How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

We live in a world full of information. Every day we are showered with hundreds of messages and ideas about a variety of issues, coming from our computers, our TVs, our phones, street advertising, or the people we talk to.

Unfortunately, many of these messages are not exactly accurate, and buying into them can be highly detrimental to us. This is where critical thinking skills come in, as a set of skills that enables us to correctly and logically asses the ideas we are exposed to, develop our own opinions and make decisions.

Not only that critical thinking skills help us possess accurate ideas, but by doing so, they also permit us to develop powerful arguments and counterarguments in our discussions with others, thus making us much more persuasive. They’re both a mental and a communication asset.

I’ve started working on developing my own critical thinking skills more than 15 years ago, back in high-school, when I joined my school’s debate club. Later I began training others in debate and critical thinking, and still later I added critical thinking enhancement as part of my communication coaching services.

Drawing from these experiences, I wanna share with you 3 powerful strategies to improve your critical thinking skills, make better decisions and be more persuasive. Here they are:

1. Question Conventional Assumptions More Often

Our minds are highly predisposed to just absorb the ideas they get exposed to, without judging their truthfulness first. Especially ideas we hear a lot. They are, in a way, like sponges for any type of information. And while this has benefits, it also goes often against critical thinking.

So a very effective way to improve your critical thinking skills is to put some effort every day into deliberately stopping when you hear or read and idea, and asking yourself (and, if suitable, your interlocutor too): “What’s the evidence that this idea is true?” In other words, you don’t just accept the idea as true, you ask for reasons to accept it.

If convincing evidence is presented, you accept the idea and move on. If not, it’s worth maintaining some doubt towards that idea.

As you practice this, your minds gradually gets used to it and it becomes a habit. You build into your thinking a natural tendency to regularly question ideas, a healthy dose of skepticism.

2. Gain a Good Understanding of Logical Biases

Logical biases are tendencies to misjudge information, reason incorrectly, and reach false conclusions.

For instance, overgeneralization is a common logical bias, which consists in the tendency to jump too quickly to a general conclusion from a small number of sample cases. For example, you meet two lawyers who are arrogant, and you conclude that all lawyers are arrogant.

Although we like to think of ourselves as rational people, the truth is that all of us frequently fall prey to biases. However, by learning about the kind of logical biases that exist and working to identify them in our own thinking, as well as in the thinking of others, we get better at spotting them, and we increase our critical thinking abilities.

There is lots of information online about logical biases. I also talk about them often in my free newsletter, which I suggest you join. The better you understand biases, the easier it is to spot them and protect yourself from them.

3. Learn About Topics from Multiple Perspectives

When we learn about a topic, it’s common to learn about it from only one source, which has a particular view on that topic, although many other views exist, some of which are at least as credible, if not more.

The problem is that if you only know one theory about something, in the absence of alternative theories, it will often seem believable even if it’s severely flawed. Knowledge-deficient minds are often credulous minds.

This is why it’s good to learn various theories about any topic and acquaint yourself with an array of perspectives on it. It makes you wiser and it trains your critical thinking skills.

For example, if you live in a very religious Christian environment and you learn that we are the descendants of Adam and Eve, that explanation sort of makes sense if you don’t know any other explanation. But if you also learn about the theory of evolution by natural selection and the evidence to support it, you have a competing explanation that’s likely to make you question the previous one.

This in itself is an invitation to research some more and think some more about this issue, which develops both your knowledge and your critical thinking on the issue. It can be frustrating to come to doubt an idea you’re used to holding, but it pays off in the end.

As you practice questioning conventional assumptions, you gain a good understanding of logical biases and you learn about topics from multiple perspectives, the entire way you see things changes. It’s like you’ve been looking at the world through a dirty window until then, and now the window gets cleaned and the image becomes much clearer.

With strong critical thinking skills, you are apt to distinguish good ideas from bad ones, make wise choice in life, communicate in a persuasive manner and have a real impact on the world.

For more advice from me on how to improve your critical thinking skills, as well as your communication skills, I encourage you to get onboard my free social success newsletter. The content I publish in it is always top-notch.

Attracting the Wrong Kind of People? Here’s Why

Often in coaching sessions, and even in casual social conversations, I hear folks state with some exasperation that they have a knack for attracting the wrong kind of people.

By ‘wrong kind of people’ they mean the types that make their life worse, often much worse, instead of better: manipulators, codependent people, severe substance addicts, violent persons, total narcissists, perpetual complainers, constant criticizers, and so on. I usually refer to the whole bunch as toxic people.

It’s important to liberate yourself from toxic relationships with such types of people, but it’s equally important to be able to avoid getting into such relationships in the first place. And for this, you need to understand why you attract the wrong kind of people.

So, based on my confidence and communication coaching experience, as well as my personal experience dealing with toxic people, I’d like to offer what I deem as the two chief causes for this phenomenon, plus some advice for dealing with them.

