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Why Trying to Be Less Awkward Never Works

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/smarter-living/dont-be-less-awkward.html

nytimes.com

Why Trying to Be Less Awkward Never Works
Self-consciousness does not exist to torture you. It exists to help you learn.

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Trying To Be Less Awkward

Trying To Be Less Awkward

No one looks forward to awkward moments, as they can be panic-inducing. So we end up desperately following certain social rules to minimize awkwardness, like ensuring conversational silence isn’t more than four seconds or having certain formulated ways to end a phone conversation.

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Self-Consciousness In Awkward Situations

  • Being nervous and anxious makes us turn our attention inward, thus becoming extremely self-conscious of what we say and how we appear.
  • Social anxiety also makes us become increasingly nervous when we notice the subtle audience reactions or the body language of the people who are around us.
  • By becoming extremely self-conscious in awkward situations we only overwhelm our minds to the point of becoming unable to focus on one thing (just like we are not fully focused on our conversation while driving, and vice-versa).

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In Awkward Moments, Focus On The Others

When we focus on others during a conversation, we shift our attention outward and become at ease, relatively. Our exaggerated self-consciousness is gone and we become less awkward.

Keeping our mind on the goal and not on the process makes us avoid the self-focus vortex, and it also helps to take a deep breath and lighten up.

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Self-optimization and depression

In a way, depression is our way of reacting, withdrawing, and possibly metaphorically recharging our batteries.

There's so much pressure in modern society to perform and be productive, to be efficient, that we don't get time to recharge. This leads to sadness and loss of energy.

Something concrete we can change

We should stop trying to adjust people to circumstances that are not worth being adjusted to. If people suffer from stress in an organization, try to look at how work is organized and change it, instead of referring them to something like stress coaching, or psychotherapies or mindfulness exercises that are really just treating symptoms.

These sensitive, intelligent, resourceful people should be out changing the world, not just sitting in therapy rooms trying to improve themselves.

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Positive and destructive perfectionism

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A possible explanation of why people develop unhealthy perfectionism is that they grow up without a sense of support, safety, and nurturing. Another reason can be a reaction to childhood trauma or extreme cultural expectations, where appearing perfect is a strategy for survival.

The consequence of destructive perfectionism is often deep-seated emotional difficulties and unresolved traumatic experiences that might eventually turn into a potentially severe depression.

Traits of a perfectly hidden depression syndrome

  1. Your perfectionism is fueled by a constant, critical inner voice of intense shame or fear.
  2. You demonstrate an excessive sense of responsibility and look for solutions.
  3. You are unable to accept and express painful emotions.
  4. You dismiss or discount abuse or trauma.
  5. You worry a lot and avoid situations where you're not in control.
  6. You are highly focused on tasks and expectations and validate yourself with your accomplishments.
  7. You have an active and sincere concern for the wellbeing of others, while seldom allowing anyone into your inner world.
  8. You feel you have to acknowledge your gratitude.
  9. You have emotional difficulty with personal intimacy.
  10. You might have anxiety and control issues, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), panic and eating disorders.

Cultivating Patience

Patience decreases negative emotions and conditions like anxiety and depression. It also increases empathy, generosity and compassion.

Patience as a personality trait can be cultivated and ...

Patience: Three Expressions

  1. Interpersonal: Remaining calm when the other person is upset or being a jerk.
  2. Handling Hardships: Being able to see the positive in a serious setback.
  3. Daily Annoyances: Not be irritated by the daily hassles and delays.

Identify Your Triggers

Most of us have heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response while we face a problem, obstacle or danger. Impatience is the ‘fight’ part of the same.

Our brains have a set of nervous tissue called the Amygdalae which is not nuanced enough to understand that all threats and dangers are not the same, not requiring the same (extreme) reaction. If one can bifurcate between true danger and less-serious threats, it is a good start to control your emotions.