I’m just like you. I love receiving a compliment. It just feels good. It makes me smile and puff out my chest a little. However, I must confess that I have taken these compliments and used them to piece together my identity.
The lack of compliments has caused me to avoid some behaviors, and the receiving of them has caused me to alter my behavior to try and receive more of them. Sadly, it’s not much different than training a puppy. We have all been socialized this way since we were children.
The problem arises when I NEED to keep hearing these compliments to feel good about myself or about decisions I make. It’s called approval seeking. I’ve been addicted to it for longer than I can remember.
Like a drug, it feels good. But the pursuit of it is both addictive and self destructive. In fact, approval seeking can be deadly. Let me explain.
People who overcome adversity inspire me. Recently I had coffee with one such person who has overcome social anxiety so strong, that he was once terrified to talk to the cashier at the grocery store.
Last week I wrote about the conceptual side of fear which really lives only in our minds. This time I want to take you with me into a great conversation with a great guy who has some tips for those of you who may face fears in social settings.
Do you get paralyzed by fear when talking to people you don’t know? Are you nervous to approach a someone you are interested in? Do you need help speaking up? Then this one is for you. Enjoy this conversation with my friend Justin, a former shy guy, who now can even communicate in front of large groups of people.
“Fear is not real. It does not exist except in our thoughts about the future”
(Will Smith in After Earth)
The mind is a powerful thing. It has the power to think new thoughts, imagine new dreams, and motivate toward new heights. It runs the body’s basic functions, and protects from harm. Yet it can also cripple us with fear and keep us from reaching our full potential.
As I write this I have fear. I fear that I am wasting my time with a pointless exercise of blogging my thoughts. I fear worse things, like screwing up my marriage and getting divorced a second time. The voice in my head that I have called “I” tells me lots of things. It forecasts worst case scenarios in a well meaning attempt to protect myself. But what I know to be true is that every single time I have looked at that fear, and then found a way to move past it, and do the courageous thing, I have been glad I did. Because I have experienced new ways of living that are deeper and richer, and I have grown as a man.
So what can we do about this mind of ours? Here are some things that I do to use the best of what it can offer without being crippled by it’s constant caution tape.
When people ask you about your story, what do you tell them? How does it go? Give some thought to this, because it matters greatly how you see and tell your story. It says so much about who you are, and either draws people to you, or pushes them away.
When I went through divorce, I told the story until I was sick of hearing myself talk about it. That was part of getting over it. But what concerned me was that the more I shared this story, I realized it was the story I live from, and how I tell this story was more important than the content of the story. Let me explain what I mean.
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Joel is a husband, father, musician, and lover of life; especially life that is shared with the wealth of amazing friends and family he is blessed to have near.