You Have Strong Emotional Vulnerabilities They Can Detect  

A lot of individuals will stay away or break away from toxic people as soon as they realize how troublesome they are.

So to have relationships, toxic people must target individuals who are visibly emotionally vulnerable. These are individuals who care too much about pleasing others, or they can’t say no, or they have a savior complex, or they have low self-esteem, or some other deep-seated insecurity.

Such persons have a hard time staying away or breaking away from the wrong kind of people, because they’re very afraid of their disapproval, or they would feel very guilty afterwards. And toxic people are implicitly or explicitly aware of that. They sense they can have their way with such a person, so they jump on them like a lion on a gazelle.

Now, you can try to hide your emotional vulnerabilities, but sooner or later, toxic people tend to spot them. They have an acute mental radar for them.

So ultimately, your only real option is to identify your biggest emotional insecurities and work on overcoming them. You wanna close the chinks in your armor. Not only that it will keep away most toxic people, but it will also enhance your life in many other ways.

You may require some help. Emotional insecurities are not easy to overcome. If you can find and work with a good therapist or coach, I definitely recommend you do it. At a bare minimum, educate yourself about the psychology of emotions and the effective techniques to fortify yourself emotionally; then apply that knowledge on your own.

In particular, I suggest you check out this video presentation I created especially to teach others an effective method to overcome any emotional vulnerability and boost their social confidence, based on my years of confidence coaching experience. I’m positive that it will help you a lot.

And also, make sure you join my free social confidence newsletter to get more practical advice from me.

You Let Yourself Get Absorbed By Their Superficial Qualities

Toxic people are not all bad, especially when you first meet them. Lots of them have quite a few superficial qualities, which come out much sooner than their more profound flaws.

Some come off as very interesting and charismatic initially. Some always know what to say to make you feel good (as well as make you feel bad, as you may eventually find out). Some seem very nice and kind at first. And some appear highly confident and exciting.

The problem is that you may be engrossed and reeled in by these qualities, only to discover a boatload of flaws lurking out of sight as you get to know the person better. Only by then, they’re already your boyfriend or girlfriend, spouse, house mate or good friend.

This usually happens when you let somebody’s superficial qualities trick you into thinking that’s all there is to them. You only see them through the lens of those strengths, failing to consider there are parts of them you have not yet discovered, which may not be as virtuous.

Thus, in or order to avoid attracting the wrong kind of people, you wanna adopt the mindset that people are often not what they seem at first. And you must always bear in mind that toxic people in particular often come off as very appealing initially.

Coming from this mindset, have patience when meeting new people and do not rush into any kind of serious relationship until you get to know them better. Take your time, observe people’s communication model, and don’t let the initial exhilaration dictate your actions.

These are the two causes. One pulls the wrong kind of people towards you, and one pulls you towards the wrong kind of people, which in turn pulls them even closer. I think you can see how this dynamic can create a lot of complications for you.

So it’s important to apply the above advice and work on overcoming these two factors. It will completely change the quality of your relationships. When you posses the self-confidence to evade toxic people and you don’t let eagerness lead you to misjudge people, you create the possibility of amazing relationships in your life.

Is It Okay To Be Shy?

So you discovered that you’re kind of, sort, of, maybe, definitely shy. How do you feel about it? What are your thoughts about it?

As a confidence and communication coach, I’ve talked and worked with hundreds of shy and socially anxious people. I’ve discovered they have all sorts of attitudes towards their shyness, and their attitudes drastically affect what they do about it.

There are clearly attitudes towards shyness I would call healthy, realistic and useful based on their effects, as well as ones I would call unhealthy, unrealistic, and mostly useless. I’d like to talk about some key attitudes of the former type, which I encourage you to adopt. They constitute a constructive, reasonable way to answer the question: “Is is okay to be shy?”

Being Shy Does Not Make You a Loser

Many shy individuals feel like complete losers because they are shy. At some level, some even deem they don’t deserve to be happy, loved or successful since they are shy. To them being shy is worse than being a leper.

This is a faulty way to view shyness. If you think about it, shyness is merely a personal trait that creates some negative consequences for one’s social and emotional life. Call it a flaw or a shortcoming if you will. Nevertheless, it’s only one single flaw, even if it can carry a heavy cost. It does not define you as a person and it does not make you a loser.

In fact, most shy people I coach have a bundle of amazing qualities. They are often intelligent, well-educated, creative, hard-working, reliable and caring individuals. And they are also shy. It’s just a flaw in a whole constellation of personal traits; nothing more.

By thinking that being shy makes you a loser, you’re only adding pointless frustration, guilt and sorrow to your life. Also, this belief makes you even more insecure socially (because, you know, you think you’re a loser not worth talking to), so it adds another layer to your shyness. If you have this belief, it’s crucial to let go of it.

