It seems like the most outrageous thing someone could ever suggest to anyone who considers themselves shy and lacking confidence.
No no, you’re actually a confident person—really.
I can only imagine the commenter receiving incredulous glances. After all, everyone knows themselves inside out don’t they? So if they say they’re shy and have very little confidence, that really is the case, or is it…
I guess you can say I was shy as a young child—a side effect of having selective mutism perhaps. If anyone spoke to me, you can guarantee that almost always, all they would get from me is a blank stare.
At some point in my twenties, I came to the conclusion that I was no longer shy, just quiet with many insecurities to boot. I reached that conclusion after I walked down the road one day in a bright red cardigan.
Who would want to wear an item of clothing that could potentially catch people’s eye so easily if they’re so shy? At least, that’s what I thought.
An end to your shyness, perhaps?
Today, in 2017, I’m reading a book about where our experiences in life and our beliefs about ourselves actually come from. The book is called Results: Think Less, Achieve More. It was written by Jamie Smart, someone who teaches what he refers to as the principles of clarity.
In his book, he suggests that we all live life through our own thought-generated perceptual reality. As an example, if you feel that someone has made you angry, what’s said to really be happening is that those feelings of anger are telling you about your thought in that moment, not about the person.
It stands to reason that if your thought in the moment runs along the lines of, “how dare you, who do you think you are, I’m so mad right now”, you’ll hardly experience feelings of calmness. But, if your thoughts lean more towards, “I don’t care what you do, I’ll just ignore you” or “I’m not wasting my energy on you”, you’re less likely to feel so angry.
So the person’s behaviour hasn’t changed but the way you feel has, so who caused you to feel differently? This is interesting as it makes you stop and think, although the whole point of Jamie’s teachings is to ultimately help you to have less on your mind.
But if it’s true that we create our own realities through thought alone, what could this mean for someone who considers themselves shy and lacking in confidence?
Your experience as an unconfident, shy person might consist of one or more of the following, amongst other things:
- Not being able to hold eye contact
- Worrying what people think of you
- Slight feelings of awkwardness in social settings
- Wanting to strike up conversations but holding back
- Feeling that you don’t fit in
It’s also very likely that you’ll have a number of thoughts ranging anywhere from how silly you look to how much you wish you wasn’t at xx place. If we go back to how we only feel what we feel because of our thinking, we might take one example from above and look at it this way:
Not able to hold eye contact – you feel uncomfortable, nervous and/or awkward.
Thought-generated perceptual reality standpoint – can the person or people with whom you’re interacting hand you a plate of ‘uncomfortable’? Can they ‘install’ or ‘transmit’ a feeling of awkward in you? You may blame the way you feel on the way they’re talking or looking at you but thought precedes feelings so without some kind of uncomfortable or awkward thought, you wouldn’t feel any of the above.
If you’re thinking “this person hates me” or “this person can see how awkward I am”, anything you feel in that moment will be telling you about you’re thinking—the outside situation is neutral.
If you had “we’re getting on so well” on your mind instead, you’ll be more likely to enjoy the interaction and less likely to have those feelings of nervousness and awkwardness.
So what about confidence?
Without getting caught up in “I can’t do it”, “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t know how” thoughts, we would simply get on with whatever it is we want to do or at the very least, give it our best shot. If it doesn’t work out, we try again or move on without beating ourselves up.
We would be a lot more like children who ‘go for it’ without paying much attention as to whether they can or can’t, for example, when they’re learning to walk.
So where does that leave you and your lack of confidence and shyness?
Does it mean you can finally stop trying to be confident?