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Posted on: April 19th, 2014

Five Mistakes We Make When Battling Social Anxiety

Picasso - Head of a Woman (Art Institute of Chicago)

Picasso – Head of a Woman (Art Institute of Chicago)

1)  Listening to our social anxiety

We are trained to listen to our bodies and our emotions, but social anxiety is a poor guide. When we listen to the demands made by our social anxiety — escape, avoid, leave! — we may experience temporary relief, but those actions ultimately keep us stuck. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one helpful way to inspect the thought process to make sure we’re listening to the right kind of advice.

 

2) Failure to do a reality check

Many of our fears could be overcome through a simple reality check, a simple verification of whether what we believe to be true really is true.  For example, we believe that everyone is staring at us but we don’t check to see if indeed they are. We assume they are bored with us or gossiping about us, but we don’t look as closely as we could. People who are anxious assume there is danger unless there is compelling evidence of safety. People who are not anxious assume safety unless there is compelling evidence of risk. Overcoming anxiety involves requiring evidence of risk rather than safety. Making this shift causes a subtle but profound change in the way we feel.

 

3) Blindly facing our fears

We often err in the belief that by simply doing the thing we’re afraid of doing we’ll cause ourselves to overcome the fear of it. The spirit of this idea is wonderful, and the very foundation of the fear-facing element of CBT, but often there is something missing. Thoughtful fear facing requires that we do an honest assessment of our thoughts and feelings. To do otherwise is to set ourselves up for failure. If we don’t become less afraid after repeatedly doing a scary thing, it can be very discouraging. This problem is so closely tied to problem #4 that by solving the one, we’re well on the way to solving the other.

 

4) Seeking comfort

Trying to feel comfortable is a poor strategy. Huh?  It seems reasonable, doesn’t it — what’s wrong with trying to feel comfortable?  And yet we have found that the very things we do to try to feel less anxious often keep us from getting past our fears. We continue to stay afraid because we keep trying to play it safe, taking precautions. As long as we continue to play it safe we can’t discover that those things we view as dangerous may not really be so dangerous after all.

 

5) Mind reading

Mind reading is the mistaken belief that we can read the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of others. We assume we know what others are feeling, what they think about us, and why they said what they said. We are most likely mistaken in that belief, and yet it is so deeply ingrained in us that we find it impossible to believe otherwise. That voice of self-criticism comes from a place deep inside us and is a formidable opponent. But recognizing that voice and learning to turn it off is one of the most important things we can do when facing social anxiety.

Posted on: April 11th, 2014

Social Anxiety Symptoms

By Dr. Russ Morfitt

 

Symptoms of Social AnxietyAlmost everyone feels at least a bit of anxiety before speaking in front of a crowd or has some degree of nerves in unfamiliar social settings. The socially anxious person, however, has a debilitating level of anxiety, which interferes with their everyday functioning and causes them to modify their daily routine so as to avoid the stress of even small social interactions. Their experience of the stress of social anxiety is often characterized by its intensity, duration and effects. For the socially anxious, butterflies turn into nausea, sweating, diarrhea, and shortness of breath. The healthy fear that makes us prepare well for a talk becomes a debilitating anxiety about how others will perceive us. This leads to coping mechanisms like constantly avoiding social situations, always bringing friends to shield themselves, and drinking before an engagement in order to soothe their nerves.

 

See also: The Difference between Introverts and Social Anxiety Sufferers 

 

The symptoms that define social anxiety are many, but they boil down to three essential categories: cognitive/emotional symptoms, behavioral symptoms, and physical symptoms. The cognitive/emotional category covers our thoughts and feelings during or leading up to a social interaction. The behavioral deals with how we behave as a result of that fear. And the physical enumerates the long list of physical manifestations that our excessive fear might take. We made a handy chart of these symptoms below for our readers. While average readers may recognize some of these in their own lives, the socially anxious person will know them for their outsized influence in their life.

 

If you feel you experience a large number of these social anxiety symptoms, consider learning more about the leading social anxiety tests, or taking our free social anxiety test.

