Discover The Most Important Skill For Overcoming Shyness And Living The Life You Want
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You’re Nobody Until Somebody Loves You
Hey, welcome to today’s episode of Shrink for the Shy Guy, I’m Dr. Aziz and today’s episode is all about love. Yes as Dean says, you are nobody until somebody loves you and those are pretty powerful words, pretty true in a lot of ways I believe especially the part about gold, not bringing you the happiness that you seek but it really comes from those connections, those relationships and this is something that’s verified not only throughout time and philosophy and psychology but also in interviews of people on their death beds.
They tend to focus on not their career successes, how much money they earned or even their exotic travels but instead they focus on their connections, their wives, their partners, their husbands or their children, their grandchildren who they connected with, who they impacted, who they touched in their lives.
And I believe it’s the same for all of us although we can get wrapped up in other things and so that’s that statement waiting until somebody loves you is very profound, very true but sometimes we hear that and we’re like, oh God, I’m single, I’m a loser.
And that’s not the direction that I want to go with this today.
I want to take those exact same words and change the meaning slightly. You’re nobody until somebody loves you. And the question that I want to ask you is do you love you? Do you love yourself?
And this is a very powerful question, this is one of the most important inquiries I believe we can make because if you do not love yourself, when — and I say that and it sort of makes it sound black and white, right if you ever love yourself or you don’t but the reality is, it’s a knob, it’s a gradient.
It can go from zero love, total self hatred up to complete love and acceptance for ourselves. And the reality is that most of us kind of waiver somewhere in the middle there.
And if you imagine a dial where zero is no love for yourself and 10 is, well, a lot of love, where are you? Where do you hover, where is your center of gravity? You know, I know when I was younger, before I even came into the world of psychology, before I even look at any self development, I lived in a state of pretty perpetual self-loathing. That’s probably around a two in that range from zero to 10.
Maybe two to four, sometimes I’d feel pretty good about myself if I did something or I accomplished something but for the most part, there was a constant stream in my mind of self criticisms, of looking at other people and imagining and assuming that they didn’t like me, of completing something on our project and assignment, even a performance in a sports event like soccer. And the critique would remind that it was okay but it could have been better. You should have done more, you weren’t quite good enough.
Then I was quite perfectionistic person at that point and I’m still, I guess I would, to take Brene Brown, story and I’m a recovering perfectionist. And have been convinced of a necessity to let some of that go. And maybe you can relate to this.
The other day I was talking with a client I’ve been working with, I’m doing some coaching. And he is very successful in his career, has earned quite a bit of money, more money than he would need to live comfortably for the rest of his life. And but he is like a doer in the world, he wants to do more. So he’s not going to settle for that.
And he has a perpetual sense of dissatisfaction with himself. And here is the thing, he went on a date recently and that’s what we’re talking about. And this woman was engaged, interested, found him enjoyable to talk to and he left that experience feeling baffled, baffled as to why she couldn’t want to talk with him.
Why she would even find him attractive, a woman as beautiful and artistic and intelligent as her, why could — what she possibly see in him? And it wasn’t like a false humble thing that we know, oh geez I’m lucky because she likes me.
No, he really was baffled. And almost to the point where he was suspicious, have you ever had that? And then so we started to wonder, hmm, is she after me for me my money, you know, is she a gold digger? It’s what’s happening here because he started, he couldn’t take it in.
It did not fit with his model or map of the world. And if you remember my interview with Brad Pendergraft, from a number of weeks back, he talks about a model or map of the world and how the map is not the territory. So he has a map of the world.
And in his map, it is I’m not really lovable. And so if the reality, if the world around him does not agree with that map and there’s a person that says hey, I love you or at least I want to get to know you and see if there’s a deeper connection and maybe she really loves him, I don’t know.
And that doesn’t jive with his map so he has to either change his map or do what most of us do which is just change reality, right? No that’s not — she is this, she is that. I don’t trust her. I better end this, better this because this is not going to work. She’s just in it for my money.
And so the level to which you can turn that knob, you know, from a one or two or three up to a six, seven, eight, you know, let’s say 10 but geez, hard to be perfect, right? But even just getting it several notches higher from self hatred and self loading and self criticism up towards self compassion, empathy, love, respect, acceptance for yourself, just moving it a little higher has a profound effect on your entire life. And the more I’m getting into confidence right now but absolutely your level of confidence, your level of anxiety.
I was doing an initial session with a woman just the other day and she was talking about some aspect of social anxiety, I can’t quite remember but something about when she is in a conversation, she doesn’t have something to say, she gets really anxious, you know, very common for social anxiety and this self-criticism kicks in.
God, why are you being so quiet, people think you’re boring, you should be able to talk more about this stuff, what’s wrong with you and then we were talking about self-compassion and basically turning that knob higher and she said, do you think that if I start to — is that all I need to do?
