When people first meet me I think that the general consensus is that I am a pretty outgoing, confident person who makes conversation easily and feels at ease being in different situations.
This is true somewhat of the time, particularly when I’m in an environment where I feel comfortable, but for the most part, I actually get incredibly nervous when it comes to meeting new people or when I am with people that I want to “like” me (which, being a people-pleaser, is pretty much everyone).
A normal interaction for me will often go something like this: me trying to read the other person’s mind while making intense eye contact (or what feels intense to me anyway), me scanning other person’s body language, me picking up on the other person’s energy levels (I’m an highly sensitive, empath-type of person, so very sensitive to other people’s vibes) and then me fumbling along, trying to make conversation that doesn’t sound too awkward or forced.
Let the self-judging begin
These situations often end up with me later berating and/or judging myself incessantly over something I felt I said or did that was “stupid” or “embarrassing”.
It can make future interactions with certain people even more awkward, as I convince myself that they are still thinking about something I said or did the last time I saw them.
I also suffer from what I believe is called “Imposter Syndrome”, particularly in the workplace, which is where I feel that eventually everyone will find out that I’m a giant fraud, that I’m actually a really shit person, I’m terrible at what I do and I’ll end up getting fired because people will realise I’m not worthy of the job. Depressing, I know!
I’m not alone … surprisingly
The thing is, I used to think that I was quite unique in this behaviour, but I’ve come to realise that many, many people find themselves in this same predicament and that in actual fact, we are all just super hard on ourselves.
I think many of us tend to over think situations and think way too much about how others view us, but at the end of the day, what people remember or think about what we say or do is actually quite limited compared to what we think they think about us.
A new outlook
I often think about how I can help my girls not end up in the same trap of feeling so anxious about what others think of them. I want to tell them to not worry about it, but I would prefer to be able to practice what I preach first.
I’ve therefore started practicing meditation, which helps me slow down and helps me focus and observe these judgmental thoughts and feelings, and trains me to let thoughts come and go without trying to change them.
I think this is the path to me eventually letting go of these judgemental thoughts and towards improving my interaction with people, so that I learn to be calm and focus on what people are actually saying rather than over thinking my every word.
Do you struggle with over thinking things or social anxiety? What do you do to help yourself feel better?