Today on the app formerly known as Twitter, I got this interesting question:
“Why do some people feel exhausted and depleted after social interactions and others feel energized by them?”
And that’s something that happened to me on a daily basis. How did I solve it?
Well, at first I didn’t! I just labelled myself as ‘an introvert’, and called it a day.
But of course, the social anxiety was still there. Because even after years of studying human behavior, I had not realized I was just looking for a way to cope with social interactions, but not truly understand why I dreaded them.
Fact is that we humans love labels. “Introvert” and “Extrovert” are two very popular.
Do you know why we love labels? because they allow us to ‘belong’ to a tribe or sub-tribe. In my case, I wore the ‘introvert’ like a badge of courage. Like something quirky or special.
Doesn’t help that there is a whole culture around the ‘power of being an introvert!’, which it took me a while to realize it was just absurd.
“Introversion” and “Extroversion” is like “cold” and “hot” were talking about two different things. But nope, they are two terms referring to the same: temperature.
In the case of being an introvert, that’s just a fancy word to say I lacked social skills.
But then, I began developing my social skills. Became a better communicator, more persuasive, even controlled my body language like the best politician in the world (Yuck!)
None of that worked LOL
I realized that my mind was framed the wrong way.
That my social anxiety came from not having a SYSTEM to interact with people.
So I came up with one – coming from my love of videogames.
I began to see people as secondary characters on the videogame of my own life. And these people around me, in any circumstance, held ‘clues’ to help me level up, or reach the next castle, or finish the current stage.
It was tricking my mind into remembering that rush of dopamine when I talked to in-game characters, they gave me tips, I used them and voilá! a creaky door opened, allowing me to go further down a moldy dungeon. Sweet!
Only that in this case, is real life. But the principle is the same.
Maybe after reading this, you’ll still consider yourself an introvert. Ok, no problem! just realize that social anxiety is not something that is part of your personality, or anyone’s personality for that matter
You just need a system.
I found mine, and it worked. Perhaps you can use it! and if not, you can try it as a stepping stone to find a system that is uniquely yours.
Because in your life videogame, I’m a secondary character 😉
The trick to overcome social anxiety is to think not of the interactions themselves (that can be harsh at times), but in the gems and secrets that you could unlock.
Because EVERY person on this planet has at least ONE interesting story to tell.
So, go and find it!
Much Love and Bliss,