Discover Why You Do It…And How To Stop Once And For All
Have you ever replayed a conversation in your head? How about 25 times after you got rejected?
This painful pattern is something we all can relate to. Join Dr. Aziz in this insightful episode as he shows us why we do this in the first place. He then goes on to provide actionable strategies and techniques to let go of insecurity and embarrassment, replacing it with relaxed confidence and humor.
Click below to hear this episode!
Stop Replaying Conversations in Your Head
Do you replay conversations in your head? Do you think about them afterwards and imagine what you said and if it was good enough how the other person responded, what they were really thinking of you? Does it leave you feeling tense and worried and stress and just take the joy out of that conversation and maybe even makes you worried about your next conversation coming up? If so, you’re going to learn how to shift that in today’s episode. You’re going to learn how to break free and how to stop replaying conversations in your head once and for all.
Hello. Welcome to today’s episode of the show. I’m your host, Dr. Aziz. And I’m excited to be with you here today because we’re going to be talking about something that tripped me up for years, I mean, pretty much most of the time I was really stuck in shyness and social anxiety, I was doing this all the time. And many of the clients that I talk to describe to me how they will replay conversations in their head after they have them. It’s hard to let it go. Have you ever had that experience? You leave any situation, it could be a party or a gathering or a day at work or going out to dinner with your girlfriend’s parents or friends or any situation whatsoever where you’ve had a conversation with someone and then you leave and your mind just starts just grinding away on it. You start replaying elements of the conversation, when you said this, when they said that, when you said this and then they said that in response and it didn’t go very well. And what’s often happening is where maybe sometimes you’re replaying the glory moments of the conversation. The moment where you had everyone laughing and you were the man, but that’s not really the case, usually we’re replaying the tense moments, the awkward moments, the uncomfortable moment and just replaying it again and again and again and each time it feels uncomfortable, you feel embarrassed, you feel insecure. What’s going on here, why do we do that? And ultimately more importantly, how do we shift it? How do we let that nonsense go, let it be in the past, not worry about it, not stress about it, and just feel relax, comfortable, secure in ourselves and confident to move forward for our next conversation.
So I’m excited to share all of that with you today. If you’d like to jump into the conversation, go to facebook.com/socialconfidence, that’s facebook.com/socialconfidence that’s where we post about the episodes and you can join in into the conversation there. You can also go to shrinkfortheshyguy.com and on there you’ll find show notes, transcripts, all of the episodes archived, and you can actually send me messages there as well and I’ll read them and I’ll answer those questions in upcoming episodes of ask the shrink, we’ll have little segments in there, so shrinkfortheshyguy.com is a great way to stay in touch.
Why Do We Do It?
Now, let’s get into replaying conversations in our head. Why do we do it in the first place? Because sometimes knowing why we do something can help us learn how to shift it, how to let it go. So when you think about that why do you think you replay conversations in your head afterwards? What is the purpose of that pattern? Every pattern we do has a purpose. It might now be supportive purpose or a loving purpose or a self-compassionate purpose but it has a purpose, so what is it doing? Specifically that pattern where you’re replaying the awkward moments and feeling uncomfortable and feeling worried and feeling nervous and feeling insecure as if they don’t like you or as if you failed. Why on earth would we want to relive that moment again, and again, and again? Think about it, what’s your best guess?
Good. Well, what I’ve found is there could be a couple of reasons why we do this. One is there is some belief that by focusing on the failure on the uncomfortable moment, on the awkward moment we’re going to learn something that’s going to help us improve in the future. That’s one reason why we might do it. A generally bad way of learning by focusing on all of your mistakes and not really coming up with corrective solutions of what you could’ve said or could’ve done but just replaying the same mistake again and again. That’s kind of like if you’re learning how to golf and you had a video of your swing and you’re going down to swing to hit the ball and instead of hitting the ball you miss and, bam, your club goes right into the grass, deep into the pitch, and you just hacked up a bunch of grass and dirt and you have a little video of that. And you sit there and you just watch that video and each time you watch it you say, “Argh, man, that was terrible,” let’s rewind it again, “Oh, my God, ugh, that was awful. Geez, look at all that dirt you hit up, ugh,” and rewind it again, “Yeah,” you can just do that all day long and you’re not learning anything, you’re not saying, “Huh. Maybe I came down too fast or maybe my angle was off, maybe my stance a little,” you’re not problem solving, you’re just wallowing in the discomfort of it. And that’s what we do. The extent of why we might be doing it is a reason to grow and improve and it doesn’t work, that’s not how we grow, that’s not how we improve, that’s not how we learn as humans. So that’s bunk and yet we still might think we’re doing it for that reason.
