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10 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Anxiety In Social Situations

10 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Anxiety In Social Situations

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    Everyone’s been there at some point—in a tense, uncomfortable, or unfamiliar social arrangement, forced to make small talk with people whom we share no common ground with. Maybe you’re the odd one out, the pacifist among soldiers, the chicken farmer among vegans, or simply a social fledgling trying to “fit in.”

    Maybe you’re an introvert who avoids parties, or a person who needs a few cocktails to deal with the uneasy feelings that come from being out of your comfort zone. In studying Chronic Social Anxiety, which can be crippling for millions of people, scientists and psychologists have discovered ways that the mind can be retrained with adaptive or constructive behaviors, things that you train yourself to do when your worry or unease is triggered.

    Instead of wishing you’d stayed at home, you can learn to use the time to open your mind, practice taking risks and stretching your mental habits a little bit. You might discover some of your inner resources, and create opportunities to grow and connect with other people, essential elements of mental well being.

    Here are 10 things to help you get through the evening, the hour, or the next 15 minutes, which don’t involve crawling out the window in the restroom or using the time to read through all your junk mail on your phone.

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    1. Take Your Self Out Of The Equation

    This is the simplest, and often the hardest thing to do because as humans we take our egos everywhere we go. Experiment with it anyway. First, don’t assume that people are judging you, or even focused on you at all. People are often caught up in their own impression-making worries and probably aren’t noticing what you’re doing or saying as much as you might think they are. Take your “self” out of the equation and try to focus on what’s in front of you—community, or food, or the reason for meeting.

    2. Consider Everyone’s Humanity

    Remove the label. People aren’t just conservatives or liberals, hipsters or drones, successes or failures. As Walt Whitman said, we contain multitudes. Avoid sizing someone up immediately or deciding that they’re not your type of person. Instead, listen to what someone has to say and use it as a learning experience. Remember everyone’s humanity and emphasize your own.

    3. Remember That People Aren’t Always What They Appear To Be

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    Many people avoid their own feelings of vulnerability by creating a tough, know-it-all exterior. Often the haughtiest people are the most wounded inside. Introverts can come across as uninterested when really they are good listeners who need more time to ease in to a conversation. Practice compassion by trying to see through the way a person acts in public. You never know what someone has been through, or what great or horrible things have shaped the person you see in front of you. We are all people with stories to tell, only some people don’t know how to tell them.

    4. Interview Someone

    When you are forced into small talk, ask questions. Pretend the woman or man next to you is someone you are interviewing for a newspaper profile. Connect in a one-on-one way. Ask where they grew up or how they ended up in the city you both live in. Geography is great way to connect with people. You can learn a lot about someone by finding out more about where they came from, and use it as an opportunity to find out about places you’ve never heard of or are unfamiliar with.

    5. Ask Questions About Who People Are Instead of What They Do

    Many people find it easier to talk about themselves one-on-one, so give them an opportunity to be heard. You don’t have to go directly to questions like “where do you work?” or “what do you do?” Remember that people are more than their jobs. If someone mentions a vegetable garden, use it as an opportunity to ask how the person got interested in gardening. Or find out more about their relationship to the person or event bringing you together. Sometimes you learn more about people you thought you knew well by talking to their friends or coworkers about the other parts of their lives.

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    6. Acknowledge Cultural Differences

    Cultural diversity in a social situation is a wonderful opportunity to open your mind and learn about unfamiliar experiences, customs, and opinions firsthand. If you are talking to someone whose lifestyle, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is different from your own, you don’t have to avoid the subject. Our individual cultures or lifestyles are what make us interesting and have the potential for creating real conversations that change us.You don’t have to say, “I noticed that you’re gay,” or “Wow, your skin has so little pigment compared to mine!” but by listening you can notice how people refer to their own identity in conversations, and let it guide you to ask questions.

    That said, it’s also important to remember that there can be cultural differences in the way that people communicate and approach conversations. Some people grew up in families that listen to one another politely, others among people who interrupt frequently and get emotional quickly. Raised voices might look like a conflict to some people, and the same conversation could be intriguing and familiar to someone else.

    7. Let Neutral Subjects Subdue The Elephant In The Room

    Is there an elephant in the room? You don’t have to feed it. Don’t let an awkward experience or a thoughtless remark someone made suck all the air out of a room. If you encounter a person starting to rant about a subject that is obviously offensive or hurtful to someone in the group, steer the conversation in a different direction with more neutral subjects. Political arguments can easily get ugly if they are not diffused early on, and diatribes about that annoying neighbor with the self-righteous bumper stickers or religious views shouldn’t be what ruins an evening. Turn the talk to movies or the TV series you love, or go back into interview mode with someone you don’t know.

