Coping Skill #44. People Watching

People who went on the tour with us in England

People who went on the tour with us in England

Last night at my job, my anxiety began to ramp up as people demanded things. Normally, I can seat customers in a calm fashion. However, I have a hard time adapting when someone wants to go to a different part of the restaurant. It might sound silly, but struggling with change is a typical asperigan  and OCD trait. Doing something different than my way (which is in my brain “the right way”) is very stressful.

Anyway, one lady snapped at me when I tried to seat her away from the door. “We want to sit right here,” she demanded. Surprised because most people hate being by the door, I flinched and hurried away.

“I won’t look or smile at her the rest of the evening.” Muttering to myself, I tried to not cry. Why did such a simple thing hurt so bad? Why did I have to react so strongly to her request. Sure, my day had been long and going home alone since my family is gone was frightening. Still, my overreaction could not affect my job performance.

So, I decided to use a rather unorthodox coping skill: people watching. This skill was never talked about in therapy groups or written on the lists of activities to do instead of using symptoms. However, it is one of the most amusing and helpful things that calms me around people.

All you need to do is pay attention to those around you. That is it. Of course, try not to be creepy about it. This skill is not about stalking others but listening in and learning more about them. When you do this, it helps you to forget about yourself for a little while. Instead of focusing on my own worries, I tune into the lives of those around me.

Doing this you can see and hear sweet compliments, funny stories, confused relationships, and much more. In fact, people watching has helped my social skills immensely. Seeing others interact (or fail to interact) taught me many social skills. It also helped me to make friends because I had already observed what certain people were like from watching them. Anyone who struggles with social situations might find this skill to be enlightening and rewarding with time.

Another nice aspect of this coping skill is that you can do it anywhere at anytime. As long as there are some people around you, it will work. As mentioned above, do not use people watching to scare others or find juicy gossip. It is about getting outside of yourself and viewing those around you.

Some of the best stories come from people watching. Have you seen anything beautiful or shocking when you simply watched life happen around you? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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