Another reason why we do it is we are hoping to find some relief or salvation. So maybe we’re feeling tense, maybe we’re uncertain about whether someone likes us and we want them to like us. We want them to like us so they’ll date us, so they’ll sleep with us, so they’ll be our friend, so they’ll work with us or hire us or buy from us, we want them to like us. This is a basic human desire. And so we’re analyzing that moment again and again to see if we can find some evidence or sense of relief of, “Oh, maybe they do like me.” Because there’s that awkward moment, that tense moment where maybe they don’t like me, but we replay it again and we watch it in our minds and we hope that we’ll find a sense of, “Oh wait, no, it’s okay, they, whew, they do like me,” we are trying to get some sense of certainty out of doing that. Of course you know that usually doesn’t work because it’s hard to know where you stand with someone especially from vague stimulus like their facial expression or how they responded to one of your jokes in one conversation, in one moment, I mean, it’s hard to do that. So we don’t get the certainty we want but we keep digging and digging and digging.
And there is one more reason I found, I’m sure there’s dozens and maybe you came up with a few yourself, but there’s one more super powerful reason that I found that we replay conversations on our head, this is I think the biggest one, the most powerful one and one worth noting and that is safety police. So your safety police, I’ve talked about it in the previous episode, is a part of you that wants to keep you safe, keep you inside your comfort zone, anytime you do something outside of your comfort zone, it’s terrified of getting rejected, of people not liking you, of failing, so your safety police will say and do whatever it can to keep you inside your comfort zone. And that might happen before like it might say, “Don’t go talk to those people they’re not going to like you.” And then if it does its job effectively you don’t go talk to those people. But let say you do have the conversation then afterwards, safety police is going to replay it and say, “Look at how awkward you were. It was terrible. So therefore don’t go do this again in the future.” It’s trying to stop you the next time by making it seem so terrible and so awkward. So all of this stuff is just crazy making, it doesn’t work, none of it is going to help you improve or get better at conversations or more confident or more relaxed and it’s not going to help you feel more free to be yourself around people. The only way to do that is to break free and to end this pattern once and for all. So let’s talk about how to stop doing this. How to stop replaying conversations in your mind? First things first, it’s important to realize that it doesn’t serve you in a way. So all that stuff we’re talking about before this break about why you’re doing it, it’s important to see through that, it’s not going to make you better, it’s not going to help you learn, it’s not going to improve your confidence in any way. So you want to pay attention to that and see through those stories that somehow this is making me better. Because when we think something is important or we need to do it, you might end up continuing to run that pattern. So you got to see through that and say, “You know what this is not helping me learn. This is not how I’m going to learn.” In fact, how are you going to learn how to be better [inaudible 0:10:52.4] I mean, possible, you could look back and say, “Huh. What are three different things I could’ve said there that may have gone better?” that’s a great way to learn. So that’s more focused, that’s more specific, that has an actual purpose to it, but does replaying of the conversation just again and again on autopilot is not giving you anything.
Secondly, it’s helpful to just identify it for what it really is. Are you ready? Self-hate, it’s self-hate, it’s you hating yourself. It’s you being hard on yourself. It’s you being a dick to yourself. It’s you criticizing yourself and abusing yourself. Now, we don’t want to do any of that. We want to put a stop to all of that. That is my mission in my life and with anyone else that I worked with or talk to is to help them stop doing that and it’s so common, so ubiquitous, so sneaky that most of us don’t even know all the ways that we’re doing it. But here’s an obvious way, beating yourself over the head again and again with a terrible replay of a conversation that didn’t go the way you wanted it to, that is self-hate and it’s helpful to just to say that and say hey, that’s self-hate. And when, I mean, I barely replay conversations but if I do, that’s what I’ll say, I’ll say, “Hey, this is self-hate. I don’t need to do this anymore,” or “I don’t do this,” or “That’s not helpful,” and I’ll just say that out loud like, “Whoa. Whoa. That’s not helpful.” And I’ve build this up, this pattern enough up to challenge that self-hate so then it doesn’t keep going, I’ll say, “Wait a minute, that’s not helpful. I don’t need to do that. I don’t do that,” and it’s an identity statement for me it’s like “Hey, I don’t do that. That’s not how I grow. That’s not how I learn. That’s not how I treat myself. I have more respect for myself than that.”
