For so many people, the mere thought of talking to a stranger can be more than just scary, it can be downright terrifying. It can lead to panic, heart racing, breaking out into a cold sweat, and more. Which means they tend to do anything they can to avoid such situations.
I know this all too well as that used to be exactly what happened to me every time I thought about attempting to build up the courage to speak to a stranger; it only changed when I reclaimed my confidence. Whilst avoiding those situations may feel comfortable, it does create tremendous problems in life. Because it is precisely through meeting new people and speaking with strangers that we can make the most of life.
- When we want to make new friends, we must first get to know new people by talking with strangers.
- Seeking much deserved recognition at work, or even promotion? They definitely involve speaking with strangers – new team members, managers, delegates at seminars, the list goes on.
- And finding a romantic partner? Yup, starts off by talking with strangers.
There’s no getting away from it, if we want to move through life, to progress, we need to talk to strangers. And if we are unable to do so, then life can be an incredibly lonely place. So, if meeting and talking with strangers is such an important thing for us to do, why do so many of us find it so terrifying as to be almost impossible?
There are many factors which contribute to our having these fears, but a big one is that we spend a significant amount of our time worrying about what people will think, say or do :
- We worry what they will think about us – “What if he thinks I’m a creep?“, “What if she thinks I sound stupid?“, “What if they hate the way I look?“.
- We worry what they will say to us – “Go away, freak!“, “You seriously think someone like me could like someone like you?!” ,”How do you think you are to dare to talk with us?“, “Haha! You seriously believe that rubbish?“
- We worry about what they might do – they might ignore us, or laugh at us, or poke fun at us to their mates, or who knows what!
So worried do we become, that we panic at the thought of it, as our fight-or-flight responses kick in; the adrenalin starts being pumped round, and before we know it we even find ourselves in full panic.
In order to protect ourselves, we resort to one of two things:
- We just hide indoors; sure, we avoid risking having to talk to strangers, but we miss out on a lot of what life offers as a result; or
- We face people, but from behind the safety and comfort of a self-imposed mask;
The latter is the mask (or lay of masks) behind which we hide every aspect of ourselves, every facet of our personality, so as not to risk saying or doing anything which might give the others a reason or excuse to dislike us – of course that also stops us from giving others any reason to like us too!
What do Jesus Christ, Prophet Muhammed, The Buddha, and You have in common?
Yet the reality is that throughout the entire history of humanity, nobody has ever been universally liked. Even Christ, Muhammed, and Buddha all had their detractors. Did they let that get to them? Absolutely not! They focused their attention, their love and their energy upon those who did like them, upon those who were prepared to listen, and upon those with whom they could connect and even hang out. They didn’t spend time worrying about the thoughts of those who disliked them; indeed, they didn’t waste their time thinking about them at all!
Imagine for a moment how different your life would be if you were able to do that.
Imagine being able to effortlessly chat with new people at parties, or seminars, or networking events, or at the bar.
Imagine being able to do so because you are OK with whatever their reaction will be (and let’s be honest with ourselves – people are far less likely to react rudely than we fear they will). How would all of that change your life significantly for the better?
The good news is that it is possible for you to do this. Even better, I’ll share with you the first four steps towards that new life right here.
This absolutely works – countless people successfully adopt this process and it will work for you if you are willing to carry it out fully.
Of course, there are those who will read this and not actually bother to do what’s described, and then proceed to wonder why nothing seems to have changed for them – thankfully, we both know that isn’t you, for the fact you are reading this means that you are committed to doing what you need to do to change your life the way you want to change it now, aren’t you!
It all starts with 8 very powerful words.
This Is Me; This Is Who I Am.
These 8 words, whilst seeming very simple, hold a tremendous amount of power.
It’s not the words themselves, of course, but its what the words represent, it’s how we hold our true selves when we fully embody these 8 words. They reconnect us with who we truly are, which in turn helps us to tap in to our own identity and inner strength.
So how do we do this? Great question!
When I work either one-on-one with people or in a group setting, we go through a very powerful process called “The Mirror” to get us in touch with our true inner self. Obviously we can’t replicate that here, but instead I’ll share with you another way of getting those results.
It’s all about getting in touch with who we are, underneath all the masks and stripped of all the expectations and roles placed upon us by society. Usually we find that when we go back to how we were when we were much younger.
- Find a comfortable safe place where you can be undisturbed for half an hour;
- Think back to how you were as a very young child, maybe around 3 or 4;
- Get in touch with how you were – how you acted, thought, believed in yourself;
- Really tap in to those feelings of what it’s like to be the true you;
- Embrace, celebrate, and hold on to those powerful positive feelings;
- Double or even treble their intensity and say to yourself with as much firm sureness as you possibly can “This is me, this is who I am“;
- Keep going through steps 4 – 6 until you fully and truly believe and accept that you have made connection with the real you;
- Celebrate it. Own it. Embrace it. Live it.
The First Three Steps to Reclaiming Your Confidence
- Accept not everyone will like you – and that’s OK!
- Accept yourself fully as you are.
- Be comfortable presenting YOU to the world.
Step 1: Not Everyone Will Like You – And That’s OK!
You don’t worry about being liked. You have to be yourself.
We already briefly touched on this, but nobody in the entire history of the world has ever been universally liked, and you are no exception. Where ever you go, what ever you do, some will like you, some will dislike you, and most will have no opinion one way or the other. That’s how it is for you and for everyone else. When you stop to think about it for a moment, you don’t like everyone you have ever met either!
