“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a Judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” -Albert Einstein
Did you ever watch The Twilight Zone?
I remember this one episode with William Shatner. He and his newlywed wife are driving through a town (ok, the Twilight Zone) and their car breaks down. While they wait for it to be repaired they go to this little café. At their table is a mysterious looking fortune teller machine. Every time they put a penny in they can get an answer to a question.
Every answer he is given proves to be true.
This thing might actually be legit. Can you imagine? Every prediction you would ever want to know.
The wife tries unsuccessfully to outsmart it. Then it basically tells them not to leave at a certain time or they would be hurt.
The wife convinces him finally to leave and they are nearly hit by a car at the predicted time.
This thing was right again!
He rushes back and starts to get more answers, asking questions about their future and that’s where she draws the line.
The wife convinces him to move on because it shouldn’t matter and that they can make their own destiny in life.
He agrees and they are able to walk away from it (and The Twilight Zone).
In comes a separate couple, much older, walking up to the machine with pennies and questions and getting disappointed by the answers. This thing obviously owned them for years.
You can’t hand yourself over to outside influence.
If you live and die from sources outside of yourself, you are not living authentically, but when you are being true to yourself you are your best self.
I was deeply inspired by this podcast episode of Social Anxiety Solutions with Dr. Demartini from The Secret and recommend you check it out. Dr. Demartini talks about using the Law of Attraction for things to align so you can be your best authentic self and attract the things you want. He says when we attempt to be someone we aren’t, we dismiss who we are and where we excel. We are comparing ourselves to others instead of aligning our behaviors to our dreams, regardless of what anyone else may think.
You already know you aren’t supposed to be comparing yourself to others or to do things so you are fitting in and saying the right things, but it’s always easier said than done.
I’m going to give you steps to start following your intuition so it can be like an anchor for you to be yourself.
We will walk through this step by step.
Now, confession, what originally drew me to this topic over the last few years was an outside resource (The Life You Were Born to Live by Dan Millman) telling me based on my birthdate that my purpose was to work through perfectionism and self-doubt, to follow the intuition of my heart and serve as an example of integrity in my daily life, and to find out what I really feel versus how I think I should feel.
Talk about a loop.
So now, do I do it because it told me to?
I guess the lesson is we should not take advice outside of ourselves too literally, or put it on a pedestal over ourselves.
You always need to come first.
Use all the information as a guide and let your own voice and heart make the final call with everything you do.
Get around logical thinking and get in tune with your own voice, not because it’s in the stars, a book, or a blog post.
Step 1: Recognizing the signs of worshiping others’ opinions.
If you are a sensitive person, you are attuned to your environment. You are sensitive to the good and the bad. You are sensitive to criticism.
You may have a heightened awareness of what others think (or what you think they think of you) and you may have programmed yourself to try to manipulate the situation to avoid getting treated a certain way. This is when you are defining yourself or your situation based on a perfectionistic standard or on how you think others see you.
You are at the beck and call of the wrong god basically, which is the god of OPINION.
This is when you question if you are doing things right and saying things right, all to fit into an idealistic standard that feels right and acceptable. But these are all still just made up fictions.
Action: While in the moment, start to answer to yourself if you are in line with your intuition and wisdom or stuck in the ego.
Step 2: Ask yourself if what you are doing and saying is true to you.
When you are in this state of pleasing others, you are open to being manipulated and to manipulating other people in a bad cycle. Remind yourself to pay attention to the difference between what is and is not true to you so you can more quickly identify it.
By being socially anxious, you have put that fear of judgment first but by focusing back on the point of whatever it is you are doing, the more present and in sync you will become.
Get more aligned with saying what is true for you and not be at the mercy to everyone around you.
Consider what are you putting over your own heart?
Action: When you do what you do, ask yourself does it feel like a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ and follow the yes.
Step 3: Stop monitoring the opinions of others
When you become the person you think others want you to be, you step away from yourself and you are then inauthentic.
You wear a persona.
This persona may have protected you but it’s not going to get you very far. If your goal is safety, you need to start aiming higher.
Don’t get caught up in opinions, but don’t ignore them either.
Use a more subtle approach, pay attention to them, let them give you information to take in and use, but let your own intuition make the final call.
What do you truly feel and what is an authentic action?
Action: When you feel yourself trying to be a certain way to elicit a response, stop yourself and realize you are worshiping the god of opinion. Continue to rely on your feelings and intuitions versus your head.
Step 4: Allow for you to be you and everyone else to be them
So be yourself and shine where you were meant to shine.
Let other people have their own opinions.
Let them be who they are and you continue to be who you are.
Not everyone will like you.
Don’t resist it, don’t ignore it, and don’t seek refuge or reassurance. Listen, acknowledge, and use the information in whatever way feels right to you.
In Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, he talks about the law of least effort. How grass doesn’t have to think to grow, it just has an innate intelligence to do it. The less you try to resist what is, the more in harmony. Intuitive and whole.
Deepak said when you seek to control others that you are cut off from love. You are cutting yourself off from the other person and yourself.
Action: Allow your actions to be motivated by love because your energy will snowball and can be channeled into anything you want (ie the Law of Attraction).
Step 5: Tie It All Together
To recap, you want to find and be your most authentic self who does what they do best and isn’t trying to fit into a standard. When you are taking actions:
- Get out of the ego.
- Follow what feels like ‘yes’.
- No more manipulation.
- Take actions based on your heart to generate a snowball effect of energy you can channel into anything you want.
It boils down to listening to your own voice, not doing things to please others, not running your life by committee, and not being ruled by false gods that serve the ego.
Pay attention to your voice and start to do the things in line with the real you.
How do you feel about this topic?
Now, let your heart lead you to the podcast I mentioned for your own source of inspiration.
Sensitive people should be treasured. They love deeply and think deeply about life. They are loyal, honest, and true. The simple things sometime mean the most to them. They don’t need to change or harden. Their purity makes them who they are. -Kristen Butler
Strategy to Craft Your Vision
I wrote this post today because it hit me that it’s been two years since I had a drink of alcohol.
I never committed to quit this long, it just seemed like a good idea and one day turned into two years.
It’s not forever but I wanted to capture this, talk about why it helped me, and to offer the thought of how cutting a bad habit (or many) might be right for you if it keeps you from feeling your feelings. This will free you up so you can think clearly and pursue goals built upon the healthy feelings you want to feel.
Feel me on this?
Use Your Feelings to Drive Your Goals
Before you start diving into making the same old list of goals that sound good, you need to tune into how you want to feel and build your vision around this.
Just like you wouldn’t want to start driving somewhere for ten hours just because everyone else goes there.
You’d want to drive somewhere you actually want to go.
You also wouldn’t want to drive there with a bad engine, you’d want to get that worked out so you do break down half way. You’d want to cut out anything that was going to derail your progress towards reaching your goals.
You want to establish say four main goals based on how you want to feel, and cut out derailing habits (a-hem, like alcohol).
You can start adding the good habits that build to great benefits.
Also, you can enjoy the process, don’t worry about what you don’t have or know yet, you can gain the right tools for the job along the way.
Keep in mind that these goals should not be complex.
The Simpler the Better
Feelings are just single words like: Adventure. Purpose. Freedom. Connection.
See, nothing fancy going on here. By keeping detailed plans out of the picture, you can actually focus on the feelings you want to feel.
I read a book called The Desire Map that guided me in a new direction.
It focuses on how you want to feel versus external goals, like a fancy car.
How do you want to feel in each area of life (Emotional, Spiritual, Mental, Physical, Social)?
You can use prompts like “I crave…” and “Other than time or money, what I want more of is…”. This book will give you more if this sounds like something useful. These are the (Affiliate) links if are interested in more:
Then you can dig into the meanings of these words by going to a Dictionary and find even more perfect words using a Thesaurus.
Circle the ones that resonate the most and look for patterns and choose four final words.
The you can use these desired feelings to drive what you want to do, be, and have and set four major intentions for the year, put it on a sticky and post it where you will see it.
Craft a vision around these feelings and boom! These are your goals.
Not complicated, easy.
How To Take Steps Towards Your Vision
So, now you have your four intentions for the year. Look at where you are now and where you want to be.
You want to quit the things in your life that you feel are holding you back. This can be drugs, alcohol, food, gossiping, being rude to people, spending, goals for the sake of goals, or other distraction that turn down the noise of your feelings.
These distractions keep you from being afraid or from being hurt really, but it doesn’t really help you in any way beyond the surface. You cannot pretend reality away, it is always there waiting.
It’s not because you don’t care that you chose not to feel, it’s because you do care. By letting go of your attachment to not feeling, you can actually start to help yourself.
You have to stop the cycle, accept where you are, and see your end goals as attainable once you break them down.
It’s time to stop getting in your own way.
You can see your end goals and good habits as something to work towards one day at a time, and your bad habits as things you can stop one day at a time.
