I’m terrified of doing anything in a group. Anywhere I’m being watched. I’m always so scared I’ll make a blunder in front of people, like turning up to a party in the wrong sort of clothes, or forgetting someone’s name. What’s wrong with me?
Relax. People hardly notice your mistakes at all. You may feel as if everyone’s judging you, but other people actually pay you far less attention than you think.
You feel awkward in a group because each of us is the centre of our own world, and so we focus on what’s happening to us, rather that what’s happening to the others. Looking inward like this makes it difficult for us to assess how much we’re really being scrutinised.
But you’ll certainly have realised how hard you have to work for something good to get noticed! Fortunately, the same thing applies to your mistakes. So slipping up on a date may seem the end of the world to you. But chances are your partner was thinking about something else at the time.
Your feelings started in childhood, because small children think that everyone sees the world exactly as they do. We gradually figure out that they don’t as we grow up, but it can take a lifetime to really believe it! And so we think that other people are watching us far more than they really are.
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Because actually they’re usually far too worried about how they’re doing to notice what you’re up to!
The best way for you to overcome your fears is to take a real interest in the people around you. And to encourage your companions to tell you about themselves and their opinions, rather than worrying about what to say.
And you don’t have to be word perfect either! It feels like everything you say has to be exactly right, but that comes from watching all those perfectly scripted soaps! Real life conversations are far more messy.
So relax. People really don’t really notice your mistakes. They’re too busy worrying about their own!
All the best,