Tag Archives: Social Anxiety

The Wisdom of the Dove

Once upon at time there was a dove. He lived in on the outskirts of a rural farming community. Well, he lived in a tree on the outskirts of a rural farming community. It was a farming community that grew wheat that was primarily used in industrial sized bread factories. Because the fields were so large, there was plenty of opportunities for the birds to come and have their fill of wheat without really worrying about putting in a dent in the farmers income. Most people don’t know that doves are actually fairly concerned with the symbiotic relationship they have with their environment. They are really concerned that they don’t over consume, because they know that if they do that, they will damage the area they live in, and they will have to move. While there are still many areas that doves can move to in order to find resources, they are concerned that future generations won’t have enough, so they are careful. But I digress.

This particular dove was starting to have strange feelings about other doves. Not all doves, mind you, only young, lady doves. It was really strange the way it was happening to him. At first, he felt kind of funny, and he didn’t know if he should tell anybody. Maybe they would think he was strange, or different. Maybe they would laugh at him, or even worse. So for a while he didn’t anybody. But then the feeling became too powerful to ignore. Pretty soon it was all that he could think about. When he was with his friends, it didn’t bother him so much. But whenever he found himself near a girl dove that was about the same age as him, the feeling was impossible to ignore. He couldn’t take his mind off of her. He wanted to talk to her. Sometimes he would imagine how wonderful it would be if she were feeling the same things about him as he was feeling about her.

But try as he might, he just couldn’t get up the courage to hop over, and start up a conversation. As much as he had an incredible desire to do so, he kept imagining what would happen if she laughed at him. Or screamed, or called over the adults. What if he really was different? What if this feeling wasn’t normal, and people found out about it, what then? They might even banish him for their town, and he’d have to fly to another town. How would he explain himself? He noticed that the same thing happened every time. He’d see this girl dove, and feel an almost overwhelming desire to go and talk with her, and then his desire would suddenly turn into horrible fears and imaginations of what would happen if something went wrong.

Finally, he decided to share his predicament with somebody. But not just anybody. He decided to talk with his grandfather. His grandfather was the kind of bird that didn’t talk much. But when he did talk, he spoke with incredible wisdom and kindness. Almost everybody regarded him as a very knowledgeable fellow that knew a lot about life. It was said that he had been around since the before times, when it wasn’t so easy to get food. When he spoke, people listened.

So this young dove went to see his grandfather.

“You seem to have a problem.” The grandfather noted, before the young dove even spoke. The young dove was awestruck.
“Let me guess. Girl troubles? You see a girl you like?” the young dove continued to be amazed at his grandfathers insight. He finally spoke up.
“How can I talk to her?” He asked.
“Just like you are talking to me.” He responded.
“But…” The young dove said, trailing off.
“Let me guess. You want to talk to her, but you are afraid of what will happen if you do. ”
“Yes, that’s right.” The young dove said meekly.
The old dove paused, and then spoke.

“Your mind is young, and inexperienced. It is natural. When you focus too much on your fears, they can overcome you. Practice focusing on the good things that might happen. This is what I want you to do. Do not talk to her. Only go near her, and imagine for one minute, one good thing that will happen if you do speak with her. One minute, then go someplace else and occupy your mind with other things. No more than one minute, do you understand?”
The young dove nodded.
“But how many times do I…” The old dove silenced him, and smiled.
“Go! But remember this lesson. You will soon give it to another.” The young dove didn’t know what he meant by that, but he left anyways.

By the time spring came again, this young dove was now the leader of a large family of his own, who adored him greatly.


Instantly Kill Social Anxiety And Let Your Brilliance Shine

And our next speaker will be telling us the exciting news about [insert your specialty here], please show a warm welcome for [YOU]!

You stride up to the podium, completely calm, right? Not a worry at all, right? No probably don’t even need note cards, since when you speak in front of a large crowd you feel the same as though you are speaking to an old friend over a couple of beers, right?

How about this. You are meeting a friend for a drink, you think it’s going to be just the two of you. You show up, and there are about six people that you don’t know. You slowly walk up to the table, and your buddy says “Hey! He’s here! I’ve been telling these guys all about you!” They all beam looks of expectation you’d normally see just before the curtain opens at Cirque du Soleil. Of course, since you are completely at ease and outgoing without need for any preparation going into any social situation, you can handle this situation flawlessly, right?

Or how about this. You see a fantastically attractive member of the opposite sex standing across the room. You flirt with your eyes a few times, and you’re pretty sure you see a brief flash of something that could be a smile. Of course, being the socially at ease person you are, you naturally stroll over, confident that your social and conversation skills are sufficient to easily decide within a few minutes of conversation whether this person is a match for you or not. Right?

Well, if you fall a bit short in the above situations, please raise your hand and join the human race. Social anxiety is one of the biggest obstacles known to mankind. People consistently rank the fear of public speaking higher even than dying. There’s a reason at high school dances boys stand on one side of the gym, and girls on the other. 

Luckily, I have a couple tricks that can help you easily overcome this. One is a realization that you probably already know, and the other is some mental practice that you can do that will consistently give you an edge as you practice it.

First the realization. What are you thinking of in these situations? If you can, imagine now that you are in one of the above situations, and pay attention to your thoughts. What are you thinking of? Your faults? Your weaknesses? The worst thing that can happen (or more accurately about a billion worst things that can happen?) Well guess what, whenever you are in a social situation, everybody thinks those thoughts. People don’t have near enough brain energy to focus on their own worst fears AND be cognizant of what you might be afraid of at the time.

Of course, this is easy to forget when you are hit with the unexpected adrenalin shot of social pressure, but the more you practice remembering, the easier it will get.

This realization really sunk in for me when I was taking a public speaking class. During one of the speeches, I was the first to go. I don’t what it was, maybe because I was talking about a subject that I was really familiar with, or the teacher was really nice, I’m not sure. But I was really relaxed. And during the middle my speech, I paused and actually scanned the room and noticed the expressions on everybody’s faces. They were all terrified. They were all thinking “oh no i’m next!” I probably could have been speaking Portuguese, and they wouldn’t have noticed.

Many times people will pretend they are not nervous, but trust me, they are doing their best to keep their game face while they think “oh no oh no what do I say???”

The trick I spoke of earlier is to focus outward as much as possible whenever you are in those situations that can make you feel less than comfortable. The idea is to stay out of your head as much as possible. Focus on their eyes, their nose, how their lips move when they talk, their boobs (ok, maybe not the boobs,) their ears, earrings, mustache, haircut. Try to figure out from their breath what they ate last, the sounds in the room, their posture, how many different colors they are wearing. Anything to keep the focus OUT side your head.

Of course, they key is to remember these two tricks when you get into those situations. If you know you are going to be in a situation, like a speech or a first or second date, no problem. Just make sure to rehearse doing this in your mind beforehand.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are suddenly on the spot unexpected, it’s good to set up a signal system to help you remember the two keys:

They are just as afraid as you.

Focus on physical things to reduce your own fear.

One thing you might do is use the pegging technique, and attach one to each thumb. Of course, like any new mind technique, it will take some practice. Another way to do this is to purposely go into situations that make you feel a little anxious and then just practice these techniques until you become natural.

While you might not become incredibly charismatic overnight, the more you practice these techniques, the easier it will be for you to be at ease in all situations, so you can feel relaxed enough to share your true self with the world. You owe the rest of us that much.