Do you dread attending social events and meeting new people? Do you want to build your social self-confidence?
With the holidays approaching and the endless opportunities of events, this is a great time to practice your social skills. Allowing yourself to interact with others is the best way to build your social confidence. The greatest challenge is putting yourself into social settings. Just like everything else, it takes practice. Some of the top keynote speakers once felt high levels of anxiety when meeting new people in social environments. Now, after much practice, they can stand before a packed room and command their attention. I am not saying you are going to be the next Anthony Robbins, but with building your self-confidence, you can start to really enjoy social interactions and empower yourself to feel great about your abilities to make new friends.
The best tool to start building your self-confidence is to make a list of your best qualities. Write down 10 traits of your personality that you would like to have in a friend. Traits like; fun, considerate, trustworthy, a good listener, humorous, loyal, respectful, honest, a kind heart, enjoys laughing, etc. Once your list is complete, read them often. Affirming your best qualities daily and just before a social situation is an amazing tool to build your self-confidence. Read each trait by saying to yourself, “I am …” (fill in the blank). Then go to the next trait and again say to yourself, “I am …” until you have completed all 10 traits. Believe in your qualities and others will too.
Now that you have affirmed your amazing qualities to be absolutely true, let’s take a look into why you may still have doubts in yourself. Then, figure out ways to overcome these hurdles. Three biggest negative attributes to social confidence are; shyness, fear of rejection, and feeling inferior. Once you recognize which one is your greatest contributor, then you can begin to work on being more comfortable around people in public.
Let’s get one thing straight about shyness; everyone has had the feeling of awkwardness in a social environment. You are not alone. The key is to stand up straight, smile, look them in the eyes, and introduce yourself and whomever you are with. People generally like to talk about themselves, so try to focus on them. Also, don’t label yourself or others. Labeling someone or yourself before a conversation can give a negative mindset and destroy your chances of having a successful meet and greet.
According to Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci shyness has three components:
- Excessive Self-Consciousness – you are overly aware of yourself, particularly in social situations.
- Excessive Negative Self-Evaluation – you tend to see yourself negatively.
- Excessive Negative Self- Preoccupation – you tend to pay too much attention to all the things you are doing wrong when you are around other people.
Recognizing the above components and stopping the destructive thoughts while you are in the situation, is a powerful tool to eliminate them. Once you have an understanding of why you are shy; turn your shyness into personal empowerment.
Rejection is not easy, but never allowing yourself to have new experiences is a far greater problem. Fear is an inner demon that will take away so many great opportunities. Ask yourself, what is the absolute worst thing that could happen? Try not to exaggerate your imagination, and realize, the only opinion that truly matters is your own (keep your list of 10 amazing qualities close by to help remind you).
The best way to overcome the fear of rejection is to find a group of people who have similar interests as you- photography, or a sport, a book club, whatever. Then, at each meeting make it a goal to introduce yourself to one person. Find out their name and one fact about them. At each meeting remember their name and say hello. You will become more confident on your greetings and the other person will be impressed you remembered their name each week. Eventually, you will know the entire class.
Another great mind game when you are out is approaching other people. Tell yourself that it’s just practice and it doesn’t count. This way it’s nothing ventured, nothing gained and you can chalk it up to a positive meet and greet no matter the outcome.
There are also great organizations like Toastmasters which meet weekly in an embracing setting to help people get over the fear of speaking in public. It is a wonderful environment where everyone is there to build their social confidence and the fear of rejection is nonexistent there.
Feeling inferior is a mindset you alone have created and through your thinking, you can overcome it. Everyone has insecurities. Allowing your insecurities to keep you from experiencing new people and events is a tragedy. Especially since most of your insecurities about yourself are so minor to others.
To help explain, I am going to share a personal story and one of my biggest regrets in life. When I was around 20 I met my future husband. I was on the dance floor having the time of my life with my roommates. We were dancing and being silly. The cabbage patch, driving the bus, the moonwalk, you name it we were doing it and having a blast. When we left to get a drink, his best friend introduced me to him. Later that week when we were out to dinner, he told me that his best friend described me as “the beautiful girl on the dance floor who couldn’t dance.”
