There are some amazing people in this world who, against all odds, have managed to overcome seemingly impossible setbacks. No one would fault any of these individuals if they had chosen differently and decided not to put themselves out there in the world, yet they chose a different path in order to make a difference.
Stephen Hawking is perhaps the most brilliant man on the planet at the moment. Do you know what he does? A lot more than write books that most mere mortals can’t fully comprehend. He tours! Yes, he gets on planes with his breathing apparatus, his wheelchair, and everything else he needs to stay alive and goes to cities all over the world. Remember that he cannot speak, and uses a computer to relate his thoughts.
Talk about putting yourself out there. Here is a man who could have easily kicked back and rested on his laurels—his multiple higher degrees, his many published books, and so on—but instead he puts himself through a great deal of effort and discomfort to bring his message to others.
Mr. Hawking can function as a shining example to those of us who deal with shyness. He doesn’t let his disability stop him; he kicks it to the curb and creates his own destiny. And honestly, if he can do it, so can you.
Be Inspired To Do What You Love
Finding people who inspire you is pretty easy if you just look around, but sometimes seeing others succeed just reminds you of how stalled your own life is right now. Know that you have the power to change that. Yes, it’s scary, but you are the only one who can make things different. No magical person is going to walk up to your door and tell you that your life is going to be much more joyful from here on out. A lot in life can be delivered or done for you, but if you want good feelings, you have to create them and chase them. And no, you don’t need to be a world-famous physicist.
Whenever I tell a shy person to put himself out there, even just a little, I can see the discomfort and fear. It’s usually mostly about rejection and looking bad in front of others. The key is to help him realize that by not stretching himself to be more involved with life, he is actually making a choice to live one of sadness. No, it won’t kill him, but that’s not the way anyone wants to live. You can get by if you give in to your shyness, but we all deserve a little joy, and you are no different.
I believe that Dr. Hawking really loves doing what he does. The discomfort and the inconvenience are not powerful enough to keep him from sharing his reality and inspiring millions around the globe. Just watching him give a speech or presentation will help you see that you, too, can accomplish what once was thought to be impossible. Seriously, watch a video of him: not only will you be impressed, but see if you don’t gain some insights into your own life, as well.
You have more inside you than you ever thought possible. All you need is to put yourself out there and see where the journey takes you.
Reasons We Let Shyness Stop Us
When it comes to achieving your dreams, what’s stopping you? There are millions of reasons shy people don’t take their shot at happiness. Here are a few of the big ones:
- You feel you don’t deserve it.
If you have doubts about your worthiness when it comes to life and interpersonal relationships, you need to take a long look into your internal mirror. What negative messages are you sending to yourself? Why do you believe that you are not good enough? Asking yourself these questions will help you develop positive alternative thoughts. Remember that you deserve happiness.
- You question your ability.
You may be able to ask for what you want, and you may feel you deserve it, but you still wonder if you’re up to the task. Maybe you think you don’t have the talent or the leadership ability to get the job done. If you feel this way, you may need to just dive in and expect to make a few mistakes along the way. As they say, an expert is someone who had made every mistake there is in his or her field.
- You don’t have the time to take on anything else.
Everyone I know who has successfully started their own business began working on it in their spare time. Evenings and weekends are no longer spent in front of the television (except maybe during football season). You can spend your extra time building your dream (or dating him or her). Anything you want to achieve is worth the extra work and investment of time.
- You tell yourself that there’s always someone who is better than you.
There will always be people who are better looking, who have more money, who boast higher degrees from better schools, and who have more scintillating personalities. But they aren’t the same as you. You bring your own talent, personal vision, and values to any situation. Comparison is the thief of joy. Trust that what’s inside you is as good as it gets.
- You’re trying to keep a low profile.
You may think that it’s better not to stand out, because you’re afraid you might get hurt. Yes, successful people can become targets for others who are angry, misguided, or jealous. But believing that harm will come your way if you’re successful is a myth that was started by people who were too scared to reach for their dreams.
Does any of this sound familiar? You have the talent, the energy, and the gifts to fulfill your dreams. Don’t let yourself or anyone else talk you out of going for it and fulfilling your heart’s desire.
Sometimes a difficult experience or event can shatter your confidence. So can discouraging words from loved ones: they mean well, but maybe they said something that deflated you and made you wonder why you even try. Any number of things can cause us to doubt our abilities and ourselves. If you feel that your confidence has been shaken or even destroyed altogether, it’s time to rebuild.
The recession shook the confidence of the entire world not too long ago. We are finding our way back slowly, even as many are still struggling to make ends meet and take care of their loved ones.
When people fall on hard times, it’s imperative that they don’t go it alone. Community is always important, but never more so than when the chips are down. Likewise, the positive support from the important people in our lives will help us return to a place of internal security and confidence.
When we don’t have a good emotional support system in place, it makes it much harder to find our balance again. The power of having people who believe in you close by when you are going through a lapse in confidence is irreplaceable. This is really what having friends and family is all about. Life is so much better when we feel we have a team behind us—even if that “team” only consists of one other person.
Calling Upon and Using Our Inner Strength
It’s wonderful and necessary to have good people in our lives who have our backs, but it’s still incumbent upon us to call upon and use our inner strength. Amelia Earhart once said that the “most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process, is its own reward.”
If you don’t choose to be proactive, you become a victim of whatever circumstance is working you over right now. You have the power within you to make your life better.
Sometimes reaching down and finding your inner strength entails making sacrifices. It can also mean that your lifestyle changes, and that is hard for anyone, but it is better than letting the people and circumstances nip at your heels for the rest of your life.
If you don’t harness your inner strength, along with the support of those who believe in you, it will be impossible for you to dig your way out of this confidence hole. And make no mistake: it is work to rebuild confidence once it’s been shaken or even toppled.
Everyone Working Together
Confidence is of course an important part of feeling good about yourself, but it also helps others feel good about you. When you’re confident and self-reliant, you let the people who are supporting you know that they have a teammate; you are in this up to your eyeballs and will not let them—or, more importantly, yourself—down. When everyone works together it makes the entire process easier and more effective.
Rome wasn’t rebuilt in a day, but the joint effort will be worth it. And perhaps someday you can function as someone else’s support system when his or her own confidence has taken a hit. That’s a way to take something bad and make it work for good, in your life and the lives of others.
©2015 by Barton Goldsmith and Marlena Hunter. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, The Career Press.
1-800-CAREER-1 or (201) 848-0310. www.careerpress.com.
100 Ways to Overcome Shyness: Go From Self-Conscious to Self-Confident
by Barton Goldsmith PhD and Marlena Hunter MA.
About the Authors
Dr. Barton Goldsmith is a multi-award-winning psychotherapist, syndicated columnist, author, and former NPR radio host, a keynote speaker and a top blogger for Psychology Today. He was named by Cosmopolitan as one of America's top therapists.
Marlena Hunter, MA, is a University of California graduate with a degree in psychology and several years of experience in clinical settings as a marriage and family therapist. She studied psychoanalysis at Sigmund Freud University in Vienna and received European credits. She has also written for psychologytoday.com.