Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: How do I break out of my “shy, quiet and different” label and be confident? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
How to get rid of the “shy” label
A “label” is nothing more than a role people ascribe you. You behaved shy and quiet for long enough that people (unconsciously) decided, “Hey, Frank has been a shy person all along. I bet he will also be a shy person in the future. So let’s treat him like the shy person he seems to be.”
Every time you act shy these people feel confirmed in their opinion about you. And it’s becoming increasingly hard for you to change their opinion.
But of course there is a way. (isn’t there always a way?) It’s not a fun way, or a short way. But it will lead to the results you are looking for.
So, full of hope you step out into the harsh world out there and yell, “Hey everyone, I am no longer shy! So treat me like an outgoing person now!”
You probably guessed it, it doesn’t work like that.
You have confirmed people in their opinion about you time after time after time after time. For years your behavior told a story about you. And just because your words tell a different story all of a sudden, doesn’t mean anyone should believe you.
So our challenge is changing the opinion of all the people you know. Let’s create a checklist with possible ways to do so.
- Telling everyone you are not shy anymore. -> Tried it already, didn’t work.
- Giving money to everyone who treats you like the life of the party. -> Could get quite expensive. And who knows, maybe everyone would just lie to you to extract cash.
- Taking on a new identity and leaving forever to start a new life somewhere else where it’s sunny all the time. -> Sounds promising, but maybe a little drastical.
- Showing them: Improving your social skills and expanding your comfort zone in social situations step by step. -> A sound strategy that is my very young Padawan.
Ok we have a winner. Self improvement it is. How can you start?
With a list.
Create a list
I want you to make a list of all the situations that have made you feel uncomfortable to a point that caused you to act shy in the past five years. Don’t do it now, though!
Buy a blank notebook that you carry with you at all times. (or just use the note function of your phone) Then whenever you feel the “shy feeling” write the situation down.
Next step is writing down, or at least imagining, what the ideal action in those situation would have looked like to you.
Let’s say you wrote down, “Presentation I held in front of the whole class.”
How would you have liked to behave and feel in that situation? Imagine it.
You stand in front of the class, both feet on solid ground. Your voice is strong and loud. No mumbling, no sweating, no racing heartbeat. You made a joke and everyone laughed. The cute girls in the first row even ran their fingers through their hair and looked you in the eyes.
Besides making you feel good, visualizations are a great way of changing how you view yourself. How are others supposed to view you differently if you don’t view yourself differently?
Failing is fun, fun, fun
Like it or not, you are going to fail many times throughout your lifetime. It’s going to happen with 100% certainty. Now, if we can’t avoid it, why not have fun with it?
“How can failure be fun Julian? Are you bad crap crazy?” Maybe, but that’s, not the point.
Failure in a young person’s life is most often not severe. I am talking about stuff that’s embarrassing. Stuff that gets you grounded. Stuff that hurts your ego. Stuff that hurts your balls for a while.
It sucks, but it’s not lethal. (although a good kick in the groin sure feels like it)
When you think back to the failures in your early teens (or whatever time period you consider early in your life) you will probably either not even remember your failures from back then, or you will be able to laugh about it.
The same will happen with your current failures. As I like to say, “The mistakes of today are the funny stories of tomorrow.”
Reframing how you think about failure will give you relief from the dreaded embarrassment. It allows you to become a more chilled and fun person.
Seriously, it’s getting serious
Now it’s time to do a few things you may not be too keen about doing. That’s fancy words for what I am about to tell you is going to suck.
Pull out your notebook or wherever you wrote down all the situations you felt uncomfortable in. Pick the least intimidating and do it. Yes, just do it. Face your demons.
If it’s too hard for right now, then find out how you can take a smaller step. E.g., asking a cute girl for directions is easier than asking her out. Increase the difficulty over time.
Go through all the situations you listed in your notebook but also add new situations to the list as you go. The rest is just practice.
If you incorporate this simple exercise into your life, I can’t even begin to imagine how great of a person you are going to become.
Confidence comes from knowing you are going to be ok no matter what happens. Always remember that.
I wish you all the best. By the way, congrats on the guts it takes to actively do something about your situation instead of remaining a victim all your life!