For most of my life I was a high anxiety person. I was especially fearful of people. What would they think of me? Would I fit in? Was there a neon sign on my forehead flashing the words – Not Good Enough?
I remember going to a roller rink I had not been to before to meet friends. After buying my ticket I started to walk in and froze. I didn’t know if I should turn left or right. I was confused and disoriented. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. And then the shaking and crying started. When I finally got my feet to move I ran for the exit feeling stupid and ashamed.
I’ve learned a lot since then. I even joke – if someone wants to judge me because I dress a certain way, am soft-spoken, or have a giant piece of spinach between my teeth, God bless them. They must not have better things to do.
Learning social confidence is an internal process. The most valuable thing you can do is deepen your connection with who you are and your intrinsic value in this world. You are here for a reason. You are valuable because you exist. Don’t let anyone try to tell you different, especially your own inner critic.
Tools like good posture, affirmations, and forming intentions for your social situations can all be of value too. You might even look yourself in the eyes in a mirror and give yourself a good old fashioned pep talk.
When you enter a social situation, stop thinking about yourself and focus on the other people who are there. Just be curious. Give 100% of your attention to each person you interact with and listen deeply. Most people will appreciate this gift of feeling heard. When you focus externally instead of on your inner fear filled voice, you will be able to interact in a more confident way.
After all, what other people think of you is really none of your business.