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4 Proactive Strategies to Build a Social Life

4 Proactive Strategies to Build a Social Life

A lot of people believe that developing a social life is something that should just happen naturally, on it’s on, without you needing to do anything. I disagree.

I think that while this can happen for some folks, in certain stages of their life, it’s not always the case. Which is why many of us today lack a fulfilling social life. If you’re in college so you get to hang around lots of other people and you’re naturally a social person, your social circle will develop on its own. But if you’re an accountant working in cubicle all day who doesn’t go out much and is kind of shy, your social life may be seriously deficient.

In my view, building a social life requires the same active and strategic approach that making money or building a career requires. An approach based on setting goals and acting on them. Coming from this angle, I want to show you 4 proactive strategies to build a social life.

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1. Understand Your Type

A fulfilling social life looks differently for different people. Some of us need lots of friends and a large social circle. Some of us are more fond a having just a few friends, but who are very close to us. And some prefer a mix of the two. What is your preference? Do you know? Take some time to think about this and visualize what your ideal social circle would look like.

Another aspect to think about is what kind of people you want in your social circle. Do you prefer people who are artistic, or people who are tech-oriented? People who are outdoorsy or prefer to be indoors? Usually, you will get along best with individuals who are similar to you. So I advise you to consider your dominant traits and consciously decide which of these traits are important for you to find in others. If you know what kind of people you want in your life, you’re much more likely to find them,

2. Go Where the People Are

Once you know how many and what kind of friends you’re looking for, it’s time to take action in order to meet them. This may seem obvious, but it’s something many of us disregard: if you just wait for others to come to you, you’ll never build a social circle. You must have the initiative and go to them.

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My recommendation here is to think about activities where you are likely to meet people you’d enjoy interacting with, and get involved in a few of them. For instance, you may take a class on a topic you’re interested in. You may volunteer for a charity organization. Or join some sort of club. Even if you don’t have any friends whatsoever at this point, you can apply this strategy. You can get involved in such activities all by yourself, and you’ll meet others there.

In using this strategy, the Internet is your friend. You can discover all sorts of classes, social events, clubs and organizations near you online. But keep in mind that this is only the first step. Then you need to actually get out of the house, go there and participate.

3. Be Friendly First

So you attend a training program on, let’s say, urban photography. There are lots of other people there. What do you do? In general, the passive approach tends to prevail. Many of us just sit around doing nothing and expect others to come talk to us, ask us questions, and be chatty. And this may happen, or it may not. One thing I’m certain of though is that it’s not the best approach. You want to be friendly first. Be the one to break the ice.

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Walk up to other people and introduce yourself to them. Then start chatting with them. For example, ask them how they found out about the event, how long they’ve been interested in urban photography, segue from there into other topics, and if they seem to enjoy talking to you (which they almost always will), keep the conversation going.

Doing this may not be easy at first, especially if you’re not used to being this outgoing, but it’s something you get used to with practice. The trick is to not let hesitancy prevent you from being social. And I can tell from experience that if you are social and friendly with new people first, you’ll really stand you and they’ll love you for it.

4. Make New Friends through Current Friends

If you’re building a new social life from scratch, the beginning is always the hardest part. However, once you’ve met a few people, it gets a lot easier because you can then leverage them to meet even more people. You can then meet some of their friends and acquaintances, and expand your social circle further.

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Again, a proactive approach works miracles. Let your friends know that you’re interested in meeting new people and you’d love for them to introduce you to other people they know. If they indeed are your friends, they’ll love to help you out. They may invite you to come with them to parties they go to, they may call other people to join you when you go out, and they’ll introduce you to new people. But you have to let them know their help is desired.

The best part is that the bigger your social circle becomes, the easier it is to employ this strategy. Your social life will expand faster and faster, and you’ll find it progressively easier to find people you match well with.

Your social life is completely in your hands. You can have a social life as rich, connected and diverse as you want. All you need is to do a bit of smart planning in this area, and take massive action. There is certainly no shortage of possibilities to meet people and make friends. It’s up to you to capitalize on them. Good luck!

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Eduard Ezeanu

Eduard is a confidence and communication coach with 7+ years of experience.

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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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