Dear Fiona, I'm a 31-year-old woman who is not liked by anyone.
I used to go shopping but now I just order stuff online so I don't have to put up with people who obviously instantly dislike me.
The last time I went out, one man working in a shop was so rude to me that I started crying and shaking but he just looked at me and didn't apologise.
I don't have a boyfriend but I have a few friends who I see a couple of times a month and my family come around to check that I'm okay.
Why is this and what can I do?
Dear Hated Woman,
Start by challenging the validity of your beliefs that you're ‘not liked by anyone' as having friends and family is evidence contradicting this.
It's probable that you've taken negative past experiences and made generalisations.
Social Anxiety Disorder is when someone has extensive anxiety when contemplating or being exposed to certain social situations.
They're excessively self-conscious, paranoid, anxious about being negatively evaluated by others, and they take past situations and employ them as a mental template of what's definitely going to happen in future situations.
This leads to avoiding, inhibited, withdrawing, defensive, and often aggressive behaviour.
What we project outwards, consciously and subconsciously, greatly influences how others react to us and we become who we believe ourselves to be.
Therefore, if you believe yourself to be hated, you'll automatically act in a manner that encourages people to react negatively towards you.
You need to change these distorted, maladaptive thoughts and try to start viewing yourself and situations more realistically.
When you see yourself more positively, your behaviour will change and others will react accordingly.
Instead of thinking “He/she hates me!”, consider they might be having a bad day and their rudeness isn't personal.
Also, perhaps ask friends to give you some honest feedback on how your behaviour influences how you're perceived by others.