[Ben's Note: This is a guest post from Katrina Razavi. Check out her work at Communicationfornerds.com.]
This is the second post of a two-part series about Jason Comely, someone who faced crippling social anxiety and his remarkable story of how he got over it.
It always helps to learn from the best. If you want to achieve something spectacular, wouldn't you want to learn from those who have hit it out of the park?
Some of the most successful people constantly do this. When Tony Robbins (whose businesses are worth over $6 billion) wanted to write a book about personal finance he interviewed and learned from the best in the finance industry like Paul Tudor Jones and Carl Icahn.
Tim Ferriss the NY Times best-selling author, TV show host, and entrepreneur has made a career off of interviewing and studying people who are the best at what they do.
You can do this too and I want to help. Interested?
I want to share a remarkable story about Jason Comely.
It's a true story of someone who suffered from crippling social anxiety and beat it by doing something someone with social anxiety would never even imagine doing.
Let me paint you a picture of Jason’s former life:
- He would retreat back to his apartment that he felt was “a cage” on a Friday night because he had no friends
- He would have to walk away from social situations because his body would feel numb and he’d be short of breath
- He felt hopeless, frustrated and angry when he’d try to talk to people
- Jason said he "was mad at himself, with God and the world"
This is Jason’s current life:
- Let me put it to you this way, you’d never guess he used to struggle with social anxiety
- He is an active part of his community and is working to help people beat their fear of rejection by a card game he created called Rejection Therapy
- His story and card game landed him interviews on NPR, numerous blogs and Marie Claire Magazine!
So how’d he do it?
Jason beat his social anxiety by getting rejected on purpose…over and over again.
If you’re interested in hearing the whole story, click here for my 1-1 interview with him.
Modeling people who have achieved what you badly want to achieve is a great way to improve. so today I want to share 7 of the best takeaways from our interview along with actionable tips you can use to beat ANY fear you're facing in your life.
1. Use “small wins”to propel your success
Small wins are met by setting “micro goals.” Using small wins helps you build momentum and motivation so you can build upon each of the small achievements and start creating larger goals for yourself.
In Jason’s story he was terrified of getting rejected but knew the only way to get over this was to turn it into a game. He started off by asking for small favors like a piece of gum or handing out a flyer and then he made his asks even bigger and more audacious. Starting off small gave him confidence to begin asking for medium and larger sized asks to achieve his ultimate goal of rejection.
Small wins can be attained by setting micro-goals. They must be:
- Have a deadline
- Have a small reward tied to the action (not the result)
How to get started:
Come up with 1 or 2 micro goals that you can achieve in the next 10 days. Write them down and be specific. Make them achievable, specific, set a deadline and have a small reward tied to the action itself rather than the result.
Here’s an example:
- Greet 5 co-workers as soon as I walk into the office in the morning within the next 10 days. If I achieve this I'll treat myself to a latte on Friday. It doesn't matter if they greet me back or not, as long as I greet them I'll achieve my goal
Getting specific will prevent you from making excuses when you want to go after your goals because you’ll know exactly what you should do. It also makes it really easy to measure, you’ll clearly know if you achieved the goal or not.
Giving yourself a deadline will force you to do it sooner than later. Making these goals achievable is vital to boost your confidence and to reduce your fear of failing.
2. Get to your “aha moment"
Have you taken the time to reflect lately? I know this sounds really cheesy, but it’s so necessary. Jason credits self-reflection when he talks about finding his “aha moment.” We always seem to have the music or TV going to distract us and we fail to ask ourselves simple questions that can change our lives.
The questions we ask ourselves shape our lives. If you ask yourself questions that are based in fear you will be afraid. If you ask yourself empowering questions that help you take action, you will be able to make great change.
How to get started:
Just spend 10 minutes this week to write out some answers to these questions:
- What are you afraid of?
- What is the biggest “problem” in your life?
- How can you start taking action NOW?
- If you solved this problem, what would your life be like?
- What's one tiny action step you can take right now?
If you haven’t done this exercise before, I can guarantee your answers will surprise you.
3. Get over being "weird"
My favorite story Jason shared was the one time he started feeling uncomfortable at a social gathering. He started feeling nervous and out of place but immediately reminded himself to “be the weirdest person in the room.” As soon as he thought that, a funny looking man walks into the room…dressed as a pirate! This immediately put his mind at ease and gave him a good laugh.
Although you may not have a funny looking pirate to cheer up your next social event, this story reminds us of the importance of being you. Be weird and enjoy it! Telling yourself this helps shut up the mental chatter that is distracting you along with all the anxiety that accompanies it.
How to get started:
- The first thing you need to do is identify your cues, this is the first step of the “habit loop.” What types of things make you feel uncomfortable or insecure? Is it when a stranger approaches you? Is it when you’re in the kitchen at work and someone greets you? Identify the things that make you feel uncomfortable
- Once you know the types of cues that make you uncomfortable, you now have leverage to transform your routine. So rather than allowing your monkey mind to start chattering, channel the mantra “be the weirdest person in the room.” To make it even easier, think of a funny looking pirate to remind you!
