I LACK CONFIDENCE
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.
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!