How to Jump Rooftops
If you ever feel that your end goal is just too much, think about this ninja warrior story from The Peaceful Warrior: A Book that Changes Lives. You have to read the book to fully understand the humor in it but I will simply share a cute and useful story from it.
The main character Dan, is hoping to one day be in the Olympics and he meets an older man who can jump to the rooftop of the gas station where he works. Dan begs him to find out how Socrates (Soc) made the jump over and over again. (I imagine that ability would come in handy at the Olympics.)
Soc finally tells him this story about the ninja warriors who underwent the most intense physical and mental training ever. They could swim in full armor, climb walls like lizards, could go completely unnoticed, and were great jumpers.
These ninja warriors as children were given a corn seed to plant. They would plant the seed and then jump over the stalk as it grew every day, and it grew to over their heads. If they failed to jump it, they would have to start all over again with a new corn seed.
Dan asked what the great secret was and Soc proceeded to explain that they practice with corn stalks while he simply just practiced with gas stations while bursting into laughter.
He tells Dan he can only know and understand when he does it and that clearing his mind is the first step.
So whatever mountain you need to climb, or stalk or rooftop you need to jump, just do it incrementally one day at a time. It won’t seem so impossible the further you go, but first clear the clutter.
Clear Your Mind From Clutter and Bad Things
Why do we give up on our vision? Why do we self-sabotage our progress?
Do we think too much about the grown stalks and think what’s the point? I’ve failed so many times, why bother?
It’s because we do care.
You have to look at the habits in your life and ask whether they have a hold on you.
How much are you looking forward to doing them and how big a role are they playing in your life?
My Story of Quitting Bad Things
“What happened?” “Do I need to apologize to anyone?” “Where’s my cat?” “Why is my ironing board broken?” “Why is my leg bleeding?” I’ll stop there.
So, like I was saying, it’s been two years since I had a drink. Yes, I really enjoyed red wine and dirty martinis but one day not drinking was something I just did for that day and it turned into two years.
I didn’t really have a problem drinking at home, it’s when I mixed it with socializing and I used it to turn down the noise of everything, to feel normal. Alcohol became a social crutch and that is what made it a problem.
What a horrible treatment for someone who wants to not be anxious and wants stronger relationships. In case you don’t know or need to be reminded, it’s always better to learn to deal with the source of your problems.
The feeling to quit was oddly natural.
I also cut addiction to unhealthy food, trained for a half marathon, and then a full marathon, and eliminated debt. I never had a grand plan to do all those things, one just evolved into the other. If I’d set out to do all those things, it would have seemed like a big joke.
I guess I just started to stop the things holding me back and I just did one thing and one day at a time.
So, what do you need to quit?
Yoga Sutras of Panjali
There is a nifty free book called The Yoga Sutras of Panjali: The Book of the Spiritual Man and because it’s so old it’s free here!
It’s a simple yet complex series of steps broken up into four books.
It’s about how we are spiritual beings with true powers and that we have covered them up with false desires and with our self-indulgent egos. The book lays out the steps to break out of these false desires gently like ‘extricating gems from the matrix’.
So I guess it took me 20 years to get through the first couple of steps.
Well worth it!
Now you have to build habits so good, they outshine any power your bad ones had. Good habits build quickly into great rewards.
Great Habits Outshine Bad Ones
What good things can you add?
There are so many good swaps you can make.
Here is a huge list to help get you thinking:
Running a race for charity, healthy diet, (playing) sports, exercising, meditation, EFT, volunteering, charity, journaling. forgiving, acknowledging achievements and positive traits, gratitude, random act of kindness, breaking down problems, accepting responsibility, practice mindfulness, acknowledge your progress, surround yourself with supportive people, be accepting of yourself, declutter, have core values, or set boundaries.
So, you want to keep your goals somewhere you will see them and incorporate good habits into your days. Also consider if there are daily habits that will naturally bring you closer to your goals.
This way, you always can keep it straight in your mind and it really simplifies the process.
I can now enjoy indulgent food or buy something nice for myself but I’m not tied to these things and I know I have the discipline to pursue something big and see it as an enjoyable journey.
Every Job Has a Tool
After you’ve established your goals, figure out which habits are really holding you back and which you want to keep, the final step is to find the right tool(s) for the job.
Think of this step like you did in the previous step — you’re establishing a framework for a life that will bring you closer to your goals one day at a time.
Build your toolkit to succeed to achieve your visions:
- starter kit to overcome social anxiety
- podcasts on solutions to social anxiety and on achieving goals
- contacts who have done it or who can support different aspects of what you are going to accomplish
- goal specific gear
- supportive material
Any time you get stuck, just realize there is a tool or a person who can help you. Make a list of possible resources or tools.
If you really want to do it right, try to anticipate all the roadblocks you anticipate and gear up with tools and the people you will need as you go.
What Can You Expect?
Once you prove to yourself this works you can increase your clarity, focus, and purpose.
Last, but certainly not least, you want to memorialize all of this in a template so you can pursue the feelings you want to have in your life.
Isn’t that what it’s all about?
If you want to contribute, to make a difference, this is a way to do it.
This template, your goal framework can be easily altered and filled in over time while keeping your core feelings in view.
Then, you’re ready to pursue your vision and start replacing bad habits with good ones and create your toolkit.
And you know what the best part is?
Next time, you have the idea that you want to pursue something, you can follow this framework again and again and it won’t feel quite as daunting. 🙂
Want to create your own vision? Get your own vision template including some of the tips featured above by clicking here!
I want to talk to you today about giving up.
In a world of competition and the relentless pursuit of more, of being more perfect or more complete, sometimes the best thing you can do is to not do that.
We are all just big grown up kids afraid of our own learned fears.
Sometimes it feels like pursuing something will make you feel that you are safe or are in a better place, but unless you learn that you are okay where you are right now, you won’t find it over there in a shinier home, in a better job with better clothing, or in a more exciting city or relationship.
Small Moments When Giving Up Was a Good Thing for Me
You need to give up when what you are doing is all operating from your mind. I have two stories that come to mind, one old and one new.
An example of when I was forced to get out of my head
I used to love playing sports for fun. When it came to a real team and the real game though, I was terrified. I thought where do I stand? What should I be doing right now? Is everyone looking at me? Even sitting on the bench, I would hope the whole time that the coach wouldn’t call my name. I did my best just to get by each practice and each game and I’d go home and try to be better.
The only time I played a good game was the time I got smacked in the face with a volleyball from the distance of the gym.
Both teams were warming up and this thing came from the other team’s side out of nowhere. I had a monster headache the rest of the night. I was mad red inside and out. I was furious, and I had the best game ever. I hit every single ball, whether it was mine or not, and it was one of the only games we won that season.
I don’t recommend hurting yourself on purpose to get out of your head. There are less harmful and more mindful ways but the point is to know there is a better performer in you when you don’t care what anyone else thinks and when you are not caught up with your performance itself.
An example of when I gave up trying to feel
A more recent story was a day I woke up feeling a bit burned out, a little numb. Like I just started to go through the motions in my routine and was being pushed around a little too much in my day.
I hit an emotional wall.
I like getting up early before I start my day, but this morning I’m referring to, I just sat there and closed my eyes and gave up before I had to get ready for the day. I said to myself, “I don’t know what to do, what am I supposed to do?”.
I’ve never been religious, I couldn’t tell you a single story in depth in the bible or where to look for it, but I do consider myself a spiritual person and think there is more value in faith than anything else. This particular morning when I hit that wall and when I got to a place where I felt a little helpless, I thought of a story where an Apostle was in a boat in a storm and he was afraid (I think he was the only one afraid) that they were going to die. Jesus (Jesus, I’m saying Jesus in my article which I am a little uncomfortable with), anyways Jesus tells the Apostle to not be afraid, that everything was going to be ok, and to have faith.
This probably isn’t what he really says, but I felt this scene as if he were talking to me and that whole day, without a doubt, was the day I felt most connected in my whole life. I felt plugged in, things made sense, or I didn’t care when they didn’t. I gave more than I took. Nothing and no one bothered me. People laughed with me, but I didn’t even care what anyone thought, and I was pretty happy. It was a pretty severe. I wouldn’t know how to force this day again but we should have more days like this.
That night I went to the gym and like I’ve said, I’ll do like a meditation or hypnosis in the sauna room. I usually listen to goal oriented or social anxiety type ones, but this day I listed to something called Seize the Day. I was floored when there was a story about a confident person surrounded by fearful people in a stormy boat who was telling people there was nothing to be afraid about, and every other person was scared. It was the reverse of the story I thought at the beginning of my day.
I couldn’t believe it, it was so random and unplanned. So in this one perfect day I started out afraid and learned the lesson to have faith so I can be that person helping other people be unafraid by sharing this message.
Message heard, pay it forward.
Benefits Gained from Letting Your Mind Sit in the Backseat
- Prevent burnout. The mind is never the first to stop you in your tracks and ask if it makes sense to be pushing relentlessly towards finishing or perfecting something. It’s important to pay attention to your heart and ask if you are being true to yourself. This will stop you from continuing to go in a direction that may not be right for you.
