Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening. ~Lisa M. Hayes
Here’s a post for those of you who find yourself feeling anxious in social situations. It happens to me all the time… I’ll be having a polite lunch conversation and then WHAMO it hits me. I start thinking about my words, I start thinking about my face, I think oh crap, “WHAT DID THEY JUST SAY?”… since I don’t know I just smile and nod. But, AHH!!! I worry, “Are they onto me? Do they see me sweating?”. Then I just pray for an excuse to leave the situation, hoping it comes fast!
If you know how this feels or know someone who is socially awkward, please pass this trick along. It has helped me tremendously! I find that this strategy helps me communicate naturally. It has made my words flow and my life more enjoyable. I mean being introverted or socially anxious can really put a damper on quality of life. Most folks argue that the social aspects of life are the most important and studies of the elderly have shown that those who are the most sociable out live their peers.
So here’s the big secret. Don’t think about yourself… EVER!
Plain and simple… if you practice not thinking about yourself, that part of your brain will die. You only exist in your head anyway. Every other person on this planet sees you as a character in their life and every one of them perceives you differently. So who are you really?
When you don’t think about yourself it’s hard to get embarrassed, socially stressed, or otherwise inhibited. It takes a heavy weight off your shoulders and makes you feel like a free spirit.
Here’s how I’ve reduced my lifelong habit of being mentally self-conscious.
1. Shift the Focus
In social situations do everything you can to focus on the people around you. Consider how they might feel, why they are telling you what they are, and things that interest you about them or their conversation. Try to keep the dialogue about them, unless you have something to share that directly relates to their story.
2. 15 Minute Limit
Promise yourself 15 minutes at the end of the day for self-reflection. This way if you start questioning or thinking about yourself, you have an excuse to stop. Once you get good at stopping the self-criticism, you can cut out the self-reflection time all together or at least limit it to once a week.
Anytime you start to think of yourself use a tagline that ends the flood of thoughts. For example: “I’m an awesome person, nuff said.” Just make sure you are saying it with a matter of fact tone in your head and that you actually believe it.
Most habits take a month or two of conscious effort to create/break, so be patient with this one. It may be a challenge to incorporate but once you do, you’ll start living life on much happier terms!
Just for fun: What was your most awkward social moment or one that you witnessed?