How can I become more uninhibited (without resorting to being drunk
24-7)? I need to learn how to fucking loosen up!! When I'm out on a
dance floor- everyone else is just letting go and having a ball, but
I'm all uptight. When I'm with a group of friends, I'm not very boisterous.
If I'm watching a comedy or something, I find myself only laughing when
other people do, or not very loudly instead of JUST FUCKING ENJOYING
MYSELF. There will be a song on the radio that I know and like, and
though everyone else is singing along and getting into it without regard
for anyone else, I don't. I'm sick of this shit, and think I'd be a
lot happier if I could just express myself with reckless abandon, without
worrying if what I'm saying/doing is "right". I'm damn pathetic
because I'm actually not shy: if there's a cutie at the club- I'll walk
right up and introduce myself when everyone else is scared to. I want
to loosen up! Thanks.
Okay, long question
so we'll start out with a bunch of handy summary observations for your
edification and enjoyment and so that we can get to some actual answers
without having to wade through 8 tons of explanation first. What
fun! So let's get started.
The answer to your question - how can I become more uninhibited - is
this: With great difficulty. Not being inhibited involves things
like overcoming fear and learning to relax and similar things your body
has absolutely no intention whatsoever of cooperating with you on. It
can be done, but as you have cleverly surmised, it will involve both
effort and actually being uninhibited, perhaps within the same lifetime,
a prospect so grim it already has you contemplating being drunk 24-7
just to avoid it. Don't worry, we will give you techniques and methods
and so on, along with a sprinkling of Crackpot Theories to spice things
up, but inhibition is a bitch -and we are going to treat it like
one. So strap on your seatbelt.
You are so clever to make reference to imbibing large quantities of
alcohol. Because inhibition is a Social Brain problem - and it is the
Social Brain that is particularly seduced and charmed and wooed by alcohol
into abandoning its lifelong job of Protecting You From Being Uninhibited
so that it can put on its party hat, fly down to Cancun and participate
in shocking videos of itself engaging in simulated sex acts with strangers
from throughout the US. Alcohol does indeed send the Social Brain
on a vacation where it is inaccessible by cell phone, thus leaving you
to fend for yourself and make all sorts of foolish decisions about what
constitutes safe social behavior. This is good for you every once in
a while, but it is not what you want on a permanent basis, partly because
your Social Brain has adamantly and wisely convinced you that it is
a Very Important Guardian of Your Welfare and that you need it around.
So you don't want to get rid of it. You are just having an argument
with it over what you should and should not be allowed to do in public
and you'd like to win. Fair enough.
You probably do not need to loosen up. Oh I admit there are people
for whom loosening up is a life or death matter, but you are probably
not one of them, at least not right now. In reality, you could probably
have an extremely fulfilling and exciting life without ever once
being comfortable while dancing, laughing boisterously when no one else
is, or singing loudly in public along with some ridiculously popular
song that everyone will realize was always a piece of crap 3 months
from now when they stop playing it on the goddamn radio all the time.
There are in fact, many people, who unbeknownst to both themselves and
you, have developed deep reserves of affection for you, precisely
because you never do these things. God they love you for that. There
are probably Other People who actively don't want you to do them! This
is, in fact, very possibly a major reason why you don't. One of those
people may be your mother or someone else you grew up with - a possibility
which would raise its own complications.
But regardless of
possible complications such as How You Were Raised, this business
of some people liking you better if you don't do the uninhibited things
you are convinced will improve your life is an important point. A point
whose importance you may have underestimated, not having fully experienced
the consequences of being uninhibited in the manner you imagine will
increase your social status. Your Social Brain is not a moron.
Sure it may be stern and somewhat overprotective, but it has reasons
it is keeping you from being uninhibited. And in some ways, you have
a very nice, polite Social Brain that is considerate of Other People
and likes them and it wants them to like you too. These are good things.
It is however, also overanxious, and that we need to do something
about. It undoubtedly has horrific visions of you loosening up and devoting
the rest of your life to hanging out in Karaoke bars wherein you never
relinquish the microphone even when people who know you desperately
plead and resort to physical intervention to get you offstage. It probably
strongly suspects you have an inner Elvis impersonator and it
is struggling with committed fervor to make sure it never gets loose.
That's okay because we're going to play a joke on your Social Brain
later in the answer that will make it shit its pants. That's going to
be hilarious fun for everyone!
You may think I
am exaggerating about the Elvis impersonator but the most strongly repressed
Social Brains get that way partly they know goddamn well there is some
Uninhibited Beast inside their bodies that will trample through all
the fenceposts of social propriety and terrorize the villagers. This
is great, and the fact you have a mighty uninhibited beast inside you
that your Social Brain must muscle up to combat is a wonderful thing.
It makes you greatly superior to all those mediocre laughing, singing,
dancing people that surround you. The fact your Social Brain is working
so hard to repress you indicates you have a Strong Will, and possibly
some Fierce Passions, besides just the normal Terrifying Desire to Be
Okay, that's enough
observations. Don't want to wear them out. So now we'll just cut the
random crap and get to the core of the problem.
