I wrote a blog post about a programme on our BBC TV channel here in the UK titled Stand Up to Shyness.
In it, Rhod, a British comedian, talked about how his shyness has impacted his life and stopped him from doing many things throughout his life.
Despite the fact that he suffers from shyness, he has enjoyed and continues to enjoy a successful career standing in front of lots of people going through his comedy routine.
I forgot to share my theory in that post as to why I believe he is able to come across as extremely confident on stage yet, the complete opposite away from the stage…
The first thought that came to my mind around this is that when Rhod is on stage, he’s indirectly controlling the perception people have of him. They’re laughing at his jokes. They’re probably thinking, ‘this guy’s so funny, I like him’ etc.
So he knows where he’s at with them. He knows their thoughts are leaning more in one direction than another. That gives him feedback. Feedback that it’s safe. That HE’S safe because they’re not laughing AT him.
When he’s outside, however, away from the stage and not performing, he doesn’t have that same level of ‘control’. He’s just going about his everyday life amongst other people and has no idea what they’re thinking.
He could guess but he still won’t have a clue because the feedback isn’t quite the same. They’re not laughing at his jokes because he’s not telling any.
So if he does see someone or people laughing, what the hell are they laughing at?! And i’m pretty sure you know how our mind works…
We often go straight for the not-so-positive things when trying to figure out or just guess what others might be thinking about us.
That’s not going to help if you’re already experiencing a certain amount of anxiety. In fact, if I can remember correctly, the CBT therapist that he went to see mentioned something about Rhod receiving feedback from the audience when he’s on stage… reliable feedback.
The only problem is, it’s only reliable for that one aspect of himself – the funny side. Beyond that, it’s just not the same. So, he doesn’t have control over anyone else’s reaction, (at least some of) their thoughts and he has no idea what they’re thinking the majority of the time.
Not a good mixture for someone who already feels self-conscious. There’s only one thing that’s going to happen to that kind of feeling when in that type of situation… it increases, therefore making him hold back more than ever.
So there you have it, that’s my theory. I could be totally wrong but it makes complete sense to me.
So how about you? Do you ever wonder why you feel more comfortable around certain people or in specific situations than others?
It could be the same reason. No, I don’t mean you’re a comedian but it might be to do with the feedback you’re receiving from them. They’re being friendly, non-judgemental or however it is they’re responding to you. You simply feel accepted exactly as you are.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you all of a sudden turn into the most confident person. It might mean that you feel a bit more relaxed than usual and not so caught up in worrying.
But away from those people, you’re at a loss as to how you’re being perceived and it feels uncomfortable for you.
So that leads to the question, how do I deal with the situation when I don’t feel comfortable? When i’m being judged by others, worrying endlessly about what other people think, receiving harsh criticism?
Have a read of this post I wrote some time ago, you might find it helpful. It’s something, up until this day, that even i’m still working on.