When Parties Feel Like Torture
I have always hated parties. I always hated having to make small talk and had an overwhelming feeling that I was the dullest person in the room. It was the same with work do’s and general get togethers. Not only would I go through every single dress, skirt, blouse and pair of trousers in my wardrobe, I would decide that I looked awful in all of them. Generally I would end up with a pile of crumpled clothes on my bed, a beating heart and a rather sweaty feeling of failure.
Clients of mine have told me that they often feel like this too. They may have come to see me about a seemingly unconnected problem, but, when it comes down to it, they just don’t good enough. Having to stand in a room where everyone else seems totally confident, together, breezy and happy can be torture.
How Does it Feel to Be Anxious at Parties?
“I would do anything to avoid going to parties or other social occasions as I just felt sick inside. I would stand on the outside of little groups working out ways to escape and imagining that everyone else was wondering who the weirdo on the edge was. Me.”
“I always use the babysitter excuse. Oh, the babysitter’s rung and I have to get back to the kids!! Then I would escape home, put my jim jams on and slob infront of the telly. The thing was though that I felt such a failure. Such a loser. Everyone else manages to enjoy getting together.”
It’s strange how so many of us feel we can mind read the people around us. Somehow we feel that we know they are bored by us, don’t like us, are just being kind to us… But we can’t really mind read can we? We are just assuming that we know how everybody else is feeling, or thinking.
When it comes down to it the only person’s thoughts we truly know…are our own. The only person we truly have control over…is our self. Once we realise this it can be very liberating.
It’s o.k to be an Introvert
Another thing that can be liberating is the knowledge that not everyone is born to be a party animal. It’s ok to enjoy your own company or to prefer a quiet coffee with a friend. Some people feel energised by being around others, but others refuel by being on their own, going for a walk in nature or reading a book. There is no right or wrong – it’s just the way we are.
Once we recognise that we are not failures, that we are good enough, social situations can seem very different. Maybe one to one socialising is more our thing or perhaps we have been trying to mind read without realising it’s an impossible task. It’s ok to prefer something else.
5 Easy Tips to Help You Feel Comfortable
But what do we do when we have to go to a party or a work do? How can we feel better? Here are some simple and easy to use techniques to help:
- It’s not all about us! Other people will be feeling worried too. Can we spot them? Can we help them to feel good about themselves? Can we compliment 3 people and make them smile?
- To bring ourselves into this moment now….circle the tips of your thumb and forefinger together. Feel the texture and repeat in your head “I’m here. I’m now. I’m ok” (or another positive phrase that feels right.)This moment now is the moment we are in control of so make it a good one.
- Breathe! Think about the out breath particularly – breathing out from deep in the lungs. We automatically breathe in so don’t worry about that. Just breathe slowly, deeply, calmly. Maybe count the out breath… out for 5, in for 3. Our mind and body will believe we are safe because we are breathing calmly and that will help to reduce anxiety.
- Peripheral vision. Trick the over protective unconscious into thinking that everything is fine and dandy (which it is in the grand scheme of things! This is just a party, not a sabre toothed tiger!) by de-focusing. Day dreamy vision means safety to our fight or flight response.
- Be curious! People generally like talking about themselves. Let them do the hard work and we just need to smile, nod and be curious about them. It takes the pressure off and might even be interesting!
Change Can Happen
So many of us go through life with limiting beliefs and anxieties that hold us back from really making the most of ourselves. It’s such a shame because there are so many simple ways of feeling better. Often we assume that we are the only ones who feel this way. I know from my work as a therapist that these feelings of self doubt run deeply through many people. And the interesting thing is that they are just normal men and women like us.
Change can happen more easily than we might imagine and it’s something that I work on every day with my clients. If it’s something that is of interest to you then feel free to call or email me for a complimentary chat about how I can help.
Sarah firstname.lastname@example.org 07894564287