Shyness Does Create Complications in Life Though

Although many people think they’re losers because they’re shy, there are also many people in the mindset that being shy is not a flaw in any way, so they shouldn’t try to do anything about it.

Some of them almost try to wear their shyness as a badge of honor. Some claim that “people are stupid and boring anyway”, so there is no point in trying to become more social, and they attempt to make themselves feel superior for being loners.

In my view, this attitude is even worse. It’s one thing to accept shyness as only a shortcoming and not feel ashamed of it; it’s another to deny entirely its negative consequences.

Shyness does create real problems in life. Shy people have a hard time building deep, genuine relationships with others, which are critical for our life satisfaction. They often feel lonely and depressed, they squander their potential in the workplace because they don’t make themselves heard or noticed, and they miss out on a lot in life.

As for the idea that other people are too stupid to be worth socializing with, that’s a sweeping generalization some shy individuals use as an excuse and a shallow source of solace. The truth is there are many cool people out there. But it’s much easier to judge others than to face your fears and work on overcoming them.

Do not attempt to deny the cost of shyness. It will make you miss out on so much in life, hiding behind a wall of rationalizations, when you could be doing something about your shyness and enjoying life much more. Which brings me to my next point.

It’s Possible and Worth Trying to Overcome Your Shyness

Fortunately, personal traits can be changed. The human psyche is fairly flexible. We can develop new thinking and behavioral habits, and with them new emotional reactions. More specifically, we can successfully overcome shortcomings such as shyness and social awkwardness.

Many shy people struggle in trying to overcome their shyness, but many of them succeed as well. As a confidence and communication coach I’ve seen hundreds of shy people who’ve entirely freed themselves from the shackles of shyness. The difference that makes the difference is twofold:

  1. The latter type of shy people had the right techniques and advice, whereas the former just used cheesy, simplistic and ineffective self-help tips.
  2. They applied this advice consistently over a period of time, until they achieved the level of social confidence they desired.

I’ve been coaching shy people since 2008. Based on my years of experience, I’d like to show you how you can overcome your shyness as effectively as possible.

This is why I’ve created a special instructional video in which I discuss the sources of shyness, as well as my tried and tested, step by step method for overcoming shyness. Go to this page to watch the video right now.

Also, I suggest you join my free social confidence newsletter for regular and practical advice from me, which I’m sure you’ll find very useful as you work on improving your social life.

Being shy does not make you a loser, and shyness is not a disease. However, it is a psychological condition with many nasty consequences, and it’s worth working to overcome it. You can do it. It all starts with making a firm decision to do something about your shyness, and do something smart.

Talk Is Cheap: How to Practice More the Ideas You Believe In

One thing I find exciting about today’s world is that we have more and more access to more and more rational, well-documented and practical ideas, which a lot of us are keenly accepting. We’re going through a veritable second Age of Enlightenment.

However, it’s one thing to believe in a good idea at a conscious level, it’s a totally other thing to live by that idea every day. It’s much harder to practice an idea consistently than it is to agree with it and talk about it. Which is why you’ll often find a big gap between what people claim to believe and what their actual behavior reflects.

Take the case of minimalist living: lots of folks are getting wise to the fact that the relentless pursuit of stuff won’t make them happy, and they give considerable credence to the idea of a low-consumption lifestyle with other priorities than acquiring stuff. Many of them are quite vocal about this too.

I think it’s great that the notion of minimalist living is catching on. Nevertheless, it’s much easier to proclaim you believe in it than it is to live by it. So you’ll often find people who state they believe in a low-consumption life, yet they change their phone every 6 months, their car every 2 years, and they have a wastefully big house, crammed with stuff they rarely use. And many of them fail to see the duplicity in this.

As a coach, I regularly help others practice consistently ideas they believe in and they know can transform their life, to make them a part of the very fabric of their personality. I’d like to show you some ways to do this that have worked very well both for me and my coaching clients.

1. Live More Consciously 

The more you pay conscious attention to your thoughts and your behavior, the easier it is to spot inconsistencies between the ideas you believe in and the way you act. Then you can make deliberate changes to close this gap. This is what I call living consciously.

Most of us rarely live consciously. We mostly live in reaction; we are impulsively driven by obligations such as work or house chores, and by distractions such as television, advertising, fast food, and funny YouTube videos. It will take work to be more mindful of how you live, moment by moment, and take charge of your behavior. But it’s worth it.


2. Carve Out Specific Actions for Yourself 

Often when we discover a good idea, we decide to adopt it, and then we stop there. We think that decision alone will change our behavior and align it with that idea; which rarely happens. In order for your behavior to change, it’s crucial to come up with specific actions to carry out, and then do them regularly.

For example, say you decide it’s a good idea for you to be more social. You can then come up with specific ways to be more social; like going out to social events at least 3 times per week, or talking to at least 3 new people at each social event you go to. These kind of specific, actionable goals turn good ideas into practical behavioral changes.

