QUESTION: Hi Matthew,
Recently I went to start University/College. On the first day I was very, very confident, funny and although people found me a little intense I got on really well with loads of people. I was in essence, the centre of the group. However, as the weeks have gone on it almost seems like my novelty has worn off as I can't keep up my constant upbeat, immature and fun loving personality. People that I hung out with have distanced themselves from me slightly, and even my flat mates bitch on me sometimes.
It doesn't help that I've always been really paranoid. While there have certainly been circumstances during my school days where people haven't liked me and have chosen to ignore me a lot of my negative thoughts stem from my paranoia, when there hasn't really been anything to worry about. The worry is, is that I saw University as a fresh start where no-one would get annoyed with me or dislike me yet I seem to be going down the road that I went down at school.
I know I'm being paranoid because one day someone will say something that's genuinely nice and it makes me immediately think, why was I being paranoid earlier? Of course they like me! However, other times it will seem like my flat are trying to be mean and trip me up. It almost seems like whilst everyone around me was very shy and nervous on the first day I was very loud, confident. Where-else as the days have gone on their confidence has increased and mine has gone down.
I'm not looking for a change to my polarising personality but I would like to just not give a fuck about what anyone thinks.
ANSWER: Do you have anything in common with them? - Are they pretentious? - Have you tried moving in different circles? important to be social not high minded,annoying.Just tone down the energy. People get annoying because they're in people's faces a lot. Don't speak unless spoken to and then try to be as straight forward and simple as possible.social anxiety.are u boring?self awareness is the 1st key.social interaction/are u friendly,humble and not clingy? do u like urself?Become a Person People Want to be Around.a lot of self-help books about positive self-image and people skills.don't be clingy,be humble.Self-Confidence
The first is confidence. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The difference, I think, is arrogance tries to impress others, while confidence doesn’t worry about whether others are impressed or not. You have to be comfortable in your own skin to be confident.The second trait is empathy. If, like I said previously, most everyone feels a little self-conscious around other people, then it’s helpful to be able to get them past that feeling. You want other people to feel comfortable around you. In order to do that, you have to understand these subconscious hang-ups that people have and work around them to draw the other person out. Make them feel at ease in your presence by finding common interests, or find something that they can speak intelligently on. If you can master the art of helping other people look and feel like experts on something when they’re around you, you’ll never be short of friends. People like to feel like they’re adding to the conversation. Here’s a hint: if you’re having trouble finding something to talk about, ask questions about them. Everyone’s an expert on themselves. :)
We are attracted to people to who seem completely at ease with the present, because most us are not at ease. Strangely, ease is one of easiest things to develop: Just be present.
You spent the first half of your life becoming somebody. Now you can work on becoming nobody, which is really somebody. For when you become nobody there is no tension, no pretense, no one trying to be anyone or anything. The natural state of the mind shines through unobstructed — and the natural state of the mind is pure love.” being paranoid is a turn off. It’s a personal decision, and whatever you do, first and foremost, you need to keep it real. hope this helps,feel free to follow up on any situations or advice,feel free to rate me.paranoid;control ur thoughts/Learn to reign in your negative thoughts. One of the reasons you're paranoid is probably that you tend to assume the worst in any situation, and focus on the worst thing that can happen instead of being realistic about the possible outcome. You may think that everyone hates you or is talking about you, that everyone hates your new haircut, that your new boss is out to get you -- however, it's very likely that none of this is true. The next time you have a very negative thought, stop and do the following:
•Ask yourself how likely it is that the negative thought you're having is actually likely to come true.•When you're expecting the worst, consider all of the possible outcomes of a situation, not just the most negative ones. Then you'll see that there are many other possibilities besides the worst one.
•Try to combat each negative thought you have with two positive thoughts. For example, if you're worried that everyone thinks your new shoes look terrible, remind yourself how great your hair and outfit look.Stop obsessing over every little thing. Part of being paranoid means not just considering that everyone is against you or out to get you, but it also means thinking about this constantly. The more you think about the same negative thing, the more you indulge your paranoid thoughts, and the more you become convinced that they are likely to be accurate. Though it's impossible to stop obsessing completely, there are a few tricks that can help you minimize your obsessive thoughts:Stay too busy to be paranoid. Another way to avoid being paranoid is to not give yourself a lot of time to wallow or sit around thinking about what everyone else is thinking about you, or worrying that the world is going to end. Though staying busy can't help you escape your problems, it can help you focus your energies on more productive outlets, such as pursuing your interests or attaining your personal goals.
•If you spend even a few hours a week pursuing something that your really love, whether it's yoga or coin collecting, you're guaranteed to be less absorbed in your paranoid thoughts.