- Stop feeling disconnected to yourself and life. When you are operating only from your head, there is a compartmentalization and it makes it hard to feel and connect with your heart, your feelings, and other people.
- Stop muddy thinking. The more disconnected you are, the more you push yourself, the less sense even simple things can make.
- Stop not having fun. Not sure about you but I’m really good at pushing fun far away and to take things too seriously. This is bad and not good for the quality of your work.
Connect With Your Heart and Take a Break
- Recharge your batteries. You can gain some real energy by going in another direction, or even the opposite direction sometimes to gain some balance.
- Trust your instinct and connect again. Look inside to yourself to reconnect with your values and emotions. Let yourself feel, and pay attention to the truth and your instincts. Give yourself credit that you know the answers without jumping on the internet. There could be a part of you that knows what you are doing isn’t helping and by listening to your heart, you can correct your course.
- Be open and clear. If you let yourself feel less than perfect, you can be open to clear, limitless type thinking. This is where you will get all your great ideas anyways, not from being a slave driver in your work. This is where you can get more ideas and the senseless can actually give you your real sense back.
- Have fun for goodness sake! I used to get so annoyed at those classes where they ask when do you get your best solutions? When you are not trying to find them or when you are driving or showering. I always got that one wrong. Letting go and connecting and losing yourself in living sometimes will bring you the solution your mind would have never thought of. Maybe something much better, so start taking breaks.
Give Up The Reins and Create Balance
You don’t have to control everything. We control things when we are fearful and then we feel on the receiving end of life’s events.
It’s important to connect with ourselves and break down this wall so we can connect and share our true thoughts, emotions, feelings, and ideas. When you don’t want to take a break for fear of never reaching a goal, then that may be an indication that you need to take a break.
Don’t wait until you get to your destination. Do it now and recharge your batteries. Gain a new perspective. Everything you are doing is good enough right now and it may be time for a restful break.
There is no creative thought when there is tireless and relentless work. Sometimes it is the right time to rest, to settle, and to play.
Less Perfection and More Balance = Effortless Results
Creating balance is always the first place to go when you’re under pressure and stress. If you keep your eyes fixed on the target and refuse to get distracted, you will eventually burn out. There is value in hard work but there is a time to work and there is a time to rest (hey, I think that’s in the bible too).
We’re short-changing ourselves and the quality of whatever we are trying to produce when we don’t take breaks.
Here are the four areas that require balance in our lives, pay attention when you need to shift your focus to raise one of these back up. Always look to the 20% of efforts that will bring you the 80% results and find your balance:
- Energy: healthy food, exercise, sleep, and limited stress.
- Routine: easy cleaning, finances, healthy people connections, and simplifying stuff (ie wardrobe, possessions).
- Work: planning for quality, doing things that matter, reducing time and emotion wasters, and using downtime effectively. Take breaks using a Pomodoro App.
- Fun: valuing wisdom over intelligence, planning fun, playing, becoming spontaneous, and living with more fun every day.
What can you do to intentionally give up?
I have no idea, it’s hard for me to do until I just hit those moments where I know I need to but I know it’s when I’m at my very best. It may be best to just start a healthy habit of paying attention and listening to yourself.
You find new love and connections when you stop looking.
You create something new when you feel you have nothing left to give.
You find an river of answers when you thought it had dried up.
Start asking yourself each day, “What area am I neglecting and where do I need to be connecting to myself more?”
This takes under five minutes and can be the most valuable time in your day, if you don’t force it but if you can just be a little vulnerable.
During the day, don’t be afraid to let go, do those small, tasks with great care and just be in the moment even if what you are doing doesn’t seem important.
There is nothing in this world that you have to have…nothing. This is not the same as not caring, it’s the opposite. Know someone always has your back, whether you see them or not.
Hey, do me a favor and subscribe if you haven’t yet.
“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart…”
― Pema Chödrön,
A Slave To Not Feeling Our Feelings
You’ve conditioned yourself. Maybe the world is just too big when you are sensitive. It feels safer to not be vulnerable and put yourself out there or for your vulnerabilities to be used against you. It’s an overwhelming prospect.
Why do you think we have emotions anyways? Wouldn’t live be simpler without them?
Yes, simple and boring, and then we eventually wouldn’t be safe either. Emotions exist to keep us safe and alive. It’s how we live! We carry so many fears about being hurt, we learned to toughen up and act like grown ups but here now we now have a complete lack of compassion towards our feelings. We fear that if we feel that it will be too much to handle, that there will be no end to it. Instead of facing and dealing with these feelings, they fester and become anxiety stuck beneath the surface and there to stay to keep us safe at all times. We wear a coat of armor which protects us from being harmed and it ends us harming us.
The Pitfall With Not Feeling Your Feelings
When we don’t feel our feelings, that’s when we create a host of pain and problems for ourselves. Problems like perfectionism, striving for impossible goals and standards, feeling lonely and out of sync with everyone around us, doing things we ‘should’ do versus things we want to do, feeling numb as a guard to feeling too much, feeling high strung and on alert, feeling like we are on a never-ending quest, being out of touch with our instincts so as not to overthink, and many other tiresome feelings.
When we don’t pay attention to our feelings, we put things we want way, way back, at the very end of our list of priorities and we never get to it. This is why we need to build a bridge back to our hearts and to pay attention to ourselves. When we become more aware, we can know when it’s time to rely on emotions and not our logic. We have to feel our feelings again and let them drive your actions as you build up your instincts and trust in yourself.
The Only Way Out Is Through (what movie is that from?)
“A feeling is not bottomless. once felt all the way through, a great peace greets you there”
― Alanis Morissette
Ultimately facing your feelings, in whatever way you choose, I’m sure you would agree, is the only way to get unstuck. It is the definition of getting unstuck, to take action. Just keep reminding yourself of this because it is the way to your true self, to knowing what you want and to go after what you want. It should all sync up. Going towards your fears is the significant step to go through to the other side. It takes bravery but it’s ultimately applying compassion towards your anxiety so you can open up to the messages your heart is trying to tell you through your feelings and symptoms.
We want to move towards our feelings and the fears we have been avoiding, but we don’t want to just put ourselves out there in an unsafe way, if that is possible.
Allow Your Emotions To Motivate Your Actions Again
Why Feeling Your Feelings Puts You In Control
You want to be around people but you don’t want to be around people. We are walking contradictions aren’t we? Someone asks if we want to do something and we say ‘no’ instinctively when sometimes the answer can and should be ‘yes’.
Don’t get me wrong, if you are an introvert like me, you also really need that downtime to yourself, but don’t devalue your time with others. Don’t keep your eyes to the ground to avoid a conversation. We have paid too much attention to the cues that make us believe that social interactions are dangerous. Social phobia should not be running the show any more. We need people but we have to break out from being stuck in a horrible cycle. You are pulled towards being social by your needs, but social anxiety pushes you in the opposite direction.
By Staying Away From Our Phobias, We Become More Phobic Of What We Stay Away From
Your wiring tells you that you need to run away but avoiding our fears and problems only masks the problem and contributes to it actually getting worse. Your body reacts when you try to go towards what you fear. You don’t put your hand on a hot stove or walk towards that lion.
I see shows all the time like Intervention and My 600 pound life and so many times, these people are using drugs or food to mask their feelings, to mask their traumas. As soon as they start journaling or getting in touch with who they really are, they start to heal. I find it fascinating and the same concept applies here. It’s like we’ve taken that crime scene tape and quarantined dealing with our fears and we are just trying to stay away by relying too much on our brains. Your emotions read this and if you have said it’s dangerous, your instincts will go along for the ride and do whatever possible to keep you off that ledge. Your brain tells you it knows better than you and knows what to do to keep you safe.
By Facing Our Phobias, We Can Reduce Or Eliminate Our Them
You can train your brain though. Think about those people who do amazing feats, who go towards what you and I would fear. Jumping off diving boards and doing incredible things that seem impossible. I have heard there is a gene for this but a majority of people have trained themselves to do certain things until they are not scary anymore. When you are going along for the ride, your emotional brain says sure, ok, maybe this isn’t going to kill me, maybe this can even be fun. Our primal instincts again are just trying to keep us safe but we can train this part of our brain through action and experience.
Avoiding things that are dangerous is a good idea but sometimes staying away initiates a belief that you are and should be afraid of something. In our case…people!
How Can I Face My Fears So I Don’t Fear Them?
I’m a fan of trying multiple types of therapies. Of course, go see a real doctors and experts on this matter because I’m not a doctor, but these are my current thoughts:
- I have heard that Cognitive Behavior Therapy where you can be systematically desensitized to your fears and I think it might be a great idea to see a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is another great solution to look into. I’ve heard these are among the best therapies for shyness and social anxiety and I want to explore them in more depth down the road.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is something else to consider trying which can have some immediate results and I will be revisiting this later as well.