3. Overcome the Emotional Barriers 

Frequently you may want to implement a certain idea but have problems because of emotional obstacles. Going back to the example above, you may wanna be more social, but you may be afraid of talking to new people or feel anxious in social situations. Such emotions will make it hard to genuinely come out of your shell.

So you’ll have to work on overcoming these insecurities in order to be able to change your behavior. Since this is a broad and important topic, I’m not gonna go into details on it here.

Instead, I’ve created a separate instructional presentation in which I’ll show you with clear explanations how to overcome your anxieties, especially the ones you may have in social settings. I’ve helped literally thousands of people with this issue, I’m sure I can help you too. Go here to watch the presentation.

4. Ask For Feedback 

Other people can often see things about your conduct that you are oblivious to, because they have an external perspective on you. So to better align your behavior with your beliefs, it’s a good idea to tell others about the kind of beliefs you wanna implement in your life, and ask them for honest feedback when they think your behavior is off track.

Pick people you trust to be honest and levelheaded to help you with this, and who genuinely care about you. Sometimes their feedback will be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s just the right medicine.

5. Have Someone Help You Stay Accountable 

It’s always important to hold yourself accountable for your actions. But it’s even better if there is another person to keep your accountable in addition: someone who aids you set personal development goals, someone you report back to on your progress, someone who gives you and extra dose of motivation, focus and guidance to keep going.

A competent coach, counselor or psychologist is probably the best person for such a task. They will have the skills to properly oversee your personal development and help you stay committed to your goals. So if you wanna align your behavior with your beliefs as fast and as much as possible, this is definitely an option to consider.

For more help from me in changing your behavior (especially in social situations) and becoming the person you wanna be, I recommend you join my free social success newsletter.

Ultimately, when you practice what you preach, when you align your actions and your whole being with the ideas you consciously believe in, you are a person of integrity. It’s not only something to feel very proud of, but also a great path towards success and happiness.

Fixing the Issue of Coming Across As Shy

Working as a confidence and communication coach, many of my clients are shy and socially anxious people. Many of them express to me big concerns about coming across as shy to others around them.

They tell me that they often get comments like “You don’t talk very much”, or “You’re really quiet”, or plain bluntly “You seem really shy”, and they fear that being perceived as shy makes others dislike them. So they wanna know how to not come across as shy.

Of course, the reason they come across as shy is because they indeed are shy. They feel nervous in social settings, they keep to themselves, and they hardly contribute to conversations. So when their chief desire in social situations is to not come across as shy, it is in truth a desire to hide their shyness and seem this confident, outgoing person, which, for now, they are not.

This is an intriguing subject in my view, which is why I thought I’d address it and express what I consider to be some critical ideas on it.

The Deeper Issue Here

First of all, it’s worth saying that, clearly in my mind, the even bigger issue than coming across as shy is actually being shy.

Shyness, although not something to feel ashamed of, is detrimental to you and your social life. It makes it hard to enjoy social interactions, to express yourself as you are, to connect with people and to build meaningful relationships. Acute shyness is often linked with high levels of social isolation, loneliness, depression, and even physical illness.

That’s the real issue. The fact you also come across as shy is less than ideal, but it’s only a minor, superficial issue in comparison to the rest. Being shy is the major matter.

You Can’t Fake It

shySecond of all, it’s worth mentioning that you can’t really fake social confidence. Shy and socially anxious people would like to believe that they can just act as if they’re not shy, and that will quickly fix how they come across, without the need to address the deeper issue. But that doesn’t really work.

You need to understand that being shy and not talking much is mostly an emotional issue, not a behavioral issue. It occurs because one feels nervous and uncomfortable when interacting with other people. You can try to act socially in a way that’s different from the way your emotions dictate, but one way or another, your emotions will come out on top and they’ll reveal your true social tendencies.

If you wanna fix how you come across socially, you have to change how you behave habitually. And in order to change how you behave habitually, you have to change your emotions.

How This All Got Started

It’s useful to note how all this shyness stuff even gets started. Shy people wanna know how to not come across as shy because they are extremely concerned with their reputation. And it’s this very concern with their reputation that makes them shy in the first place.

What happens is that, because they care too much about their reputation and they have certain limiting beliefs, the shy person will fear that if they express themselves in social situations, they’ll make mistakes, or seem stupid, or something similar, and get a negative reputation. So they hold themselves back and they don’t talk much. Thus, they end up getting a reputation as a shy person, which is also a negative reputation for them.

So the shy person ends up stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they talk, they may go wrong and gain a bad reputation, if they don’t talk they gain a bad reputation. All of this arises because they are so extremely concerned with the way they come across to others.

So How Do We Fix This?