- This will take practice, it won’t happen overnight but learning how to transform your mental habits will take you a long way in life and particularly with social skills.
If you can effectively develop a habit of channeling a mantra like this when you know a cue is happening you can create this into a regular mental habit. Transforming your routines and doing it over and over again will solidify the neural pathways in your brain making this automatic after enough practice.
4. Stop being selfish
When Jason looks back on how much he struggled with socializing and fear of rejection he wished that he was more focused on helping others rather than getting caught up in his own issues. He talked about the importance of empathizing with other people and becoming more concerned with making them feel comfortable. This helps you get out of your own head and makes you a much more enjoyable conversation partner by being engaged.
How to get started:
- If you struggle with social skills, you know that you’re constantly wondering how people are judging you. But if you put yourself aside for a moment and try to make the other person feel comfortable it will help quiet your inner voice and make the other person feel important.
- Question your intention- when you’re interacting with people are you speaking to them from a place of curiosity and genuine interest or are you interacting out of fear? Ask yourself this honest question and reframe your perspective. If you want to beat social anxiety and awkwardness you’re going to have to stop telling yourself that small talk is for fake people or that you “hate people.” You have to change your mental model once and for all.
5. Transform your story
Like many people who struggle with fear of socializing, Jason dealt a lot with negative self-talk. He now finds solace by being in peace, meditating and lessening unnecessary distractions in his life.
He challenges us to just take one day to stop the negative self-talk, stop the stories.
At the end of the day, reflect and see how your day was different.
How to get started:
For a full primer on developing positive mental habits, check out this post I wrote.
6. Make fear your slave
Jason said that fear used to dictate his life, he was a slave to his own fear.
Fear is now his slave.
Damn…isn't that’s powerful!?
Jason got over this fear because of he got out of his comfort zone that he described as a "cage." Even though he struggled with social anxiety, he went out into the world and made it a goal of asking people for things to get rejected on purpose. Talk about someone getting out of their comfort zone!
How can you transform your fear from dictating your life to simply being an “indicator” or a “blip on the radar” as Jason describes it?
How to get started:
For one, you can do what Jason did and purposely get rejected, check out his site rejection therapy where you can buy cards to guide you through it.
If you’re not quite ready for that, think about small steps or "small wins" that you can take today that would push you out of your comfort zone. It may be reaching out to a friend and inviting them to go eat or watch a movie. It could be as simple as striking up a conversation with a coworker, whatever these things are get specific and set small goals.
If you take the time to reflect, I guarantee you can better understand some of the fears you're facing and then you can begin taking action.
7. Create super meaning (& visit a dangerous country?!)
Jason visited the most dangerous country in the world at the time, Guatemala, all because he thought he could help and inspire other people. Pretty ballsy right? Would you do that!?
He found himself speaking at a pretty posh event with VIP service, but that would’ve never gotten him there. The reason he decided to make the trip in the first place is because he truly thought he could help entrepreneurs in a third world country (little did he know it was a group of millionaire entrepreneurs).
Jason described his desire to help and inspire others as his “super meaning,” a meaning bigger than himself. It’s a term he took from Victor Frankl who was a neuroscientist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. He’s also the founder of logotherapy. The three main principles of logotherapy are that:
- Life has meaning in all circumstances
- Humans are motivated to find meaning in life
- Humans have the freedom to choose their attitude
If we want to learn from someone who struggled and achieved before us, who better than a Holocaust survivor whose mental strength helped him survive unbearable conditions? The principle I find most interesting is that we have the power to choose.
Jason chose to find meaning in his life and found it in serving other people. He now chooses to have a positive and abundant outlook on life. He went from being angry with himself, God and the world to now enjoying other people and serving his community.
If Jason did it, so can you.
How to take action:
Can you identify something meaningful in your life that would motivate you to improve your social confidence or attractiveness? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to start a business or a non-profit to help others, let something important drive and motivate you to change.
Perhaps you’re super-meaning is simple like “spreading joy” or "making people feel good" by aiming for a goal that's bigger than yourself you'll find a lot of the things you stress about as petty.
Conclusion & Free Mini-Course
When we find people who excel or get over really challenging obstacles it’s important to identify some of the things they did so we can replicate them for our own success. Jason was so kind in sharing his story with us.
If Jason can get over his fear of rejection and his social anxieties, you can too! Get started by signing up for my free three-video mini-course called: Crush your Inner-Critic & Have Charismatic Conversations.
This is a guest post by Katrina Razavi, communication coach & founder of Communicationfornerds.com. If you liked this article, visit her site to sign up for a free three-video mini-course called: Crush your Inner-Critic & Have Charismatic Conversations. It covers 6 secrets to social confidence, the #1 strategy to improve your life & how to have natural conversations....even if you're super awkward.