Why Did No One Teach Us Anything We Needed to Know About Social Skills and Relationships?
Are you guys ready to cry today? Good. Good morning, and Happy Tuesday.
2 nights ago, I had a heartbreaking conversation with my mother.
To give you some brief background, our relationship for most of my life was tumultuous. Abusive on all ends of the spectrum. It was extremely difficult to say the least.
Now, yes–we’re at a point where we actually get along. It took MANY years to get here. And I am still furious with her at moments when she’s not around, even though I live 3,000 miles away. Past experiences are powerful–more on that in a second.
But what I want to tell you about is something that no one (maybe one or two trusted people in your life) have ever sat down to talk to you about.
Because while I was talking to my mother on Sunday, it was a different kind of conversation. She confided in me about something about her marriage and it made me uncomfortable. My normal response would be to get off the phone as quickly as possible because guess what? I don’t want to deal with it.
Instead, I opted for a different approach. I not only asked her questions about what she was telling me, but I told her exactly how I was feeling about it. I told her I felt uncomfortable. I told her why. And then I asked her point blank: Why is it okay for you to say things like “this isn’t horrible or miserable” when it comes to your relationship? Why is that okay?
And she had no idea what to say to me.
Do you know why?
First of all, it’s absolutely, totally, devastatingly heartbreaking to watch a PARENT not stand up for themselves, be a strong role model, or have a strong set of values. It’s also sad that they were never taught how. And because of that, we (me included) were not taught how to, either.
There are NO classes in school about ‘how to set boundaries’ or ‘how to have a relationship’ or ‘how to be a man and how to be a woman’. To be honest, all I cared about was when the ice cream man was coming.
But that’s because I didn’t know any better.
There is STILL a part of me that wishes someone had sat me down and taught me what it means to be a leader. What it means to have a deep, intimate connection with someone. What it means to be a true friend. I still catch myself in behavior that I’m like: Wait…WHAT? Why am I doing this? It’s unacceptable when I compare it to the standards of how I want to conduct myself. But I had to come up with that myself.
So why am I revealing this deeply personal story to you?
Because since last week, we’ve been talking about that ‘one tweak’ that can make you irresistible. We talked about relationships and all the awful advice we’ve heard. Most of you have talked to me about why you simply aren’t getting what you want from both your personal and romantic relationships–whether you’re just dating or wanting to connect with someone new. You see all of these patterns…you know how you’re feeling…but there is NO explanation as to WHY or WHAT to do about it.
Which brings me to my next question…
Have you heard of Mean Girls?
Of course you have. [Lindsay, we miss you]
But have you read the book that inspired that movie?
The book, Queen Bees & Wannabes, actually goes deep into the psychology of power plays and the strategic warfare girls and boys wage on each other from as early as kindergarten. What’s most enlightening is that you can have a ‘perfect’ set of parents and still be screwed up about relationships.
And this means that we LEARN all of the awkward, shyness, wallflower-y ness…the wanting to retreat when you’re talking to people…the anxiety that comes with approaching people…the fear of rejection so strong that even just the thought of ‘putting yourself out there’ and captivating an audience scares the shit out of you.
You learned how to NOT be confident. You learned to SHRINK in front of other people. You learned, actually, to be NEVER yourself–always what you thought people wanted you to be. Which means you’ve been conflicted (a lot) since. Past experiences are not only powerful, but influence all of our behavior now.
And worse, you are still FLOODED with these platitudes:
Just be yourself!
Just be confident!
Let him come to you!
She’s a whore, forget about her!
That person is an asshole, it’s not worth it!
When in reality what you NEED (which is probably not what you want) but what you NEED is someone to say: “Hey, Felicia. I know this person was mean to you, and that’s awful. Let’s work through this together so you can figure out how to handle it.” Instead of some “hold your head high” BS that still leaves you feel rejected, unwanted, and awful.[Ahem, yes. People have been mean to me]
But do you know what that would have taught me how to do? How valuable that would have been?
It would have taught me to be proud of myself and stand up for myself. It would have taught me to NEVER accept that kind of behavior of people. Knowing what I know now, it is ABUNDANTLY clear why I chose the wrong men, for example. We were taught that if we stood up for ourselves…we’d get made fun of. Laughed at. “No one would understand”. And that bleeds into EVERY relationship and experience you have.
