When Life Gives You Shitty Cards – Do This

This guy made a life-changing realization, right here:

“I spent years in therapy “because” I was too ugly to get a girlfriend. My therapist insisted I was using that as an excuse. I balked. Why would I make up a painful excuse? Did she think I enjoyed being ugly? But it was an excuse. My looks were relatively out of my control. I let myself off the hook by deciding the Universe dealt me shitty cards, which meant I was free to complain without doing any hard work.“

(From Quora, here’s the full post)

When we did the research for our program “Awkward to Awesome”, we sent out surveys to almost 20 000 SocialSelf readers. We had deep email conversations. We even had hour-long phone calls with many of you.

One reader intrigued me in particular. She wrote:

– “But how will a course help me, if people around me don’t take the course?”

Others said similar things.

-“People aren’t interested in hanging out nowadays, they sit home instead”

-“People in my country/city are like X.”

-“You need to be a faker to make friends nowadays”

10 years ago – I would have agreed:

  • People seemed busy and didn’t have time
  • They were shallow and uninteresting
  • They were bad at keeping in touch
  • They would rather sit at home doing nothing
  • They lost interest in hanging out after a while

Looks like life dealt me shitty cards, right?

If one person’s off and doesn’t want to hang out, it’s reasonable to assume it has nothing to do with you.

If it feels like a pattern in your life, you are the only one who can do something about it.

Here’s what we see over and over: When our readers use the principles we’ve been talking about in previous emails, this problem of how “everyone is” eventually goes away.

  • When they turn the conversation into personal mode, people open up and become less shallow and more personal.
  • When they start looking for commonalities instead of talking about their accomplishments, people wants to hang out more
  • When they use conversational threading, their conversations run smoother.  People feel more at ease around them

And so on…

Your approach is what decides how people react to you

As an example, one of our readers had the belief that people are always busy nowadays and rather sit at home with their iPad. But when she thought about it, she knew several examples of people similar to her who had great social lives. People said they were busy as an excuse because she tended to be too self-focused in conversations.

It was one of the most painful realizations she’d ever made. But that realization was also the best thing that ever happened to her: She knew it was in her control to improve (And when she started focusing more on others, people had more time).

It’s fair to put our assumptions to the test before we let them form our opinion of how people are. A good way to do that is to look at people around us who shouldn’t succeed if our assumption was entirely true.

Luckily, it’s often subtle adjustments in how we approach people that make a huge change in our lives.

The biggest hurdle is to first realize that if we want something to change in our lives, we need to look at ourselves.

– “But I don’t want to play the shallow social game anyway”

– “I don’t want to make hours of small talk with people I don’t care about

– “I don’t want to fake and compromise myself to get others approval”

– “I don’t want to be some kind of super extrovert and have people around me all the time”

Great! Neither do I.

To me, a good social life is having a small group of close friends who you actually WANT to hang out with. People, you’re comfortable around, who are there when you need them.

A good social life is a life on your own terms, without having to hunt for approval from others.

I found and made friends with thoughtful, smart, genuine people who were very much like me. All those ideas I had about “how people are”, were actually a way to let myself off the hook.

The solution was to make small adjustments in how I approached people.

“But David, people should see me for who I am, I shouldn’t have to learn this”

Everyone has to learn social skills. It’s just that some do it when they’re really young. For example, I was at home building pinball machines when others were at school discos improving their social skills.

Obi-Wan David (With a lightsaber built out of water-pipe)


Mom, I’m still sorry I made a scorekeeper out of your fancy cooking-timer.

Jokes aside, I would never want to change that period of my life.

While others were socializing, we, who spent a lot of time on our own, developed other skills and qualities.

You probably developed parts of your personality that you wouldn’t want to be without today.

Now that we’re older and more aware we can learn to become really socially skilled on top of all that.

“But what if I lack some kind of ability you have to be born with to be good socially?”

I felt the same way 10 years ago, and I’ve seen a lot of participants in my courses starting off with similar feelings.

Most people doubt themselves or assume there’s something wrong with them. That they were just born without that “inner charisma”. But I’ve seen time and time again how that’s just not true. Social skills are something you learn. Everyone can get better at it if they, with the right support, take the steps they need. You will probably be surprised at how quickly you’ll improve once you know what to do.

Don’t let yourself off the hook.

Have you had any thoughts that kept you from improving, and how did you deal with them? I can’t wait to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments right below!

David Morin is the founder of SocialSelf. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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  1. “Everyone can get better at it if they, with the right support take the steps they need.”

    So I need someone to help me? I feel very hopeless right there cuz I don’t have anyone willing to help me

  2. Yeah, I’m normally very antisocial. I don’t know about anyone else but my family is always arguing with each other. (like cousin vs nan or aunty vs other aunties) and then when someone else is around they stop. It’s honestly really annoying because I know no one really trusts each other, but I don’t know if that’s just me thinking about it too much.

    (sorry this is so large, also using my nickname in case anyone knows me..sorry)

  3. This course has really helped, well a little, I’m still not at the point where I want to be but I have started feeling a little more confident 🙂

  4. I keep myself distant, and I know it. I would interact but I don’t know when to be confident and when to let others be. I’ve had trouble finding that “cool” vibe they have so I actually fit in, I also overthink everything I say, but like, after I’ve said it, I do sometimes mess up and say something stupid but it’s generally something that the other person with thinking about for only a moment

  5. Hi David! I cant create new relationships with new people I am afraid and I can’t find any topic to speak with them on, on the other side I think I’m not Worth talking to so these thoughts take me from improving.

  6. Thank you so much for your words and encouragement..I’ve learned so much through your emails. God bless you more and more…

  7. Hello, I’m finding this kind of strange, cuz I don’t remember signing up for this particular topic, and yet here I was on the phone with my daughter telling her that I’m a HSP Nd I’m basically a dud who can’t hold a conversation with anyone especially with a guy who happens to attractive

  8. Hi David good to hear from you again, l can chat a little bit when I meet somebody new, my problem is I find it difficult to commit to long term relationship.

  9. I’m so glad that you wrote this! It really helps! I also used to think that people were born with better social skills, but this article helped me to understand that what I thought was definitely not true.

  10. economic weakness caused me to distance myself from friend and this distance for a long time from friends had a bad effect, I cant create new relationship with new people I afraid and I cant find any topic to speak with them, on the other side I thing they will lough on my appearance and clothing and so many other thing in my head. so these thoughts take me from improving.

  11. So, I had followed all David’s tips and one of the most effective that I was able to learn in less then a week was the comfort zone method. I’d usually sit in empty tables during lunch brakes. I started using David’s method and I for the first time sat next to a classmate and a teacher. I had learned that sitting next to them wasn’t weird and they didn’t seem to mind it at all, it was magical. Nowadays I break my comfort zone every now and then and my comfort zone thanks to that has increased rapidly in just 2 weeks!!
    I feel like I can make anyone my friend!

  12. I think I am afraid of being a centre of attraction. I always avoid telling the stories or making long conversation while with many people. I feel like I might end up saying unnecessary comment & bore people or embarass myself. As much as I can make short conversation to people, is always difficult to sustain such talks. And making friends is a very difficult task for me because I literally don’t know what next to talk about. As I grow older it even becomes more hard to make friends

  13. Whatever I met people they all say you are quiet person.
    In meetings with a big number of people I don’t like to talk as they don’t usually hear me.
    What can I do?

    • That is so relatable!! In my head I sound like I’m talking in a medium volume but to the world it comes out as quiet, it’s really confusing.


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