Pause for a moment and let the implications of that sink in fully.
You do not like everyone you meet, and in the same way not everyone will like you.
Sometimes, people will dislike you because you have expressed a different opinion to theirs and they are not able to accept you for it—and that’s OK!
That is their problem, not yours, and nothing you can do will change their view. Far from being something of which to be afraid, this is a perfectly normal situation in life – indeed it can be viewed as a good think because, as Winston Churchill remarked, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
Sometimes people will dislike you because you are different from them – and that’s OK!
That difference may in terms of skin colour or gender or sexuality or ethnicity or country of birth or height of hair colour or favourite team or something equally inconsequential, and again, that is entirely their problem; it says a lot more about them than it does about you, that they are unable to like someone who is in some way different. Indeed, people who are in that situation are there precisely because they are strongly lacking in their own self-confidence, and they lack security in who they are. And again, tire’s nothing you can reasonably do which will change their mind.
Sometimes, people will dislike you without knowing why – and that’s OK!
It’s just one of the things about being the complex being we are, sometimes we just dislike someone for no apparent reason. And when that happens to us, even though it’s not nice, again there’s not really anything we can do to make them change their mind.
The opposite is also true – some people will like you because of your views, or because of something you say, or they may even like you without knowing why. And that’s the point – some will dislike us, some will like us (and most will probably have no view one way or the other!).
Of course, it’s one thing knowing this rationally, but it can be quite another thing to get this at the subconscious level and to feel OK with people not liking us, can’t it?
Which is where This is me, this is who I am comes in. When you can truly embody the 8 words, then you gain an inner strength which enables you to be OK with people liking you, disliking you, or having no opinion. This is me, this is who I am – if someone doesn’t like it, that’s cool because plenty of other people do like it.
Step 2: Accept Yourself Fully As You Are
Today you are You,
that is truer than true.
There is no one alive
who is Youer than You.
In order to be able to be yourself with others, a major step is to fully accept yourself and to accept you for who you are. Sure, you are not perfect. But then again, none of us are (where would be the fun in that?! And remember, even Mary Poppins was only practically perfect in every way…). By accepting yourself as you are and for who you are. I mean the real, true, you; not the you presented with all the various masks we wear. I mean the real, original you, stripped bare of all our masks, our pretences, our disguises. For when we can do that, we are in a far stronger place from which to face the entire world.
When we are in a position of total acceptance of our own strengths, weaknesses, good points, bad points, wishes, hopes, dreams, fears, foibles, idiosyncrasies, eccentricities, habits, beliefs and everything else that goes to make us us, then we are able to face the world much more steadfastly.
For we know that there is nothing we don’t accept about ourselves, which means we have nothing to fear from whatever anyone else thinks, says or does.
You see, usually when we are scared of what others with think, say or do, our fear is that they will expose some perceived weakness in us, which they will be able to use to attack us.
However, when we fully acknowledge, accept and embrace every aspect of ourselves, there is nothing with which they can attack us. Which means that if they have nothing with which to attack us, then we have nothing to fear from them.
This is me, this is who I am.
It’s not saying we are perfect; it’s acknowledging that we are not perfect and that we accept ourselves anyway, imperfections and all.
It doesn’t mean that we can’t be working on correcting our imperfections, it just means that we are fully aware of them and accept them and in doing so we leave no room for anyone to be able to use them to attack us.
I head a great example of this approach when listening to comedian Eddie Izzard talking about his transvestism. He said there was one day when he was walking through London in a dress, and some less-enlightened fellows saw him and started shouting “Bloke in a dress!“, attempting to embarrass him. His reaction was simply to reply “Yes. And…?“. Flummoxed by his refusal to be shamed or embarrassed (because he accepted himself for who he was), their taunts rapidly stopped as they slunk away.
This is me; this is who I am.
Step 3: Be Comfortable Presenting YOU To The World
I’d rather have the whole world against me than my own soul.
—Dr John Demartini
The third step builds upon the previous two. And like the previous two, it makes heavy use of those 8 powerful words When you are comfortable with the reality that not everyone is going to like you, and you are completely comfortable with who you are, and that you know there is nothing anyone can think, say or do which will attack you, then you are ready and well-placed to present you your entirety to the world at large.
It doesn’t matter how many people like you, agree with your views, or support your position.
The important thing is to be you, to present you to the world, and to stand by yourself and your beliefs.
Even if the entire world is against you!
Now, of course, that does not mean that you should just stick blindly to your position, completely ignoring anyone and everyone who attempts to present you with any counter-arguments of evidence – that’s not being strong, that’s being pig-headed and foolhardy and leads to a major downfall sooner or later.
What it does mean, however, is that you are fully comfortable when people do present counter-arguments, because you know that you are strong enough to be able to accept those as arguments around the issue – they are not personal attacks, and therefore even if it turns out that you eventually come to be convinced that your initial position was wrong, that does not say anything about you; being prepared to debate with others, to listen to other positions, to examine new evidence and even, where applicable, to modify your position is a sign of great strength.
This is me, this is who I am.
I am able to handle criticism, differences of opinion, dissent, debate and discussion. I know none of it is personal.
And that is an incredibly liberating, powerful and confident position from which to experience life!
—Photo Credit: Flickr/Tim Green