Cognitive/Emotional symptoms of social anxiety

  • excessively negative thoughts about oneself
  • thoughts of inadequacy
  • excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in routine social situations
  • mind games
  • low self-esteem
  • unrealistic demands on oneself
  • anxiety that disrupts your daily routine, work, school or other activities
  • excessively high standards
  • expectation of being judged
  • fear of embarrassment or humiliation
  • intense anxiety before an upcoming social engagement
  • belief that others will notice you’re anxious
  • fear of social interaction with strangers

 

Physical symptoms of social anxiety

  • shortness of breath
  • racing heart or tightness in chest
  • feeling dizzy or faint, unsteadiness
  • blushing
  • sweating
  • trembling or shaking
  • nausea
  • shaky voice
  • muscle tension
  • diarrhea
  • cold, clammy hands
  • upset stomach, nausea (i.e. butterflies)
  • disorientation or confusion
  • dry mouth
  • twitching
  • difficulty talking

 

Behavioral symptoms of social anxiety

  • avoiding social interactions out of fear of embarrassment
  • avoiding social situations to a degree that limits your activities or disrupts your life
  • staying quiet or hiding in the background in order to escape notice and embarrassment
  • always bringing a buddy along with you for security
  • avoiding situations where you might be the center of attention
  • drinking before social situations in order to soothe your nerves
  • avoiding eye contact

 

Posted on: March 30th, 2014

Measuring Social Anxiety: Social Anxiety Tests, Scales & Inventories

By Dr. Russ Morfitt

 

1. Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS)

The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) is a short questionnaire used to measure how social anxiety plays a role in different life situations. This social anxiety test was developed in 1987 by Dr. Michael R. Liebowitz, a psychiatrist and researcher at Columbia University. Studies have shown the LSAS to be a cost-effective and efficient way to identify those with social anxiety. The scale features 24 items, 13 relating to performance anxiety and 11 dealing with social situations. Originally designed to be administered by a clinician, it has since become a popular self-report scale (technically, the LSAS-SR) because of its ease of use. We have a version of the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale on our homepage because it provides meaningful results.

 

Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale Test

 

2. Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN) 

The Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN) is a questionnaire developed by Dr. Jonathan Davidson at Duke University for screening and measuring generalized social anxiety disorder. The assessment scale consists of 17 items covering the spectrum of social phobia such as fear, avoidance, and physiological factors. Each item is ranked by the test taker on a scale of intensity, from “Not at All” to “Extremely” and assigned a corresponding number value. A score higher than 19 indicates likelihood of a social anxiety disorder.

 

3. Mini-Social Phobia Inventory (Mini-SPIN) 

The Mini-Social Phobia Inventory (Mini-SPIN) is an abbreviated instrument based on the SPIN (above) developed by Dr. Jonathan Davidson at Duke University. Here also, each item is ranked by the test taker on a scale of intensity, from “Not at All” to “Extremely.” Despite its brevity (only 3 items), the Mini-SPIN has been found to accurately differentiate between people with and without generalized social anxiety disorder.

 

4. Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS) and Social Phobia Scale (SPS)

In the study of social anxiety, it is common to differentiate between social interaction and performance anxiety. Mattick and Clarke (1998) designed the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS) to assess social interaction anxiety and the Social Phobia Scale (SPS) to assess fear of scrutiny by others during routine activities (eating, drinking, writing, etc.). These scales are often administered together. Both scales consist of 20 items, which are rated 0 to 4; total scores range from 0 to 80. The two tests possess good convergent and discriminant validity, having been shown to discriminate between clinical conditions, people with social phobia, and those without. Together they have become some of the most popular tests administered by psychologists.

 

4. Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory (SPAI)

The SPAI assesses specific somatic symptoms, cognitions, and behaviors across a wide range of potentially fear-producing situations to measure social anxiety and fear. SPAI results are particularly useful for discriminating between panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social phobia. This 45-item test is an ideal screening instrument for schools, outpatient clinics, hospitals, residential treatment facilities, prisons and other correctional environments, and employment settings. For example, the SPAI can help monitor treatment change and detect those who may suffer from maladaptive social anxiety. In corporate settings, the SPAI helps distinguish those who may have difficulty in positions requiring high levels of social interaction (sales) and social performance (speeches). With a sixth grade reading level, the SPAI is appropriate for individuals who are 14 years of age or older.

 

5. Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (FNE)

Fear of Negative Evaluation, developed by Watson and Friend, assesses the degree to which people worry about how they are perceived and evaluated by others. The authors describe FNE as “apprehension about other’s evaluations, distress over their negative evaluations, and the expectation that others would evaluate oneself negatively.” (1969) Their Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (FNE) is a 30-item self-report measure of social anxiety running from high fear of negative evaluation by others to no apprehension about other’s evaluations. The FNE has been shown to correlate with measures of anxiety, depression and general distress. The FNE has not been shown to correlate strongly with other measures of social apprehension.

