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11 Evil Thoughts That Sabotage Your Best Intentions

11 Evil Thoughts That Sabotage Your Best Intentions

You know that little sensation that tugs you in a certain direction? You know you must take action, whether it’s tackling a new project, changing your situation or sharing your thoughts. You know you’ll be fulfilled once you realize it. But you’re paralyzed.

You hear that little voice telling you all the “good reasons” why you can’t, why you shouldn’t or why you don’t need to undertake that action. It dissuades you over and over. And you can’t stop it.

But if you learn how to recognize it as an illusion, you can dissociate yourself from it, and it slowly dissolves.

Let’s identify a few evil thoughts and find out how to fight those mental blocks that sabotage your best intentions.

1. “I’ll never be able to make it.”

You’re telling yourself it’s impossible to do anything. You feel overwhelmed. You feel defeated way before you even start. Yes, this might be a big task, but cut it into small pieces and you’ll see how much easier it will become. Acknowledge it for what it is, and make it seem less important than it really is.

Say instead: “I don’t like this, but I’ll try to make it happen,” “This is bothering me, but I’ll do my best,” “I’d rather have an easier task, but I’ll try anyway,” or, “I can always ask for help.”

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2. “It’s too late; there’s no use.”

By saying this, you don’t think of confronting your problem and solving it in a concrete way. So you’d rather forget. You’d rather erase all the negative emotions and uncomfortable sensations. You’d rather not act. Is it really too late? Is it really no use? Isn’t there still a window of opportunity? Can you still take some actions on a smaller scale?

Say instead: “It’s not over yet. I can start by doing the easy little things first.”

3. “I can’t do what they expect.”

What exactly is expected of you? Do you actually know what it is? Has anyone voiced it clearly? Do you actually think you’ve been handed over something that others don’t believe you can do? If they handed it to you, it’s because they believe in you and trust you.

Say instead: “I can respond appropriately,” or, “I can do what’s needed and it’ll work.”

4. “I can’t show this. I have to get it right. It needs to be perfect.”

You believe that anything short of perfection is horrible and that even minor imperfections will lead to catastrophe. Why subject yourself to such tyranny? Doing so will only lead you to frustration, depression, anxiety, or anger. Although it’s good to aspire to perfection and push to reach your peak level of performance, perfection doesn’t have to be the only requirement. Besides, do you have a precise idea of what “perfect” looks like? Stop hurting yourself. Stop setting standards that are so high that they can’t be met or are only met with great difficulty.

Say instead: “I’d like this to be of superior quality, but I can only do my best. A few mistakes won’t kill me.”

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5. “I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know what to say.”

Here you feel helpless. You think nothing is possible when, in fact, everything is possible. There’s not one good way, but many ways to start doing something. So the real problem just lies in choosing where to begin.

Say instead: “Starting somewhere is better than starting nowhere.”

6. “I’ll do it when I find the perfect situation/person.”

When will that be? In a month, in a year or never? The perfect thing/situation might never come if you don’t take action. And it might not be as perfect as you envision it. But you can move toward it. That’s what makes life adventurous.

Say instead: “I’m willing to take risks.”

7. “Even if I try, I’ll make a mistake. I’m not good/smart enough.”

Why set yourself up to fail right away? You see it in your future as if it were already decided. Your future is not a fixed destination; it’s a place you can create out of the choices you make right now. Sure, you might make mistakes, but look forward to them, expect them, and learn from them.

Say instead: “I can adapt to any situation. I’ll do what’s necessary to make it work,” or, “I’ll get better at this.”

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8. “Whatever I do, it’ll always be the same. It doesn’t make a difference.”

You have feelings of despair, discouragement, and numbness. You’ve tried a few times and failed, and you’re afraid of being hurt again. So you prefer to stay still, to be passive, to be unresponsive because you’d rather feel safe and secure.

Say instead: “Let’s try this one more time.”

9. “I’ll take care of it tomorrow/later.”

Will you really? Or would you rather ignore that little voice, that little uncomfortable physical sensation, or that unpleasant feeling? Sure, there are times when you can postpone an activity. But if you do it more than once, when you know it would be in your best interest to take care of it now, you are procrastinating big time. Ask yourself what the benefit will be if you do it now. What will it cost if you don’t?

Say instead: “I’ll do five minutes of this to start,” or, “Let’s cut it up and do one thing at a time.”

10. “This is just too hard.”

You feel you have to put too much effort into your task. But at the same time you’re still making an effort to breathe, walk, and talk, right? So you can make an effort. Yeah, it may be harder, but so what? That shouldn’t discourage you at all. At first, you might have to work a little harder, but things will get easier over time.

Say instead: “This can be easy and effortless.” (Even if it might require you to spend some energy.)

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11. “That’s the way I am. I can’t change this.”

Think about this: what has remaining the same done for you lately? Has it helped you improve your situation in any way? It’s not that you can’t change, it’s that you don’t want to change. Big difference. But if you want to get ahead, you have to change.

Say instead: “I’m willing to make an effort,” or, “I’m willing to change.”

Vanquish Your Demons and Take Action

You view these recurring negative thoughts, these evil thoughts that have been holding you down in the dumps for a long time, as an excessive weight on your ankle that is stopping you from moving and realizing yourself.

But what you hear in your head is not really you. Your true self is in fact the person you could potentially become.

So change your script. Find the strength to be adventurous, dynamic, and solution-focused.

If you feel these evil thoughts paralyzing you, if you feel stuck, or if you feel dissociated, just do one thing. You must decide to let go; you must decide to move on. Allow yourself to make your situation joyful, and allow yourself to love and forgive yourself no matter what.

Because you know how you will feel about yourself once you do.

Featured photo credit: Worried Girl, Woman, Waiting/RyanMcGuire via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

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!

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.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
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.

Culturally Conditioned

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

6. Detach

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.

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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