Those of you who suffer from anxiety and depression understand that it can be a lonely road. You may feel isolated, alone and that you have no one to turn to for support or companionship. You may always be wondering if you handled your last social interaction properly and replaying it in your mind. You may be wondering why you weren’t invited to a colleagues holiday party or why you are left out of other get togethers.
Social anxiety in particular can be very painful if not debilitating and the loneliness that can accompany depression often opens the door to despair. Studies show repeatedly that people with good support systems in place suffer less depression, live longer and are happier than those who don’t.
Working on building your self-esteem by making sure your personality is in order becomes a crucial key to interrupting dysfunctional personality behaviors that may be in the way of your relationships.
If you were raised in a dysfunctional home, it is common to learn or develop personality traits that were adaptive in the home— traits that you may have needed to adapt or even survive in the household. These same traits may not be so adaptive in the broad spectrum of the world with your peers.
You may even be lacking in basic knowledge of etiquette, which is easily obtained in any bookstore. Having this information under your belt gives you the confidence to feel comfortable in whatever social circle or activity you may find yourself.
If you see qualities listed here that you haven’t thought about developing, it doesn’t mean you’re a loser who will never have friends, it just means that you haven’t given any thought to them.
We sometimes grow up thinking that we are who we are, we’re not even aware that certain qualities require polish or development. Rarely do we pay attention to the fact that these traits can affect our mental health. Yet, they are related to it.
If you don’t have the social skills to blend with a desired group, or if you’re not sure how to be in the world, how can you be successful? Many business people will take great care to learn the customs and manners of countries they’re approaching for business relationships; meanwhile, they will cut into a line, talk over others, lie to people, or be otherwise rude to their fellow citizens.
Your personality traits have everything to do with how you feel, how you look at life, and how others perceive you (and if they decide that they want to be around you or not). It has everything to do with who your friends are and the types of people you attract.
The question surfaces:
Are you attracting the type of friends you desire?
If not, it’s time to look into your personality mirror.
There are those individuals who reject the idea of personality development or accepting social norms on the basis they feel it takes away from their individualism to be like everyone else. I disagree wholeheartedly with this concept and have never met a happy client who thought like this. No one is asking that you lose your sense of self or become one of the crowd.
The place to distinguish yourself from others is in your interests, your career, your intellectual and charitable pursuits, any of the number of things you choose to do that makes you unique. Your fashion sense and hairstyle, the type of car you choose to drive, all those are places where it is fine to stand out.
When it comes to basic manners and personality traits that allow you to move freely and interact well with others, the less experimenting you do, the better. These things have already been thought out and for the most part accepted—you do not need to reevaluate them. Every species has behaviors that are accepted and relevant to the well-being of the group.
Self-improvement gurus as well as motivational and success speakers have long touted the benefits of good personality traits, and they have identified the ones felt to be crucial in our personal success. I believe skills of personality that promote success translate over to the individual attempting to defeat emotional ills also, as well as to those striving for great wealth or other goals.
Here are 10 Key Personality Traits:
Be Positive. This doesn’t mean you are a “Pollyanna,” which is the first piece of resistance I typically hear from a client when I mention this trait. It means you stay in a positive frame of reference when dealing with others. It allows you to present yourself with an openness that attracts others to you. It allows you to be open to problem solving as everyone does encounter problems. It influences your entire being and appearance to others. The opposite of this, negativity, turns others away.
Be Flexible. Rigidity of thinking limits you, and it can bring with it much unhappiness. If you are unable to “go with the flow” a bit, you will experience anxiety and distress.
Make Up Your Mind. Much research has been done into decision making, and the results are repeatedly the same. Successful people reach decisions definitely and quickly. Successful people change their mind and decisions slowly if at all, whereas studies indicate that people who are unable to make quick decisions change their mind often and quickly. Practice making decisions quickly—not irresponsibly. But once you have all the information needed, pull the trigger.
Practice Courtesy and Tact. Learn to recognize and respect the feelings of others. Be careful of what you say and how you say it. Sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all! Do not monopolize conversations or talk about unpleasant things, including medical details from your last illness or surgery.
Be Aware of How You Speak to Others. Speech is the medium of communication to the world. Your tone of voice can convey many things to the listener as can the choice of words that you use. Tones that sound whiny, very anxious or bossy are likely to elicit a negative response from the person on the other end of that communication. If you use slang or poor grammar or offensive metaphors, you are also likely to put others’ off. The same goes for cursing.
Smile. Just do it. Smiling is one of the most important things you can do to make yourself have a pleasant personality. Other people sense smiling even on the phone and respond more positively to you.
Be Aware of Your Facial Expressions and Gestures. What’s going on with your face? Are you prone to frowns or turn your mouth downward as the norm? Do you look suspicious or wary? Just as you listened to your speech, look at your face and see if your facial expressions are those that someone would be attracted to. Do you look open and friendly, or do you have an expression that says, “Get away from me”? Before you even speak, people see your face and attempt to read what it is saying. Another aspect of this is to pay attention to your movements. Are you picking at your hands or nails while talking? Looking elsewhere?
Respect Others. Be tolerant of other people’s beliefs and ideas. If you don’t agree with their beliefs, ignore it, or if it affects you or your rights in some way, then disagree in an appropriate manner.
Give Others Your Undivided Attention. The ability to listen to others is an achievement in and of itself, and it actually makes you more attractive to others. If you give someone the idea that you’re not interested in them, they will find someone else to talk to or do business with. Glancing around, taking phone calls, texting or gazing at your iPhone or any other device is rude, and you will insult those with whom you are interacting.
Be Interesting. Find some interests that you can discuss, and try to keep up a bit with what’s going on in the world. A few tidbits of knowledge can help you carry the conversation in an awkward social situation.
None of these are hard to accomplish, and they are certainly worth the time and effort if you are not already doing them. Make a goal for yourself for 2017 to increase your social circles and build yourself a “tribe”.
If you would like some free resources on dysfunctional thinking patterns and relationships visit us at PsychSkills.com. We can help get you started in the right direction.
Feel Good For Life!
Photo by sinclair.sharon28