Honestly Do You Even Like People?
Thousands of years ago, meeting new people could mean extreme danger. A new tribe showing up out of nowhere could mean a battle to the death. Very seldom did a new group of people show up just to say, “Wus Up?” If you did not overcome this built in shyness factor as a child you may still dread social events of any kind. After years of this you may have conjured up some pretty good reasons for avoiding the masses. “People are annoying, I will have nothing in common, all they do is talk about themselves, most are boring.” Start today being mindful when you enter a public setting. Notice, in the background of your mind, the quiet assumption that people are judging you, even at the supermarket. Almost everyone does this. It is why we walk into a store and avoid most eye contact—and is why they, too, assume we don’t want anything to do with them. Our way of protecting ourselves is to either ignore the faces in front of us or begin to judge them back.
Once you start to see just how often you avoid eye contact with strangers, you will spot these underlying tendencies. I am still taken back when I am in a store and I hear a kind voice from a stranger or get a kind look. It is there that I instantly feel my defenses come down and am aware of my own negativity churning away in the background. Have you ever noticed that sometimes even when walking into a family event, you feel a slight hesitation until you get that first hug? Then it’s like, “Well, at least one person is glad to see me.” Even at functions with acquaintances you can have that sense of being ten years old again about to walk by a group of kids you don’t know. Being comfortable with people is like being able to dance well. It brings confidence and a sense of security. It is never too late to build your social muscles.