“No matter what kind of challenges or difficulties or painful situations you go through in your life, we all have something deep within us that we can reach down and find the inner strength to get through them.”
– Alana Stewart
Ups and downs, rises and falls, rain and shine, joy and sorrow, day and night- this is how people define life: a series of events, sometimes jolly, sometimes painfully full of sorrow. Well, that is what life, as we know, is.
There come many situations in life which we can classify as difficult. A wise thing to do is to be prepared to face the difficult times in our lives. These times usually affect us deeply on a psychological level and could potentially damage our lives.
Being prepared for these times could help us to improve how we live our lives. Being prepared to face the challenges is what it means to learn and grow.
The idea is to make the best out of everything life throws at us. Remember, most of these situations are not under our control. So the logical method to deal with these circumstances is to accept and move on.Advertising
Here below we discuss about some of the tough situations we come across in our lives and how we can best deal with them.
1. Quarter-life, midlife crisis
As we age, we see ourselves changing physically and mentally. So, there come times during our aging process that we seek answers about the changes happening to and around us. After adolescence, between our early 20s and early 30s, we begin to make choices on how to best fit into society.
This transition period could be difficult for some of us to handle which turns into the ‘quarter-life crisis’. The sheer amount of confusion and pressure often leads to situations like depression or potentially even acts of self-harm.
During the process of aging, there comes another phase called ‘midlife crisis’, in between the early 40s and early 50s when we begin to truly feel our mortality. These are times when we have to deal with lots of changes which we naturally, as humans, find difficult to deal with. Knowing that the changes are inevitable and finding the strength to accept the changes is the only way to find courage and get through these times of crisis.
Love happens and breakups too. And it goes without saying, breakups are heart breaking. When all those feelings of love suddenly turns into something vile, it becomes painful to handle.
What’s there to be done after breakups? Accept that it happened for the best of reasons, keep your mind busy doing something productive and know that love happens again. The pain subsides like it always does. Turn the pain into motivation to bring a positive change in your life. (Join a gym, perhaps, and sweat it all out.)Advertising
3. Changing friendship
Being social beings, we seek love and friendship. These are undoubtedly the most important aspects of having an overall healthy life. We simply cannot do without friends because we aren’t made to survive alone. We seek and keep friends to help us grow. So a changing friendship can be a difficult thing to deal with. Letting go of friends and adapting to new faces as you leave behind what you had come to love can be challenging.
But people come and go. This is yet another inevitable truth about life. We’ve all read those cheeky lines on the internet like “Those who want to stay in your life will find ways to do so” and they’re true. Don’t be afraid to accept and let go of people and welcome new people into your life.
Failures are difficult times, of course. They are difficult on many levels. Not meeting goals you’ve worked so hard for, the sense of worthlessness, all the negativity failures bring along- these are hard to put up with. But then again, we’ve heard and read many stories of success after failures, stories of what patience and perseverance can deliver. So we know the best thing to do during these times is to find inspiration and push through.
Marriages takes a lot of effort to function well. We’ve witnessed many failed marriages leading up to divorce and heard the stories or even experienced how difficult the transition is for the whole family. Sadly, some of us might have to live through this terrible experience.
While splitting a family is as horrible as it sounds and probably no one really likes the idea of going to divorce lawyers, divorce is the best answer if a marriage is not working. It opens up doors for positive changes in life. Knowing this helps people keep the right attitude towards life after divorce.
6. Losing a job
Losing a job could be devastating, and you might even go hungry in the worst case scenario. And trust me, there’s no rougher time than when you have to spend days on a hungry stomach.Advertising
So, what’s there to do after losing your job? You might feel hopeless at this point but don’t sweat over it anymore. Be strong and make efforts to find another, a better job. Keep calm and carry on.
7. Getting older
You might have heard the story of Buddha and how he set out onto the path of enlightenment; he saw the miseries in man’s life for which he wanted to find cure. The point being: getting older can certainly be a difficult situation and there’s no cure to it. Gray hair, wrinkles, frail health, not being able to do things you once did with great ease, these are some of the things we adjust to as we age.
Well, it’s no secret that there’s no fountain of youth. We are all going to be old if we live long enough. So, the best thing to do is plan ahead for old age if you don’t want it to be miserable. You see, that is why wise people came up with things like pensions and retirement plans.
8. Getting injured, falling sick
Accidents happen and sickness might find us, no matter how many precautions we take. Though, this should not dissuade us from being cautious and trying to live healthily. Recovering from injuries is one of the hardest times one could experience and potentially learning to live with changes to your body and abilities can be a major adjustment physically and emotionally.
Again, keeping the right attitude towards life is the key to dealing with it. The seemingly long journey of recovery could be made less stressful by engaging in other activities that the ailments don’t prevent. There is usually always something that you can find to do if you’re willing. For example, there have been people with cancer have written great novels from their hospital beds.
9. Losing all that you have in a natural disaster
Natural disasters are one of the worst things that could ever happen to anyone. During these disasters, people can potentially lose the people they are closest to as well as all their possessions, including their home: a truly traumatic life experience.Advertising
But like always, we bounce back.
We are resilient enough to come back from the toughest of times and start over anew. The fact that we survived this calamity is reason enough to believe that we are given a second chance. All we can do in the wake of disasters like an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane is to help each other and find hope in this time of despair.
10. Death of a loved one
Death is the ultimate truth in life. It could come to anyone at any time. The sorrow it casts is always tough to handle. Losing loved ones, having to live life without them is the most awful kind of change one could experience in life.
The grief and loss model has five stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance but it doesn’t necessarily occur in the same way for everyone. Some of us might take a very long time to reach the stage of acceptance.
Death demands grief so grieving is the right thing to do but the best thing we can do to honor the dead is to accept the fact and move on when we are able to do so. To commemorate the importance of this person’s passing we could also plant a tree, perhaps.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm6.staticflickr.com
Last Updated on January 15, 2019
How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward
Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?
In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
Step right up, don’t be shy!
Table of Contents
Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers
The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:
Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers
Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers. Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!
A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.
Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary
Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.
When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.
We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.
I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.
The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.
Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness
Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.
1. Broadens Your Network
After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.
2. Improves Your Communication Skills
I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.
Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.
3. Continually Learning
So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.
Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.
4. Increases Self Confidence
Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.
Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.
So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?
How to Talk to Strangers
Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
1. Say Hello
Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.
Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.
Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.
2. Ask About Them
Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.
You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.
As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.
3. Just Do It
One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.
When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.
Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.
4. Don’t Take It Personal
One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.
When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.
5. Get a Chuckle If Possible
I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.
One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.
A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.
Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.
7. Share Your Stories
Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.
To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.
So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.
8. Give a Compliment
Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.
When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.
9. Relax Your Body Language
If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.
When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.
If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice
Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.
After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.
The Bottom Line
As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!
There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.
Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.
More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- 12 Tactics to Negotiate Better and Not Be a Pushover
- 7 Most Important Communication Techniques to Master in the Workplace
- How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way
- How to Handle Rejection and Overcome the Fear of Being Rejected
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com
|||^||Dev Psychobiol.: Adrenocortical responses to strangers in preschoolers: relations with parenting, temperament, and psychopathology.|
|||^||Psychology Today: Cortisol: Why the “Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1|