Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Health -

Q I’m re­ally fed up as I know I’m hold­ing my­self back. I’ve very lit­tle

self-con­fi­dence and al­ways seek ap­proval from oth­ers as I in­vari­ably doubt my­self. How do I stop do­ing this? I’m bored of be­ing shy and hav­ing a hard time in com­pany. I was mar­ried for 25 years which pro­tected me from a lot of things. Sadly, this has now ended.

Michelle, lin­coln

A I know it may not feel like it’s a good thing but the fact you’re fed up is

the first step to chang­ing things. Peo­ple who need oth­ers’ ap­proval in the way you de­scribe look at them­selves from the out­side rather than the in­side. They fo­cus on oth­ers and then make up what they think the other per­son will be think­ing and feel­ing. They end up spend­ing too much time wor­ry­ing how they come across and not on how they re­late to the other per­son. If you don’t mind me say­ing, it’s a self-cen­tred way of go­ing about things.

At the mo­ment, your fo­cus is you and how you present. But, if you pay at­ten­tion to the other per­son and be­come in­ter­ested in them, you won’t have the time and space to think about you. As soon as you do this, you’ll feel more re­laxed and more able to chat.

We of­ten take on the la­bels we had as chil­dren such as ‘the shy one’ or the ‘some­thing’ one and we then hold on to that through­out our adult life. It’s time you shed that ‘shy, in­ad­e­quate’ la­bel and started to look at your­self as a grown-up who has some­thing to give. One of the tricks, if you worry about be­ing tongue-tied, is to plan 20 ques­tions you can ask some­one. Most peo­ple like talk­ing about them­selves so, by the time you’ve got a quar­ter the way through, I ex­pect you’ll be hav­ing a good con­ver­sa­tion!

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