It’s why you stay at a job you hate–no one taught you how to be confident enough to first believe you could find another job, and then, how to do it
It’s why you stay in relationships that are ‘kinda okay, blah blah, ambivalence”–no one taught you how to figure out what is okay and not okay. What you’ll settle for and what you won’t. What it means to be in a relationship with a man/with a woman.
And it’s why you don’t do anything to improve YOURSELF! People have been telling you FOR YEARS that if you’re awkward…ha! that’s how you are. If you’re not that ‘social’ or a ‘social butterfly’…eh, so what! some people have ‘it’, but you don’t. AND, people have made you believe that YOU SHOULD KNOW THESE SKILLS ALREADY. And that if you don’t, you’re ‘defunct’ in some way. So admitting it is not even an option on the menu. Hence, so many people in denial, no improvement, and vicious cycles that continue in all areas of life.
SO WHAT IN GOD’S NAME DO YOU DO?
Well first, you have to know that being confident in yourself, being able to truly connect with others, being magnetic and charismatic–all of that, CAN BE TAUGHT.
I don’t care how much it freaks you out to have conversations with people. Or if you’re ‘good’ at conversations, how tongue-tied you get to keep it going. I don’t care if you’ve been told all your life that you just need to be nice to people and a magical fairy will grant you all the friends in the world. I don’t care if you learned that ‘some people have the gift of the gab’ or that ‘you need to be an extrovert’ and introverts are somehow socially defunct.
All of this–can be taught. In fact, I developed a system for it in my Instantly Irresistible Program (now closed) and a future course that will be launched in the next couple of months that’s currently in beta testing.
And I know for sure it can be taught, because I’ve learned from other people, and I’ve taught people, too. You can start SO SMALL–by smiling at every person you see for a week, or even changing how you ask a question with just ONE word. This is so much more than being ‘irresistible’–it’s about having a deep, meaningful life.
This is what Sonia M. said after I told her to smile at everyone she came across for an entire week:
“I’ve been smiling at almost everybody I’ve met since our chat. I even smile at other drivers when I’m driving. The exception was people who were turning in another direction as I came across them or those who were avoiding eye contact on purpose. Sometimes there was a “hi/smile” combo.
As I walk, I think about various people I love or things/activities that make me happy, so I’m in a more open and welcoming mood.
I had this barrier about smiling here because I was afraid they’d automatically stop and want to chat – you have to remember that I’m in a small town and I know a lot of people or they are familiar faces.
I do feel lighter as I go about my day. And for me, this is more than about being irresistible, it’s about being and staying healthy. While I don’t remember how my father interacted with friends, family and acquaintances when I was younger, I do remember a lot of my friends -especially high school friends – who were afraid to come over to the house because of my dad, who was the vice-principal. He was intimidating apparently. Or it could simply have been his position at the school. Still, he was a whole different person after his first heart attack (he almost died). To me, there’s a link between heart attacks and “closing yourself off”. Because you internalize everything.
I will keep integrating this into my daily life. It does get easier (sometimes I felt self-conscious, especially when I smiled to someone who wouldn’t even look at me).
And a small win today. I smiled at the man a few offices over from a distance. He smiled back. I’ve never actually talked to him, but I find him attractive. It’s always easier to do this sort of thing when you know the person and when you don’t care about what the other person will think.”
These were Andrew’s results after I told him to simply change the question from “How are you” to “What did you do today?”
“Wife: The same day after our meeting I was sitting at home excitedly waiting for my wife to come home so I can ask, “Welcome home babe! What did you do at work today?”. Well, as she walked into the door and I gave a big hug and swung her around, welcomed her home, and asked her the question. She was so happy and told me everything! I then told her about the meeting I had with you Fel and what I learned. She said she loved it and would use “the new question” to get me to tell her more details about my day.
Financial Advisor: I was meeting my parents and our financial advisor to go over my parents finances. As I rode up the elevator to the 23rd floor to meet them I thought about what I was going to say. I walk off the elevator and saw my Mom waiving at me. I went in and plopped down in the conference room and Financial Advisor said, “Hi Andrew, How are you?”. I responded with, “Excellent, working on some great stuff at Blue Cross. What did you do today?”. He was caught of guard and had to stop and think. It gave us a great starting point and help us bound closer.