So it’s interrupting that pattern, identifying it as self-hate and then our mind does not do so well with trying to stop it from doing something. “Stop thinking about coffee, whatever you do,” let’s say you’re not trying to drink coffee or something, “Don’t think about coffee,” and then all you can do is imagine those beans and that liquid coming through and I imagine the smell and we try not to do something in our head and we’re just going to keep doing it. So we want to interrupt that pattern, “Hey, this is self-hate, I don’t need to do this anymore.” But then we got to redirect our focus to something else.
Redirect Your Focus
So what could you redirect your focus to? Well, instead of focusing on the past and that past conversation, maybe you can focus to something in the present or something in the future, those are great places, so bring yourself right back to this moment. You noticed yourself thinking about that conversation; bring yourself to right now in this moment. I bet right now in this moment, there’s probably a feeling or an emotion that’s uncomfortable that you don’t want to feel, maybe it’s fear, fear of them not liking you, fear of not having friends. Maybe it’s loneliness, maybe you’re longing for something, you’re longing for connection, you just wish that that person would’ve gone out with you or wanting to spend time with you as a friend and they didn’t or you didn’t have the courage to ask even and now you’re replying the conversation in the past. Bring yourself into this moment and just face your feelings, breathe in and feel them right now. It’s okay, you can face them. You can meet them with love. You can treat yourself with compassion right now. “Yeah, okay, I’m lonely. Yeah, it’s okay to be lonely.” So many feelings we just don’t let ourselves have, “Don’t be lonely, solve the problem, get better at conversations. Don’t mess that up.” It’s like, “Whoa, whoa, yeah. All right. I’m lonely right now. Where do I feel that? Oh, I feel it in my heart, oww, it hurts or it aches,” okay, great. Feel that. Breathe into that. Don’t ran away from it just face it and stay with it and it will move through you, it will pass, even before you find the friends and the love that you want, just feel the feeling and it moves, it’s just energy. So bring yourself into the present. Feel the feelings that you’re feeling.
Or bring your attention and energy to something in the moment, your senses, what you’re hearing, what you’re smelling, what you’re doing, what you’re focusing on, if you’re driving, paying attention to the colors and the road and your hands on the wheel, bringing yourself into this moment. Or think about something in the future that excites you, that compels you, what do I want to… this is a great question I love, to bring my focus out of some self-hate is what do I want to create in my life. What am I most excited about creating or contributing? What am I excited about doing? What do I want to create in my life? And that gets your focus on something totally different. Ultimately something that’s way more important and way closer to your purpose than did I get that person to like me by avoiding all social awkwardness and discomfort.
Do you see what I’m saying here? So you want to shift your focus out of self-hate and out of the past and into the present moment or something that excites you about the future, something that compels you to drive forward. Good. So there’s a key component to replaying conversations that makes it particularly challenging and it’s like this itch that we keep scratching and that’s embarrassment. And I have something fun I want to share about embarrassment, about how to deal with the embarrassment after conversations and probably one of my favorite stories of my life that I want to share with you that is until now gotten pretty rare airtime just the occasional group of friends, now and then I would share it. So now I’m going to share it here with you today and I’m sure my brother who’s the key character of the story is going to be pleased as punch that he gets to have this story, this embarrassing story revealed.
So one of the main challenges of replaying conversations in our head is something embarrassing happened or we felt embarrassed and that’s the part that we replay. And what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to… almost we’re wishing that we didn’t do it or we’re regretting that we said or didn’t say something or wish, “Oh, I wish I could just go back and change it because I felt embarrassed in that moment.” You’re focus on this one moment of just trying to avoid that but the reality is you want to change your relationship to embarrassment overall, not just in that one moment but in your entire life. If you run from embarrassment then your life is going to be limited and small and kind of shitty. You need to overcome that fear of embarrassment. And this isn’t just for social confidence, this is to succeed and excel in anything, this is to be supremely comfortable in your own skin, this is to just have a life of extraordinary confidence. A life worth living, a life of being who you really are and meant to be is going to be shedding that paranoia of embarrassment, “What, oh God, ahh.” Because embarrassment really is I did something or didn’t do something but usually it’s I did something and now as a result I’m imagining people are judging me for it.
So if you were to go to a street corner in a busy area and just start dancing to no music the reason you might feel embarrassed to do that is you imagine people are going to watch you and judge you. Maybe people even do stop and look at you and then you imagine, “They’re judging me. They think I’m stupid. They think I’m foolish,” that’s what embarrassment is. So it’ll all comes back to caring a lot about what other people think. And if you can shed that then your life just becomes so much better. So one way, I mean, there’s a whole ton we could do about this, I even have an episode I believe called Embarrass You Way to Confidence. If you dig back through the archives of this show there’s a ton about this inside of my program, Confidence Unleashed on how to overcome embarrassment as well as 30 Days to Dating Mastery.