It devastated me and I was so embarrassed that I did not dance with my girl friends again. Even today at the age of 40 I still have feelings of self-conscious dancing in public. The crazy thing is that his best friend struggled with the fear of dancing before he ever made that comment. It was his complex and for some reason it made him feel better to point out my imperfections. I feel cheated by the time lost on the dance floor and I regret allowing that comment to take away so much fun missed in my life.
So this holiday season get out and practice your new self-esteem. Take baby steps toward building your confidence. Never allow anyone’s negative comment to hold you back, and when you’re feeling a little less confident, look toward the dance floor. You might just get a glimpse of my impersonation of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk across the entire floor.
How often do you relax during the day? Is your time spent relaxing productive and valuable?
Take a moment to think about the above questions.
In this article, we will break down each question and pinpoint why they are important to you. We will give you some suggestions on how to live more in the moment and break nasty habits of rushing through life.
How often do you relax during the day?
Let’s face reality; parenting in today’s world is busy. Doctors recommend 5 minutes each hour to quiet the mind and relax muscle tension, but most parents are lucky to get 5 minutes in a 24 hour time period. In order for you to be more productive and for your mind to be at its top performance, you must allow yourself to take time out, at least once every hour. It is vital to your health and well-being. It regenerates your energy level and allows you to think more clearly. A good example to explain this better is by examining the safety instructions adults receive when flying on an airplane with small children. The flight attendant instructs the adult to first, place the oxygen mask over themselves to allow proper breathing before assisting a child with their oxygen mask. The adult must take care of their needs before they can successfully take care of a child. Yes, placing an oxygen mask during a flight complication is an extreme scenario, but it shows how, taking proper care of yourself will ultimately give you the strength to be a better parent.
I know some of you are still thinking, “Who has time to relax?” and this may be the hardest challenge most will encounter while building a healthier schedule. Actually, most of us are programmed to believe relaxing during the day is lazy and unproductive. I am not insinuating we shut down like Spain for a siesta, but a few minutes each hour will replenish your mind and body.
The best way to start reprogramming your schedule is to remind yourself to do it. There are all kinds of great products to help you. There are; bracelets that vibrate, special apps for phones, and even email services. But, the simplest way to begin today is by choosing a color. Each time you see this color take a deep breath. When you exhale, close your eyes and visualize all the tension leaving your body. Try focusing only on your breath and how good it feels to relax your muscle tension. An easy way to help clear your mind from distractions is to imagine the color swirling around you. Start the swirling color around your head, melting the tension while passing each area of your body until you have circled around and out your toes. Remember, most people carry higher levels of tension in their brow, jaw, shoulders, hands, and feet. Give these areas a little extra attention when relaxing. You will be Amazed at how far your mind can truly relax your muscle tension. This technique can be done just about anywhere. If driving, please wait to be completely stopped at a traffic light before closing your eyes.
Is your time spent relaxing productive and valuable?
Unfortunately, most adults have lost the ability to just sit with themselves and observe their surroundings. As children we do this very easily, but as we grow older we start to lose this wonderful “living in the moment” quality. It can become difficult to pay attention to our environment because we are so focused on our inner mind struggles. Mostly consisting of; worrying, dwelling, or even worse, we focus on things we have no ability to change, but still continue to waste our thoughts on.
This is an easy fix, simply redirect your thoughts as soon as you notice the negative thought pattern, but like all habits it will take a while to undo. Here is a scenario on how it works; pretend you are watching your child play a lacrosse game. Instead of focusing on the game, you notice your mind thinking about the bills that need to be paid at home. You are worrying about something you cannot control at this moment. You are wasting your valuable thoughts on something you have no control of at this time. To be more productive, enjoy the experience of your surroundings. Value your precious time and be proud of the fact, you are living in the moment. This is a huge accomplishment for most. At first you may need to redirect your thoughts more often, but don’t be discouraged. Focus more on the accomplishment of recognition instead of how often you are doing it.
Next time your child acts up and needs to be discipline, instead of placing the child in time out, try sending yourself for a time out. Tell the child that because of their behavior mommy/daddy needs a time out. Make sure the child is safe and take a few minutes to reenergize you.
There are two benefits from this scenario. First, you will get a moment of quiet time. Second, your child will learn, from your example, time outs are not bad. Instead, time outs are a valuable tool in keeping stress levels low.
