Jordan Peterson: Awkward Men With Social Anxiety

Jordan Peterson: Awkward Men With Social Anxiety

Prefer text?

I lose my ability to think straight or intelligently in confrontational or unfriendly social situations any suggestions for adaptation or improvement well a couple I suppose one is is that when you get nervous in this kind of situation that you’re describing what often happens to people is they start paying attention to themselves they get self conscious so you know let’s say I got self conscious all of a sudden during this QA what would happen is that I’d start paying attention to the questions and the screen and what I’m doing and I’d start paying attention to how I was feeling and to the nervousness and then I’d start to get aware that I was not responding properly and that would make me more nervous and then I would get more aware of that and that can just shut me down entirely and that’s happened to me now and then in a lecture and sometimes almost happened when I was talking to sam harris the first time I paused for a long time and then became aware of the pause and then anyways what you have to do in a situation like that is it’s not so much that you have to stop attending to yourself because if you start thinking I should stop attending to myself then you’ll just think about yourself more what you have to do instead is pay more attention to the situation and to the people that you’re talking to so you have to increase the degree to which you’re attending outwardly and that’ll stop you from attending inwardly that’s a very effective technique you can practice that generally speaking every time you get nervous start paying more attention and that’ll that’ll that’ll help you out a lot yeah that’s really good suggestion for social anxiety in general is that if you see most people but not everyone but most people have enough implicit social skill because they were reasonably socialized when they were children so that they do know how to act in social situations but they get anxious and then that interferes with them implementing what they know just like if you’re a pianist and you get anxious and self conscious while you’re playing you’ll forget what you know because while you’ve activated a different part of your brain if you can remember to pay attention and you can direct your attention outward and you attend hard enough then what will happen and try to put the other person at ease and try to ask them questions then that’ll kick in the automatic because you’re paying attention to what the person is doing into their facial expressions and all of that that will clue in the automatic and implicit knowledge that you have and make things much more smooth and and and anxiety free so attention really attention really plays a huge role in regulating anxiety no there’s this idea in very deep idea in clinical psychology a fundamental idea which is that if someone’s anxious about something what you do is you and it’s getting in their way you take what they’re anxious about and you define it because that already delimits it right because one of the problems with being anxious about something is you won’t speak of it it’s like Voldemort and then if you don’t speak of it you it’s way bigger than it should be as soon as you start talking about it you cut it down to size and so and it it’s for a bunch of reasons it’s because you’re not as afraid you’re not as afraid of as many things as you think and you’re braver than you know and more and more capable so as soon as you’re brave enough to start talking about what you’re afraid of then you see that there’s more to you than you thought and that there’s less to the problem than you thought and then you can decompose it further into smaller problems and then you can figure out how to approach those smaller problems and so and then it doesn’t seem to me to be that you get less frightened it seems to be that you get more courageous which is way better than being less frightened because there’s lots of things to be frightened about so if you’re courageous that that really does the trick now the question is what happens if you like let’s say that you’re very socially inept and you don’t know how to introduce yourself or to make any establish the initial parts of a relationship with anyone and so then you start putting yourself in situations where you’re required to do that and so then the question is how is it technically that you transfer form you say well you learn well we want to be more specific about that what does it mean that you learned well if you’re dealing with someone who’s particularly socially inept and you’re doing psychotherapy with them you might teach them how to shake someone’s hand properly and say their name and remember the other person’s name so you just practice that with them so that they have the motoric routine down so that form of knowledge is built right into your body it’s like look at the person put out your hand shake it don’t not like a dead halibut but you know with a reasonable grip say your name don’t mumble it look look at them so that they can hear you and then when they say their name try to remember it and that’s then so you can practice that with people and so then they develop something that’s motoric right it’s embedded right in their body and so and then you can say to them well the other thing you can do is when you start a conversation is don’t sit there thinking about what you’re gonna say next because then you won’t be paying attention to the person and you’ll make a fool out of yourself because you’ll manifest non sequiturs right because you’ll get out it’s like if you’re dancing and all you’re paying attention to is where your feet are and you’re gonna step on the other person all the time so you want to pay attention to the other person and then whatever automatized social knowledge you have will come to the forefront so it’s a good thing to know if you’re socially anxious right if you’re socially anxious one of the things you should do is pay way more attention to the person you’re talking to rather than less and you should pay as little attention as possible to yourself so if you feel yourself falling in because you’re anxious then what you do is you push your attention out and pay attention to the person because to the degree that you’ve been socialized then all your automatic responses will kick in so but anyway so you go out into the social world and you learn to shake someone’s hand and you learn how to listen to them and ask them questions because that’s the next thing because people love you can’t just ask them random questions obviously but if they start talking to you and you don’t understand something about what they’re saying or maybe something they said is interesting and you ask them a question they’re pretty damn happy about that because it means you’re actually paying attention to them and people actually love to be paid attention to because it hardly ever happens so they really really like it and so okay so so what’s happening well first of all your mastering them automated motor movements right where to point your eyes where to put your hands how to move your lips like really embodied knowledge it’s a special kind of memory and you’re practicing them so that’s building new skills for you and then by listening to the person and watching yourself interact you’re also generating new new abstract information that enables you to conceptualize the world in a different way so if you go out to ten you go out and talk to ten different people or 50 different people then you get to listen to what those 50 people said you get to watch how they’re how they express themselves and you gather a corpus of knowledge that changes the way you perceive that broadens you as a social agent okay so that’s two forms of knowledge but then there’s a third one which is really interesting which is that you know you have a lot of biological potential and it’s hard to know what potential is but part of it is that you’re capable of generating proteins that you haven’t been generating so you should get right on that by the way so but what the way that works in part is that if you put yourself in a radically new situation then your brain that there are genetic switches that turn on because of the demands of the new situation that code for new proteins so it’s as if you have latent software that would be one way of thinking about that will only be turned on if you go into the situation where that’s necessary and so then you might think well if that’s the case how much of you could be turned on if you went a whole bunch of different places and that’s a really really that’s a profound question because one of the deep answers to how you should get your life together is you should go a very large number of places and turn yourself on..

Rather than the usual shyness advice I want to make sure you learn from people who have really gone through it. Like struggled with social anxiety for decade and come out on the other side level of gone through it. If this is your first visit to Social Professor make sure you check out the shy to social page and grab the free audiobook ‘how to talk to anyone’ which is going to turn your life around.

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Comment (6)

  1. I find more and more that most people don’t give a shit about anything you have to say and vice versa. If I am talking about a job on a sales call for work for example there is a natural progression the conversation takes on. But in general I have a hard time trying to maintain a normal conversation with most people.

  2. I get super nervous when talking to women because bad experiences in my past, what i do is put on my jester mask and shield myself in jokes and sarcasm. I’m still nervous but at least i don’t make others uncomfy. Dunno if i explained myself properly.

  3. Most people do not know how to do this. We are so socially detached it is sad. My anxiety left when MDD manifested. Now I dont even give a shit. I would say I have social anhedonia know. You cant always fix anx. It can be a bigger problem under you or in your genetics.

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