I don't feel like I am really able to open up to people and make emotional connections and attachments anymore. I am extremely self-conscious and have very few close friends and family. What can I do to help myself open up and make those connections again?
It sounds like you suffer from social anxiety, a psychological condition where one experiences intense fear and discomfort in social situations. People who suffer from this disorder are especially worried about what others think of them. They are overly focused on avoiding rejection, embarrassment or looking bad.
Does this sound like you?
Your fear of rejection will disappear when you realize that rejection doesn’t mean what you think it means.
Rejection only feels dangerous because you have attached meaning to the experience. Your subconscious mind says, “If other people think I’m stupid, inferior or worthless, that must mean I am.” This is not accurate.
In reality, rejection doesn’t mean anything, except that these people have issues with putting others down so they can feel bigger. It says more about them than it does about you.
If these people really do judge you or think less of you — if they have a need to reject others to make everyone else the bad guy — to feel good about themselves, making them the good guy, this is their problem and not yours.
It has nothing to do with you.
You are the same you, no matter what these people think about you.
Nothing they think or say about you can diminish who you are. Your value is infinite and absolute because you are an amazing, one-of-a-kind, incomparable soul. Your value is never on the line. You are bulletproof.
There is nothing to be afraid of. Rejection doesn’t mean anything. It only has power over you if you let it.
You can take risks, meet people and start conversations with no fear whatsoever about your value, because you cannot be diminished by anything you say or do. You will be the same you regardless. Nothing can diminish who you are.
Besides, to be this focused on yourself is out of harmony with being your highest, best self. Being this self-conscious is actually selfish. All fear is. Fear is about you. When you are experiencing fear about your own value, you cannot pay attention to or love anyone else. You are not capable of love because all you can see is you.
This behavior is not consistent with who you really are. You are a loving being and it is your true nature to lift, serve and care about others.
People who are comfortable in social situations are usually more focused on caring about, lifting and loving other people. They understand their value isn’t on the line, so they don't have to worry about themselves. They will often ask questions about other people and let them do most of the talking. Asking questions and listening is a powerful way to make people feel valued. It is also safer. You are less likely to say the wrong thing when you are mostly just listening.
Social anxiety can be overcome. You can change the subconscious program that creates these fears by consciously choosing to trust in your value and love other people.
When you start to experience fear, run through the following principles in your mind. You will be amazed at the difference this makes.
Overcoming this fear will be a process. Take your time and ease into it. You are right on track in your process of growth. You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought-after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in self-esteem and overcoming fear.
After my wife died, I admit, I had some bad years. I dated a lot of women and went a little crazy. About two years ago, I got myself back together and apologized to my children for my behavior. The problem is my daughter hasn't forgiven me. She will not even talk to me. How can I fix this, what can I do?
I’m afraid there isn’t a lot you can do as far as making her forgive you. As you know, people can be very stubborn when mad. For many people, staying mad is their way of having control over the person who hurt them. Casting you as the bad guy is giving her a sense of control and power.
We all have a subconscious tendency to cast other people as the bad guy so we can feel like the good guy (a position of superiority). We do this to quiet our fears around not being good enough. The more we focus on the bad in others, the easier it is to overlook our own faults.
When someone latches onto a story, which casts you as the bad guy, they really want to be right about this story. They will spend a lot of time and energy gathering proof about how “bad” you are, whether it’s accurate or not. Letting go of the story (and forgiving you) would feel like losing, and people are not real eager to lose. Most people would rather ruin relationships and even be miserable than let go of their need to be right.
A principle is that people often care more about being right than being happy.
This need to be right is deeply ingrained in all of us. We even attach our value (as human beings) to being right about the opinions, ideas and stories we’ve created. This ties the experience of being wrong with literally feeling worthless.
Many people do not have the confidence and self-esteem to handle being wrong. So they are not open to changing their minds. Understanding these tendencies of human nature will help you to see this situation accurately. You must understand that this behavior is more about her fear than it is about you being bad.
Having said that, there are some things you can do that will make it more difficult to cast you as the bad guy and may give her the opportunity to forgive and maintain her ego’s need to be right too.
