Things You Wish You Knew @ 17 #6

Social skills build inner confidence & happiness

Social skills are a MUST in constructing our mental health and well-being and can lead us toward a happy and fulfilling life. Too bad they’re not often taught to us while we’re growing up! There may be a number of reasons for this: Building on #5 “Challenge everything you’ve been taught” Have you been taught social skills? Nowadays, they are not taught for a number of reasons such as both parents working, parents not having been properly taught social skills by their parents, etc. If you don’t have social skills, it doesn’t make you a bad person. You simply never learned them. I never did!

As I mentioned in a previous lesson, the only means of communicating I knew was sarcasm and short, abrupt responses. The strange part of this is that I always thought I was being funny and therefore accepted. I was once referred to as a “Bitch on Wheels” at a hotel job where I ran the banquet department (and my perception of my behavior was that I was friendly!). One day, a friend once asked me, “Why are you always so angry?” The truth was I didn’t know I always appeared angry. I simply never looked at myself – do you? Also, in reflection, I lived with a sense of never feeling comfortable or at ease. I was always nervous about what I was going to say next and never really paid attention to what the other person was saying, and I guess this always projected as anger.

So what are social skills anyway? They are the tools that enable us to effectively and harmoniously interact and communicate with others, or more simply put, how to get along with others. Most of us can easily come up with examples of ineffective social skills, where we practiced them or witnessed them in others. Maybe it’s laughing at the most inappropriate time, like when someone says something serious or sad. Maybe it’s not letting someone finish a sentence before you finish it for them. Maybe it’s always getting criticized for certain actions. Maybe it’s not getting the job promotion you want despite the fact that you think you do a better job than the person who is getting promoted, and telling everyone else about it.

That’s something that happened to me for the first time when I was only 16. I was working at a very busy McDonald’s and my job was “on the grill.” I was responsible for cooking all the burgers and the buns at the same time. I was good—I could “turn-lay” those burgers faster than anyone in the place. Then came evaluation time when I received a raise of only five cents an hour and a colleague, who couldn’t turn lay even half as fast as I did, received a fifteen-cent raise. I promptly approached the manager about this grave injustice, demanding to know why my co-worker received a higher raise. Without hesitation, my boss replied, “Because he never complains and you complain about everything.” Ugh, my world reduced down to the size of that nickel. As I write about that moment, I recognize that I’ve never had the courage to ask for a raise since that day. Wow!

Looking back, that pivotal point in time stifled me because I didn’t know how to process that information with the other person, and I sure didn’t understand or accept the truth of what was said to me. I’m pretty sure I quit that job soon after the snub, clinging to the belief that they didn’t value me the way I deserved to be valued when the reality was that I didn’t have the social skills to value others.

Social skills include both verbal and non-verbal communication. Some examples:

  • The ability to listen, follow directions and refrain from speaking.
  • The ability to feel empathy and connect with others.
  • The ability to share and join in activities, and to ask for permission and wait your turn.
  • The ability to appropriately ask for help and to apologize to others when needed.
  • The ability to take full responsibility for your mistakes or shortcomings in what you do and how you act, and to receive constructive feedback (such as my five-cent raise!)
  • The ability to recognize and respect another person’s point of view, and to express concerns or differences in a non-threatening manner.

Here’s an illustration of what happens to those who lack many of these basic social skills. A college student shares an apartment with two other people. One of the others never does their own dishes, is constantly eating the others’ food supplies, never takes out the trash and invites their partner over without telling the other two. It’s clear that this person is seriously lacking in social skills. What about the other two roommates? An example of healthy living would be for them to have a conversation (not a confrontation) with the slacker to express their concern over the lack of respect being shown them. However, neither wants speak up because they lack the confidence-self-worth-and skill to speak up and respectfully confront the other person—they’re afraid they would hurt the other person’s feelings and cause tension in the apartment. Hello! There’s already tension, and for a 20-year-old this tension can compound itself and rear its head in so many ugly ways, such as turning to substance use for relief, or depression, anxiety or even panic disorders. The next thing you know, one of those quiet roommates may stumble into another relationship that involves power and control without even knowing it, until their life becomes unmanageable and they have a moment of clarity wondering 20 years later “Where the heck am I and what happened to me?” Then, they spend the next 10 years in therapy and support groups trying to unlearn everything they thought was right!

Yes, if I knew what good social skills were when I was 17, it could have saved us a whole lot of trouble. But no matter how old you are or where you are in life, you can learn and practice the kind of social skills that will bring you less worry, less stress and more room in your head for positive things!

Just for Today – Can you pause before you speak and think about what you’re going to say? Ask yourself; is it kind or is it necessary.

Just for Today – When you do speak, can you choose words that are well thought out and coming from a place of love?

Just for Today – Can you speak up for yourself, in a respectful manner?

The Combination Notebook:

Choices – You decide if you want to build your social skills and awareness.


I wish I knew what social skills were when I was 17 because having them would have kept me out of a lot of trouble and I would have been able to manage and redirect personal inner conflict.

Today, I practice keeping my mouth closed and when I do say something I am diligent in having my words come from place inside of me that is conscious, thought out, and from love. There are certainly times when I think about being inappropriate either through an action or with words, however, choosing the aforementioned always keeps me out of trouble in mind, body and spirit.

Choice Wheel by Ginger RossChoices – You decide if you want to build your social skills and awareness

Perception – Open your mind to other possibilities-often times we are so unaware of the lies we live with, even the one’s we tell ourselves

Expectations – Let go of them

Beliefs – Question their validity and reality

Energy – Choose the type of energy you want to absorb and exude (negative or positive).

Stuck – Don’t even want to hear yourself talk

You’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all”?