Put yourself in someone else's shoes. This exercise really helps. If you put yourself in the shoes of the people you're so worried about, it'll help you see that many of your fears are unfounded. For a simple example, let's say you head to a party and tell yourself, "Everyone will probably notice that I'm wearing the same outfit that I wore to that party three weeks ago." Ask yourself if you remember what anyone else was wearing at that other party; the chances that you remember what anyone was wearing are very slim.•Ask yourself what the chances are that all of the people you're worried about are thinking about you as much as you're worried about them thinking about you. Do you spend hours thinking about how much you don't like those other people? Probably not.
See if your paranoia is rooted in anxiety. Anxiety may be the cause or tied up with your paranoia. If you have anxiety, then you may be plagued by worry and a constant fear that something may go wrong. Anxiety may even trigger your paranoid thoughts, though these two conditions are different. Anxiety may cause you to worry that you're suffering from a fatal illness; paranoia may lead you to believe that your doctor purposefully made you sick.[Stop caring what other people think. If you want to be able to socialize without constantly worrying about how others perceive you, then you have to slowly learn to stop caring about what people think. Of course, this is easier said than done, but once you start believing in yourself and get comfortable around others, you'll see that every little thing you do, say, or wear doesn't really matter to anyone around you.
•Work on being less self-conscious. Don't ask people what you should do, what decision you should make, or if you look okay every two seconds, or you won't be able to fully think for yourself.
•Embrace your identity. Work on expressing yourself instead of saying what the people around you want to hear.Put yourself out there. Many paranoid people are so afraid that no one likes them or wants to hang out with them that they're more likely to spend some time alone or at home instead of in a social setting. Well, if you never put yourself out there or take a risk in a social setting, then you'll only expect the worst because you won't ever experience the positive aspects of social interaction. Make a goal of getting out of the house and hanging out with people fairly often, or at least once or twice a week.
•The more time you spend socializing, the more comfortable you'll be with the people around you and the less likely you'll be to imagine that they all hate you.
•It'll be scary to put yourself out there at first, but it'll ease your worries about what's happening when you're not around/Show confidence in public. Sure, being confident is a great way to ease your paranoid thoughts, but before you fully develop your confidence, you should be able to fake it until you make it. When you head out into the world, look your best without going over the top, hold your head high, and walk with a purposeful stride and a big smile on your face. Let people see that you're happy to be talking to them and putting yourself out there, and you'll slowly begin to feel more confident.
•Don't slouch, look at the floor, or constantly check out how you look in any reflective surface.
God bless u,good luck and peace be unto and upon u always
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi Matthew,
A wonderful answer! Really insightful and thought provoking, thank you very much. I think a couple of problems that I have include:
- I can't seem to accept that in life I'm going to have some people that are merely my 'acquaintances'. I want everyone I know to be my 'friend' and not just a work colleague. For example there's a boy and girl that live in my flat that I don't hate or like, they're just there. However, because I have quite a friendly, confident personality I feel compelled to talk to them like they're my best friends… This makes them feel uncomfortable.. How can I just accept I don't have to be friends with absolutely everyone.
- I've recently started hanging out much more with the flat above me. I have a lot more in common with them, and enjoy their company more. However, after doing this for a couple of days one of my flatmates took it as a personal attack on her and started texting everyone upstairs asking if I was ok!! I almost feel bad not hanging around with my flat, even though deep down I know I don't really want to.
- I can't seem to accept when people don't like me or are mean to me. I wish I could literally just shrug and go 'who cares, i'm not going to let someone else ruin my day'. However the problem is, if my flat are bitching on me, I can just ignore them, but it makes mealtimes together really awkward… However, this could just all be paranoia… Every time I think my flat hate me they'll do something lovely and it makes me completely forget why I was pissed at them.
Are you living your life based on everyone else’s expectations?What would you do if you had a blank slate, a fresh start, and no-one expecting anything in particular of you?
Depending on your perspective and your current position, those questions could be terrifying. They could also be liberating, helping you rediscover that part of you that still believes in possibilities:Life isn’t supposed to be a dull, day-in-day-out routine where work is bearable and evenings are spent going through the motions: eating dinner, watching television, surfing the net … waiting for it to be time to go to bed, and get up, and repeat it all over again
Life should be an adventure, a journey, a leap into the unknown, a chance to grow, an opportunity to do something that makes a difference after you’ve gone.
What went wrong? How can you escape from the humdrum life you’ve fallen into, and start living a life that means something to you?Don’t Let Other People’s Expectations Hem You In
A few folk have no problems with “peer pressure”: they’re self-declared rebels and renegades, forging on in their own direction without any worries about what their dad, grandma, former headmaster or friends from college might think.