- Hypnotherapy is another potentially powerful treatment and there is a program here that I’d recommend. One benefit is that you aren’t physically subject to your fears right away. If you are afraid of spiders, you don’t need to face that spider right away. Hypnosis offers you a way of processing the thoughts as if they were real when they are not. I have bought many of these hypnosis downloads over the years but there is a 10 step program specific to shyness and social anxiety that I’d like to tell you about. [I do make a commission if you buy anything from this site]
10 Steps to Feel Your Feelings and Overcome Social Anxiety Through Hypnosis
A website called Hypnosis Downloads offers great hypnosis downloads you can get one at a time or through package deals. You can sign up for a monthly membership which is something I did. The 10 steps to overcome social anxiety course is a gentle way of replacing the horrible, closed, panicky feeling with happy, open, and fun feelings. You can improve your social skills internally and then externally in real life. You can improve your expectations when it comes to socializing and meeting new people and that generates more positive thinking and results. Here are the 10 steps:
2) Overcoming Social Phobia: No longer being ultra self conscious by training your brain to switch off its social anxiety response.
3) Being Yourself Socially: Losing the mask and expressing yourself more naturally in conversations.
4) Making Eye Contact: Unconsciously know how to use the right amount of eye contact and other non verbal signals to show your interest in others.
5) Meeting People: Getting back into the habit of meeting people and enjoying healthy relationships with them.
6) Conversation Starters: Starting conversations successfully by building rapport and creating a positive first impression.
7) Mastering Small Talk: Small talk paves the way for big talk and helps you through difficult social occasions.
8) Expressing Your Opinion: Leaving the frustration and powerlessness of not expressing your opinion behind and start being better understood and appreciated as people listen to what you have to say.
9) Speaking in Groups: Stepping out of the shadows and into the conversation by making regular, valuable contributions to group discussions.
10) I’m OK, You’re OK: A useful model of how people interact, to ensure you communicate on the right level.
The Beauty of Hypnosis Towards Treating Your Fears
You don’t have to torture yourself to overcome your fears. If you are afraid to commit yourself to something socially unpleasant, social anxiety is a great way to try things out before the real event. Instead of throwing yourselves to the wolves, you can experience a situation in your mind using hypnosis. This is a place where you can feel comfortable and relaxed to face things you have been putting off. Once you are relaxed, you can feel like yourself and you can invite the things you fear to this safe space.
Rewire false connections in a safe environment. Once you experience the social events that make you uncomfortable in this safe space, it opens up the connection for it actually feeling more safe to you in reality. If you are afraid to eat out by yourself, it is something you can experience while in hypnosis before you set foot out your door. It’s similar to cognitive behavior therapy in that you are experiencing that which scares you and going more towards it and becoming less afraid of the experience within a safe environment that you control, while fully relaxed.
Have more authentic fun as yourself. We are talking more about what a person just believes, we are actually going to believe it. They you go out there are do it and feel less uncomfortable and out of place. You might even enjoy yourself a little bit. And this opens you up to more and more moments like this.
How You Can Understand and Enjoy Your Feelings
Your feelings and thoughts can be at odds. You can fully believe something is good for you and still fearfully flee from it. You can fully believe something (or someone) is bad for you but still be emotionally driven towards it (or them). Cognitive approaches to dealing with fears can unstick our conditioned thinking. Our fears aren’t driven so much by “faulty thinking” as by primitive emotional conditioning geared towards survival. Again, your brain is trying to keep you safe. It is much easier to access and modify these causes through hypnosis than through relying more on that rational brains of ours and trying to reason with it.
The hypnosis downloads can be a possible option for you to build a new positive blueprint in your subconscious so you can respond to your social fears with calmness and feel in sync socially as your new positive normal. I’ve seen amazing results through these hypnosis downloads.
I go to the sauna room. It’s my excuse for going to the gym every day, even if I’m just walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes while reading or listening to positive music or podcasts and drink my water for the day. I’ll go back and forth between meditation and hypnosis for 20-30 minutes. I don’t know if I’m getting better or worse results doing these in the sauna room, but I know it’s better than not doing it at all. I look forward to it every day and by combining a bunch of positive habits, each reinforces the other. Habits and balance are important to managing your anxiety too.
Set them up in a way that works for you, maybe a morning routine is your answer or your lunch break. I’ve noticed increasing confidence and caring less what others think and I will be testing and reviewing these ten topics addressed here and offer what I learn. By facing your feelings safely, you will feel more optimistic and confident and that will bring about positive change and how others in turn respond to you. It’s time to enjoy being in the moment and being with other people. Good luck to you and subscribe for more!
- Giphy. “Spock GIFs – Find & Share on GIPHY.” GIPHY. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017. <http://giphy.com/search/spock/>.
- “Passing in the Middle of the Rock with a Wing Suit. • R/gifs.” Reddit. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017. <http://www.reddit.com/r/gifs/comments/3oqne1/passing_in_the_middle_of_the_rock_with_a_wing_suit/>.
And you may find yourself
With a severe form of social anxiety
And you may find yourself socially withdrawn
In another part of the room
And you may find yourself
Being triggered by the people walking towards you
And you may find yourself with an intense fear of embarrassing yourself
With all eyes on you
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?
Queue the Talking Heads (and if this didn’t make sense, it’s because I’m getting older than I realize.)
So maybe you know there is a problem. You know you have social anxiety and maybe to the degree where you say “THIS ISN’T NORMAL!”. It may be so severe, as was in my case, that you are diagnosed as having social phobia. It’s extreme and impacts your day to day life.
You could be attending a party in your honor or just a small gathering, going on a date, driving to a party, going to after work happy hour, making a phone call, dealing with a salesperson, or something else. It can be different for everyone but you know those moments that automatically cause you to feel you are going to be judged or embarrassed.
It is so darn frustrating!
Well, how did I get here?
Go from not knowing why you have this problem, blaming yourself, to seeing that you were likely predestined to it to some degree, your parents had a role, your guardians, and the world at large. Now you are in the driver seat and can do something about it in the present.
If you look to what causes social anxiety, all the experts say the same thing, that there is no definitive cause.
You might ask yourself if it really even matters to know.
Maybe yes, maybe no. I did and possibly you do too. You don’t have to know where it came from I guess, but it might help to resolve it or at least understand it better. Maybe you never considered anything caused it, but that it was just who you were. I got a sense of validation when I learned things outside of me could have caused it.
This doesn’t mean I don’t take accountability, which is actually key if you ever want to overcome it. Rather, I was able to look at it objectively and point to what probably influenced me and realized it was not only my doing.
It’s how we were born, raised, influenced, and how we learned to see the world.
We want answers
I’ll be honest, I unsuccessfully pursued an Asperger’s diagnosis for a year. I was looking for that diagnosis outside myself and I felt it would make sense of things. I took tests and spoke to a few doctors and they kept telling me the same thing, that it was social anxiety and social phobia.
I discredited this information, it wasn’t impactful enough to me because I didn’t understand it or realize it was a real thing. I had to come to the realization myself I guess.
Once I was able to connect with the truth, I realized I wasn’t crazy, I didn’t have Asperger’s, and then I could deal with the reality. That I had social anxiety.
The point isn’t to get locked into the past but understand the road that led you to where you are so you can address it in the present. Social anxiety can come from a combination of genetics, how we were raised, and our own life experiences.
Know potentially what may have contributed to your social phobia. Have an idea of those things you can address. Know and accept there are things you cannot address. Share with others, talk to your parents if you can to see if they struggled. Talk to friends and connect the dots if you are needing to make sense of it all.
Let’s get to the bottom of this social phobia!
Nature’s Ruthless Gift
I say this in fun because we should love ourselves and all our quirks and gifts and be grateful…wink wink.
Genetics gives us the building blocks to work with and there is evidence that shows brain chemistry, brain structure, traits, and how we came into this world all matter and play a role in social anxiety.
Here are a few of those factors:
- Biological imbalances, lack of serotonin, lower levels of oxytocin hormone
- Having an overactive amygdala, an increased response rate, which controls our flight or flight response to fear
- Being premature may also contribute
I mean, we haven’t even done anything wrong up to this point. Now comes our parents and guardians.
Our Underhanded Parents and Guardians
I joke here too, usually the parents that don’t want these anxieties to exists may overplay their role in trying to orchestrate too much. They don’t mean it but we may pick up on their anxieties and inherit their traits. Parents may unintentionally teach us to be paranoid people misreading behavior all over the place. Judging others and assuming people are judging us when they aren’t.
Our parents and guardians may inadvertingly cause anxiety by trying to prevent it like when they tell you to not to be nervous, when they argue in secret, or on the other extreme by being too in your face and controlling.
I had a conversation with my mom as an adult, after having overcome a great deal of anxiety and assuming the worst the better part of my life. I was totally comfortable with whatever it was I was going to have to do. She assumed I was and should be nervous and was basically talking to me like a child. Ding, ding, ding. How did I never notice that before? (sorry mom!)