Most adults associate childhood with carefree-living and having no worries. As parents, we have lived through the challenges of childhood, and we know the outcome of most daily situations, but as a child, everything is new. They do not know the outcome. From going to a doctor’s office, to overhearing a dispute between their parents, these issues seem minor to an adult, but can be intense in the eyes of a child. As hard as we try we cannot keep them from these feelings. They are going to encounter stress. Teaching them to use positive stress correctly and lowering the side effects of negative stress is a life skill that will give your child an advantage for the rest of their life.
Teaching our children how to cope with stress properly is a life skill sometimes overlooked by parents. We are so focused on giving them as many experiences as we can, we forget to slow down to listen to their feelings. In fact, as parents, we have become so accustomed to rushing from place to place ourselves, we need to practice stress coping techniques as well. Our children are little sponges, and our example is the best way to teach them. When parents are not coping properly with daily negative stressors, our children are learning what not to do.
The term “stress” is thrown around so much, many people don’t understand what stress is and what it is not. In fact, most adults have different ideas about what “stress” actually means. I break stress down into two categories, positive stress and negative stress.
When is stress positive?
Stress encourages us to achieve greatness. It pushes us forward to accomplish our goals. It is necessary to create the right inspiration that lights a fire within us. Another way stress is needed in our daily lives is when we encounter situations and adrenaline is needed to get through a moment. Our bodies’ natural response to danger is “fight or flight” which brings about heightened alertness, higher levels of perception, and quick decision-making skills that can mean the difference between life and death.
How can we teach our children to use positive stress to their advantage?
The answer is so simple, yet most people don’t take the time to teach their children. The answer is goal setting. It is a valuable tool a parent can give their child. It allows a child to make their own decisions as to what they want to achieve, gives them something to strive for, and creates a sense of pride once the goal is achieved. Most people with specific goals are the ones who are happiest in life because they are working towards a grand result.
Stress Release Reminders journal technique is the easiest way to teach children about daily goal setting. Each page is designed to insert a daily goal, a daily affirmation, and just a few highlights from the day. It takes less than 5 minutes and is a powerful tool because children can go back and easily read their past accomplishments. Also, it gives a parent the quality moments we long to have with our children. Asking them, what do they want to achieve today, and how did it make them happy, are two questions a parent should know about their child. It gives the parent an insight into exactly what the child will want to do with their day. Most parents discuss the goals in the morning and write them down at night just before bed. This is a great way to finish your day and the children are more eager to share because they are prolonging their bedtime.
I know what you are thinking, “Who has time for journaling?” This brings me to another great stress management tool, which is time management. Teaching our children to slow down and prioritize what is most important will keep them on track with their goals.
When is stress negative?
The two biggest factors of negative stress are worrying about the future and dwelling on the past. These are the most damaging of stress and I call it useless mind chatter. It is an internal stress that many people live with daily and has become their way of thinking. In fact people even become addicted to this kind of hurried, tense, lifestyle.
For children, internal stress can be terrifying mostly because children’s imagination is their only outcome in scary new experiences. They have no idea what will happen next on the simplest of situations. They are going to have fears and worries. It is part of life. However, we can teach them the skills to over power future fears and let go of past events and quiet the mind chatter before it becomes an unhealthy habit.
What can we do to teach our children how to quiet the negative internal stress?
Teaching children at a young age to silence the useless mind chatter and focus on the present moment will give them a foundation for a healthier, happier lifestyle. Like any bad habit the sooner you bring awareness to it, the easier it is to overcome.
Awareness is the most important factor to silence internal stress. Taking quiet moments to examine your thoughts will help with awareness. I place Stress Release Reminder decals throughout my day to remind me to quiet the negative chatter of dwelling on the past and fearing the future.
With children, this process is much easier, because bad habits have not yet been formed. It is all about communication.
- Remind yourself to initiate conversations using Stress Release Reminder decals.
- Then ask them “Have you had any concerns today that may have made you anxious, excited, sad, or scared?”
- Then teach them how to make a Plan of Action
- Ask, “Can they change the concern to make it better?” If yes, help set goals to resolve the concern. If not, then let it go and replace the thought with a positive alternative.
This process will give a parent a wonderful view into their child’s outlook on life. Making a plan of action is a great complement to a night-time routine of goal setting journaling.