How to develop a thicker skin

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Don’t take it personally
Whenever we meet someone for the first time it is natural that we want them to like us but just like with any area of life people have different tastes. There are many perfectly lovely people out there who just don’t make you go weak at the knees no matter how many of the boxes they tick.

We all know this intellectually, the problem comes when we take every slight as ‘evidence’ that we are unlovable telling ourselves we are fat or old or shouldn’t even bother trying. The trick is to try to focus more on whether you like the person and are having a good time than on their opinion of you. Really what other people think of you is none of your business.

Know your own mind
If you keep your focus on yourself you will know whether you want to see them again, this is a much more powerful position than waiting to see if they call you. When asked whether you want to see them again you will know whether your answer is yes or no. If their answer isn’t the same that’s ok, there could be many reasons for this and unless you have recently developed the art of mind reading it is unlikely you will ever know for sure.

Whatever you do don’t do other people’s thinking for them. It is very rare for someone to get it right unless they’re Derren Brown. Most people tend to project negatives rather than positives onto other people when we go over in our heads the details of our date, we are more likely to think something like ‘I bet she thought I was an idiot when I dropped that bowl’ instead of ‘I’m glad she saw how nervous I was, she will know how much I like her now’.

Teach people how to treat you
It will be difficult to believe that anyone could want to spend time with you (even if they genuinely do) if you don’t think much of yourself. If you have very low self-esteem try to up your own opinion of yourself. Spend some time each day looking for things that you do well, it can be anything, having a laugh with the lads, playing snooker, helping your Gran, cooking, what qualities does it take to be good at these things? This technique takes practice; many of us have been so down on ourselves for so long we don’t even know we’re doing it. Then when we go on a date and if rejected our low self-esteem can plummet even further, maybe putting us off trying again because it is just too painful.

Be your own best friend
Listen to how you talk to yourself. If that internal voice is constantly criticising, nagging and complaining it’s going to be hard to cover it up when we are staring into the eyes of a lovely date. Better to start doing some work on it now so instead of telling yourself‘You’re such an idiot’, try ‘It’s ok, everyone makes mistakes’.

Imagine if that internal voice was a real person outside of you, most of us couldn’t spend a day with it. We are often much harsher and crueller to ourselves than we would ever be to anyone else. It doesn’t change quickly but it does change with daily practice. The danger of not changing our view of ourselves is that even if we do find someone who thinks we are fabulous the chances are we will eventually lose respect for them for thinking that and may sabotage the relationship.

Watch your expectations
One of the reasons it can be so painful when we get rejected is because during the period of online contact, which sometimes can last for months, we have started to get our hopes up, looking for all the signs that this one could be ‘the one’. It can be a lot easier to talk online and we often have the chance to edit what we are saying so minimise the chances of saying something stupid. Our advice is do get interested but don’t get attached before you meet. Talk online for just long enough to find out if you want to meet this person face to face. That way it won’t be a disappointment if you don’t hit it off.

Whatever you do don’t be put off by a few false starts, keep trying and remember everything gets easier with practice.


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