Valentine’s Day got you down? Go after the relationships you want!

Valentine’s Day got you down? Go after the relationships you want!
May 17, 2015 David Shanley, Psy.D.

I know, another year and long list of resolutions to make life better and get back on track. Another Valentine’s Day come and gone with little to feel happy or confident about. But fear not, the solution doesn’t have to be painful and annoying, and you will start to see results quickly!

If you are struggling with shyness, social anxiety, social awkwardness, loneliness, unsatisfying relationships, or a general lack of social confidence, then grab the bull by the horns this year and commit to doing something different! Humans are relational creatures by nature, meaning we all want and need relationships. They are good for our mental health, physical health, sense of self, happiness and fulfillment in life. So why are they so darn difficult sometimes?

Chances are, your mind has not been very kind to you over the years (and maybe some other people in your life have not been very nice either). You might start to feel bogged down and hopeless that you are destined for a life of loneliness, leading you to think there’s no point in trying, and thus leading to inactivity. This cycle can lead to people feeling stuck, frustrated, and afraid to go out and talk to people, engage in conversations, tell jokes, form relationships, sing karaoke, or go after a new job.

But what if your mind that’s telling you not to do these things isn’t actually all that helpful? What if it were possible to have some anxious, negative, fearful thoughts running through your head, and still go after the things you want in your life? Not only is this possible, it is essential! When you see “confident” people walking down the street or in a social situation, they weren’t born with some magical social gift that you are lacking (ok, maybe a few of them were, but mostly they’re just regular people). Instead, what they are doing is acting confidently and being willing to take whatever comes their way in service of going after the things they want in life. Sometimes this means a weird look from someone, a rejection on a date, a rejection at a job interview, or an awkward pause. What these “confident” people have learned is that while some of those experiences are unpleasant, they are not “dangerous,” there is nothing to fear about them, and trying to avoid them at all costs is not going to get them what they want.

So whether it’s a new job, new friends, new romantic partner, closer relationships with your family, or joining a social club, this year make the commitment that you’re going to stop avoiding and start living! Go after what you want. Succeed! Fail! Who cares? This is what living is about, and when you really start trying, you’ll see that you have much more to offer in all of these situations than you thought, and that people will begin to respond positively toward you.

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