If you want to do deep dive and really burning out your embarrassment circuit, check out Confidence Unleashed that program will change your life. One tip around that right now though is you want to let embarrassment in, you know what let’s not fight it. So if there’s that moment, you’re replaying it and you said that thing like, “Yeah. And then everyone could go to the mall,” and you thought it’s going to be a hilarious joke and then everyone is kind of looked at you, “Wait, what? Go to the… that doesn’t makes, what?” And you’re like, “Because the, because the mall it’s where the,” crickets, awkward terrible silence, we’re just wallowing it. So what you want to do is instead of cringing and fighting and running away from it just slow down and breathe and let it in, let in that creepy crawly burny feeling of embarrassment, just let it in and don’t run away from it, don’t fight it, just let it burn through you. Nothing is at stake, you’re safe, there’s no threat, you’re not going to die, it’s just a feeling. And the more you can just tolerate that feeling, the more powerful you become. And then what you’ll find is that embarrassing stuff and stupid stuff when you look back on it later is actually funny. Then the next day or even later, see, if you’re not terrified of embarrassment you can actually laugh at yourself and then later on in that evening you could make a joke about shitty your joke was earlier. You have so much more social freedom and power when you’re not so terrified of the embarrassment or make it mean this bad thing about you.
And again, our most embarrassing moments can become hilarious stories. Case in point is my brother’s 25th birthday bash. Now, this story is from, what is he now? I think he’s 35 now, so 10 years ago and yet it still lives strong in my memory. So we were in China for his 25th birthday, I’m two years younger so I was 23 or 22 and a half or whatever, and we were visiting the eastern part of China which is called the Xinjiang Province and about 50 to 60% of the people living in that part of China which borders Afghanistan and other countries do not look like what you imagine as typical Chinese. They are brown skinned, they look more like Middle Eastern Mongolian almost and they’re Muslims and there is like this kind of very different cultures. So my brother who taught in China for a year, taught English was always fascinated, he’s like, “We got to go to Xinjiang. We got to travel the silk road, man,” because I guess there’s these cities that people would transport, thousands of years ago people would transport silk and other fine fabrics and spices and shit, so I was like, “I don’t know, man. To travel to China and silk road,” and he’s like, “You got to go, man,” and he sends me these photos of like just beautiful fabrics and culture and beautiful buildings and I was like, “Yeah.” And at that time I was like really just taking life on, I was starting to shed and challenge some of my fears, so I was like, “You know what,” there’s this book I’d read or something where a guy had said, “If there’s a fork in the road, take it,” so I was like, “Yeah, there’s a fork in the road, take it. Brother, I’m coming to China.” So fast-forward we’re there, we’ve been for whatever, a couple of weeks, I think I’d just fucking horrible diarrhea and sick of shit for days on end. And we’re at… he has a friend there who was a student in one of his classes and so his friend was kind of showing us around Xinjiang which is where he was from. And so we’re going from city to city and he takes us to a friend of his house in the capital called Ürümqi and we’re there and it’s like these three dudes who live in this like little concrete bunker that is… I don’t even know if it had a window, I don’t think it had a window, the bathroom was like a conjoined bathroom between multiple of these little houses, so imagine like a 10×10 concrete little bunker that had a bed in it and like bad 1980s poster of some guy making out with a woman in like zebra print of something. So we’re sitting there in this little tiny room, these three guys, my brother’s friend, Mohammad, my brother and me, so there’s was six of us in this room and one of the guy leaves and comes back a little later with some hash and then he makes a pipe out of a magazine page and they start to pass this hash pipe around. And being a hardcore UCSB grad that I am I was like, “Hash, whatever,” and so it came to me and I took a hit and I realized promptly after that I was like, “Whoa, this is strong.” The next time it came around and I pass up because I was like that’s really intense. My brother though, he didn’t have as much exposure and experience with, I think hash is not marijuana but you know similar. And he also has a stint of pride in him. So it’s like “Well, if these guys are doing it, I ain’t no sissy,” so he takes it again and it goes around again and again and again and I think I maybe took one or two hits and he took like five or six or something, I don’t know, he took a lot. So then we’re sitting in this room after smoking hash and then the guys all pull out cigarettes and they just start smoking cigarette after cigarette in this little concrete bunker with no windows and it starts getting really gross and intense in there, I start getting a little dizzy and I’m like, “Dude, let’s go outside for a second,” he’s like, “Okay.” So we go outside and we sit on this bench that’s right outside their house and I think I have my shoes on but I think my brother left his shoes off because we were just at these people’s house and you take your shoes off, so we’re sitting on this bench, I got my shoes on, he’s in his socks, and we’re sitting out there and I look over at him and he’s like leaning back as far as you can with his head against the back of the bench looking up at the sky like breathing heavily like I’m like, “Dude, you okay?” and then he leans forward, he leans forward and gets his hands kind of over his knees and just start spitting he’s like [inaudible 0:27:06.2] I’m like, “Dude, are you all right?” And he’s like, “I don’t feel very good.” I was like, “Yeah. Yeah. We should get you back to the hotel,” because the hotel wasn’t that far away and he’s like, “Yeah, okay.” so I pop back in the room and I’m like, “All right, guys, I’m going to walk Art back to the hotel. We’ll catch you in a little bit.”