 

6. Social Avoidance and Distress Scale (SADS)

The Social Avoidance and Distress Scale (SADS) contains 28 items, 14 of which assess social avoidance and 14 of which measure social anxiety. The SADS was developed by David Watson and Ronald Friend and is closely related to their FNE.

 

Posted on: March 11th, 2014

Why Online CBT Works for Social Anxiety

By Dr. Russ Morfitt

 

online-social-anxiety-treatmentOffering online, or web-based, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a tool to treat social anxiety seems a bit oxymoronic. Isn’t it counterproductive to use a tool that allows a person to avoid social interaction to battle anxiety about social interaction?!

 

On the face of it, yes, it seems crazy. But the research shows again and again that web-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is just as effective as face-to-face CBT. Online CBT has the added benefit of being able to reach that group of sufferers who either a) do not have access to a therapist trained in CBT, or b) suffer from anxiety so severe that meeting with someone face-to-face is simply too terrifying, a non-starter.

 

CBT itself is a highly structured therapeutic approach that involves a good deal of self-reflexion about a person’s thoughts and behaviors. The internet, it turns out, is a great place to start walking someone through the difficult process and to host the resources to help someone overcome their anxiety. Those first successful steps online provide the inspiration and motivation to continue the pursuit of wellness with real people in real situations, the very core of our social existence.

 

 

Some people have said, “Well, isn’t it kind of a paradox that if a person has social anxiety that they would turn to an online program to get help with this problem with real-life flesh-and-blood people?” And that’s a great question. But what we’ve found is that if we offer CBT online it suddenly becomes accessible. One of the really sad stories is how few people with social anxiety really go out there and ask for help, but with online CBT I can take my first steps  right at home – I don’t have to tell anybody, I don’t have to go through the fear of talking to a receptionist, making the schedule, being involved in that ambiguous scheduling situation, and I can just launch into learning the tools right at home.

 

But of course it doesn’t stop there, and this is the thing that I like to explain – once somebody is learning the tools online then they learn how to take the vitally important steps of applying them in interactions with flesh-and-blood people, facing their fears with flesh-and-blood people out there in the wild. And there the CBT really has its power. So they learn it online and they apply it out there in the real world. And that’s where their skills are really strengthened, and that’s where they really experience the benefit.

 

For more Social Anxiety related videos, please subscribe to the Learn to Live YouTube Channel.

 

Posted on: February 22nd, 2014

Top 10 Feelings Associated with Social Anxiety

 

 

By Dr. Russ Morfitt

 

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 1.21.39 PMI’ve informally tracked some of the feelings that accompany social anxiety, as shared with me by people who have experienced them.  It is so much more than apprehension and nervousness, which I did not put on the list because they are so obvious. For many people, social anxiety is the fear AND the regret of imperfections AND the shame of being on the outside. If you suffer from social anxiety, you’ve likely experienced many, if not all, of these emotions.

 

1.      Fear (naturally)

The fear of being in the spotlight is perhaps the most common feeling associated with social anxiety. That fear is crippling and manifests itself in a number of way: sweaty palms, racing heart, dry mouth, blushing, and shaking hands. It could be any number of things that provoke the fears: the thought of giving a speech, performing in front of others, speaking out in class, meeting someone new, or simply walking into a room. Any one of them is sufficient to provoke this feeling.

 

2.      Dread

Dread is the anticipation of something unpleasant. Our over-thinking of an upcoming event, such as a family gathering, holiday, or birthday celebration, can turn the days leading up to that event into long hours of nervousness and discouragement. We don’t know that the prediction we are making will really come true (e.g. that others will stare or judge, or that I won’t know what to say), but dread involves bracing ourselves for misery anyway.

 

3.      Embarrassment

Embarrassment is associated with our tendency toward self-criticism and judgment. We are overly concerned with the judgment of others and project our own self-criticism onto them. “(Gasp) They heard me say something incorrectly, or they saw me do that awkward thing, or they are all just about to focus on me.” We think our smallest mistakes are insurmountable gaffes, obstacles that cause others to judge and reject us.  We discuss this topic more in our post about dating with social anxiety.