Over the past few years, I have tried hard to keep negative talk and criticism from coming out of my mouth; or even entering into my mind #energy. Recently, I find myself engaging in it. In a matter of 20 minutes I managed to offer a better way and reason why the what my boyfriend was doing was not the way I would have done it.

Taking life too seriously – lighten up. At the end of the day does it matter where the soap dish goes in the shower? Is it permanent? How much does it really effect me if it doesn’t go where I would have put it? Time for a gratitude list.

#Choice Challenge – can you identify where you are not living and let living. Can you hear where you’re imposing your ideas and beliefs on someone else and working hard to get them to see it your way? Do you have those moments where you wish you didn’t say anything at all? Your choice challenge is to let go of the control today. The world will still revolve if things are done your way, or if someone makes a mistake – that’s how we grow. Be kind, keep your mouth close (unless safety is an issue) and spread love.

Your comments are welcome, always!
Thank you for powering up today


P.S., This type of energy is generally learned. You can unlearn it with simple mindfulness and cognitive (conscious) turning it around, or simply keeping your mouth closed.


Choice Wheel by Ginger Ross

Things you wish you knew @ 17 #2 ~ Choices

You make hundreds of choices every day – and only YOU own and have control over each and everyone of them.

Each and every moment holds the potential to create a dramatic change in your life
direction. Th choices that you make at any time and in any situation can steer you down the
right path or the wrong path. But as we often forget, we are the ones in charge of making those
choices and we are responsible for where they lead us.
When I was 17, I joined the Army. Why? Because my mother told me to. She just
wanted me out of the house, and I had no idea what else to do. Throughout my adolescence, I
never received any guidance—I lacked any ability to make positive, healthy, self-driven choices.
It took me a long time to understand that every single seemingly unimportant choice I made
from the moment that I turned 18 was my choice alone, and every one of those “miniscule”
decisions would play a role in shaping who I would become. I had to learn that who I am and
where I am at this point in my life is because of my choices…period. There’s no one else to

Some of the most colossal misapplications of my God-given rights to own my own life
happened when I allowed the opinions of others, absent of all personal consideration, to
influence my decisions. I was a people-pleaser, which meant that I was the last person I thought
about when making decisions. I always focused on how my actions would benefit another
person, and the reward for myself was recognition from others. What I had not learned was
that I had the power to make decisions to benefit myself—not in a self-serving or self-righteous
way, but in a manner aimed at achieving desired outcomes for my life, my dreams, my passions.

I’ll give you an example of how even a small, simple choice can significantly impact your
life. A month or so after renting a condo while trying to recover from a traumatizing divorce, my
place was not exactly all put-together yet. I especially kept noticing a bunch of hangers laying in
the middle of my walk-in closet. Every day I was getting angrier and angrier at those hangers for
being in my way! One day, I finally had an epiphany that would move me towards changing the
rest of my life: all I needed to do was bend over and pick up the blankety-blank hangers!
This realization prompted me to look at the rest of my daily actions, or lack thereof, and
put everything in perspective. I could moan and groan about the dishes, or the car that needed
repairs, or all the other errands that I hadn’t gotten around to. That would my choice to
complain about all that stuff and consume my energy on the complaining, rather than simply
moving forward, piece by piece, just doing the stuff that needed to get done.

That’s the broad view of choices. The narrower view looks like this: you get to decide
what you want to think about today and how you want to think about it. For example, do you
want to criticize someone today and let that consume your day, carrying that judgment about
another person and a false belief that this way of thinking is healthy? Do you want to eat that
candy bar or drink that soda because one more won’t matter—you’ll start your diet tomorrow?
Do you want to get pissed off at the person on the other end of the phone because you think
you’re the only person that matters? Do you want to talk to your children in a condescending, insulting way because that’s the way you were spoken to by your parents, or because things didn’t go your way today? Do you want to continue a pattern of blaming others for where your
life is today, using your past as a handy excuse?

The choice is yours. You Own It. You get to decide whether or not to generate positivity,
productivity, love and kindness in your life each and every second you breathe.

Just for Today – Can you remain positive in every encounter? Just for
today, can you recognize each and every decision you make, AND can you think through your decisions and consider the outcomes before
you make your choices?

The Combination Notebook:
Choices – How you make every day count is up to you. No matter what happened to you in the past, YOU OWN THIS MOMENT, and every moment from this day forward.

The Combination:

Choice Wheel by Ginger Ross#Beliefs create your #expectations – you can change them

#Choices allow you to generate positive energy around love and live a happier, healthier life – you own them

Your perception of how others communicate love is likely misinterpreted and also none of your business ~ you get to decide

You have the choice to spend your #energy in a #positive manner, creating more #positive energy and being a power of example.

You decide! How you make every day count is up to you. You own from this day forward.

The combination – Beliefs, Perceptions, Expectations, Energy, Choices, Energy

Choice Challenge for Today

ChoicesHey, do you pay attention to every opportunity where you make a choice? According to research, the average adult makes 35,000 “remotely” conscious decisions a day.  Yowza! I do? I said to myself. How?! Let’s explore…What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about decision making. You, if you’re like me, like that phrase to reference big decisions, or seemingly big decisions such as, “What will I wear today?” or “What should I have for lunch?” etc…you get the idea. I would like to challenge you to pay attention to the littler ones. The ones that don’t get much attention such as your immediate response when you hear something you don’t agree with, or maybe your decision to use undesirable language or criticize someone else. What’s your thought process like? Is it full of negative energy, or is it lined with silver?

I’m not here to dissect your daily decisions. I ask that you take a look at what energy consumes most of your body, positive or negative? You can answer this by consciously looking inward. That’s your choice challenge for the day! Welcome your comments and feedback.