The media keeps throwing articles and TV shows at us, telling us we all should strive to be confident and youthful. Shy people are advised to go out there and start socializing they say.
Being bullied as a youth turned me into a shy person with chronic anxiety, which makes it hard to connect to others and trust people. Over the years I used all the advise TV and media threw at me to try and become ‘better’. To become what I believe I should be; a happy go lucky person with a full social life.
I ended up depressed and exhausted. I also felt as if something was wrong with me, until I realised that it wasn’t me that was the problem. It was the advice.
The main thing advice columns always get wrong is that they always show us the before and after — a shy
person who becomes confident seemingly overnight. This is impossible. You can’t change a person with decades of social anxiety and turn them into a nightclubbing chatterbox over night. It takes time hard work and probably tears. But commercial media is not interested in that aspect; they know most people are interested in quick fixes and instant results.
If you are working on introducing lasting new habits, though, there are no quick fixes or big bold steps, only tiny nudges.
Sadly, just like me, a lot of people believe what they read or see on TV and usually follow this advise to the letter desperately hoping they can miraculously change their lives in a week. More often than not these people are so disappointed by reality they end up even more of a recluse.
This, I feel is wrong. As I said a shy introvert cannot change overnight and promoting a miracle “fix it” is wrong and down right dangerous. Having worked on myself over the years I know it takes time and baby steps to change your life, if you feel there is a need to do so. Not all people are meant to be the life and soul of the party.
The following tips and tricks will not transform you over night, but will work to make you feel more confident about yourself in social situations.
Six Small Steps To Confidence
Step 1:If you want to be more positive about yourself, lower your expectations. What? Are we not meant to reach for the sky and ignore fourth, third, and even second best? Maybe in the future, but when you start out with no confidence and low self esteem, it’s best to think small to avoid disappointment.
Step 2:If you find it hard to talk to people, don’t enter a social situation expecting you’ll meet someone and start a sparkling conversation. Just go into it hoping to have ‘a chat’ and reward yourself for trying.
Step 3: Accept a compliment in the way it’s intended and don’t dissect or question it; compliments are meant to increase your self esteem! Take the compliment and return it; giving a compliment makes you feel almost as good as receiving one. Rewire your thinking patterns.
Step 4: Recognize negative thoughts and challenge them: is there any evidence for what I’m thinking here? If not, replace the worry with a positive. Don’t think “I ruined that speech, I’m such an idiot”, no think; “okay, it could have gone better, but I’ve learned from it for next time. I’ll get better.”
Step 5:Do mind your body-language: droopy shoulders, avoiding eye contact and closed posture are signs of insecurity. Do you want a look that seems confident to others? Sit up straight, shoulders back, look people in the eye and smile with your entire face.
Step 6: Smile! Yes, the Annie song held the truth; you’re never fully dressed without a smile! – and it really does lighten your face. Even the tiniest of smiles will make you more attractive – even to yourself. Try and look in the mirror with your grumpiest face and then try and smile; the effect is instant!! Meanwhile, trying to fake a smile will release endorphins that will actually make you feel happier too, which leads to you feeling younger. Cause and effect so to speak.
No one needs to change just to please others. Only try improving” yourself for you if you are unhappy with your life. Being an introvert can be good. Stop thinking in terms of “all of nothing”, “success or failure”, that is not a realistic goal. No-one is 100% bad or good, 100% successful, beautiful or smart. No one is 100% a failure, ugly or stupid either.
Take the gray, celebrate small victories and be happy with them. They might lead to something big or they could just bring you a good day; both are just as important.