 

4.      Sadness

Sadness stems from the thought that the world is passing us by and we can only sit by helplessly and watch. Social anxiety brings with it the urge to avoid people – even though we long for relationship – so our worlds get smaller, and then we feel lonely and think we’re really missing out.

 

5.      Disappointment

Disappointment is born of the many missed opportunities for engaging with friends and family. Every holiday, every birthday, every night out for others is another disappointing reminder of what I don’t have. I see how much everyone else enjoys each other’s company and long for the same.

 

6.      Hurt

Beyond the pain of not enjoying the company of others, we can be emotionally hurt by the lack of understanding that others have for our problems with social anxiety. Sometimes they don’t know how their behavior affects us, but it would be too awkward to ever discuss how it hurts to be uninvited, excluded from conversations, or teased.

 

7.      Anger

We are angry at ourselves and at others. Why can’t I go out in public? Why can’t I speak to others? Why was I made this way? Why doesn’t anyone understand?

 

8.      Loneliness

The loneliness is that disconnect that we feel as we watch others get together, go out, and enjoy each other’s company. We want desperately to join in but feel helpless to do so. We may have turned down a few offers for social contact in the past, but we still long to be included and connected.

 

9.      Shame

I am the only one in my family who can’t go to the family reunions. It feels like there is something wrong with me and that it would be humiliating if others knew I was socially anxious.  So I do what I can to conceal it.

 

10.     Panic

Some people had never heard of panic attacks before basketball player Royce White reported them publicly. But those of us who have experienced them rarely forget that feeling of panic, sometimes enveloping us when the spotlight hits us and we freeze. It’s as if the entire body and mind lock up in suspended animation. It feels like we must struggle to even breathe as if detached from our own bodies. The animal response is “fight or flight” but there is no physical threat. One of the main goals of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often to overcome that conditioned response.

 

So how closely do these track with your own experience? Whatever the case, just remember: don’t give up.

 

Posted on: February 12th, 2014

Dating and Social Anxiety

By Dr. Russ Morfitt

 

Valentine’s Day is our annual reminder of the deep conflict between social anxiety and this very public date night. The pressure to express our feelings for that someone special out in public and the angst associated with that expression can lead to a great deal of stress for some with social anxiety on Valentine’s Day. But with a few key changes to the way we approach the holiday, we can reduce the anxiety and stress and find ways to enjoy the company of others, especially that someone special.

 

 

For people with social anxiety, dating is often one of the biggest areas of challenge and difficulty. Either it’s something that’s avoided entirely or they suffer through it. So when someone comes to me and they have social anxiety and we address the the dating-related questions, [there are] a few basic recommendations I’ll make:

 

1) Reduce the expectations you put on yourself

A big part social anxiety is the feeling or idea that “I need to be perfect,” “I need to say just the right things,” “I need to do just the right things.” These thoughts and feelings create unrealistic expectations.

 

2) Don’t expect the other person to be such a critic

People with social anxiety problems are thinking that whoever they are with is ready and poised to criticize them when they do anything imperfect. It’s helpful for the social anxiety sufferer to say, “I’m not gonna expect that person to be quite as critical as I anticipate they will be.”


Learn more about setting expectations in our blog post and video on dealing with social anxiety during holidays, birthdays & social gatherings and our 5 tips for dealing with social anxiety during the holidays.

 

3) It’s not the end of the world if something goes wrong on your date

My third recommendation is for people to tell themselves, “even if I do something imperfect, and even frankly if the other person does criticize me or think less of me because what I did or didn’t do (and this probably won’t happen), I can bounce back from that – that isn’t the end of the world. I don’t have to treat this situation like if it doesn’t go well then it’s game over.” So we really encourage people to look at the big picture and put a little less pressure on themselves.

 

Posted on: February 7th, 2014

Upcoming Talk on College Life and Social Anxiety

By Dr. Russ Morfitt

 

Normandale Community College in Bloomington, MN

What do you really want out of life and what is getting in the way?

 

I’ve been invited to speak at Normandale College in the Twin Cities to address the ways that social anxiety problems can interfere with finding success in reaching one’s life goals.

 

Starting college is one of those life transitions where areas of vulnerability appear. Students with debilitating social anxiety experience the academic and professional world with dread, leaving dreams unfulfilled. Some of the most difficult situations for social anxiety sufferers hardly register for those who don’t suffer from social anxiety:

 

·         Where do I go for class?  What if I have to ask for directions?

·         Will I have to introduce myself?

