PRACTICE EYE CONTACT

Making eye contact will provide you with valuable information about the person you are interacting with and the exchange itself. Particularly, you will get a more accurate idea of the type of interaction you are having, be it positive, negative or neutral.

LEVEL 0: BY YOURSELF

Stand in front of a large mirror. Simulate a natural face-to-face encounter with another person. Direct your attention to your own reflection, focusing on making eye contact.

Take note of the sensations—does it feel uncomfortable? Restless? Do your eyes tend to avert away? Gauge your ability to sustain eye contact and observe your reactions. Delve into exploring various areas of your face in the reflection.

Shift your gaze to the cheeks, mouth, and forehead, noting the comfort level and duration of focus in each region. Occasionally return to the eyes, observing changes in your comfort level.

Progress in this exercise until you feel increasingly at ease maintaining eye contact with your own reflection. There is no predetermined timeframe; instead, concentrate on cultivating comfort with looking at your eyes and face

LEVEL I: WITH FAMILY MEMBERS

Initiate this exercise during meal times. Regardless of ongoing conversations, fix your gaze on the face and eyes of family members. Apply the same sequence as in Level 0—start with eye contact, explore other facial areas, and return to the eyes.

Extend this practice beyond meals to various scenarios involving family interactions. Whenever you engage with a family member, ensure your focus remains on their face and eyes. Rehearse this exercise consistently until it becomes second nature.

LEVEL II: WITH STRANGERS

Expand your comfort zone by engaging with strangers, such as those delivering meals or groceries, neighbors rarely spoken to, or service industry professionals like baristas or waitstaff. During brief exchanges, prioritize eye contact, attempting to sustain it for as long as possible.

An additional challenge in this level is to take the initiative in starting conversations with strangers. This will not only enhance your ability to maintain eye contact but also develop your conversational skills.

LEVEL III: WITH FRIENDS AND/OR FAMILIAR PEOPLE NOT RELATED TO YOU

This level poses a greater challenge, as it involves interactions with friends, classmates, peers, authority figures, colleagues, supervisors, and others. Revisit the steps from Level 0, focusing on eye contact, exploration of facial features, and returning to the eyes.

Initiate conversations with these individuals while maintaining unwavering eye contact. Recognize that this level addresses the social scenarios where social anxiety tends to thrive, emphasizing the importance of consistent and dedicated practice. With diligence, you can cultivate comfort and confidence in social interactions beyond the confines of familial relationships.


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