Its been about a year since I first started working on my conversation technique. As with most things in life, the actual doing part was far more difficult, anxious, and downright humiliating, than I could have imagined. Going from thinking to doing is no small feat. I have the utmost respect for anyone with the courage to take it from the drawing board to the real world. Whether they are successful, or not, is irrelevant.
Along with this blog, I also keep a personal journal. Here is something I wrote last summer as I struggled to connect with others through conversation:
My conversation initiative is going poorly. Although I havent received any negative feedback yet, I feel something change inside me the moment I push myself to either start a conversation, or to continue chatting to someone long after the usual small-talk. Without fail, negative emotions flood my brain while I struggle to maintain my composure and any sense of normality. I wonder if my anxiety is noticeable to others. Maybe Im making a huge mistake by convincing myself it isnt.
I feel as though there is a war going on inside my head as I fight feelings of doubt, insecurity, and a general sense of worthlessness. I feel guilty for starting and maintaining conversations with people because, deep down, it feels as though I am simply bothering them, and they are too civilized to object. Why do I change so much when in the presence of others?
I am giving away my power to whomever I am conversing with, as they suck away what little self-esteem I have. Of course, these people have no idea what effect they have on me. What would they think if they knew what was going on inside my head?
If I could only shut off that internal voice that seems to like nothing better than to put me down and undermine all my efforts.
That was written about 15 months ago. Any progress Ive made since then has been hard-earned to say the least. Yes, its true that I am no longer in a state of panic while conversing with others, but the feeling of inferiority and self-doubt still linger. I have never had a conversation in which I have felt completely comfortable and confident – There is always doubt.
So what have I learned?
– The old saying of, practice makes perfect has never held so much meaning.
– Ive learned that it is a slow, uphill battle, and that genuine change is much more elusive and harder to come by than I once thought.
- If I could learn to relax more, I know I could win people over with my personality.
– All experiences, both positive and negative, are valuable if you can learn from them. Not all encounters will go smoothly no matter who you are. A big part of success is the ability to overcome any unpleasantness in order to move on. There is no bad conversation; as the experience alone is worth its weight in gold.
After all the work Ive put into this, I would have expected more results at this point. However, I do take comfort in the fact that the changes Ive made, in terms of what I believe about myself, have permanently altered my self-esteem and confidence level.
This, in itself, is priceless.