Like if I start loving myself and accepting myself more, then this will go away and I’ll be more comfortable with quiet? And I said, well, not only do I think that that’s true. I actually think that the more you love and accept yourself and relax, you’ll actually start coming up with things to say because the inhibition, the restriction, the tightening that blocks you off from just being spontaneous and sharing and being free in your self comes from that self-criticism, that self attack, that self judgment. So I’m hoping you’re getting a sense of the value of loving yourself.
And it’s not just some sort of new age feel good thing although it does feel good but it’s also a very practical pragmatic way to excel in your life, in the world that you’re in.
If you want to develop more powerful relationships for business that requires love for yourself, to know that you have something to offer that you can contribute, that people want to talk to you. If you want to create an outstanding amazing relationship, romantic relationship, that requires a higher level of self love because the level that you’ll let in from someone else matches the level you feel for yourself.
Let me say that again, so if you’re looking at that knob, zero is — you don’t like yourself in 10 as you really love and accept yourself. If you’re at a three, that means you can or, you know, you pretty don’t like yourself if it’s lower, you were to three and then someone comes along and she says, hey, I think you’re great, I want to hang out and she loves you and it looks like a six or a seven, you’re not going to be able to let it in, you’re going to do something.
You’re going to distance, you’re going to avoid, you might break it off, you might sabotage it, you might pick a fight, you might do something because some part of you is like this is not real, this cannot happen. I must maintain my map at the world.
So whether it’s business, relationships, friendship, if you want to just feel more empowered to do something in the world, to take on a project, to start that charity, to create that our project, to write that book that’s inside of you, all of that comes back to this knob.
That is the power of self love and self compassion. And I hope at this point you’re onboard and you’re like yeah you’re preaching to the choir, I want to love myself more but man, like critique has a life of its own. And if that’s where you’re at, that’s great because in the next segment, we’re going to get in to how do you turn that knob up? How do you start to love yourself more?
There is a very practical tool strategies and tips that will actually give you practices to make that a reality for you if that’s something that you’re committed to. So stay tuned, we’ll get into that right after this.
How To Increase Self-Love & Self-Acceptance
Now we’re going to get in to how to increase your level of love and acceptance for yourself. And the thing that I’m going to narrow in on this segment is self-compassion. Before I do that though, I want to answer a question that I received via email that the answer is right on topic with what we’ve been talking about in this episode.
So here is the question and unfortunately, I don’t have the person’s name so hopefully you will be able to identify your question. It says,
Hi Aziz, I just read your free eBook and I was impressed with what you discussed. Oh yeah. I have several issues concerning confidence and I could relate to almost all of your words. I also am striving towards being great with women. I have bought countless products and listened to many audio files from dating coaches. Theoretically, I know what it takes to attract a woman but in practice I haven’t the mindset.
I’m sure you can relate. I have a fear of approaching and even more of keeping conversations interesting. The conversation bit applies to all areas of my life. My worst example is so social pressure at work where I feel I am always in a constant battle to keep my co-workers and superiors happy with my work. I assume previous jobs I’ve had where I’ve been fired, have made me this way. I really need help and feel you are a great help.
So unfortunately I don’t have the name but this question directly applies what we’re talking about.
And it might seem like it doesn’t, well, he is kind of challenged with women, he’s got a challenge at work, he’s worried about keeping happy, and people happy, his co-workers and superiors happy, anxiety about being fired, but really honestly all of this comes down to that internal knob because if you think about that, that insecurity that we feel around a woman, it’s not really about her.
Now, very attractive woman or a woman that we’re really drawn to, and like bring out more insecurity but it’s still an un — still not about her, not in the least.
What happens is, when there is that woman that you’re drawn to that you want to talk to, and you want to start a conversation whether, and you’re terrified of approaching here, what’s happening is that knob, it’s becoming very apparent where it’s at. And if your knob is low, then you don’t think much of yourself and you don’t think you have much to offer.
And worst till you know you’re most scared of, of approaching that woman, you’re not most scared of her reaction. You’re not most scared of her rejecting you, you’re not even most scared of her maybe harshly criticizing, saying get away me you creep.
And that’s some of the fantasies that we have, right? It’s going to be some horrible no. What you’re most scared of is what happens after the experience. You’re most scared of what’s going to happen in your mind and heart after you talk with her.
And especially if it’s a no, if it’s a rejection, because if that knob is low, you tear yourself up, don’t you? You criticize yourself; you say that was stupid, why did I said that? And it’s vicious, I know, I dealt with this for so many years. And I say in the past tense because it’s 90% better but it doesn’t mean I’m free of self-criticism and self-doubt, it can creep in there. I use to have more and more tools to deal with it but I can be stuck in it for hours before I start to identify and shifted.
