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These Critical Crisis Management Tips Will Make You a Better Friend

These Critical Crisis Management Tips Will Make You a Better Friend

Life throws us curveballs without any warning. Some curveballs can come from nowhere and some send us signals they are coming but we choose for what ever reason to, ignore the signs.

Nobody is immune to life’s curveballs. We live in a world where as a result of technology, we are exposed to natural disasters, terrorism, disruption, change and adversity on a daily basis.

The good news is that despite all this disruption, change and adversity that we face in our lives, we are hardwired to be resilient. The ability of how well we as an individual successfully deal with crises and adversity is significantly influenced by our social surroundings.

So what does this all have to do with friendship? A huge amount, because without the support of our friends and family in times of crises, our journey to recovery is virtually non existent.

“Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness” — Euripides

Euripides quote highlights the true purpose of friendship. Supporting and helping our friends to successfully manage their journey through a life crisis enables them to face adversity from a position of strength.

Friendship is the key ingredient to enabling a friend in crises to be able to understand how to face adversity in a way where they can learn, grow and thrive.

If we are a true friend, then our role is to support our friends and not let them crash and burn to a point where they have lost hope and their faith in themselves.

So what can you do to help your friends successfully manage adversity or crises in their lives?

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These 3 strategies I believe are the key ingredients to you being able to effectively influence and support your friends through those curve balls that life will throw at them:

1. Be prepared to commit to your friendship

If you truly want to help and support your friend through a crisis, commit to being there for the long haul – no matter what.

A true friend does not wait for the phone call or the plea for help – they REACH OUT immediately.

This can be a hard thing to do especially when a friend is suffering and in pain. It can be scary and confronting as it means that not only do we feel their pain but we also are forced to face our own emotions and fears that can rise to the surface.

One of the key actions you can do to support your friends is to let them know that you love them, you are there for them and that they are not alone.

2. Commit to taking action

Before you take action, take a long hard look at yourself and decide what your reality is around you taking action. Do not over commit and promise to do things that you cannot deliver on.

A colleague of mine had a friend that broke her neck diving into a pool. She was a mum with young school kids. She desperately needed her friends support and they were all leading very busy lives with young families.

I was very impressed with the way in which my work colleague coped with managing this crisis.

She assessed the reality of how she could realistically provide on going support to her friend. She went and visited her friend in hospital told her that she loved her dearly, she was there for the long haul and she explained what she was going to do to support her friend.

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She had found an app that helped her organize meals to be delivered to the family for 5 nights a week. She had managed to get 80 people to sign up and the app organised emails and scheduling.

When her friend got home from hospital, she blocked out every Wednesday night after work to visit her friend for a wine and a chat.

She also told her friend that she would be her hair, makeup, pedicures go to person. She organized the hairdresser, makeup and pedicure ladies to come to the house on a regular basis. The appointments were scheduled in every 6 weeks.

The accident happened over 18 months ago and my work colleague is still going strong supporting her friend to manage the on going challenges she faces in her life.

3. Listen, listen and listen — Hold back from giving advice until it is asked for

This strategy leads on from Strategy 2. Once you have committed to taking action, then it is time for you to be present with your friend.

What I mean by this is, that as a true friend you do not have the solution or the power to solve the problem or make the pain go away.

Physically being there with your friend is being present and it may mean you turning up and holding your friends hand. It may be that you sit with your friend listening and supporting them through whatever she/he is feeling while you are with them.

Listen and let them know you hear their pain – not feel it, but actually hear it. Acknowledge their pain because when you connect with someone’s pain it makes them feel they are being supported.

A good statement to say to your friend at this stage could be;

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“What I’m hearing is that you are feeling ____. Is that right?”

Share how you truly feel – confused, lost for words, or struggling to know what to do.

Sharing your feelings with your friend demonstrates empathy and deepens your connection with them. Here are some examples of what you could say

“My heart hurts for you” ” I wish I could make it better for you”, “I just don’t know what to say”

When a friend opens up to you to share their pain, they are in a very vulnerable place. It shows that they trust you and it is important that you acknowledge this.

By expressing gratitude and thanking them for sharing with you demonstrates that you are a safe harbour for them.

The next step is to encourage by reaffirming the positive elements that you see in your friend.

Be careful not to say things like ” it will get better” or “this is what I would do”. Once you start making statements like this you are disconnecting from your friend and you are not being supportive in any way.

To be encouraging and positive, focus on sharing the qualities that you admire about your friend. Help your friend to see that they are amazing and worthy of love.

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Simple statements are the most powerful such as ” I love you”, “you are a warrior”, “I am proud of you”, “you matter so much to me” You are brave/courageous/brave”.

Understanding the power of words is hugely important when it comes to supporting a friend through a crisis. When you are truly committed to a friendship, then the words you use will demonstrate empathy, connection and love.

Final thoughts

Being a true friend is not that complicated, in fact it is very simple. All we have to do is follow the 3 strategies:

  • Make a commitment to the friendship
  • Demonstrate your commitment by taking action and be present with your friend in crises
  • Listen and support.

How hard can that be?

Knowing who you are as a true friend is key to your supporting friends through any crises they may face. Follow the 3 strategies and your true value as a friend will provide you with friendships that will last for life – a rare gift that is priceless.

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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