There are times when it seems as though everyone has more confidence than you do. That’s not normally true but it doesn’t stop us believing that notion and then retreating further into our shell. Been there, done that, been afraid to wear the t-shirt.
So, what can you do to become more confident and less shy?
Stop trying to be picture perfect
People are only picture perfect when they’re in a Hollywood movie or when they’ve manipulated the photo of themself before posting it on their Instagram or Facebook page.
There are countless people who are now basically paranoid because they don’t (and can’t) live up to the image they’ve created for themselves. Their alter ego has taken over and knocked their confidence for six in real life encounters. Which – unless you spend your entire life inside a computer game – are still going to happen.
So it’s time to shrug off the notion of perfection and accept yourself as you are currently. Give or take anything you can do to improve your actual image.
Don’t resort to plastic surgery – Maxwell Maltz recognised that a lot of his patients still viewed themselves as being basically ugly, even after they’d been under the knife on the operating table.
Their self image was still broken, even when they looked in a mirror and saw how they’d changed.
Shake off the idea that you have to be picture perfect and accept yourself as you are, warts and all (literally or not literally).
Learn to lift your mood
Our mood affects our appearance.
You know that from the people you meet who’ve got their own personal thunderstorm following them around or who are always complaining. Most people do their best to avoid them for fear of being dragged down to their level of negativity.
You don’t have to be the life and soul of the party but you do need to do a few things to lift your mood.
That can be as simple as sitting up or standing straighter. Or not slouching.
It can be done by changing your clothes for something smarter – even if it’s just the mud brushed off your trainers and wearing a t-shirt that’s seen an iron in living memory.
It could be listening to chirpier music rather than your normal tracks.
Whatever it takes to lift your mood, do it more often.
Practice mental rehearsal
Sportsmen and women practice mental rehearsal lots.
They play through the winning sequences over and over and over again until they’re as perfect as they possibly can be.
They know precisely what is going to happen and their part in it. They’ve probably rehearsed how they get over things when not everything goes their way so that they know how to turn them round and stack the odds in their favour again.
Mental rehearsal is akin to what actors do – almost no actor goes on stage or before a camera without rehearsing. Maybe a few times, maybe lots of times.
Mental rehearsal is usually done in your head – let your eyes close and visualise the situation you want to be on top of. Run through it, your part in it and the parts played by other people. Keep rehearsing until the whole thing is second nature.
And – assuming you have a speaking part in the situation where you want to be more confident and less shy – don’t be afraid to say your “lines” out loud. Just be aware of other people around you and their likely reaction – or just hold your phone to your head and most passers by will think you’re on the phone rather than rehearsing what you’re going to say soon.
Remember to smile
Smiling is infectious.
The saying “smile and the world smiles with you” is pretty much true.
OK, you might get a few “looks” from people who wonder why you’re so happy. I’ve been asked on more than one occasion why I always seem to be smiling.
But, generally speaking, smiling gets a smile back. And quite often a few happy words from the people you’re smiling at.
That can be enough to be the ice-breaker your confidence needs to help you stop being so shy.
After all, it’s just encouraged someone else to break the ice and speak to you. Which gets over the nerves so many of us experience when we’re interacting with others.
Arrive early at social events
If you’re shy and lacking confidence, your natural instinct probably tells you to arrive at an event at the last possible moment.
That way, surely, you’ve got less time to interact with other people and less time to let your lack of confidence show through.
But turning up early is an excellent cure for shyness.
There aren’t many other people in the room so you’ve got the choice of trying to hide (probably unsuccessfully) or saying “hi” to one of the handful of people in the room.
There – that’s the ice broken.
Probably with someone else who’s equally shy really but has learned to let that feeling go.
If you arrive a bit later and there are quite a few people in the room then gravitate to the groups with an odd number of people in them. A group of 3 people is great as one will almost certainly be trying to join in the conversation but not succeeding.
Or hunt down one of the loners. They’ll (hopefully) be happy to have someone take an interest in them.
Practice at times & places where it doesn’t matter
Go a mile or two from your usual haunts and practice on cashiers and waitresses.
They’re almost all happy to make small talk – it’s what they do most of the time.
And if it’s not somewhere you normally go then there’s an almost total chance you’ll never meet the person again if you get it wrong. Even though you probably won’t get it wrong – but the safety net is there, just in case.
Get your face out of your phone
Sure, it’s useful to have the excuse of staring at your phone but it’s antisocial and can make you even less confident.
There’s a time and place for burying your head in your phone. But it’s not when there’s a room full of people.
Learn to live without your phone, at least for long enough not to be rude.
Get more help
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