Ultimately, shy people need to put aside this concern with how they come across. Instead they need to put their focus on actually developing social confidence and overcoming their shyness. That will naturally take care of how they come across as well.

As I already alluded to, overcoming shyness entails learning to not care so much about your reputation, as well as overcoming several other limiting beliefs. This is what will free you to be confident, authentic and outgoing in social situations.

Working with shy and socially anxious people over the past 6+ years, I’ve developed a step-by-step method for overcoming shyness and social anxiety, which goes to the very root of the problem.

I describe this method to beat shyness and social anxiety in this free instructional presentation, which I suggest you check out. The confidence advice you’ll gain from it is practical, unique and to the point. So go here and watch it right now.

Also, for more practical tips from me on building social confidence, social skills and a fulfilling social life, get onboard my free social confidence newsletter.

Shyness is something you can deal with successfully. There are now fast and reliable solutions for overcoming it. You don’t have to concern yourself with faking social confidence. You can truly be a confident person others enjoy talking to. But you have to make becoming confident the priority, not merely appearing confident.

How to Deal with Social Pressure and Follow Your Own Path

Sometimes your goals and behaviors, even though they make rational sense, will come into conflict with the way others would like you to act and live. When this happens, such people may try to make you conform using emotional tools such as sarcasm, criticism, withdrawal of approval, threats or rejection.

The use of such tools by a number of people to exert influence over you is what’s known as social pressure. It’s a force meant to make you conform to the will of others around you and, more broadly, to the standards of society.

I’ve had many conversations with people who’ve made numerous sacrifices in life due to social pressure. Almost without exception, when they look back, they regret having given in to the desires of others instead of doing what they truly wanted to do.

This is why it’s key to know how to deal with social pressure. It frees you to follow your own path in life and do so without any shame. With this in mind, I’d like to give you a few practical ideas:

1. Remember That the Majority Is Often Wrong

Social pressure is often a powerful force because when several people show disapproval towards something we do, we automatically assume they are right and we are wrong, since we are alone and they are many. Our minds tend to operate on the principle that the majority is always correct.

However, in practice, that is frequently not true. In fact, let’s face it: most people don’t really know what they’re talking about most of the time. They believe various ideas simply because they’ve been exposed to them thousands of times from a young age (which is basic indoctrination) and they never bothered to question them; then they go through life following those ideas, living unimpressive lives, and expecting others to do the same.

So when you consider this, it makes no sense to give authority to an idea just because a lot of people believe it. If anything, it’s probably a sign it’s a flawed idea. This is something to always bear in mind when confronted with social pressure.

2. Don’t Blow Things Out Of Proportion

Sometimes social pressure can take pretty rough forms. Like if your whole family threatens to kick you out of the house and disown you unless you get married. It’s not a tragedy, but it’s not a pleasant situation either.

social pressureHowever, the vast majority of times, social pressure takes light and brief forms. Like if your friends tease you a couple of times when going out for not drinking alcohol, or a few people give you weird looks on the street because you’re dressed in an unusual way.

It’s common though for individuals dealing with such minor events to mentally make a really big deal out of them. They start thinking that everybody hates them, and that they are complete screw-ups. Their minds dramatize and exaggerate.

When dealing with social pressure, it’s important to notice how you think about it, and keep your thinking in check (here is more detailed advice on how to do this). Acknowledge what’s happening, but don’t blow it out of proportions. It will save you a lot of stress.

3. Develop a Strong Sense of Self

In my experience as a confidence and communication coach, there is strong correlation between how sensitive a person is to social pressure and how weak their sense of self is.

People with a weak sense of self let how others see them define them, and abundant approval from others is the one crucial factor that makes them feel good about themselves. Conversely, if others disagree with them or disapprove their conduct, they instantly feel invalidated and worthless.

Cultivating a strong sense of self implies getting to know yourself and your strengths, developing a positive self-image, and improving your social confidence.

This is a big and crucial topic, so I’m not gonna address it in this brief article. Instead, I’ve created a free instructional video where I share my tried and tested advice for improving your confidence and developing a strong sense of self. I suggest you go here and watch it right now. You won’t be disappointed.

4. Find People Who Accept You as You Are

The fact many people don’t approve of what you do or how you do it doesn’t mean that all of humanity is rejecting you. But it can often feel that way; unless there are also people in your life who accept you the way you are.

These people can be either A) like-minded people, who are similar to you in goals and behavior, or B) open-minded people, who have a lot of tolerance towards diversity.

Such people are great because they confirm that being true to yourself is not a death sentence for your social life. It’s reassuring to know that you can follow your path, and even though many will object, some people are fine with it and will keep being your friends.

If you lack such people in your social circle, I encourage you wholeheartedly to find them and keep them close. Get involved in social events, meet new people, get to know them better and spot the ones who accept you as you are. Make friends with such people and foster those friendships. For an unconventional person in particular, they are priceless.

