Just as an add-on to my previous post, I want to talk for a second about the process that happens when I encounter negativity in social situations. There’s only one other example that I can think of where one small incident can cause a runaway effect and completely take me out of the game. That one thing is the game of golf.
Yes, I know it sounds a little strange, but I’ve often encountered the same negative spiral in the game of golf. I’m not a great golfer by any stretch of the imagination. However, occasionally, I do go out with some co-workers.
From the moment I tee off at the first hole, I can predict with uncanny accuracy how the rest of my game is going to go. Keep in mind that this is all psychological, however the results are just as real as anything.
If I wind up messing up the shot at the first tee, my confidence is instantly blown away. Mentally, I will psych myself out and start playing every subsequent shot poorly. In my mind, I can already see the ball hooking, slicing, or burning through the grass. The downward spiral and runaway effect is very fast as each failure only goes to reduce my confidence and confirm the fact that I’m a lousy golfer. In the end, it’s all I can do to finish the game.
I’ve noticed the same effect in social situations. If anything happens early on to destroy my confidence (such as a rude comment or criticism), that’s pretty much it for me for that social gathering. Just as with the golf game, once my confidence is shot, nothing I do will turn the evening around.
When I’m in a mood like that, I won’t be smiling, I’ll be standoffish – I might even look like the last person you’d want to start a conversation with. In fact, I know for certain that people avoid me when I’m in this kind of funk. If I do happen to strike up a conversation with anyone, it just feels very awkward (the chemistry is missing) and I can’t help but sense that the other person simply wants to get away. Once this happens, it only reinforces the low opinion I have of myself and my confidence level sinks even further. This runaway effect happens quickly and, from my experience, there is no fix for it.
Of course, that’s just me.