I do a lot of things to improve my life. I go to the gym, I read everything and anything I can get my hands on almost every topic having to do with self-improvement. I pay attention to other people’s behaviours. But the one thing I don’t do enough. The one thing that is the hardest. And the one thing that has shown the most success that I don’t do enough of. The one thing is having conversations with myself. And asking myself the tough questions.
Asking yourself questions may seem trivial. But when you struggle with approaching strangers. Or have difficulty speaking to your boss. If you suffer from fear or anxiety of any kind, being able to replay a past experience in your head is important. During that replay is when you dissect your experience. And when you try to narrow down the cause of your emotional eruption.
The questions may start out with why I always get nervous when I’m out with a girl on a first date. To how to not get super anxious when she touches my hand. To what signals can I look for that she’ll be doing that. A lot of times, you don’t know what the questions are. You need to replay the scenario in your head over and over again. Take notes; which is also hard. The more you think through the scenario, the more your unravel the tiny details.
The hardest part is when you’re deep in the weeds of your mind and being able to pull out those thoughts and write them out on paper without disrupting your flow. It requires you to take 20 to 30 minutes of your time to be quiet with your thoughts with paper and pen. And once the process starts, it can exude the same emotional response you felt when you had the real-life experience. This can sometimes be a very difficult process to go through and even tougher to recover from.
You may be reading all this and wondering why go through the hassle? I was just reading an article that promised foolproof ways to approach strangers. Some of the tips were throwing around compliments. Sure that helps people to perhaps like you, but it doesn’t help with the anxiety attacks.
I wanted to figure out why I was having these anxiety attacks. And slowly discovered that I was throwing off body language cues. And my body was responding to the subtle responses by having anxiety attacks. Sure, I consciously knew what was happening. But I wanted to prevent the attacks by figuring out what was causing them. Until I finally figured out that eye contact was causing this. So I had to program myself to expect eye contact and then act accordingly. But it took a lot of deep thinking to go through the events and narrow the culprit to that.
Eventually, I got better at expecting the next move and lessening the anxiety. Moving one step closer every time. It’s a long and arduous process. But it’s the unfortunate side effect of being environmentally-aware. You start noticing subtle cues and be aware of your own awareness. So if you are semi-self-aware and semi-environmentally-aware you may have heard of keeping a journal. What I described above is effectively the next step. It’s the best way I’ve found to emotional control. And that is by being able to predict the usually unexpected.