Once you’ve learned to deal with it, social pressure is really no big deal. All that will truly matter to you is that you understand why you wanna do what you wanna do, and it feels right to you.

You’ll feel motivated to follow your own path and you won’t be distracted by herd-like opposition. You’ll live true to yourself and you’ll be proud of yourself for it.

Be a Long-Term Hedonist

Albert Ellis, arguably one of the best psychotherapists who ever lived, often described himself as a long-term hedonist. Some years ago, I’ve come to think of myself as a long-term hedonist as well. And practicing this as an overall philosophy for life has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Today, when I coach other people, I frequently encourage them to practice long-term hedonism in life, and I help them develop the confidence and communication skills that aid them accomplish this.

I believe that no matter who you are, if you’re seeking solid principles to guide your life by, long-term hedonism is definitely one of the best principles you can adopt. So let’s take a better look at what this concept means and how you can apply it in your life.

It’s Okay to Pursue Your Own Pleasure

Our attention will first go to the second part of this concept: hedonism. Derived from the Greek word ‘hedone’, which means pleasure, the term hedonism signifies the pursuit of pleasure. A hedonist is a person who makes the pursuit of pleasure (and implicitly, the avoidance of pain) the key theme in their life.

This pleasure can take basic forms, such as eating something tasty, as well as complex forms, such as connecting at a deep level with a like-minded person when conversing with them.

The ancient philosophers who founded hedonist schools of thought, such as Aristippus of Cyrene and Epicurus, believed that personal pleasure is the only essential good in life, and that it makes sense to live life striving to maximize your own pleasure.

You might say that’s a normal thing and there’s nothing wrong with that idea. And I would agree with you. The problem is that in the society we live today, the pursuit of one’s own pleasure is often criticized and villainized. People are frequently labeled as selfish or bad for putting their pleasure first. Under the social pressure, many of them end up constantly sacrificing their own gratification because they’ve been made to feel guilty about pursuing it.

I think that’s a big problem. I believe that it’s only rational to make the pursuit of your own happiness your most important compass in life. Every living creature on this planet does that in some way. It’s in perfect accordance with the laws of the natural world and the principles of life perpetuation.

Upside down in chairThis doesn’t mean you can’t concern yourself with the happiness of others as well. In fact, often in life, you need to give others what they want and make them happier in order to get what you want and be happier yourself.

But still, keep in mind that your final goal is your happiness. You’re doing a self-interested transaction. And that’s really okay.

Other times in life though, your interests and other people’s interests will run divergent courses, and that’s when hedonism dictates that you pick the course that best suits you, not them. And doing that is really okay as well. There is no sensible reason to think it’s not.

If you’re the kind of person who often feels bad about doing what gives them pleasure instead of what helps others, this idea is something to really dwell on, regularly. You wanna learn to accept your own needs and to be comfortable with putting them first, so you can pursue them freely. Here is some more in-depth advice on how to build the confidence to achieve this.

Thinking Long-Term Makes a Huge Difference

Now that we’ve established that it’s okay to pursue your own happiness, let’s move our attention towards the first part of our concept: long-term.

The type of hedonism you’ll commonly see practiced in the world we live in is short-term hedonism. This is when an individual considers solely the options that give them pleasure quickly, and then they choose from these options the one that gives them the largest amount of pleasure. They don’t wanna wait. They want instant gratification.

Just look at some of the widespread delights people bask in and you’ll know what I mean: fast food, fast-effect booze, instant TV, instant sharing, Instagram. Notice a pattern?

The trouble is that many times, there is at least one option that will give you a lot more pleasure than the rest, but it won’t be quickly. In fact in the short-range, it may actually cause you some displeasure. The overall amount of pleasure you’ll get will be much bigger, but in order to get it you’ll have to wait a while and perhaps put in some work or make some sacrifices. Now we’re talking about delayed gratification.

When you choose to eat something healthy that tastes only decent instead of something that tasted good but is unhealthy, when you choose to prolong your education to get a high-paying job a few years down the road instead of getting a low-paying job now so you’ll have money to go out and party next week, you’re choosing with the long-term effects in mind, not just the short-term ones. That’s long-term hedonism put into practice.

Long-term hedonism doesn’t mean you sacrifice today for the deceptive promise of a better tomorrow. It means you realistically consider both today and tomorrow when you make decisions, big and small. You look at things in perspective. And perspective is crucial.

Delays, effort, compromises and all, the long-term hedonist still gets to experience a lot more joy and delight in life than the short-term one. That’s why he/she is a long-term hedonist in the first place. It’s a rational, advantageous choice.

For the reasons discussed above, long-term hedonism makes so much sense to adopt as a philosophy for life. I encourage you to be a long-term hedonist, and dedicate your life to the rational, responsible pursuit of your own pleasure. No other way of living can compare.