That overprotective or controlling parenting really can create the things they are trying to prevent by making it a thing and playing a role in keeping us from learning the social skills we need. Then we are naturally held back from getting out there and gaining them.
Maybe we simply learn the behavior of being shy or anxious when we model and mimic behaviors of parents or guardians who also suffer shyness and social anxiety. If they were anxious, we copied that behavior, get the response from others to it, and then we start that same cycle in our lives.
Again, we take full responsibility, it’s not our parents fault.
Let’s also look to our lives, the other people in them, and our learned responses to them because we are subject to so many factors especially when we are sensitive or fearful to and around them.
Smug Little Bullies
The experiences we had in childhood or adolescence can be what really gives wings to our anxiety. Stress, the environment, and how you responded to them play a key role in which direction you will go.
Once you go down the wrong road, maybe you keep going down that road as it becomes more and more familiar to you. Those embarrassing or humiliating social experiences can really do a number. For some people, this is where the social anxiety gets triggered, whether they are shy or had any problems up to this point.
Being bullied, ridiculed, rejected, or neglected by your peers is a very powerful thing. It hurts so much to be laughed at or made fun of. If we were already paranoid people assuming everyone was judging us, even when they weren’t, now our those feelings get reinforced. Our false and limited thinking is further solidified.
Being abused or suffering a trauma can spark feelings of guilt or shame which can contribute to social anxiety, self-doubt, and perfectionism, and further separate you from the pack.
Again, we are not pointing fingers, rather we are accepting our past, what shaped us, and making a decision to embrace who we are with all those experiences and unlearning the false and limiting beliefs.
So to recap: premature or some other biological disturbance…check. Possibly a history of anxiety in the family…check. Either an overprotective or a controlling parent or guardian…check. A trauma…check, check. Bullied or rejected by peers…check. Overreaction to these things…check.
Now that you know, you can fully accept these things and unlearn what you have learned.
Seek Help to Unlearn the Backstabbing Lies
We must unlearn the thought that we are not good enough. That someone else has to give us the approval to feel entitled to be ourselves, to make our own choices.
Don’t get hung up analyzing everything, including the past. Unlearn and disconnect the things that have nothing to do with one another. People at the grocery store are not judging you because someone threw feminine products at your frizzy hair on the school bus to take care of it (yes, that happened to me once).
Zoom out on your painful experiences, they are not your fault and they don’t define you!
Control what you can and should control.
Helping yourself is not drinking alcohol like the 20% that use it to cope when you feel trapped socially like I did. Getting real help, eating the right foods, finding balance, having faith, and exercising your body and mind can all help. Of course there are many other things that can greatly help which we will continue to explore but a strong foundation is always the first step.
You can get better at dealing with people by trying things and finding what works until you won’t even have to think about it any more.
Ultimately, you also have to work on the things you can control and let go of the things you cannot control, don’t shoot for perfection because you will constantly be letting yourself down.
Accept there are some things that can’t be controlled.
Find entitlement because you are entitled to it all without fear of rejection sabotaging or holding you back from your dreams. If you can see the causes of your problems and strip away the lies you have learned. you will be able to navigate the world with open and clear vision and you can then inspire others.
¹15 million people suffer social anxiety disorder in the US alone. That’s nearly 7 out of 100. Over one third of those people don’t even seek any help for ten or more years. The sooner you ask for help and help yourself, the less you have to suffer social anxiety and the sooner you can move forward to a fuller life. You can help others struggling and not be the cause of more socially anxious people, until you pass down that crazy brain of yours…jk.
I realize this post is a bit sarcastic. I can be sarcastic. I got it from having social anxiety for over 30 years 😉
I intend to continue to share what I have and will learn but the best you can do is unlearn than to add to address anxiety. This site will provide tools to build skills and confidence so subscribe for more below!
¹”Facts & Statistics.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. N.p., Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Feb. 2017. <https://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics>.
“The inner speech, your thoughts, can cause you to be rich or poor, loved or unloved, happy or unhappy, attractive or unattractive, powerful or weak.”
Does it ever seem like you have more negative self-talk in your life than other people do?
As if everyone around you is having an easier time of things and you know there is no way they are beating themselves up as much as you are?
You begin to feel sorry for yourself and think, “Why do I always do this to MYSELF?”
When you are shy and anxious you do things you know are based on how people perceive you and it isn’t aligned with who you are as a person.
You focus on your performance instead of following your instinct and you notice every little thing you do wrong.
Go from negative self-talk to a richer experience where you get to enjoy more self-confidence and being yourself again.
Don’t get me wrong, you can be shy or socially anxious and confident but boy, it makes it tough sometimes.
It’s time to upgrade your thoughts for an unshakable self-belief while being yourself.
Why wouldn’t you want to be yourself with others?
Maybe it’s due to guilt or shame.
Maybe you are just stuck with something unresolved.
If you want a good life then do what successful people do.
Take that first little baby step now and decide you want a better life and then map out your escape route from the end backwards to where you are right now.
Just make that decision if you haven’t already and say it out loud to yourself, “I WANT TO BE HAPPY BEING MYSELF WITH OTHERS!”
Now that we made the decision, now we can make it happen!
Steps to the good life:
The Good Life. If you want a good life then you need to do the things that are good for you. You could just do them, yes, but it would be a fleeting thing. So better to feel like doing them.
Feel like doing the things that bring you the good life. You can’t force your feelings so you should be sure to incorporate your values, otherwise they are for someone else or to meet some lofty standard and they won’t stick.
Develop meaningful action you enjoy or automatically do them. Incorporate the things that will become ingrained in you once you practice them and they become habit.
Consistent meaningful action habit. In order to build these values to begin with, then you need to start taking action to figure out what feels right to you and begin a new and healthy habit to make it a part of your everyday life.
Take meaningful action. Your everyday behavior can be upgraded through your own meaningful actions.
Swap negative for positive thinking. In order to do that, you must stop telling yourself you can’t do something or that people will make fun of you for trying. Its starts with upgrading your thoughts to swap the negative for the positive.
We all need a tune up from time to time. Let’s go on the journey of swapping negative for positive thoughts. The alternative is to keep resorting back to our canned, default, harmful thinking where we keep trying to appear more perfect which is further and further away from who we really are.
This is the way to our best selves for yourself and for the people in your life.
Great, So let’s start there with our thoughts.
How do we influence our thoughts to be more positive and to improve the quality of our lives?
That article will answer that very question and it is actually quite simple.
Because this is not about perfection, it’s about making small changes until they take over in the best way. Let’s go!
First, let’s look at why we speak harshly to ourselves.
What is the Purpose of Negative Self Talk?
Because it feels like it will protect us from being hurt and embarrassed.
It helps to assume the worst and not be hopeful of succeeding only to get let down.
It is a way of preventing being judged because you already did the judging on behalf of everyone else.
To assume the worst seems to help prepare our emotions to handle failure, so it doesn’t come out of nowhere and become a new and harmful memory.
We think it is improving ourselves when all it is really doing is holding us back.
What are some things you tell yourself when you are considering trying something new or you have an upcoming event?
Examples of Negative Self Talk
“What if I can’t?”
“They’ll think I look stupid.”
“No way, I can’t do it.”
“I never do that right.”
“I just wish I weren’t shy.”
“I’m such a dork, I never fit in.”
“I’m boring, I never say anything interesting.”
Do you think these thoughts are harmless to you?
Damage We Do When We Are Hard on Ourselves
We take things personally when they have nothing to do with us. People are gossiping, oh they’re making fun of what I wore today. I knew I should have change.
We focus on the negatives and reinforce bad feelings in a never ending cycle.
We hold ourselves back and say no to our lives and to ourselves.
We break our hearts a little every day.
We miss out on people and experiences.
We don’t take action. We wait again until we feel we are deserving which reinforces not feeling deserving today.
We not only cause emotional harm but physical harm as these negative thoughts over time can be a gateway to sickness and disease.
This can’t be good for your spiritual self either to be putting yourself down.
Ok, I could think of 100 more but enough of that, you are worthy today and right now at this very moment. Let’s take these 7 steps to upgrade and turnaround that thinking.
Step 1: Create Personal Trigger Awareness
Become aware and pay attention to what triggers you. Awareness usually includes extreme language using words like ‘always’ or ‘never’. Zoom out your perspective and look at it from afar. How would this look if you were an onlooker in a movie theater, five years after the fact? Look at that girl, she is being way to hard on herself. She is assuming that she will fail and not even considering that she might do a good job.
Step 2: Stop and Say No to Lies
Ask yourself if what you are saying to yourself is a fact. Realize these crazy statements are just not true and stop yourself in the act.
Say no to these lies. These lies are what we call limiting beliefs. They are simply not true.
Step 3: Box and Categorize the Lie
Categorize and quarantine the thought in a tiny box. It is smaller than you, the event, the day, and your life. Consider the source of this problem and ask yourself what caused it. After you recognized it and took away it’s power, now you can put it into a nice baby box. Slap a label of your choosing on it.