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    8. Don’t Let the Bullies Take Over 

    Sometimes there is one person who likes to stir the pot, who baits people with comments intended to start an argument. Alcohol can make some people more aggressive and give them the fuel they need to belittle others or put them on the spot with inappropriate remarks. Ideally, you come to the rescue of the person being bullied by showing your support as a fellow human. If you’re the one being bullied, try responding with a neutral dismissal such as “Maybe we can find another time to talk about this.” Or, alternately…

    9. Insert a Little Laughter

    Having a sense of humor can be of great service in awkward moments and can take the edge off of a too-serious moment that is making things hard for everyone. It can also help you quickly transition into other more neutral subjects. This doesn’t mean you have to tell jokes or start up your clown routine, it just means acknowledging that things could lighten up with a change of tone. If you’re the host, it’s your job to keep the peace if you can, and often you can encourage this with a little levity. Give everyone a chance to shake it off, as Taylor Swift keeps reminding us to do. A lighthearted nod such as, “Now that we’ve solved all the worlds’ problems, let’s have pie!” or “If everyone is ready for the cannoli eating contest, I’ll bring them out.”

    10. Show Appreciation

    Take a moment to thank the person or people who brought you all together. This makes everyone feel gratitude and can move things in a positive direction. Make a toast, or reiterate the reason for gathering. Find a moment to celebrate something positive happening in the world!

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    Last Updated on August 21, 2018

    15 Signs You’re an Old Soul and Think Differently

    15 Signs You’re an Old Soul and Think Differently

    If you’ve often felt slightly removed from the worries of today and miss the simplistic life of a time gone by, or somehow feel a little out of sync with what your peers are concerned with, there’s a chance you may be an old soul.

    Being an old soul refers to how you view and approach life.

    Your views echo those of someone much older than you, who has lived a long and fruitful life. You approach life with a greater sense of knowledge and wisdom coupled with a greater sense of inner wealth.

    If you’ve ever met an exasperated 10 year old saying, “Kids today are so…”, or a 28 year old who says, “In my day…”, an awful lot, chances are you’re in the presence of a beautiful old soul. They’re often perplexed, and unable to relate to the things people their own age consider fun, or important, and so feel out of place.

    They look at life through a vignette of experiences they may not have lived, yet, but somehow, just seem to know.

    So if you’ve ever felt like you’ve lived before, and you have a wealth of wisdom you can’t explain, chances are you have been reincarnated—

    —or maybe, you’re just an old soul!

    Here are some tell-tale signs to help you find out if you’re an old soul.

    1. You know there’s another way to do things.

    You often say things like, “I have a feeling this will work”, or “there’s no harm in trying.” People may view your suggestions as outdated or done, but you know that sometimes, just sometimes, the tried and tested ways of doing things are best. Hey, if it ain’t broke…

    You feel that not all problems require a new and innovative solution, and going round in circles when the answer may be staring you in the face is usually a waste of valuable time, and energy.

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    You have no problem trying out new things, but know, too, that oldies can also be goodies.

    2. You give advice well beyond your years.

    You somehow seem to know how to do things you haven’t even done yourself yet. It’s like you’ve lived before, and just know how it all works. People often look at you with that “how do you know?” expression, and you respond with a confident, “I just know!”

    Truth is, you do just know, but don’t know how you know. Those people who come to you for advice, though somewhat freaked out by your amazing prophetic powers to impressively offer solutions and predict outcomes, trust you wholeheartedly and don’t doubt your authenticity.

    3. You like to think things through.

    Even the most impatient of people will need to think things through if they are an old soul at heart. You need that time to maul it over in your head.

    It’s an important part of your to-do process, and it enables you to move forward in the direction most in sync with your mind, body and soul.

    To you, not being able to think things through, even a little, leaves you feeling uneasy, and that does nothing to help.

    4. You don’t waste time asking why.

    After you’ve thought things through, you move ahead, confident in the knowledge that you’ve done all you needed to do to get going.

    You don’t waste time in trying to justify it to yourself or anyone else. You have little time and patience for the nonsensical and would prefer to utilize your time getting things done, rather than sitting around talking about getting things done.

    In the end, you understand that whatever you do, you trust that all things work out just as they are supposed to, and you don’t want to question that wonderful process.

    5. You don’t like to go out just for the sake of going out.

    It’s quality over quantity for you. You love to go out and have fun, but going out because others feel it is required, or you look boring if you don’t, holds no merit for you.