It used to be days or weeks and I used to have no tools to help me with it and that might be where you’re at and that’s why I want to get into how do you increase this? But to further answer this question, it’s going to increasing your self compassion.
The more you can be compassionate and loving with yourself, the more relaxed you’re going to be with woman, the more comfortable you’re going to be at work and the lesser you’re going to be scared of getting fired. And the less you feel like you need to impress or please people in order to maintain their love.
That’s just the reflection of a lack of self-acceptance and self love. And we’re going to get in to how they increase that with this concept of self-compassion. So Kristin Neff is a researcher from the University of Austin, Texas who has been doing research work with self-compassion for over a decade now I’d imagine. And I was so intrigued by her work.
I actually did my dissertation and my doctorate degree on self-compassion because I found this to be such a powerful force in my life and all the lives of the people I was working with.
Basically, I was like wow, everyone kind of hates themselves. What are we going to do about this? And so she has lived through a work, she’s defined self-compassion and the definition in itself is profound and very helpful.
The first part, it’s a three-part definition, the first part is self-compassion is an attitude of self-kindness, of treating yourself with kindness, respect, empathy, support, and here is the kicker, in specially in the event of a setback or a failure, it’s in those moments that we’re most likely to withdraw that kindness from ourselves.
We might be kind to ourselves when nothing is happening but as soon as that person says no to you or you give a presentation and you stumble over your words or anything that might be seen as not perfect, perhaps “a failure” or a setback then self-compassion goes at the window, right?
This kindness just goes out the window. And it’s replaced with coldness, anger, frustration and brutality towards ourselves, abuse at ourselves, really. I mean, if someone who are talking to a child in the way that you talk to yourself in your head, that will be labeled as abuse.
So it’s very serious, very significant. So self-kindness is the opposite of that and that’s why you’d talk to a child that you love. Hopefully if you have a child in your life or a nephew or a niece and you’re connected to them, that’s what you offer them, it’s kindness.
The second aspect of self-compassion is common humanity. And that is the ability to recognize that whatever you’re struggling with is part of being human that is universal and everyone has challenges and suffers in some way. And that it’s not evidence of your own personal inadequacy or flaw or badness.
So for example in — if you were to give that talk and you stumble over your words, the common humanity would be everyone gets nervous before giving a talk. Everyone has, you know, bumbled over words and no one likes to do it. It’s very uncomfortable, it’s an unfortunate thing for humans to deal with.
That’s going to start contrast to what we normally do, right, which is withdraw ourselves from the human race, make it all about us, no one else has this problem why am I such a fuck up, what’s wrong with me, I’m terrible, I suck and, you know, we’re off to the races with self-criticism.
The third part of self-compassion is mindfulness or mindful awareness. That means being able to notice that there are thoughts going through your mind that are self-critical and now over identifying with those thoughts. That’s just a fancy way of saying, don’t believe everything you think.
So after that talk, if you’re like, you’re stupid, you suck, what’s wrong with you. And I lived in a place of over identification. When I was younger, before I even heard of cognitive therapy or that I could even challenge what’s going on in my mind, if those thoughts were happening, if I was being critical on my mind, that was fact, that was absolute truth.
So if my mind said, you suck, you made a terrible, you know, fool of yourself up there, everyone thinks you’re an idiot, I would emotionally react as if that was all absolutely true, I wouldn’t even question it. And that’s what the mindfulness part is being to step back and say, okay, wow, there’s a lot of stuff critical thoughts happening right not in my mind.
Hmm, okay, let’s see if I can just watch those or maybe even bring in more self-compassion. So those are the three aspects of self-compassion. And if you can start to commit to bringing those into your life, self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness, you can start to influence the voice in your mind that tells you that you suck and that’s going to in turn influence your relationships with women, with friends, with superiors, with co-workers, your level of comfort at work.
And we’re going to need this some fascinating research in the next segment about self-compassion, about how it actually prepares you to deal with life better, take more risks, do more, succeed more and all the rest right after this.
Fascinating Results From Self-Compassion Research
Welcome back. And our last segment here, I want to get in to a few interesting findings from the research around self-compassion and I give you one practical tools to sue to start increasing your self-compassion today. If you want way more in-depth descriptions of this, I recommend checking out Kristin Neff’s book called the Self Compassion and it’s got some subtitle which I don’t remember but it’s — look up Kristin Neff, N-E-F-F, self compassion, you’ll find just a wealth of resources in her book. And if you want to see how this stuff applied directly to social confidence, then check out my book, The Solution To Social Anxiety, Break Free From The Shyness That Holds You Back.
That will — it has a lot in there about self compassion and self-acceptance. In fact there is a whole chapter dedicated to self-acceptance because I believe that’s one of the biggest pieces of overcoming shyness, is that self-acceptance and you’ll learn how to apply that to social confidence issues.