If you believe that a lack of confidence or a lack of social skills is holding you back from experiencing the happy and exciting life you wanna experience, I strongly encourage you to join my free social confidence newsletter, where I’ll share with you my tried and tested advice for improving in these areas and getting the social life that makes you truly happy.

Long and short-term considered, I think it’s gonna be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. Go here now to join the newsletter.

Fear of People and How to Overcome It

Fear of people is more than an emotion. It’s actually a psychological condition, also known as anthropophobia, similar to shyness and social phobia. A person with this condition is afraid both of interacting with and being around other people.

The fear of people is more intense than shyness. The person with anthropophobia doesn’t just feel a bit of nervousness what chatting with someone. They are considerably afraid, and this intensity of emotions makes their condition more similar to social phobia.

But it is also different from social phobia in the sense that while someone with social phobia feels anxiety in social types of situations (for example, when being in a group, or talking to unfamiliar people, or speaking on stage), someone with anthropophobia feels anxiety when dealing with people in general, including people they’ve know for a long time, individually. So the range of the emotion is broader.

Predictably, the fear of people is a highly debilitating condition. A person who fears others in general finds it hard to interact with anyone and is unable to develop meaningful interpersonal relationships. And considering the crucial role positive social interactions and relationships play in our life, it’s unavoidable that this person frequently feels lonely, depressed and unfulfilled as a result of lacking these elements in their own life.

Symptoms and Causes

If you believe you or someone you know may suffer from anthropophobia but you’re not sure, a better understanding of this condition’s symptoms will probably clarify this for you.

Besides the obvious state of anxiety when dealing with others, there are several common symptoms of suffering from the fear of people. Individuals with this condition:

  • Feel strong anxiety in anticipation of a social interaction or event, often days in advance;
  • They typically have trouble holding eye contact with others, even with familiar people;
  • They often feel nausea or sickness when interacting with others or being around others;
  • Intense sweating, skin pallor or blushing are also common when dealing with other people;
  • They have constant thoughts of self-doubt and self-criticism when in social settings;
  • They avoid social events and interpersonal interactions, and often they even just avoid leaving the house;
  • They find the mere presence of other people highly energy draining, and talking with people even more so.
  • They seriously struggle with making conversation and being friendly with others.

What causes anthropophobia? It is believed that genetic predispositions do play a role, but it is not the dominant one. Early traumatic events from childhood regarding relating to people are often at the root of anthropophobia, but not always.

alonePersonally, having coached multiple individuals with anthropophobia and studied a lot of the psychological research on this subject, I consider that multiple causes comes into play, but the most important one concerns negative experiences relating to others.

Sometimes these could be a few traumatic experiences dealing with others, other times they could be a lot more non-traumatic but still unpleasant experiences, other times it’s a combination of the two.

In any case, these negative social experiences, perhaps on a background of above average emotional sensitivity, make the person develop a very negative perception of people and interpersonal situations.

At a conscious or subconscious level, they have come to believe that other people are a threat to them, that they will judge them and hurt them. They have come to see themselves as unlikeable and inclined to attract the antagonism of others, and social settings as dangerous for them.

Thus, they fear people and they try to avoid them as much as they can. This is the only way they can feel safe. But sadly, this also makes them completely isolated socially and ultimately very unhappy with their lives.

How to Overcome the Fear of People

The good news is that the fear of people can be overcome. The fact this fear can be so intense and all-encompassing is not in any way an indicator that’s its permanent. With proper guidance and with some consistent work, you can stop fearing people and learn to enjoy social interactions.

In order to achieve this, what you need is to develop new, more constructive thinking habits regarding people and your relation to them. As these new ways of thinking skink in, your fear of people will dissipate.

In my experience as a confidence coach, there are two types of interventions that work in learning this new type of thinking habits.

1) Progressive Exposure. When you fear people, you are inclined to avoid them. Unfortunately, this only keeps the fear alive. In order to overcome it, it’s crucial to do the very opposite and expose yourself to social settings and interpersonal interactions more.

This process needs to be progressive in order to work well. You start small, with exposure to social situations that generate a relatively small amount of anxiety, and you advance steadily. Progressive exposure essentially acclimatizes you with dealing with people and thus it becomes comfortable.

2) Correcting Your Thoughts. In addition to progressive exposure, it’s also important to directly address those negative thoughts that make you fear people. This implies noticing them when they appear, recognizing what’s faulty about them and replacing them with more rational thoughts.

Essentially, you need to consciously practice thinking in a more constructive way. And with practice, this news way of thinking overpowers the old one and becomes second nature. And so the fear dissipates.

If you wanna learn more about this proven process for overcoming the fear of people and how to use it, I suggest you watch this instructional video where I go into more detail. The information I share in it is gonna be very valuable to you so make sure you watch it.

Qualified assistance in overcoming anthropophobia constantly proves very helpful. If you can work with a competent psychologist or psychotherapist or coach, you’ll make much faster progress and the whole process will be much easier.

