Thank you for telling me about the anxiety you feel when you look into someone else’s eyes. You feel that your avoidance of eye contact has led to disharmony in all of your relationships. I can offer two exercises which may bring relief and strengthen your confidence each time you put them into practice:
(1) WHILE THE OTHER PERSON SPEAKS: While a person speaks to you, look, listen, and breathe. Tell yourself, privately, "My job is to look into the person’s eyes and listen carefully, while breathing slowly and deeply." You will gradually feel comfortable. You will find, over time, you will feel relaxed and able to think clearly. Do Exercise (1) for at least two weeks, before starting Exercise (2) and keep a chart of when and how long you practiced, and with whom.
(2) WHILE YOU SPEAK: Plan ahead to speak FOUR words and look directly into the eyes of the other person. For example, let’s say you have a conversation about work habits. Privately, in your mind, you might plan to say "I will try that." Of course, what you plan to say has to fit the context of the discussion, but the construction of the sentence will come easily to you. Tell yourself, "I am going to say these FOUR words and look into the other person’s eyes while I speak." I guarantee that if you practice this exercise, over time, you will be able to lock eyes with your friend, and speak at the same time. Your ability to carry on a natural conversation will grow. Keep a chart as described for Exercise (1).
Because Exercise (1) will help you develop conscious, slow breathing and boost your self-confidence, you will learn to think clearly and understand how to have relaxed interaction with others. Thus, I recommend that you practice Exercise (1) before initiating Exercise (2).
Please let me know your progress.
Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: Eyes lead to the soul where harmony dwells, but only if you look.