·         Will they think I don’t belong there?

·         Will I have to speak in front of the class?

·         What if I have a question about an assignment…or the right book?

·         What if I arrive late and everyone stares?

·         What if  there is no seat…what would I do?

·         What if it is all just too overwhelming?

 

These situations and many others pose formidable barriers to success for many an academic career. I will be sharing information about the high frequency of social anxiety problems, the ways to detect it in yourself or others you care about, and the solutions for it, so you can address it or point another in the right direction.

 

If you’re in the Twin Cities on the 11th, we’d love to see you there. Here are the details:

 

Tuesday February  11th

1:00-1:50pm

College Services Building

Room C2018

700 France Ave S,

Bloomington, MN 55431

Normandale CC

 

Posted on: January 27th, 2014

Celebrities with Social Anxiety

By Dr. Russ Morfitt

 

Did you know that there are many celebrities who have suffered or still suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder? It seems counter-intuitive to be living such a public life and to feel anxiety in public, but it’s true. Some of them have coped by avoiding the spotlight whenever possible while others have used therapy to help them overcome their fears. For other celebrities with social anxiety, the stage or camera becomes a sort of therapy. We’ve compiled a quick list of some of the more famous examples below.

 

Donny Osmond Suffers from Social AnxietyDonny Osmond: probably the one you most expected to see on this list, Donny Osmond has suffered from social anxiety since he was 11. The pressure of perfection for the child performer resulted in panic attacks as he grew older. He was finally diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and has used exercise, among other things, to get it under control. “You would think that all the success, and all the reviews, and all this acceptance of me now as a legitimate theatrical entertainer would fix it. It compounded it.” (Donny Osmond: Headliners & Legends)

 

Kim Basinger Suffers from AnxietyKim Basinger: Basinger has openly discussedher struggles with anxiety in an HBO documentary, Panic: A Film About Coping.  Her anxiety dates back to her childhood and has followed her through her successful career as a model and actress. She eventually found relief through therapy.

 

Barbra Streisand Suffers from AnxietyBarbra Streisand: In 1967 Barbra Streisand forgot the words to one of her songs during a concert. The fear of repeating that incident was enough to keep her from performing live for almost thirty years. She finally sang live over New Years in Las Vegas in 1994. She now uses a teleprompter to mitigate the stress of singing live.

 

Laurence Olivier Suffered from AnxietyLaurence Olivier: Olivier represents the rare people who get social anxiety later in life. He was struck by stage fright at the height of his very successful acting career, while playing in Othello at the London National Theatre in 1964. He eventually requested that fellow actors not look him in the eye so that he wouldn’t forget his lines. He coped with it for ten years by using thick make up and adopting various foreign accents. (Stephen Fry and Charlie Rose on Laurence Olivier)

 

Jennifer Lawrence Suffered from Social AnxietyJennifer Lawrence: Jennifer Lawrence suffered from social anxiety as a child and it was the stage that helped her to overcome it. She hated the social aspect of school with recess, parties, and field trips, but the stage was a world where she felt comfortable and in her element and it helped relight the spark that school interactions had snuffed out.

 

Posted on: January 9th, 2014

On Parenting a Child with Anxiety

By Dr. Russ Morfitt

 

I sometimes get questions from people asking about identifying and treating anxiety in children, in particular social anxiety in children. “What do I do as a parent or teacher? How do I recognize social anxiety disorder in my child?” The short answer is a) be patient and supportive, b) listen to your child, a lot, and c) notice what they do, what their body says…and what they avoid.

 

A friend recently sent me this description of helping his 2nd grade daughter navigate the waters of social discomfort. I offer it here as an example of what I mean. Can you relate? Maybe as you recall your childhood?  Maybe as a parent?

 

Social Anxiety in Children“Our second-grade daughter doesn’t do social activities that put her in the spotlight. She’s not what you would call a social bug. More like a social introvert. She loves to draw and read by herself but dreads going to large social functions. It’s the anticipation of the events that proves the worst. We have learned to look for physical manifestations of her anxieties, including stomach pain, lack of appetite, and tears. In the week leading up to her winter concert in December she had a stomachache, diarrhea and difficulty sleeping. She cried first thing in the morning and didn’t want to go to school, but we couldn’t figure out why since a school concert hardly registers on our radar. She couldn’t articulate the fear until we engaged her in an extended conversation in her bedroom and probed with questions about school and her activities. We noticed patterns, like the fact that she was ending up in the nurse’s office at the same time on certain days. Eventually, she mentioned feeling scared about her school concert. She got a tummy ache when she was about to go to music practice. Once we talked to her about it, she started to feel a little better. We walked her through worst-case scenarios and made sure she had the tools to deal with whatever might come. We told her some of our embarrassing stories and found laughter as we expressed our own fears (note: kids find stories about boogers, flatulence, and underwear reassuring and hilarious). It helped immensely.

