Do you ever say to yourself or hear others say, "He made me feel bad or he ruined my night"? If the answer is yes, then you are suffering needlessly from letting others dictate how you think, feel, and behave. The key is to take control of these areas and the best way to do that is to put yourself in charge of thinking about your thinking. You need to start saying to yourself "What specifically is going through my mind right at this moment?" The catch is to pay attention to when your mood starts to take a downward turn in the direction of sadness, anxiety, fear, frustration, or irritability. If you tend to be the type of person who is more aware of your body responses, then you can also try paying attention to your thoughts rather than directly to your body cues. This is based on one of the main cognitive therapy principles, which is: your interpretation of situations directly impacts how you feel, your body responses, and the action you take.

Let's now take that lesson and apply it to a specific situation. Imagine you go to a party with your significant other. Upon returning from the restroom, you walk up to your significant other who seems engrossed in a conversation with people you don't know. You stand there quietly and wait to be introduced. He doesn't do it. At that moment you start to notice your heart beating a little faster, the muscles in your back starting to tighten, and sadness is setting in as you slowly sip your drink and scan the room for an exit strategy. Lots of thoughts are going through your mind like: "He's so rude", "I don't matter", and "I'm not important." Your button's been pushed and the theme in all these thoughts is tied directly to your doubt of being desirable.

Don't just let your button get pushed without checking it out. You have options and multiple strategies for doing this. The first thing you can do is examine your thoughts by asking yourself what facts, not feelings or interpretations, you have to support or throw out those thoughts. Remember life has no place for assumptions. Second, ask yourself what some other possibilities might be aside from those thoughts. For example, your significant other always has a hard time remembering names or he didn't know their names or he was waiting for a good time to introduce you to the group without interrupting anyone. Third, think about what you would tell a friend if she was going through this exact situation in order to help you gain some objectivity. Fourth, recognize that you can take action and feel free to introduce yourself or join in on the conversation. Fifth, make a pledge to yourself that you are in charge of your thoughts, moods, body responses, and actions rather than letting others regulate them. Last, stamp out self-doubt by knowing your triggers, in this case a social situation, and not letting the inaccurate doubt cripple you from recognizing all the wonderful qualities you bring to each situation.

About the Authors

Leslie Sokol

Leslie Sokol,Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, is the co-author of Think Confident, Be Confident.

Marci Fox, Ph.D.

Marci Fox, a licensed psychologist and international speaker, is the co-author of Think Confident, Be Confident.

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