You can even give it/her a real name. “Generalizing Gail” “Exaggerating Ellen” “Harsh Helen” “Assuming Annie” “Fannie the Fortune Teller” “Mind-Reading Marge”.
Step 4: Talk Yourself to the Middle
Ask yourself questions to bring yourself back to reality. We aren’t going to by lying to ourselves. Don’t deny reality or trick yourself that something else is going on around you. Ask if you really are the worst person at striking up conversations and trying to fit in? No, that would be highly, highly unlikely.
Declare the honest truth back with a real example. I struggle with starting conversations because I’ve avoided many situations and practice to do so. I have successfully started a conversation on my own though, it has happened so it is possible.
Step 5: Say Yes to Yourself
Yeah, maybe you didn’t share the best story but your ability to laugh at yourself was so charming. You’ve already labeled the nasty thought, now is about not being a perfectionist. See the good in what you do. Notice what you do that is right, always and forever.
The more you fight lies with the truth, the more your truth will come out ahead. Saying yes to yourself also means to say yes to your own progress, not by comparing yourself to others.
Step 6: Further Expand into Action
“If you hear a voice within you saying, You are not a painter, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh
Now that you can find that silver lining, then you can keep working on that comfort zone. Stop contracting in your life and start expanding like the rose that you are. Plus, the action will get you not focusing so much on yourself and will bring you more out of your head so you can connect.
Share your feelings, share your talents, serve others, and don’t hide away those feelings. Take an action when you are doubting yourself based on the action that is called for given the circumstances. Speak, be, share, give, do.
Step 7: Keep a triggers list
Learn your triggers so you can continue to recognize them and enjoy the progression of this. As you understand your triggers, you can pay attention and start back with awareness. Pay attention to your progress and celebrate every small win.
Let go and allow your thoughts now to influence your everyday behaviors and habits. You don’t have to hold yourself back and can be more open to allowing yourself to fail and make mistakes so you can enjoy a richer life every single day.
Putting it all together
Let’s say I’m going out to lunch alone, because I’ve been cooped up too long.
- I tell myself “Ugh, everyone is going to know I’m alone and they will think I don’t have any friends.”
- I would zoom out on the situation, look at it like it was on tv or on the big screen. I’d see a woman saying this and I’d say. It’s just lunch, not a huge deal. People are alone all the time. I realize that I feel this way because I didn’t have great experiences as the new kid in school.
- I’d put this in my Mind-Reading Marge box because I don’t know what people would think.
- I’d say, “Yeah, this bothers me sometimes when I have to go alone when other people are with other people. I do care what people think more than I should or that I’d like to but not enough to take a nice break out for lunch. I can take it.”
- “Hey, I wouldn’t have done this five years ago, that’s progress. This held me back so many times in my life and it doesn’t have to now.”
- I would get ready to go out and take the action of getting in my car and getting on with my day.
I’d rinse and repeat every day with new situations and things become more and more easy and then do more and more of what I want to do instead of what I should do.
Consider what else you can do and remember to subscribe below!
Are you dealing with anticipatory and ready to do something about it?
I think that is a fabulous idea and one I’ve had myself very often.
Being anxious about an upcoming event, whether big or small, can be debilitating.
By trying something new, you can finally get what it’s like on the other side once and for all.
I’ve learned mostly how not to do it and had to look outside myself for the solution. This ended up being the whole point and I want to share this gift with you.
By the end of this post, you’ll learn:
- Why you should learn to overcome anticipatory anxiety.
- The most important factor to overcoming anticipatory anxiety.
- Inspirational sources from two men’s accounts.
- How to overcome anticipatory anxiety.
- How to take a stand once and for all and become unpredictable.
- 3 Reasons you should break the cycle of fear.
- Why going after the fear itself fails.
- How not to overcome anticipatory anxiety.
- How to invite your fear: the beauty in the paradox.
- 3 Reliable ways to get out of your head.
This is a thorough guide that you can return to and then hopefully never again except to share with others, but please come back for more, there’s much more to go over :).[I reference two books as affiliate links because I love these books. These books are not specifically about these topics but I find them valuable]
Why learn how to overcome Anticipatory Anxiety?
These are some great reasons why you should learn the skill of overcoming anticipatory anxiety:
- Performance. Perform where you previously failed.
- Confidence. Gain the confidence in specific situations and overall.
- Freedom. Gain freedom from your mind, from your inner focus one step at a time.
- Relationships. You can focus more outside yourself and towards others.
- Purpose. What more can you want? Once you can break out of your fears and prisons, you are free to be your best self.
Of course, these are not all-inclusive. There are many ancillary benefits and some personal to you, but these are key.
The most important factor for overcoming Anticipatory Anxiety
The single ingredient needed to make this all work: Bravery.
You need bravery. Not bravery to overcome your fear, but bravery to try something new, to break the cycle, and most importantly to break out of yourself.
I don’t want you to take offense the way I did with some advise I received so hear me out on this. Gain perspective and learn to not take yourself so seriously.
I was asking someone who is an excellent speaker, someone who never gets intimidated.
I asked what this person does to not be nervous, some tips, and he gave me the following advice:
“What’s the worst that will happen? You will still have a family and close friends. It won’t define you. They (the people in your audience) are just people. You created an idea, a situation, and a scenario in your head in which you allow this room to define who you are and what you mean. It’s just a handful of people and you are creating a larger situation. It won’t kill you. You are creating a beast out of something small. It won’t destroy you or lessen your soul.
We all have a cross to bear, we put those things there ourselves and we need to ask ourselves what those things are doing for you. Is there anything in your backpack you can get rid of? Someone else over there has cancer but these things you added by choice.”
This is where I cut him off. The advice up to this point was great but I felt upset and a little lectured by this comment.
I said it isn’t a choice, I don’t want to look or be nervous in front of people, it isn’t my choice!
He continued to tell me that “you have to get out of your body, see the whole experience, be realistic, and see the whole picture. Ask what this really means and accept yourself today.” He is a Star Wars fan and every piece of advise always leads back to it. He said “fear leads to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, to hate, and to suffering.”
This is where I give him the eye roll, even though I loved the advice and those movies.
Real meaning comes from pursuing meaning outside ourselves.
His advice was great and only when I was reading Viktor Frankyl’s Man’s Search for Meaning a few days later that I circled back to what he said with a new perspective and I realized he wasn’t trying to minimize my feelings, that perspective really is what is needed and breaking out of ourselves is the best we can ever pursue for real meaning.
Inspirational sources from two men’s accounts
I was inspired by two men and two books I will go back to again and again. Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives.
Victor Frankl’s man’s search for meaning.
This is his memoir of his experience as a prisoner through four concentration camps in Nazi Germany and how he learned to find that place inside himself and how he treated patients as a psychologist through the logotherapy practice he created.
There is a part of the book when he and the other prisoners are walking from one camp to another and he is able to think of his wife, and the love he had for her. He didn’t know if she was alive because she was in another camp, but he had that love no matter what and no one could take that from him. He also experienced the beauty in the nature despite the horrors and treatment he had experienced up to that point. He found meaning in helping sick patients while also being a prisoner, even when he was sick himself.
He learned and practiced the theory that we cannot avoid pain and suffering but we can choose how we deal with it. We can pursue meaning in it and find our purpose.
Dan Millman and The Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A book that changes lives.
This book is semi autobiographical. Dan is an aspiring gymnast and Olympic hopeful. He is haunted by something in his dreams and meets a eccentric and mysterious gas station attendant he names Socrates (Soc) in an all night gas station. This man becomes his lifelong mentor and friend.
Dan goes through a difficult journey learning how to be less inner focused, how to unlearn his false thinking and impulses, and how to be silent, responsible, and selfless, and so much more. Dan later became a world champion, athlete, and ended up coaching and mentoring others as a martial arts instructor and college professor. He says helping others is where he has found real meaning and purpose.
I’ve highlighted everything the mentor says to him on his journey in this book. There is an endless source of inspiration, humor, and growth here. This truly is a book that can change the way you look at things.
I saw some similarities with the other book on my list which is my other source of inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing their experiences but the similarities of what they discovered and how they found real joy when they learned the value of seeing beyond themselves.
So, what do these authors have to do with anticipatory anxiety?
This is a very specific topic but if we’re able to break free from ourselves in small moments applying what these two men learned, then we can learn to apply it again and again and truly break out of our prisons to truly find peace and purpose.
Alright, let’s begin.
How to overcome anticipatory anxiety
- Take a stand and be unpredictable.
- Break the cycle and apply the opposite approach.
- Get out of your head, let go and don’t try to figure everything out.
How to take a stand once and for all and become unpredictable.
When you are nervous you can end up gaining a complex. Then the next time you have a bad experience, that expectation of performing badly just reinforces our complex.
This goes for anything that has become that event for you: a speech, an interview, writing, speaking, and anything of significance to you that paralyzes you.
