‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.’ Henry Ford
Do you frequently find yourself turning down opportunities to connect with other people?
Are you so afraid of allowing yourself to be vulnerable that you miss out on making friends, or decline chances of having some fun and adventure in your life?
In the late 1980s and through the 90s, as an often-lonely single parent, I kept a scrapbook where I placed inspirational sayings and articles to raise my spirits when I felt down, and spur me on to greater things than useless self-pity.
I recall one such piece titled ‘Confidence is a con’. The words really resonated with me. They suggested people we see as outwardly ‘confident’, were generally similar in many ways to people who believed they were UNconfident. Except of course, the major difference was they were putting on an act and pretending to be confident, even when they didn’t really feel it – in fact despite that! By changing their unhelpful thoughts, and believing they could be confident and acting that out, they enabled themselves, over time, to grow into that role.
So they believed they could, and they were correct …
The dreaded ‘fear’
I challenge anyone to deny there are many times each day when they feel that fear of looking foolish, or something going wrong; of not knowing the ‘right’ thing to say.
We can allow this fear to limit what we embrace and welcome into our lives, or we can recognise it for what it is.
Some people choose (consciously or otherwise) to allow it to place limitations on how they live daily. Others have found they can accept it as a part of them, acknowledge it, then forge ahead regardless.
They push past their fear – realising it’s just their mind playing tricks on them. We make up stories of what ‘might’ happen if we do or say something, but in reality, what we most fear is unlikely to occur.
Of course the dichotomy of this is that if you focus on the FEAR and give it energy – you’re more likely to MAKE that happen!
So you could consider ways to ‘con’ your mind into believing you are confident, laugh in the face of fear, and make up alternative stories – ones where you look amazing or say something interesting for instance.
Or you just allow yourself to be vulnerable, and open up to the thought that the people you’re afraid of, are probably having similar fears.
“Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves.” – Gene Fowler
Brene Brown, an inspirational social researcher, describes what is possible when we can open up and allow ourselves to be vulnerable in a ‘TED talk’ called ‘The Power of Vulnerability’. The presentation of findings from her research has elicited over one million views on YouTube. It seems certain then that her words connect with many. Take a look and see what you think.
In my Life Coaching training and practice, I’ve become aware of people being paralysed by limiting beliefs. These are generally associated with words such as ‘I’m not worthy‘, ‘I’m not loveable‘, ‘I’m not good enough‘, ‘I’m alone‘. They’ve lived for so long with these they’re often not even aware of them – this is their ‘comfort zone’, what is known. Often the outcome is the avoidance of any chance of making friends or socialising, in case they’re let down, look foolish, or say/do what the feel are the ‘wrong’ thing/s.
If this resonates with you, see if you can break it down and discover where that originates? What story have you made your truth – and is it really the whole truth and nothing but? Then ask what opportunities you may be missing out on by denying your self vulnerability?
Marianne Williamson, in a quote often attributed incorrectly to Nelson Mandela, gives another clue as to why we feel the need to limit ourselves:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Appearing more confident
So what ways can you consider to create an appearance of more confidence – which will lead to this becoming a reality for you:
- Confidence is a trick – you can make yourself more confident by acting as if you are, until it becomes a natural behaviour
- Fear will paralyse you if you let it – so become bigger than your fear, break it down, what stories and limiting beliefs are you holding on to that are untrue?
- It’s okay to be vulnerable – we all are! But if we avoid doing things, going places, or meeting people, ‘just in case’ it doesn’t go as we anticipate, or we may be ‘seen’, we’ll miss out on so many amazing, magical experiences.
As Wayne Dyer says ‘You’ll see it when you believe it’
How have you overcome your fears and vulnerabilities? Or how are they holding you back? I’d love to hear from you if you’re willing and able to share …