1. Look for opportunities to be kind, regardless of her behavior back. Keep being kind no matter how she reacts. Do this not because she deserves it but because it is the kind of person you have decided to be. Whatever you do, do not behave badly back. This is what her ego is hoping you will do so that she will have more proof about how bad you are. Stay commited to kindness.
2. Don’t act hurt or offended by her inability to forgive you. Don’t say anything about it or make jokes about her disapproval of you. This will humiliate her and will only add fuel to the fire.
3. Don’t hold a grudge about her holding a grudge. That will get you nowhere. Choose to behave in a loving way. Trust that forgiveness will come when she is ready. This gives her room to change her mind about you without sacrificing her pride. She can slowly start acting normal toward you again without any fanfare. (In other words, don’t make her apologize for not forgiving you. Let her just change her mind like it’s no big deal.)
4. Remember that life is a classroom. This experience is in your life to teach you something. Being made the bad guy is an interesting part of the human condition. What is this experience showing you about yourself? What is it here to teach you? You may learn some amazing lessons about the nature of forgiveness through this experience. It may be an opportunity to see yourself more accurately. Figure out what you are supposed to learn, and the lesson may end sooner.
5. Remember that bad behavior is more about the other person’s fears about themselves than it is about you. Most bad behavior is actually a plea for love and validation. Look for opportunities to validate her thoughts and feelings. Say things like, “I totally understand how you could feel that way.” You are not agreeing, just honoring her right to be where she is. Keep showing her kindness and respect her views.
6. Forgive her for not forgiving you. You can’t ask her to do something you’re not willing to do, so you must forgive first. She is doing the best she can with what she knows. Forgive her for not understanding the power of forgiveness in her life yet.
7. Accept the fact that she may not forgive you. Make a decision to be happy, loving, strong and stable, whether you get redeemed from your past or not. You are the same you either way. You know who you are, and sometimes that has to be enough.
I hope this helps.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com.
I've had a bad week. I keep making dumb mistakes and wasting my time and money. I'm not usually like this, but lately, I keep doing dumb things. Any advice that would help me get it together?
I have certain philosophies about life you will hear me expound on quite often. One of those happens to be the idea that everything happens for a reason. I don't believe in accidents.
I believe life is a classroom — every experience is a lesson, and every person in your life is a teacher. But there are days when it's difficult to figure out what you're supposed to be learning.
I had a day like that last week.
I got up at 4 a.m. for my Monday "LIFEadvice" segment on KSL TV. It is morning show protocol that when I arrive at the station, I call my producer to come let me in. (When you arrive at night there's no one at the front desk.) When I told her I was there, her response was, "Why are you here?"
"What do you mean why am I here? It's Monday. I'm here to do my segment."
"But you aren't scheduled for today."
She explained they were planning on me next Monday and I had gotten the days mixed up. They didn't have the segment slotted today and couldn't use me.
She also explained that last week when she had said she wanted to move my segment from 6:15am to 5:45am, she had meant only that week — not forever. I had assumed she meant forever, so I had arrived extra early too.
(Knowing that you got out of bed at a ridiculous hour in the morning for nothing is a little frustrating!)
Usually when frustrating things happen I calm myself down with thoughts like, "I wonder why this experience showed up in my life?" "What am I supposed to learn from this?"
This is my way of trusting that I'm always where I'm supposed to be. This philosophy makes life more peaceful. It would comfort me to believe I was supposed to get the dates mixed up for some interesting reason, or that there was somethng I was supposed to learn from this frustrating experience.
But in this case, I couldn't come up with any good reason for my stupid mistake (except maybe that I need to pay more attention).
I was really bothered with myself for being so dumb.
The funny part is, this isn't the end of the story.
At 3:30 p.m. that day, I had a doctor's appointment to check the progress of my arm surgery last month. So I drove to 5300 South to the new IHC Medical Center. When I arrived, I checked in at the nurses' station and told them I was there to see the doctor. Their response was oddly familiar: "Why are you here?"
"For my appointment."
"We don't have you down today and the Doctor isn't even here. He is at the Avenues office today."
Suddenly I remembered — when I'd made the appointment they told me I would have to go the Avenues office, but I hadn't written that part down in my iPad. It was too late to drive to the other office and still make it home in time for my next client. I would have to reschedule.