We repeat the same habits again and again. We avoid the things we are afraid of and then that is actually what brings about that fear. Then the symptom sparks that feeling of fear and the cycle continues and constantly reinforces itself.
What approach then would you think would counteract this?
To convince and motivate ourselves to push through it, right?
You would think so.
That same thinking is exactly what keeps us stuck. The solution may be lying in the very opposite approach but first we must make a decision to not be a pawn to our circumstances or experiences. By expecting different results, we ourselves need to be different, unpredictable, and to take a stand for ourselves once and for all.
1Frankl: Frankl’s approach is to take a stand. Don’t be the pawn or victim of your outer influences or inner circumstances. He wrote, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”
2Millman: Soc says to be unpredictable like him, to not allow your thoughts, emotions, or history drive the same automatic and predictable reactions.
So we must use all that to take action once and for all to break the cycle of fear.
3 Reasons you should break the cycle of fear.
- You cannot try any harder to overcome it. Fearing what you fear produces that which you fear. It’s not about how hard you are trying. That’s all you have done is try. The harder you push through fear, the more it can really hold you back.
- You cannot fool yourself as a way out. Avoiding or giving up doesn’t work. Why for years did I just avoid that my voice was going to shake or my neck was going to turn red? Because, that makes the most sense logically. It just keeps happening so of course I’m going to fear it. Our inner workings are so much smarter than we give them credit. I’ve tried to outsmart myself so many times and it’s never worked.
- Breaking the cycle is the one real change you can implement. A real change is needed to change your responses. If you don’t break a cycle, then nothing will ever change. I knew I was stuck in a cycle but I did not see a way out. Until you break the cycle, you will be a pawn to your circumstances.
So act more and react less. Why can’t we simply go after the fear itself?
Why attacking the fear itself fails.
We are basically putting our fear on a pedestal and giving up the reigns by catering to it. The symptom produces the fear and the fears get reinforced. It become a cyclical problem. It seems the harder we try, the harder it becomes. So we get frustrated and just keep putting ourselves through the same torture.
The answer again is to break the cycle.
What are some things you have tried to do to not be anxious about a situation? These are things I tried without success.
How not to overcome Anticipatory Anxiety.
10 Approaches you would think that work that don’t:
- Covering up your problem physically. I’ll wear a scarf around my neck and then it won’t turn red and I won’t even think about it.
- Trying to talk or do your activity fast so your mind won’t catch up and realize what you are doing.
- Trying to think of something else to distract yourself like being on a beach.
- Pretending the person you are with is naked and ‘just a human like you’.
- Hoping it will all just magically work out and maybe it will somehow just go differently this time.
- Yelling at yourself inside to scare away the symptoms.
- Holding your breath and just wishing it all away.
- Trying to distract people to focus off you (sometimes this little trick is still ok).
- Lying to yourself to tell yourself it doesn’t really bother you.
- Desperate internal bribing. “If I get through this, I’ll get ice cream” or “God, if you help me I promise I will go to church.”
Now, finally to what does work. Invite your fear to join you.
How to invite your fear: The beauty in the paradox.
Do the exact opposite of avoiding fear for real results.
What is the opposite? Not trying?
Take it a step farther and get ridiculous.
Why not really go the other way and show them how much your voice can shake, how much sweat you can produce, just how red you can make your face, how you can make your mind go completely blank?
Write a note to yourself about it and really intend yourself to it.
It works because instead of being a pawn to the symptom fear symptom cycle, you are taking an unpredictable action. You are getting out of your head. By creating something new, by being unpredictable, we can break that cycle.
You know how the harder you try not to think of something, the more impossible it becomes? Now we are working towards the grain instead of against it. If you try to sweat, you won’t even be able to do it.
1Frankl: Break the cycle of symptom-fear-symptom with paradoxical intention. Instead of resisting fear, invite the hyper version of it and you won’t be able to reproduce the fear when you intend yourself to it.
2Millman: Break the cycle like Soc who lived by paradox, humor, and change. He said that the warrior acts.
3 reliable ways to get out of your head.
Apply yourself to your purpose, do something meaningful outside yourself, find someone to love for or care about, and take courageous action. These can build over time so attempt the quicker fixes to break the cycle such as inviting the hyper versions of your fear while you build up these three pillars.
1Frankl: Frankl explains that we need to get out of our heads. To learn to laugh at ourselves to be free to pursue meaning and to be free AND responsible. He found meaning in doing significant work, in love and caring for others, and in courage during difficulties. How says how we respond to suffering is what gives it meaning. Others in the concentration camp who gave up hope would die soon after. Frankl kept alive and hopeful with the prospect of seeing his wife again and in his psychological insights he wanted to share with others.
2Millman: The mentor Soc shares so many insights. He tells him their names don’t matter, that what is important is beyond names and questions and that realization comes through experience and the simultaneous comprehension of head, heart, and instinct. Soc tells Dan, “I have secrets to unfold. But before we begin this journey together, you must appreciate that a secret’s value is not in what you know, but in what you do.”
Putting it all together.
Don’t be a pawn, break the cycle, and have the courage to break the cycle out of your own web and find greater meaning beyond yourself. It’s a gift to yourself once you can learn to not take yourself and your life so seriously.
1Frankl: 1“Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
2Millman: “The world’s a puzzle; no need to make sense of it.” “We’re all fools together, it’s just that a few people know it; others don’t.” “Take this apart and put it back together to quiet all the questions in your head.”
Next time you are anticipating something that makes you anxious. Welcome the hyper version of the fear and let me know how it works out for you and remember to subscribe for more!
- Frankl, V. E. (2006 (originally 1946)). Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy. Vienna, Austria: Beacon Press.
- Millman, D. (2010 (20 anniversary edition)). Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives. Peaceful Warrior ePublishing.
You should know that you aren’t alone in your awkward moments in life. I know it may feel that way but we all have them. You don’t have to berate yourself or wish them away. That just perpetuates the isolation that keeps the cycle going.
There is a great tool for being less awkward that I want to share with you.
Until I looked at my embarrassing and awkward experiences, I didn’t realize how they all related. Many of these are just normal events that happen (and some aren’t). If you are or were very sensitive like me, just know that there is a key to unlocking it’s hold on you and breaking the cycle of awkwardness and judgment.
When I take a look at all the stories of awkwardness, I now see the patterns of avoidance. This prevented me from ever learning the lessons life was trying to teach me. When you are sensitive, you are a bit OVER tuned-in. Avoiding seems like the solution that will keep you safe.
The tool, the key to resolving your self awkwardness and judgment is not avoidance, it is the exact opposite.
It’s true acceptance and not taking yourself so seriously. It’s not the end of the world if you make a mistake.
Accept who you are and your life purpose. That’s where the real magic happens.
By allowing the bad or awkward out in the open, I learned you can deal with them and allow yourself to learn the lessons your life is trying to teach you. Maybe if I had let myself learn them sooner, I wouldn’t have had so darn many.
Instead of working on yourself, on being more perfect, work on being yourself and accepting who that person is and allow your life to happen.
Eventually you may learn that your sensitivity is a true gift and will allow you to tune into others. When you aren’t doing that, you are over tuned in to how imperfect you think you appear.
I found this powerful book The Life You Were Born to Live: A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose by Dan Millman and it helped me to learn and be open to the fact that maybe these things were there to help me overcome the challenges I was meant to overcome to become the person I was meant to be.
I was supposed to go through these experiences so I could learn how to overcome blocked self-expression, oversensitivity, and self-doubt. I encourage you to check out Dan’s site to see what it says about your life purpose. Always make your own decisions in your own life but it’s interesting to see what it says to see your struggles through a new lens and as a part of a larger story of finding your life purpose.
You can be a little kinder to yourself instead of judging and be willing to be open to the idea that we are not meant to be perfect empty blobs with no purpose. Things are supposed to be messy and you may find your purpose when you let yourself and your life be imperfect.
These childhood experiences transformed into new problems in adulthood but it’s helpful to look back to see where it started. This is not an exercise in living in the past, because we want to move forward, it’s just to see things looking from the outside and building up an understanding and an awareness.
These awkward moments are just that, they are moments. They do not define us. Outside of shyness, awkwardness, and traumas, we can still be happy, confident, and authentic while we become less awkward and more our natural selves.
The goal is to learn new ways of processing the moments in our lives and gaining the tools to respond differently and accept ourselves to improve the quality of our lives.
These are my key takeaways from some of my embarrassing experiences early in life:
1: Be awkward and you’ll be less awkward. If you have to wear really bad glasses, braces, or anything unflattering. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
2: Have heart. Build up and act on your instinct. You don’t have to know all the answers or do things the best or right way. Instead of trying to appear perfect, take a moment and look around to make a decision from your instinctive heart.
3: Say yes to yourself. Face and accept yourself and your fears. Instead of wishing them away or making everything so scary that you avoid them, accept them and yourself.
Be awkward and you’ll be less awkward.
Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable instead of being someone else or by trying to disappear.