So either way, just check out one of those. I mean, any research you can do in this area will help you. And the more you can love yourself, the better life gets. And the most challenging thing is we often believe that this is just something that is, that that’s just how it is.
But, self compassion and love for yourself is a skill. And you can learn how to develop it. And I’m going to get into an exercise in just a moment about you can do that but before I do that, I want to share with you some fascinating research that Neff did in her lab there in Austin, Texas around self compassion.
And one thing that stood to me which is when I often share most, I’m going to share it here, is just how self compassion is an antidote to self-doubt and allows you to take bigger risks and be bolder in life. So there’s an experiment that they did in her lab there in Austin, Texas in Kristin Neff’s lab.
Where they set up a condition where people would feel criticized, they basically have them record a video of themselves and then they has someone give them feedback that was neutral. And it was all set up, it was phony, the feedback was already pre-created.
And they didn’t give them negative feedback as they know humans well enough after doing this work for a number of years that if you give someone neutral feedback after they talk about themselves, it feels negative, doesn’t it?
Like let’s say you share a bunch of stuff about yourself and then someone says, neat, it doesn’t feel very good, does it? It feels negative.
So they set that up as the negative condition to get people into a state of feeling criticized or uncomfortable. And before hand, they measured people’s level of self-compassion with the self compassion measure. And they found that the people that had lower self compassion, are either people that were more critical, the knob was lower, and the knob we are talking about earlier, they were most restricted in the next activity that they did. They took fewer risks, they put themselves out there more and they were more reserved, more inhibited.
And that is incredibly significant information for developing your confidence, overcoming fears and anxiety because if you learned anything from this internet radio show or anything from my website or even just anything from your experience of trying to overcome your fears, the biggest hurdle and the biggest thing you can do to improve is to face you fears, to be bold in the world, to take those risks.
And without self compassion, taking the risks gets harder and harder. And it might seem obvious to you why but I’m just going to state that the reason that is, is because if you are attacking yourself after each failure or setback, then you’re not going to want to take any risk like it leads to a failure or setback.
It makes the damage more painful. Because honestly if we fail something or we have a setback or we don’t get what we want, there is naturally some disappointment or frustration which is just part of the process, it’s human. But then on top of that, if you add self-attack and self loading and I’m a bad person and shame and all this stuff, it gets pretty sticky, pretty messy, pretty quickly and hard to deal with. And so the result is we just tend to avoid it.
It’s incredibly important to increase yourself compassion. Let’s talk about now in this moment how you can do that and in fact that is going to be your action step for today.
Time For Action
Your action step for today is to do a self compassion exercise. In fact, I would actually suggest doing this exercise once per day for the next seven days. It only takes about five minutes. So pretty easy to fit into your schedule, it’s just a matter of desire motivation would be the main obstacles to doing it. And the exercise is a self compassionate letter.
So what this is, is you sit down for five minutes at the end of the day and you just write a brief letter to yourself, address to yourself and you speak and share with yourself an attitude of as much compassion as you can master, kindness, support, empathy, understanding, love, acceptance, appreciation and you can even focus on things that are challenging.
You know, and no one is going to read it. You don’t have to worry about being cheesy sounding or oh my God, if my friends saw this, they’d think I was weirdo. Just do it some place private, you could even, you know, store it in a locked file on your computer or something where no one read it.
You know, and really be as if you are talking to a child that was struggling or suffering. Hopefully you could find compassion and love for a child. And some of us are — some people are so blocked off, they can’t but hopefully you can do that.
Dr. Aziz, I’m sorry that you are struggling today. It’s really difficult when you give that talk and I know that you look around and it looked like people weren’t interested and my heart goes out to you, that’s really painful. No one likes to do that. I think you handle it really well, you kept going, you were engaging and it’s never fun to have a group of people and I know you felt rejected, I’m sorry. I love you, you’re a great person. Something like that, it’s so foreign isn’t it to talk to ourselves that directly and that lovingly? But that’s exactly what his compassion is designed to do, is help you become more familiar with that.
So that’s your action step for today, is to write yourself that self compassion letter and to really commit to doing a practice of this for seven days in a row. And if you do this stuff, this is the exact route to you, if we’re not to raise that knob from a two to a four to a six to an eight, is to do this kind of stuff and I have dozens of these things in the book, the Solution of Social Anxiety.
But even, you can find those in self compassion blogs for free on my website, Social Confidence Center. There are so many ways, and in fact just Google Self Compassion or get Kristin Neff’s book. The most important thing is action, as always, right?
And if, ah, I don’t like myself and this is because I suck, that is not true that the only reason that you’re not liking yourself more is that you’re not engaging in the practices that will help you increase that self love. So that’s our show for today.
Thanks for listening, until we speak again… Know that you are awesome.