be on the internet and they've already checked all their favorite sites, so they'll go to some random personal development blog and kill half an hour. Maybe they'll learn something, but the objective is mostly to pass the time.

Sometimes people will also read up on a skill they already have a handle on, or don't even care about that much anymore. If a good writer publishes a few new thoughts on it they'll give it a look. If this is your motivation for reading something, no one can blame you if you don't take steps to apply it.