At least, I recommend you join my free social confidence newsletter, where I will share with you more practical advice for triumphing over anthropophobia and act as your online guide in this process.

In closing, I encourage you to bear in mind that the fear of people is something you’ve learned. And anything that you can learn, you can unlearn. It’s easier said than done, but with effective action and perseverance, it can be done.

And it’s more than worth it. When you stop fearing people, you are able to get out of the house more, meet people, talk to them, make friends, build fulfilling relationships and have a great time with others. Your life will never be the same.

Image courtesy of David Ingram

Does Social Confidence Improve By Itself Over Time?

Our typical emotional reactions to certain types of situations often change over time, without us deliberately trying to change them. This applies for social confidence as well, which is a motive that gets many people who are shy or socially anxious asking themselves: will my social confidence improve over time, if I just wait?

Of course, it’s comforting to think that it does. All you have to do is wait, do nothing, and eventually you’ll stop being shy and be more confident. But could this be true? Here is my answer, based on my 5+ years of experience as a confidence coach.

First of all, in my experience, there is no universal rule. When people who lack social confidence do not attempt to change this, there are several directions their social confidence can take on its own: sometimes it does indeed improve on its own, other times it gets worse, and other times it stays about the same.

The General Rule

Nevertheless, there is a general rule. There is a trend that you’ll see happening in about 80% or more of the cases. And this trend is that, unfortunately, unless you do something to improve your social confidence, it will gradually get worse over time, not better.

It’s not only my experience. Other coaches or psychologists who work with people with shyness or social anxiety have noticed this phenomenon; and various longitudinal studies of people with shyness or social anxiety point to the same conclusion.

up-downWhy is this? Here’s the explanation.

Over time, individuals who are at least moderately socially confident go out, meet people, have social interactions, and maintain an active social life.

Slowly but slowly, these experiences build their social skills and social intelligence. They get even better at understanding other people and relating to them, as well as understanding social dynamics and navigating them. This in time makes them even more confident.

Meanwhile, individuals who perceptibly lack social confidence avoid social events and they stay at home to play computer games or surf the net instead. Thus they get little social experience, so their social skills and social intelligence barely improve.

This widens the gap between their social competence and that of others around them. While others become more smooth and charismatic socially, learn how to be witty and read subtle social cues, they still don’t even know how to talk to people and hold a normal conversation.

And being aware of this widening gap, they feel even more nervous in social situations. The more they are left behind socially, the less socially confident they are. And that’s the sad truth.

The Biggest Exception

Out of all the exceptions, there is one big one though, which I would like to point out.

As I said, for some people, their social confidence does improve by itself over time. Most often, this is because they achieve success in some other area of their life and this improves their self-image.

For instance, maybe they achieve success in their professional life by constantly honing their job-related skills. They climb the career ladder, they get professional recognition or they make a lot of money.

This makes them feel better about themselves, and see themselves as more entitled to be liked by others. So they go into social settings with a newly discovered confidence, which makes it easier for them to have social interactions, which gets them more social experience, which gets them more social skills, which makes them even more confident, and a positive cycle ensues.

However, even this exception has its own big exception. Many times, even if a person does achieve great success in some other area of their life, it will not make them more socially confident at all.

Because as you already know if you’ve watched this instructional video I created, the correlation between your achievements in life and your social confidence is frequently very small. You can be the smartest, wealthiest and most capable person in the room, but your mind can still mess with you and make you feel like a loser.

This, along with the fact that the general rule is for social confidence to decrease over time if it’s already not very good, means that there is only one sensible thing to do if you lack social confidence: seek to do something about it.

The Really Good News

The best news is that you can take charge. Your confidence will likely go down over time if you do nothing. Maybe you’ve already experienced this. However, fortunately, you can do something to make your confidence go up like a rocket instead.

First of all, you can take action instead of waiting and just reading stuff. You need to start working deliberately at changing the way you see yourself, others and social situations, as well as the way you relate to others in social situations, in order to build your confidence.

Secondly, the technology you apply for building social confidence has to be effective. There is a lot of generic, repetitive and simplistic advice out there for overcoming social insecurities, and it just doesn’t work.

This is why I encourage you to get yourself a copy of my Conversation Confidence guide.

It’s a practical, proven transformational program, and it will teach you a highly effective, step-by-step formula for turning shyness and social anxiety into social confidence. Check it out here, and have a look at the testimonials here.

As you gain some social confidence and your social life begins to improve, it’s even easier to get additional social confidence and enhance your social life even more. Conversely, the more you wait and do nothing, the worse your social confidence gets and the harder it is to pull yourself out of the whole you’re in.

So, no matter how low your confidence level is right now, know you can completely upgrade it, and wait no more. It’s time to take action!

Image courtesy of jenny downing