Do you ever face the slightly uncomfortable scenario when an invite lands, that you want to go and you also don’t?
Should you get to the stage of accepting, you’ll often have a great time and wonder why you initially wanted to say ‘no’.
Up front, I’m going to say that this is not a case for getting people ‘out of their shells’ or for challenging introverts to become more extroverted. Nor is this referring to those invites we really don’t want to accept, but to that instant reticent energy about social events in general.
If this is the case for you, and you may not have really thought about it other than to know it’s something that happens when you get an invite, then this is presenting the idea that there are steps you can take which make saying ‘yes’ easier and life more enjoyable.
It’s entirely possible because I’ve done it.
A couple of years ago, I was invited to attend a blogging event. Though I’m a relatively confident person, the thought of mingling filled me with dread. I didn’t know why I didn’t like mingling, I just didn’t. It wasn’t just that particular event either, I nearly always felt that way about larger social invites. I had to psyche up for going.
These days I approach most social events with zero fear.
Two things changed my response to invites these days and can make the difference for you too.
First, identify the thought behind the felt discomfort.
If we want to change (and that’s a big IF because we don’t always, especially where our introversion is part of who we are), it’s helpful to know what’s at the root of it.
Exposing our subconscious patterns that present socialising as being uncomfortable, can open up the possibility that it is NOT.
In order to do that, we have to back up and ask “what part of me is bothered, what part of me doesn’t want to go?”
Rather than writing off our feelings as “Well I’m a bit of an introvert, so that’s why”, we may consider alternatives such as:
- “The part that thinks everyone else belongs and I don’t”.
- “The part that dreads small talk”.
- “The part that hates mingling”.
- “The part that doesn’t want to stand out”. Throw in here what you will, appearance, intellect, anything that makes you feel you’re not enough.
Whichever the part (and there will be more), the bottom line of our inner rationalising most often, is the fear of not being accepted or the fear of not being enough.
Which of course, is a lie.
Present responses often originate from past pain. It doesn’t matter so much that we track our response back to the source but that we recognise it’s there and move forward.
Often times, the awareness itself exposes and begins to heal the pattern.
Secondly, define the purpose of going.
Simple as it sounds, we can set ourselves up to win by creating leverage with a ‘why’ that meets one or more of our human needs.
Certainty. The more certain we can be, the more likely we are to feel better about going, (particularly useful for those events we’re attending alongside a friend or partner where we don’t really want to go). We may get certainty from taking control of travel arrangements (so we can leave when we want), finding out who else is going, wearing an outfit we know we feel good in, knowing we’ve done it before so can do it again – whatever works. Stack in your mental favour, the things you can be certain of and it will change your approach.
Connection. We approach the event as an opportunity because of those we may connect with. Whether we feel it would be good for business or are simply trying to be open to meeting new people, our ‘why’ has the purpose of connection.
Variety. The invite will take us out of our regular setting and potentially add an injection of diversity to the week we wouldn’t otherwise have. Who knows what may happen!
Contribution. Supporting others in an event comes from the good in us as we attend to show some love either to those hosting, or those whom the event is about. The focus is on others and so we show up in the name of giving back (and possibly feel more at ease as the focus isn’t on us).
Freeing ourselves from the causes of often untraced sources of our thoughts and feelings gives us a sense of empowerment which only ever increases our overall health and wellbeing. If you know that the act of socialising comes with an energy dynamic you’d like to change, try watching the story you tell yourself about it and see if it doesn’t make it easier next time!