Do you spend a lot of time asking yourself what if? What if I fail? What if it all goes wrong? What if they don't like me? What if I look stupid? It's one of those questions that can send us spiralling down into a pit of despair and depression, if we allow it.
It's a question that can trigger something called 'rumination' and that can lead to us doing ... nothing. Just sitting, worrying, wondering, letting our fears build, imagining the worst thing that could possibly happen. Rumination can actually change our mood and the way we think and act.
For example, you've been asked to a party. Great, right? But not if you let that little question creep into your mind. What if no-one talks to me? What if I'm left on my own and I look like an idiot? What if I look fat in my clothes? What if my ex is there with a new partner and they make me feel awful? What if it makes me realise what a totally useless, worthless person I really am?
You see how rumination can lead us down a path to our deepest fears? Through that series of 'what if' questions we got to a core belief - a deep-seated feeling about ourselves that is usually formed in childhood.
So, what would that person do now? Would they go to the party? Probably not. But if they did go, would they be expecting to have a good time? Would they put themselves out to talk to people, make new friends, enjoy themselves? No, they'd probably sit on their own, not making eye contact, and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy where no-one actually does talk to them at the party, because they're sending out signals that they want to be left alone.
The next time you hear those words in your head 'what if?'... just take a few moments to remind yourself that you can't control or predict the future, so worrying about 'what ifs' won't change anything. And it certainly won't help if you allow it to take you down the rumination pathway.
Uncommon Knowledge, who provide hypnotherapy downloads for practically every issue you can imagine, have a great course called '10 Steps to Overcome Social Anxiety'. It covers overcoming shyness, overcoming social phobia, being yourself, making eye contact, meeting people, starting conversations, mastering small talk, expressing your opinion, speaking in groups, and communicating at different levels.
They offer a 90 day money-back guarantee - so what have you got to lose?
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