Overcome awkwardness in social situations

What makes you feel awkward?

Is it when you knock something over?
Or stumble over your words?
Or just don’t feel like you fit in with the crowd?

(Hint: it’s not actually any of these things)

When most of us are around other people that we don’t have a long-term intimate relationship with, our brains get very concerned with whether they like us or not. As a social species, survival requires fitting in with the group. For this reason, it makes complete sense that we care about what other people think about us.

But, because of our amazing capacity to complicate things, this very desire for acceptance actually ends up getting in the way of achieving it.

We can get hyper-concerned about what we say and do around others. Our brains worry that we’re doing something wrong and that people won’t like us because of that.

You might think:

  • I shouldn’t have said that
  • I can’t say that, they might think….
  • I can’t believe I just said/did that
  • I’m such ______ for saying/doing that

And those thoughts, my friend, are where awkwardness actually comes from.

There is nothing inherent in what you say or do that is awkward. It’s only your judgement of yourself that creates the awkwardness.

And when you’re judging yourself, you’re making the social interaction all about YOU.

It becomes self-focused & self-centered even if you’re trying to “be a good friend”… you’re doing it from a place of trying to get the person to like you.

This can make you say things that you normally wouldn’t choose to say.
It can make you say “yes” when you’d rather say “no”.
It can make you do things that you wouldn’t choose for yourself.

Just to be a “good friend”…. by not being yourself.

And when you’re not yourself, isn’t that awkward?


But what if stumbling words and dropping things only meant that you were focused on something else?
What if what another person says, does or feels has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them?
What if the best way to have true relationships is for you to be your authentic, imperfect self?

What if you are perfect as you are (in your imperfection)?

 

By accepting yourself as you are (quiet, stumbling, distracted, whatever), you can then break the habit of looking to other people to make you feel accepted.

This changes how you act. And it changes how you feel – from awkward to self-assured.

To integrate self-assurance into your life, you must practice it.

Here are a few things to try the next time you’re in a social situation:

  • Listen deeply to the other person. Take your focus away from you and onto them (from a place of love).
  • Ask yourself “what do their words/feelings/actions reveal about them?” so that you can gain a deeper understanding of them
  • Repeat “I accept myself 100% and that’s all that matters” anytime you feel your brain falling back into the “do they like me” pattern

Be aware of your thoughts and direct them as best you can. In time, as you grow your self-acceptance, it will get easier and you’ll feel more comfortable.

Wishing you profound success,

Heidi


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Heidi

I am a holistic life coach, certified Ayurvedic Health Counselor, Insight Yoga Teacher and Mental Health 1st Aid provider. I love helping people heal and grow, so that they can move towards the greatest, most joyful expression of their lives - and share their gifts with others.

2 Comments

  1. Rosella Young on February 11, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    Hello. Yes, I was terrible in social settings until I took training to be a Hospice Grief Facilitator. That’s when I learned to listen, listen, listen; suspend all judgement; and it’s all about you (them). I was in this role for six years. My last year was 2015. However, I found the training to be beneficial in my business and no matter where I go where there are people. I swear, I must have something on my forehead because it never fails, after I get to know someone for a few months, the next thing I know they want to tell me all their problems, etc. I usually don’t mind, because I do have the skill to just listen. But there are times when I’m really out to have a good time and want to relax away from any problems. I haven’t figured out a way to tell people I can’t help you today. I feel awful just thinking about it. On the other hand, sometimes when I do find myself in a facilitating role, say at a bar, where I’m listening willingly, there comes a time when I can feel it’s time to end the time with this person. Believe it or not, I haven’t figured out how to end it. It seems so awkward to say okay I have to go now, or whatever. It will reach a point when I start asking questions to help them learn from their answers. Then when they are done with that they will tell me they’re done or simply tell me to leave. Then I feel bad that it came to that. I walk away thinking why didn’t I end it earlier? Then I realize I need to learn how to do that before a positive experience becomes a negative one. This only happens when people want to talk for more than five minutes. When it goes into 15 minutes or so, is when I realize I’m in trouble. With so many experiences of this, you’d think I would know better. But nope. Now because anymore I kind of expect it, I’m just sick of it. I never know when it’s going to happen because these long sessions only seem to happen about once every couple of months or so. After a while, I seem to forget about it until boom there it is again. It’s like, how come after five minutes it doesn’t occur to me okay this is when I need to think about ending it.? Nope. I never do.
    On the other spectrum, I tend to get attached to people and after a couple of years of knowing them, I tend to get too close and find myself too involved in their lives. Then when something wrong happens in their life, I find myself tangled up in it, and usually not intentionally. I don’t realize there’s a problem until one day they attack me verbally. I try to use my facilitating skills to get through it as smoothly as possible. If it’s an awful attack, I just look at them and say did you say (I repeat what they said) and continue with did I hear you correctly? That makes them have to say yes. That gives me a couple of seconds to breathe and listen to them. Then I may change the subject with one word, we’ll chat, and then I walk away. As I’m walking away, I think that’s not normal behavior for them. There must be something wrong in their marriage, or whatever situation. However, I guess because I’m only human, after I’m by myself again for a few minutes, the experience will hurt me and I feel little upset that that happened. It’s only for a few minutes. Then I shake it off and I don’t engage in conversation with them again in the future. I may say hi and bye and chitchat but never about anything important. I don’t allow them in my support system. Believe or not, other people around have never come to my rescue whenever these episodes happen. I’ve learned to depend on myself. That’s why I’m so grateful for my grief facilitating skills. It’s one tool that does help at least keep the episodes from lasting longer than they could, and helps me to get out of them much smoother. I just don’t understand what is it about me that people see me as a target? So that’s something I would like to change about me in social gatherings. Thank you for your time in reading this message. Take care. Rosella Young, AA-1 Designs



    • Heidi on February 18, 2021 at 10:01 am

      Hi Rosella, it sounds like this is an important topic for you. I’d like to offer the idea that other people’s emotions and words are 100% their responsibility. Often we think that we have to say or do something to help others feel good but, really, we don’t have that power. This means that we can focus on taking care of ourselves and allow people to have their experience. I hope this helps!