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Social Insecurity: Quit shooting yourself in the foot

How to Beat Depression

“She is very cool. In fact, I’d really like to meet her. But, nah, there’s no way she’d go for a guy like me. Guess I’ll just give her the old cold shoulder.”

Don’t do that, Junior! What do you think she’s going to do in kind? You just destroyed any chance you had with Ms. May B. Right.

Seems our man has a confidence problem. And every time his maladaptive female-approaching techniques make him a self-fulfilling prophet, his cycle of insecurity becomes all the more intense.

Is there hope for Romeo (and Juliet)? Sure is…

Self-Affirmation

Let’s dabble in a bit of psychobabble (ouch!). Self-affirmation is a psych theory that proposes you and I are motivated to maintain a sense of self-integrity.

So it’s about protecting at all costs an image of self as being good, moral, adequate, and behaving within cultural norms.

And then it addresses how we restore self-worth when our image of self-integrity is somehow threatened.

Life-Encouraging Research

University of Victoria (Canada) psychologist Danu Anthony Stinson says self-affirmation…

“Seems to provide a psychological buffer for insecure people, allowing them to put aside social fears and anxieties and behave in more warm and inviting ways.”

In a study soon to be published in Psychological Science, Stinson and colleagues bring to life the social benefits of self-affirmation. And they’ve discovered the rewards can be lasting.

Here’s how the research went down…

117 participants completed questionnaires assessing their feelings of relational security with friends, family, and current or potential romantic partners.

The participants then ranked 11 values (intellect, creativity, etc.) in order of personal importance. They were then asked to draft a self-affirmation essay, detailing why their #1 value was important to them, how it influenced their lives, and why it was such a rich component of their identity.

(The control group wrote about their #9 value and why it might matter to someone else.)

After moving on with their lives, the participants returned to the lab twice in the following two months. They were asked to report on their relational security, and they interacted with a member of the research team who rated her/his social tension.

The results…

The participants who were initially insecure, and completed the self-affirmation task, grew more secure over the following two months. They also behaved in a more relaxed and positive manner during their social tension testing.

So why were the results relatively long lasting? Here’s Stinson’s take…

“You do this self-affirmation task, and then you walk out the door and smile at a stranger and the stranger smiles back. At home, if your partner is in a bad mood, you don’t take it personally, and even try to cheer him up. Next time, he does the same for you. It’s a recursive process: ‘I feel better, I behave better, I notice others behave better toward me, I feel better.'”

The Wrap

Stinson goes on to state the obvious – now confirmed in the lab. Every aspect of our well-being is affected if we believe others don’t love or value us. And that can lead to all sorts of illnesses, ranging from depression to frequent colds.

It follows, then, that if self-affirmation can help us feel better about ourselves – and more at ease with others – the impact can be astounding.

And now our lover-boy (girl) can behave in a more confident and secure manner, ending the cycle of brush-offs.

And everyone rides into the sunset smiling from ear to ear.

Would you be interested in more chipur Feel Better articles? Click here. How ’bout chipur articles on the psychology of the mood and anxiety disorders? Right here.