Steve: Interesting enough, when I asked Steve this question, “What did you do this weekend?”, he shot right back with specific answers. I felt like he already had his answer ready to fire away! LOL. A couple things I noticed about Steve when he tells stories is that he’s descriptive, entertaining, puts a positive spin on almost anything, and makes people laugh.
Thank you Fel! The 30 minute session with you was fantastic! I learned how to communicate with my wife better and really listen to co-workers and friends after asking the question, “What did you DO today?”. I believe that the time we spent together plus me taking action and putting into play changed the course of my life.”
And check out what happened to Veronica, when she decided to make an effort to have better conversations:
“I just wanted to reach out to you and let you know that I discovered your Instantly Irresistible blog three days ago, and I am in love! Your approach to life is so brilliant and badass, and I really admire your ability to say things so truthfully.
As a musician, I tend to have the whole ‘reserved, brooding artist’ thing going on, but I know that, in reality, it is the artists who are able to advocate for themselves and make connections that end up doing well in the music industry.
Since reading your blog, I have been trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, and it is because of your advice that I’ve literally had more amazing conversations in the last 3 days than I had my entire freshman year of college.
I think what changed for me was just breaking my silence. It was like silence was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I kept my mouth shut, the harder it was for me to figure out what to say, and then I would just give up and not say anything.
So, I gave myself a challenge: if I was ever standing around idle, I would make a comment to someone around me. (I usually just followed your advice about asking them a question about themselves.) I ended up chatting with people at the bus stop or in the hallway before class started, and I really think I cured my anxiety around thinking that people wouldn’t want to talk to me, for whatever reason.
I really want to start taking it further and begin being more selective about who I’m talking to. I feel like I have tons of acquaintances but not many close friends in my life, so I hope to change that really soon!”
“Alright Fel–COOL TESTIMONIALS. What do I do about ME though?”
On Thursday, I’m going to be telling you about a new way of working with me that will be starting soon and at the beginning of next year. It’s a way to get a completely custom program that I design FOR you (so nothing pre-made) and work with me over the long-term (either 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months) so you can literally transform from an awkward, shy, wallflower into a confident, charismatic, influential person who oozes grace and is completely at ease with anyone–anytime, and anywhere.
For some of you, that might sound literally impossible, considering you’ve been ‘how you are’ for so long. But those people I talk about above? I talked to them for 30 minutes or LESS. One of them, I had never talked to in my life–she got what needed just from the blog. But no matter where you’re at right now, I’ve seen people radically change in a few weeks. I’ve seen them change in 5 months. I’ve seen them change in 2 years. And I’ve helped them get there, every step of the way.
The truth is, though…and this is exactly what I said to my mom…it’s NOT OKAY to walk around and say “well…it isn’t HORRIBLE”. Whether it’s about your relationship, how you feel about yourself, and your friendships/other personal relationships…it’s NOT OKAY. The only reason it IS okay now is because you don’t know anything else.
I’m not going to say any more about this new offering now, though. You’ll learn more on Thursday. What I will say is that I want to hear from you:
If you had a magic wand (come on, I had to bring my magic wand back) what would you change about yourself right now?
TO BE CLEAR: I’m not asking you to ‘fix’ something. You’re fucking perfect as you are. What I’m asking is for something along the lines of: “I notice that I do X…and I would like to learn how to do Y” (and of course, magic wands help with that)
As one example, someone told me that she tends to resort to ‘quiet-observing mode’ around people…but WANTS to learn how to put herself out there and captivate an audience.
So you’re not trying to find things that are wrong with you–you’re looking at things about yourself that may be preventing you from having a skill, ability, or getting what you want.
Just reply back to this email and let me know.
Talk to you Thursday,
PS: I’ll only be releasing this offering on Thursday via email–it will not be posted on the blog. If you’re new here or you’re a reader but you haven’t gotten onto my list yet, sign up below so you don’t miss out.
P.P.S: Yes, I watched Mean Girls over the weekend.
P.P.P.S: And I miss Lindsay Lohan.[ztl_optin slug=”bottom-of-blog-posts”]