Many of us, though, find that other people’s expectations can begin to rule our lives. In some ways, this is a natural thing: as humans, we’re social creatures, and it’s hard to risk being derided or excluded by are community. Some of us are also people-pleasers: as children, we delighted in praise from parents and teachers, and we continue seeking this as adults.
There are a lot of problems with living a life designed to fit everyone else’s expectations of you, though. The top three, as I see it, are:
•You can’t please everyone
•Their expectations may be based on a narrow, inaccurate view of you
•Your values could be wildly different from theirs
1. You Can’t Please Everyone
I’ve always liked this story about “The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey”:
A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”
So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”
So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”
Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey with you and your hulking son?”
The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.
“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them: “Please all, and you will please none.”
(The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey, from AesopFables.com)
The point isn’t hard to grasp: trying to please everyone is impossible, and will result in failure to please anyone (especially yourself). If you have any experience of blogging or writing for an audience, you’ve probably had the experience of getting glowing praise and damning criticism … for the same article. People don’t always agree.
If you’re trying to live up to all the expectations that crowd in on you (from parents, friends, and society at large) – you’ll end up feeling miserable because you’re not living the life you want to, and you’ll inevitably not manage to meet all the competing demands.
2. Their Expectations May Be Based On A Narrow, Inaccurate View Of You
People make snap judgements in life: they might meet you briefly, and proceed to offer all sorts of advice based on an inaccurate assessment of who you are.
Families often fail to recognise how you’ve changed and grown over the years. They also tend to label you – and it’s easy to end up conforming to these labels because you believe them. “Oh, Bob’s always been the lazy one” or “Sue has her head in the clouds” or “Tom never could focus on anything.”
Frankly, you’re the only person in the world who knows what’s happening inside your head. You might have a huge amount of potential that no-one else recognises. Your parents or your friends might have pigeonholed you – but you know there’s more to you than what they see. Even if you do have plenty of habits and characteristics that you’d like to change, you have the ability to do that.
3. Your Values Could Be Wildly Different From Theirs
To me, this is the biggest problem with trying to meet other people’s expectations: they might have a completely different agenda to yours. Perhaps your dad thinks the most important thing you could do with your life is have a very secure career, whereas you value creative self-expression through poetry or art. No wonder that your dad wants you to “get a proper job – make the most of yourself” – but if you follow his advice to become an accountant or doctor or lawyer, you’re likely to be making yourself miserable.
Sometimes, you need to get clear about your own values and priorities: then you can figure out what you want to refocus your life around. (Tim Brownson helped me with this, I’d suggest giving him a call if you want a hand figuring out what you’re doing with your life.)Your parents might think you’re crazy. Your friends might laugh at you. Your brother might call you a wishy-washy bleeding-heart hippy. Your old school pals might say you’ve sold out. Don’t ignore their advice … but don’t be afraid of what they think.
Stop Worrying About What Other People Think
One of my favourite book titles is “What Do You Care What Other People Think?” (Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk) – a biographical account of episodes in Richard Feynman’s life. Those words were spoken to him by his wife, and perhaps they carry some indication of why Feynman became one of the best known scientists of the 20th century: he didn’t worry about what people thought of him.Does your mental soundtrack go anything like this?
•I don’t want to go out tonight, but Marcy will think I’m boring if I stay in.
•I can’t read a personal development book on the train – people will think there’s something wrong with me.
•I’m over-committed already, but how can I say no to John? He’ll think I don’t like him.
•I’d be really refreshed by taking a day off just to play computer games, eat pizza and do what the hell I like … but my partner will think I’m just being lazy.
Just as no-one else in the world knows what goes on inside your head, you can’t lift a flap and peek inside their skull either. It really is a waste of time to worry what other people will be thinking: you’ll probably guess wrong, and (even if they put their thoughts into words, as a negative comment), their thoughts are very unlikely to have any real effect on you.
I’ve often worried what people will think, and how they’ll react, to some action of mine. This has ranged from tiny things (“No, sorry, I don’t want to join that sub-committee”) to huge ones (“Hey mum, I’ve quit my job to freelance”). Time and time again, I’ve found that people always react more positively than I expect
We can internalise other people’s advice, strictures or warnings so much that it can take a bit of thinking to unpick where they come from. You could be struggling to pay the rent on a place of your own just because your college friends insisted they’d never be seen dead going back to their parents’ home. You may find yourself busy gardening every weekend just because your neighbours have prize-winning rose bushes. Perhaps you even chose your whole career based on what your teachers wanted for you, not what you wanted.
Whose expectations are you living up to? Who are you trying to please? What would you do if you had a blank slate, a fresh start, and unconditional encouragement from your loved ones?
.My personal feeling is that some people will criticise you if you are a failure, but they’ll also criticise you if you’re a success. So trying to live a life that avoids other people’s judgements is a no-win game!