Okay, so your
Social Brain is charged with making sure that when you are around Other
People, you don't do anything that would cause them to attack you, ostracize
you, plot behind your back to kill you, put you in jail, or otherwise
subject to lengthy terrifying bouts of Complete Aloneness. That's
just what it's there for. Because Complete Aloneness will literally
physically kill you. And Other People, if you have been paying any attention
in history class, or on the schoolyards of your youth, will absolutely,
positively, without question, gang up on you when they feel like it
and make your life a complete utter living miserable hell. There is
nothing worse than having a Pack Of Other People turn against you. This
is just reality. And because it is, everyone has a Social Brain. And
everyone's Social Brain works hard, and uneasily, to constantly jigger
things around as best it can, so that you won't suddenly find yourself
the star defendant at a Salem witch trial, or otherwise Just Completely
And all that is
happening in your case is that your Social Brain has come to the conclusion
that if you just dance, or just laugh, or just sing, you will most likely
end up Just Completely Fucking Humiliated. Its assessment of your situation
may be accurate, it may not. Social Brains, like any other part of you
designed to protect you from harm, are inclined to cheat on the side
of caution. Yours would rather be cautious about dancing, singing, laughing,
and enjoyment than risk something that could cause an Alarming Lack
of Safety down the road. For example, your Social Brain may think to
itself, 'If I let this guy just dance, there is the very real possibility
that his way of dancing will not be the way normal people dance,
and if he slips up and reveals this, there could be a Life-Changing
Moment of Revelation in which everyone in the room, including people
he has to interact with on a daily basis, will suddenly realize that
HE DANCES LIKE A DORK and they will never ever ever be able to completely
banish from their minds the searing visual of seeing him DANCING LIKE
A DORK and their perceptions of him will forever be unfavorably altered
and he will become unable to secure a mate or reproduce and people will
think he's not cool and they will just generally realize that all the
time he is just pretending to be a normal person but he isn't
really and they will have to isolate him forever and he will
never have any real freinds again ever.'
Okay, now weigh
the consequences of this plausible scenario against the itsy bitsy teeny
weeny inconvenience of having to look around all the time while you
dance to make sure you are not doing anything that is too weird or unusual,
and you will see why your Social Brain is so vigilant when you are out
at a club. It's just common fucking sense!
And yet you are
not happy with it. This is partly because you are not reasoning things
through as carefully as your Social Brain is, but partly because
there is another part of you that is thoughtfully contemplating a deeper
issue. You're a human being, you already know by experience and observation
that the world is unsafe and that Other People are a major reason why.
And this has part of you pondering the twin profound mysteries of Love
and Safety. This part of you is saying to itself 'Other People are
allowed to laugh and dance and sing with uninhibited joy, it is not
unsafe for them to do so. This must be because they are loved.
I am not allowed to do these things. That must mean I am unsafe and
unloved. What a bummer! Shit! Life sucks. This is fucking
terrible. Fuck! It's fucking unfair! How come Other People get to be
all fucking safe and loved and just laugh whenever they fucking feel
like it and I never get to. Could it be because everyone
else is normal and I am not. Damn! I fucking knew it. Shit, this
is fucking terrible. I must become more normal immediately and start
fucking laughing! Boisterously! That'll show 'em. Fuck, I fucking
hate being in this prison of not being normal and having to fucking
watch myself all the time. I can't fucking stand it. I'm going to go
crazy. I am in constant fucking danger due to the not normal factor
and I'm either going to fucking blow or die! I must do something! This
is a terrible problem. I will never achieve sustainable Love and Safety
this way. Shit! Fuck! What am I going to fucking do? I have no idea!
I'm screwed!' And so on.
So it was your deeply
philosophical Love and Safety Brain that wrote in to the website while
your Social Brain wasn't looking. Which is annoying to your Social Brain
because it would have been perfectly content if it never had to hear
your laugh or sing again. This is why your Love and Safety Brain is
convinced your life will improve and you will gain not only enhanced
enjoyment but also enhanced security if you could just somehow manage
to laugh loudly almost as if you were actually a Safe and Loved
Person like everyone else. So your Love and Safety Brain is just having
a little argument with your Social Brain about the relative safety or
danger of a few common social behaviors. That's it, that's all, just
a little argument. It has been hard for them to resolve because they
haven't been arguing on the same level. Your Social Brain think it's
unsafe for you to dance in public and your Love and Safety Brain think
it's unsafe for you not to.
So now that we know what the argument is, we'll give you a few options
for resolving it. One is sure to fit your style! They'll
be easy to implement! No, wait a minute, they'll be hard to implement.
But you've got a problem, so we'll give you the chance, once you've
looked at the options, to decide whether it's worth your while to solve
it or not. Good luck!