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    When you go out, you’d like to experience something; something that resonates with your way of perceiving the world and challenges you.

    You’ll happily spend money on those things that give you wonderful experiences and broaden your horizons. Going out just because, seems pointless to you; you’d rather save your time, and money, and do something of quality.

    6. You have an appreciation for old literature.

    You respect the classics. You’re often found getting euphorically high off old books. You’ve probably sniffed a good few old books in your time, and you don’t care who sees.

    For you, old literature should be respected and valued; they hold history and historical experience between their pages and deserve to be exalted.

    7. You have old ears.

    You love and appreciate the classics and have a longing for the musicality of those nostalgic tunes. Your record (that’s right, record!) collection looks like a retro music store. Probably only 10% of your collection consists of what you refer to as “nowadays” music, the rest are from decades gone by.

    You know only a handful of today’s artists, and that’s only because you haven’t heard an album yet to rival your favorite Grateful Dead album, or your favorite Frank Sinatra track.

    You don’t go out of your way to avoid modern music, it just doesn’t seem to whet your appetite. So you’ll happily pump your beloved Janis Joplin or Nat King Cole all the way home. Heaven!

    8. You see no need in being unnecessarily stressed.

    You don’t invite drama just because it makes you feel alive, no, you’d much prefer to live without it.

    You appreciate the quiet, and invite peace. It’s become apparent to you that the world views stress and busyness as being productive.

    But you know that being productive has nothing to do with being crazy busy or stressed, but everything to do with how well you utilize your time.

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    So you’re mindful about what you spend your hours doing, and make sure your doing something worthwhile, and not just keeping busy for busy sake.

    9. You love to meet new people.

    To you, talking to people is enriching and adds to your experience of the world. This isn’t because you just can’t help chit chatting, but more so because you are genuinely fascinated by those you share this planet with, who can offer different perspectives.

    You love being able to swap stories with people you’ve only just met. Plus, it also serves to make those trips to the bank all the more interesting!

    10. You value deep connections.

    For you, it’s all about quality over quantity. You require a deeper connection with those around you in order to feel any connection at all.

    Half-hearted friendships, surface-level relationships and fly-by-night hook-ups are not your thing. You value the essence of deeper friendships and long lasting relationships, as you give yourself wholly to them, too.

    11. You love learning.

    Nothing gets you going more than learning more about yourself, other people and the world around you.

    For you learning is growth, and growth is part of life. As an old soul, you approach learning from the understanding that it doesn’t have to lead anywhere, for example, a degree or certificate.

    Sure, those things are great and offer a sense of accomplishment, but for you it’s the act of learning something new and wonderful that motivates you, not the initials after your name!

    12. You don’t see the fuss about the latest craze.

    Following others just to fit in? Where’s the fun in that? To you, being a style chaser or tech follower is something you can never quite get your head around.

    Sure you may even own a Kindle or you may have an iPad, but now they sit there, gathering dust, because you miss the feel (and smell) or the real thing, and computer works just fine.

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    You don’t really care whether you’re an early adopter or a late comer. None of the things defines you, and you’re okay with that.

    13. You value the company of those much older than you.

    You want to drink in their wisdom and you hang on their every word as they tell you stories of their youth. You laugh at their accounts of old trends, and cry at the war stories, you reminisce with them about long lost loves, and actually listen to their pearls of wisdom.

    At a time when we seem to have less and less time for the more mature among us, the old soul has nothing but time to give. That’s because you appreciate what they have to share, and let’s be honest, you secretly wish for a time when life seemed so simple.

    14. You are the epitome of calm.

    You are the steadfast one, the one neither swayed, nor toppled, even in a crisis. You probably say things like, “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast,” and tell people to “Get a grip!”

    To everyone else, you appear disconnected, but to those who know you well, you’re actually hard at work, you just work differently.

    You’ve learned that nothing actually gets done if everyone is running around losing their heads; someone needs to be the calm force. This is just how you make sense of what is happening.

    You stop. Wait. Listen. Then decide what steps to take next.

    15. You truly understand what it means to give.

    To you, there’s no better way to live, than to give.

    Giving your time, or money or those things you simply have no need for is the most rewarding thing anyone can do with their short time on earth. It isn’t an ego thing, far from it.

    For you, giving is the purest act of love. Plus, you see no point in holding on to things you cant take with you, so you’re more than happy to travel light!

    Featured photo credit: Portrait of fashionable well dressed man with beard posing outdoors looking away, confident and focused mature man in coat standing outside at sunny evening, elegant fashion model via shutterstock.com

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