And I grab, I don’t know, I think some dude’s sandals or something and just put them on at my brother’s feet and he likes shuffles back with me, he’s kind of leaning on me pretty heavily as we get back to the hotel room. And then as we walk, just about to walk through the double doors, the sliding doors of the hotel, again, my brother’s pride kicks in where he’s like, “I can’t be seen,” he has it together enough to like pull his awareness together and he’s like, “I don’t want to be seen like leaning heavily on my brother looking all intoxicated.” So he like takes a deep breath and kind of pushes off of me and like strides confidently through the double doors just so the hotel personnel don’t think less of him. And he makes it to the elevator and we get on the elevator and we’re on like, I don’t know, like the seventh floor, the eighth floor, so we get in there, we press the button and it’s a slow elevator, so we’re going up the floor it’s like ding, floor two, ding, floor three, and notice he looks at the floor or the number where the floor is displayed and it’s like floor three and he looks away [inaudible ding and he looks back and he looks away. I could tell that he was like hoping for it to get to floor eight and then right around floor six he goes he starts to belch and then I’m like… and then a wet belch, I’m like “That doesn’t sound good,” and then right before we get to floor eight he just likes vomits all over the elevator like on the floor, on the walls, it was just intense. And so I’m like, “Eww,” and the door opens and we ran out and we’re trying to get around the hall to our room and we get to our room and I have the key and he’s standing there with his hand against the wall like breathing heavily and I press the door into the… the key into the door and then pull it out and it’s one of those digital keys where if it’s a good… if it fits then it turns the light green, so I turn, I put it in there and move the card out, red light. I’m like, “What the fuck? Did I not put it in right?” and I put it in again, made sure it was right, the arrow is place in the right way, pull it out, red light. So my two errors there cost us valuable time and wouldn’t you know it Art just barfs all over our floor right in front of our room. So now it’s like if we hadn’t done that, poor person has to clean the elevator has no one to pin it on, right, like, “Who did this in the elevator?” but now they’re going to clean the elevator and they’re going to go up to floor eight right in front of our door and it’s obvious it was us. Anyway, so he vomits all over the floor and we get into the room, I mean, the story has layers of depth which I can’t even get into about, we get him into the bathroom and then he’s like, I’m like washing him his hair in the tub with a removable handle shower and it was good times. He kind of came to his senses in a little bit and we just had a fantastic laugh. We actually had a great laugh that night.
So sometimes if you’re lucky, your most embarrassing moments can be funny even that very night. And sometimes it just takes a couple of days or a couple of weeks. So when you look back at moments from your own life, some of the stuff that seemed terrible and embarrassing and so awkward, can you just see it as kind of funny? I mean, isn’t it kind of silly? Don’t we go and love to watch movies and TV shows where all they do is display awkward scenes like anything with Larry David in it, lots of Seinfeld’s and Curb Your Enthusiasm, I mean, that’s just scene after scene after scene of some awkward shit. Napoleon Dynamite, those are like these awkward moments and they’re hilarious. So you can take that same lens and view your own life in the same way. In fact, that actually brings us to our action step for today.
Your action step for today is to think about one moment in your past that you use to see as embarrassing and maybe cringe when you think about it and actually see how you can shift it to see the humor, can you see how it’s funny, can you see the joke, can you take yourself a little less seriously and just start to smile at it. Just start to see the whole thing with humor. See the humor in the situation, in yourself, in the people around, and it can be a fun light moment. Maybe just share a humor, share a laughter with yourself and with others. So that’s your action step for today. And by all means go to shrinkfortheshyguy.com and send me a message, let me know how this is working for you and I love to get the feedback, I love to hear from people, so I look forward to hearing from you in that way. And until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome. I’ll talk to you soon.
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