1. Glasses and Braces. I got glasses in kindergarten and had to wear a patch over my good eye to make my bad eye stronger. I dealt with them by not looking anyone in the eyes and hoping no one would notice. How would no one notice? I had a patch over an eye and my other was covered by a coke bottle lens. I just dealt with it by not wearing them anymore. Later I had the worst braces and literally couldn’t talk and was teased about them. I just sunk down in my chair for a few years and didn’t talk unless I had to. Find your grace by embracing the awkwardness life can present.
2. The school bus and the cafeteria. I totally felt like Forest Gump when I had to go to a new school. Nowhere to sit in the school bus and nowhere to sit for lunch. Once at the end of the day for my first day in a new school, I was too shy to find out what bus I was supposed to get on so I just got on any old bus and hoped it would all work out. I didn’t get on the right bus. Ask for help.
3. The time I cut all of my hair off. I dyed my hair every color known to man in an attempt to ‘improve’. It was eventually crispy fried. Instead of stopping early on and dealing with it rationally, I just kept going. Then I started cutting it. I cut it a little bit, and then a little bit more. Before you know it, it was a short, mangled, fried mess. Instead of dealing with a small problem, I tried to cover it up until it got worse and worse. Deal with problems head on and early on.
Find and use your human instinct, the wisdom you were born with buried under that anxiety.
4. I was playing the piano in music class and because everyone was looking at me, I overthought it. I never feel normal when I felt eyes on me. I kept almost sitting down but didn’t look back to see if the chair was or was not there. I kept half sitting and standing the whole time I was playing the piano because I was unsure of whether or not it was there. I was unsure of myself and created an awkward moment out of nowhere. This is a small moment but it’s representative of what we do. Social awkwardness is invented by trying to appear normal when you feel out of place. Just stop and be natural. Turn around to find the chair, sit down, and do your thing.
5. In first or second grade school I was too shy to enter through the big kids classroom to go to the restroom. I walked up and looked through the window several times and couldn’t get the courage. I saw them all sitting there. Surely, if I walked through the room they would see me walking to the bathroom and for some reason, I found that to be mortifying. I’ll end there. Make natural choices based on being a human being and don’t care what anyone thinks.
6. In JV cheerleading and we stood in a circle doing stupid jumps and I couldn’t do them. I hated cheerleading, it was daily torture. I only did it to try to be cool. I had the same negative experiences in volleyball. I enjoyed running and never once did it cross my mind to join track because none of my friends did it. Pay attention to how ‘you’ feel and what ‘you’ want instead of trying to be that idealistic student or employee. It’s your life and you should find what you enjoy and do it.
7. In Tae Kwon Do, I was supposed to kick and break the board. I was in this all ages class and it was basically all adults. I had this awful perm too which made me self-conscious. I felt so uncomfortable and had to do these kicks and punches with adults when I super shy. When we were graduating from one belt to the next, we had to kick and break a board. I kept kicking and nothing happened. Everyone and their guests were watching me and it continued and continued. The teacher finally realized they gave me an adult board and I broke it. Inside I assumed I was the problem instead of thinking it may be something outside me. Remind yourself that it may be the board and not you.
Say yes to yourself.
Be real and don’t overcompensate. Deal with the real problems at hand.
8. I did an audition in front of a camera in one of those auditorium cattle call situations. I just stared at the camera a dozen times and it was played in front of a huge audience and then I didn’t learn my lines for the audition in front of that same audience and I had to exit stage without getting a single line out successfully. I just thought I’d magically do everything right but it turned into this weird out of body experience. I wasn’t in my own skin. I didn’t prepare. I wasn’t confident and just lied to myself hoping it would ‘all work out’. Learn to work with what you have instead of hoping it will magically work out without trying. Give yourself a chance. and put in the time to succeed.
9. I had to put a pie in the face of someone at a Pep Rally. First off, these Pep Rally’s were a nightmare situation to start for someone like me. I had to put a pie in the face of someone in front of the crowd. I did it way too hard trying to be funny. I was so embarrassed to learn I had done it too hard and everyone came up to me angry about it later. So now I’m awkward and hurting people. More of the same when I went to prom with a complete stranger and we didn’t say a word to each other the entire night. Trying to fit in to these clichés is a nightmare in high school when you never feel like you fit in. Later I opted for alcohol to compensate socially and it took 20 years to unlearn this harmful answer. Just be, let things happen, don’t feel the need to always be fixing or doing something, and react honestly in the moment.
10. I fainted in sex ed multiple times and in multiple schools. I’m not kidding. I tried to block out what the teachers were saying to not let it scare me but that only amplified the fear and what they were saying. I’d raise my hand to leave but every time it was too late. I’d wake up on the floor in a cold sweat with all eyes on me and was being taken away in an ambulance. Instead of dealing with my fears and problems, I was just excused from these classes. This brought on a unique form of teasing that made me happy to move to a new school. Address your fears, don’t just ignore or try to forcefully resist them, that will only make them worse.
Accept your past and move forward.
After you do a look back and see how these things all connect to you finding your purpose. See all the pain and struggles as a part of your plan. Zoom out on your life and on these situations and build up your present as who you are now. Tear down idealism, who you think you should be. Where you think you should be living. What you should be doing. How you should be doing it.
Be honest with yourself. Be honest about your feelings, dreams, and fears. You are a human being. It’s ok to be uncomfortable. You don’t need to compensate or lie about who you are.
When it gets hard to find your way back, remember to take a step back, maybe several, connect with your heart, find your intuition, and just start being you from there.
Subscribe for more and please share your awkward moments if you want. It’s therapeutic.
Common Causes of Having Nothing to Say
- Being too self-conscious. You have gotten stuck in your head ‘trying’ to act normal. It’s unnatural. You can’t try to be yourself, you already are. You are dynamic with many sides. The doctor said I had an overactive imagination when I was brought in for fainting. Maybe you are actually thinking of so many things but it’s hard to pick one and articulate it in a tangible way.
- Being nervous and struggling to express yourself. You being nervous because of past failures may be giving you a great deal of anxiety so you are nervous, of course. I struggled with mumbling and it took many years to speak clearly to where I was comfortable with my voice. I find it ironic that I ended up getting a broadcasting degree. It takes practice to overcome these things and then build your competence.
- Worrying about saying the wrong things and people pleasing. You might be overthinking what do you need to do to fit in and be accepted. You’ve become guarded and you hold back. If you are pretending, you are not connected to or sharing the best parts of yourself, you aren’t expressing true opinions. Not everyone will love you. It isn’t possible unless you are trying to accommodate to everyone, which is not interesting and it is just surface you.
- Trying to think for everyone. Be into the conversation itself versus trying to think for yourself and the person you are speaking with.
- Not practicing what you do have control over and letting go what you don’t have control over. The more you have avoided people, conversations, and the spotlight over the years, the less practice you have had. So the sooner you start, the better and faster you can build those muscles. The more you realize there are things you can do to influence your conversation skills, the more confidence you will gain. You will start to see you have control over more than you realize and the more you can let go of those things you cannot control. Don’t worry so much about things you don’t have control over like blushing or how others might think of you.
It’s important to build up a vision of what you want and to know when shyness is no longer holding you back and to work towards that. For now, find ways to be less self focused and more outward focused. Since we recently referenced starting conversations, now we need to keep them going!
How can we never run out of things to say?
You know those super exciting conversations. “How are you?” “Good, how are you?” “Good, how was your weekend?” “Good, how about yours?” “Nice, well have a good day.” So generic, unmemorable, unoriginal. You have to have these but not only these types of conversations. No wonder we never want to talk to anyone. We want to create conversations more like a game of basketball that goes forwards, backwards, and side to side. It’s less constrictive. So be open to having multidirectional conversations. Like a game of donkey kong (yes, I’m an old dork). Great conversation doesn’t care about structure, it’s about what is interesting.
If you lump everything together when you talk, it becomes too generic. Do a favor for yourself and the person you are speaking with and carve out a more interesting conversation. Breaking the rules might seem like a dream when you are struggling just to fit in, but the more you practice and expand your comfort zone, the more positive reinforcement you’ll get that it’s working. Edit as you go and pick out the pieces of your life or stories in your day, trip, event, etc. that are worthwhile and interesting. In the past I would record a whole firework show and not once look away to be in the moment. Do you think I’ve ever watched any of those? No, super boring. Take in your experiences in the moment. Don’t feel the need to hoard and save it to feel another day. Then, have something interesting to say about those small moments you enjoy. Don’t over think it, just start becoming more aware, paying attention, and making a note to yourself.
How to increase your struggle of coming up with things to say
Last tip and fail proof solution
My Agony with Comparing Myself to Others
The Problem with Wearing Logical Personas
Why You Become Free the Moment You Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
3 Steps to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
2. Open up to others and recognize them while you allow your intuition to drive your thoughts, words, and actions
3 Mistakes You Should Avoid at All Costs
2. Not paying attention or recognizing the initial feelings of judgment and comparison