Now, when you do something this dumb once a day, you can over look it. When you do it twice on the same day you have to wonder what's wrong with you.
As I drove home, I pondered about why that day had turned out that way. Was there some reason for those experiences? Was there a lesson I needed to learn from this? A thought immediately came into my mind:
"Some days you just get to experience stupid."
It is one of the many of human conditions we get to experience on our journey through life. We each will get to experience feeling stupid on occasion (some of us more often than others), but there are interesting and important lessons we learn from these experiences.
You may learn to be more patient with other people on their stupid days. You may learn to be less judgemental or self righteous on your smart days. You may need to take another look at how much you are trying to squeeze into a day. There are many lessons you can learn when you get a dose of your own stupid.
The bottom line is — the stupid experience is good for us.
Next time you get to experience stupid, see it for what it is. Don't waste time stressing about it, beating yourself up, complaining or ranting about it. Just sit back and feel it. Soak up the moment and really enjoy what the stupid experience feels like.
See it as a lesson — not a reflection of your value. You are infinitely valuable and nothing you do or don't do could change that.
Do not experience shame around this experience. Shame does you no good whatsoever. Shame is the feeling that you "should have already mastered everything." How ridiculous is that? If you had mastered everything, you wouldn't need to be here in the classroom of life.
Embrace your less-than-brilliant moments. They only prove you're human like the rest of us. We are all struggling yet amazing, human beings in process, and every day is another lesson.
Remember: You're not a stupid person ... you're just experiencing stupid today ... and some days are like that.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes Clarity: seeing yourself, others and situations accurately.
In response to my last article, on putting your past behind you, I received the following question:
I have no problem putting the past behind me, but how do I convince others (i.e., employers, family) to leave my past in the past? Everything about our society —criminal records, credit scores, driving records, marriage and divorce records, property records, religious records — track our performance. Our society is built on the idea that your past defines you. So, how can I get people to give me another chance? Any advice?
Most people won’t believe you’ve changed until they see a proven track record of better behavior. As a matter of fact, most people consider your past behavior the best predictor of your future behavior, so it can be hard to convince them you’ve changed.
You can’t let that bother you.
Your past is what it is and people will think what they're going to think. These things are out of your control. So, don’t waste time and energy worrying about them.
It’s what you think (about yourself) that matters.
The most powerful thing you have is your right to decide who you want to be today. You cannot change who you were yesterday, and each day is a chance to start over and re-invent yourself.
If other people are unwilling to give you a second chance, that is none of your business. You are in the business of working on how you feel about you. This is the only thing you can do.
As you gain confidence in yourself and let your past go, other people will feel this. When you know who you are, it changes how other people feel about you.
If you believe in you, eventually others will too.
This works. I know this from experience.
If you read my story on ksl.com, you will find that my own past has been rather messy. Some people may question how I can be a life coach when my own life has been so problematic. I worried about how I would overcome my past mistakes, including two divorces, and garner the respect to be taken seriously. Would anyone listen to my advice?
The one thing I had was confidence in myself. I knew what my past mistakes had taught me and what I, now, had to offer. I knew how the amazing things I had learned could help other people.
Other people may have doubted my abilities based on my past track record, but I didn’t. I knew who I was.
I genuinely own my past mistakes, but I do not hold onto shame or regret around them. I am grateful for my past because it helped me become who I am today. It served me and my process of becoming.
Your life experiences have taught you some important lessons, too. They have made you wise and understanding. They have given you empathy and compassion. It is time for you to embrace these lessons and let go of the shame and regrets.
If you can do this, over time, other people will too.
Remember, confidence is extremely attractive. A confident person with a colorful past can actually interview better than an insecure candidate with a spotless past. A small business owner whose company failed knows a lot more than the candidate who never tried and never failed. That's because the man who failed knows what not to do.
You will gain back the respect of other people when you own who you are today. If you show up with strength and confidence, other people will respect that.
Don’t worry about the people who judge you.
It’s what you think that matters.
You can gain better self-esteem by working of these four things:
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes Clarity: seeing life accurately and repairing self esteem.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.