 

This is not something that comes naturally to me. I am much more outgoing than our daughter and can’t relate to the sort of deep fears that grip her at times like this. But, I can see that they are very real. It feels extremely frustrating to watch your child struggle with something you can hardly understand. Thankfully, she has a great mom who is very patient with her and recognizes the signs of anxiety since she has experienced them herself in the past. Watching and listening to her has taught me a great deal about patience, kindness, and grace when dealing with things like this. She has taught me to recognize the signs and how to draw out the fears in our children and to affirm the feelings without dismissing or encouraging them. It’s truly amazing to see their countenance change as they unburden themselves of the fears. The struggle with anxiety, as anyone who has experienced it knows, is ongoing. It does not end after one battle. Going back to school in the new year has had its own fears and tears. We are still helping her to navigate her anxiety by modeling constructive cognitive and behavioral principles that we have gleaned from our own experience, from our own reading, and from conversations with friends who have been through something similar. It’s not easy, but seeing that smile of hers in public makes it all worth it.”

 

The frustrations of parenting an anxious child are very real, but so are the benefits of patience and research.

 

Here are three quick links to websites that provide useful information to parents with anxious children.

 

-The ADAA’s page on Children and Teens

-ABCT’s Resource List for anxiety

-Our own resources on CBT and social anxiety at Learn to Live (for parents who want to address their own anxiety as they help their children)

 

Posted on: December 31st, 2013

Self-Evaluations & New Year’s Resolutions: Some Final Thoughts

By Dr. Russ Morfitt

 

This is the final post in a three-part series on New Year’s Resolutions.  Be sure to read part one on Setting an Effective New Year’s Resolution & Proper End-of-Year Self-Evaluation and part two on Common Mistakes with Self-Evaluations & New Year’s Resolutions

 

If our evaluation leaves us feeling negatively about our year, what can we do to avoid getting depressed?

 

If it we treat errors as opportunities to learn, not as failures, we are less likely to become excessively discouraged.  Research shows that our emotions change when our thoughts change.  In the Learn to Live Social Anxiety Program, we designed lessons to help people learn to identify the thoughts that produce the emotion and to examine each thought to see if it is reasonable and helpful, and then to work on changing the problematic thoughts to more productive ones.  In the case of the annual review of our progress, we might catch ourselves being overly critical of ourselves and then examine these self-critical thoughts. In doing so, we might realize that we weren’t simply lazy and incompetent, but that we chose to focus our energies on other important goals, or perhaps used a strategy that didn’t work out very well, or that there was, in fact, other room for improvement on our part.  Maybe we need to learn more to accomplish our goal, or perhaps we simply did not put enough time into it. Whatever the reason, we are more likely to arrive at an honest self-evaluation if we assess ourselves based on realistic goals and then by treating any real failures as potential learning opportunities.

 

How do we use the self-evaluation to develop a strong New Year’s Resolution?

 

Good self-evaluations help us to be realistic in setting the New Year’s resolutions and other goals.  They also allow us to be selective.  When we spend time considering the last year, we can reflect on what we really value and want to accomplish.  Maybe we were fairlysuccessful at work last year, but did not have the family time that we ultimately long for.  In that case, we can set New Year’s resolutions that reflect these core values and pursue success (defined realistically) with family activities and vacations. Whatever the focus, a good self-evaluation helps us to set realistic goals by sorting our live into manageable parts and by making our values explicit. It is enormously helpful to apply our values to specific areas of our lives rather than attempt to change every area of our lives at once.

 

A list for the New Year

 

What are the qualities of a good New Year’s Resolution?

1. Make an honest assessment of the previous year

2. Identify your core values

3. Find one specific area of your life that you’d like to improve

4. Apply your values to this area of your life in setting realistic goals

5. Identify your main obstacles

6. Find a teammate, someone to encourage you in your resolution(s)

 

Good luck in the New Year. May your 2014 be all that you hope.

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