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Do Others Tune You Out? Addicted to Stats Checking? Could Low Self-Esteem Be the Cause?

Posted Dec 04 2008 11:02am

Have you ever felt like others are quick to pass you by or seem to disconnect when you are conversing with them? Do you find yourself continually checking Match.com, e-mail, social networking sites and blog stats to see who has found you? I'd like to offer you some points for reflection which may be painful for some and prove irrelevant for others. Simply consider them and take what you find helpful.

If you have been feeling a bit of anxiety over social or professional rejection it may be that you have become a commercial, so intent on selling (impressing, gaining approval or satisfying some other ego-based need) that others are reacting not so much to your words but an underlying current of low-self esteem and insecurity. This can be particularly challenging for business people and the self-employed for whom "selling energy" has become a way of being ("always be closing"). When you become concerned when you feel that drift away (in person, or maybe just a drop in your online stats whatever they may be), it is natural to speed up before the door of conversation or opportunity is slammed in your face.

That press has the same effect that a commercial does. Remember there is a fine line between a commercial's positive aspect, enthusiasm for sharing a message ("I'm really interesting, wait until you hear THIS story. If you liked THAT joke your gonna love...") and desperation ("Wait! Don't go! You like funny? Here, I can do funny. Oh yeah, I can totally do funny. Or astute commentary on pop culture? No one does pithy ironicism like me!")

Unfortunately, once you see a commercial a time or two, even if you find it engaging at first and are in the market for whatever is being sold, it quickly becomes rote if seen too often.  Similary, people can only be captivated by someone else's performance for so long. It's tempting to play the same schtick over and over, particularly when it is gets your needs met ("They like me, they really like me") but if what is really driving your interactions is your need (for a spouse, for admiration, for a new business connection, for hot sex in a broom closet) rather than some genuine form of mutual exchange you'll end up losing in the end.

Whether in casual social conversation, a social networking venue, or in business relationships be clear about your own motivations. Do not spend all your energy so that others can come to hear your cleverness and admire your wit.  We have all been at one time or another in the presence of someone who, in their desire to satisfy their own needs for attention used their interaction with us as a vehicle to get that need met from someone else. They speak to us too loudly, become a bit too animated and furtively scan the room looking to see if they have piqued anyone else's interest. Add alcohol to this mix at a party and it gets far worse.

This energy turns what could be engaging dialogue into a mere performance. The I-You relationship of true mutually respectful and engaged conversation (I-Thou if you really have that ego tamed) becomes the shallow I-It of a low budget amateur play. "I am the Actor, bent on stealing the show (getting the girl, making the sale), you are my foil, they are my audience."

Yeah, it's kind of creepy, but we all can do it. Insecurity has that effect. So, if you do find yourself in this habit, how do you change it?

You change it by not trying to change it but by learning to recognize it for what it is and tame it. We ALL have egos and egos need things. That is the nature of the ego. It wants power, prestige and profit. It just does and that isn't wrong but letting it always have the keys to the car will ultimately lead to your suffering.

The ego lives on what it gets externally.  That's the part of you that checks your blog stats all the time, and keeps running over to Match.com and all that other social monitoring that you swear you are sick of but somehow can't resist. It's what makes you lie in wait for just the right opportunity to practice your elevator speech on someone when you are having a casual conversation in a slow check out line.

It's the same ego that gets you to work and rework your lines (write and re-write your profile). It has you rehearsing conversations both before and after they occur. It even changes the way you hold yourself so that you can exude confidence when all the while you are sweating and anxious within.  Finally with all that sweating and anxiety you start to wonder if you have fallen ill.

So what do you do?

You take your temperature in the only way the ego knows how. By putting the thermometer in everyone else's mouth.

Back to the stats. One more scan around the room. One more request for reassurance from someone who has already told you they love you.

It's an ego thing. The instinct may be hard to overcome, but at least you can recognize it for what it is and get a sense of humor about the impulse.

How do you tame the ego? First you must recognize its shenanigans and learn a bit about the fine art of projection (thank you Dr. Freud) and that requires time alone with you, yourself and a journal (ideally). And you read posts like some of the ones in this category  and you kick around wherever instinct tells you to go at this blog and you start  to use it, not just read it. I'll be adding more and more commentary here as we go so be sure to come back if you need work in this area. If you get stuck, by all means, ask for help. It's what I'm here for.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

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