Anxiety

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Platyzoa
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Joined: 2016-02-11, 11:12
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Anxiety

Postby Platyzoa » 2016-02-11, 11:34

Hello everyone, I'm new here :)

I'm looking for some advice. This might get long, cause it needs a bit of explanation to get the full story.. I hope someone can help though.

I've been living in Norway for almost two years now, and I've learned to comprehend a good amount of Norwegian for the time that I've been here. However, I can't speak a word. For some reason I get utterly paralyzed by this totally irrational fear when I try to speak Norwegian out loud. Even alone at home using Duolingo, I break a sweat and my throat feels like it's swelling.

It's a bit ridiculous. Even in text, if I try to write something I second guess myself to the point where I'm triple checking every word, and even then I feel sick with anxiety when I press "send".

I can't explain it. I'm not really shy or anxious normally, so this is totally out of character. The best I can come up with is that it's got something to do with me being a native English speaker with no other second languages. Trying to use a new set of words feels so strange and uncomfortable, it's like trying to walk on my hands. It's also far too easy for everyone around me to simply use English as soon as it gets difficult to communicate, so I never truly get forced into using Norwegian. Neither of these explanations come close to justifying this level of stress though.

On more than one occasion I've become frustrated to the point of tears over it. I feel like a failure and like I'm insulting Norwegians by "refusing to try" and speak their language. I hate looking like that stereotypical English speaker who can't be bothered because everyone speaks my language anyway.

I tried taking a Norwegian course once, but it didn't help much. I'm now considering looking for a personal tutor but that's crazy expensive. Alcohol doesn't help, and that advice of "just do it" and just push yourself through it, that hasn't helped either and I have tried. Usually those have been the times when I've ended up in tears.

Has anyone else experienced something like this? Anyone have a success story for me? I really could use some help, even some inspiration or motivation to carry on and keep trying.

Thanks for reading :)

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Aleco
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Re: Anxiety

Postby Aleco » 2016-02-17, 11:22

Hey there! Sorry for the late reply - I'm not as active as I used to be.

It's not very uncommon to be like that. I'm going to assume you live in the Oslo area where people actually do speak English ;) I'm from the countryside, and my dad only speaks English, because he had family in The US, but my mom and the rest of my family has extremely limited knowledge of the language. If you speak English to someone at the bakery here, they'd freeze :P My point is that my mom only knows Norwegian and basic English, and she has the same fears - the only difference is that when she starts speaking Norwegian in Wyoming, no one understands her. The fact that people understand what you're saying when you speak English makes the "humiliation" of speaking a language you don't feel comfortable with easy to avoid.

If you draw a parallel to other skills, it's about immersion, is it not? And what people around you are used to. Starting to speak Norwegian to the people who already know you as the person who prefers English might be even more difficult! You might want to start with new people. Speak Norwegian to strangers, cashiers at a store you've never been to before, and online. You say it's equally bad when you write things out, but trust me, there are so many dialects everywhere that grammatical errors are often just attributed to that fact.

Let me know if you want to practice at some point and I can give you my Facebook if you feel comfortable with that :)
Native (no) Fluent (en-us)
Understands (sv) Understands (dk) Studied (ja)
Mom's side of the family (fo) Study now and then (et) Curious about (cs) Playing with (ga)

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Ífaradà
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Re: Anxiety

Postby Ífaradà » 2016-03-07, 22:31

You just need to break the barrier. It's always embarassing to start speaking a new language, but most people would be flattered to see you try. Sometimes we just need to stop caring about what others might think :)
-Native: Yoruba & Norwegian
-Intermediate: English

Platyzoa
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Gender: female

Re: Anxiety

Postby Platyzoa » 2016-04-07, 9:03

Ífaradà wrote:You just need to break the barrier. It's always embarassing to start speaking a new language, but most people would be flattered to see you try. Sometimes we just need to stop caring about what others might think :)


Thanks for your reply. I appreciate that your intentions are in the right place, but this is a perfect example of the usual thing that well meaning people say to those struggling with anxiety. In my original post I did say:

Platyzoa wrote:that advice of "just do it" and just push yourself through it, that hasn't helped either and I have tried. Usually those have been the times when I've ended up in tears.


That kind of "just do it" advice actually makes the anxiety worse. I know that I need to break the barrier, but I don't know how. Every attempt has pushed me backwards and made things worse. It makes me feel like it's easy for everyone else, even if they found it scary/awkward/embarrassing they were able to "just" push through and overcome it on their own, or "just" stop caring what others think. It makes me feel even more stupid and like a failure for struggling with something so simple and silly. It's about as helpful as telling someone with a broken ankle to "just walk it off".

I've actually been to see a therapist now and I'm being treated with cognitive behavioural therapy for social phobia. We'll be approaching it the same way people overcome irrational fears of things like spiders or heights, using carefully planned small exposures to build confidence and acclimatize to the feared situation. I feel a bit silly going to a therapist for this, but it clearly wasn't happening on my own and after 3 years I gave in and decided to look for outside help.

I wanted to post about it here so that anyone else who is struggling with this kind of anxiety over language can see that it might not be a matter of "just do it" or "just push yourself" like everyone is probably telling you. There might actually be a deeper psychological thing happening and therapy might be a good idea. You can do CBT yourself but I can tell you it's a big relief to talk to someone who really gets it.

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Woods
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Re: Anxiety

Postby Woods » 2016-06-02, 20:39

Why don’t you try writing a post here every day – the guys here will check it, tell you what your mistakes are and you’ll get an idea of how good your Norwegian actually is?

There’s not a reason not to speak a language you’re learning, actively or just because you live in the country – on the contrary, if people are okay with listening to you speaking it, you should use every opportunity.


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