Overcoming Shyness

How do you feel when involved in a social situation where a group of people are talking with each other?

Too shy to speak? Would you like to say something to add to the conversation, but are afraid you’ll be embarrassed if they don’t respond positively to your comment? Or worse, they didn’t hear you at all?

Do you avoid eye contact in the hope that you won’t be expected to say something? Have things happened to you that you know could have been avoided if only you had said something? Did you ever order a meal in a restaurant and they bring you what you didn’t ask for? What do you do? Do you tell the server or do you just eat what’s placed in front of you because you couldn’t bring yourself to say anything?

I was painfully shy growing up and it continued into adulthood and severely affected my self-confidence. I was fine with my family or in one-on-one conversations, but in groups I would freeze. I just didn’t know what to say and feared anything I did say would sound stupid or unimportant. Comments made to me by others were, ‘how can I get you to come out of your shell?” or ‘did you have to sit there ALL night and not say ONE WORD to my friends?’

I was so shy that when asked a question, instead of answering yes or no, I just would say ‘I don’t know’ to everything. Needless to say this annoyed the person trying to get an answer out of me. And worse, I hated myself for it. I wanted to be involved in conversations, I wanted to speak my mind and feel like a person who had something valuable to say. But I felt like a failure and a loser each time I couldn’t speak up and my self-esteem plummeted.

One of the hardest things to deal with was that people often mistook my shyness for snobbery. Nothing could have been further from the truth, but I felt powerless to say something that would change their mind. For me it was simply easier to avoid any situation that made me uncomfortable as much as possible. But doing this only perpetuated my discomfort. Avoiding social situations didn’t give me an opportunity to conquer my shyness.

I learned the hard way to overcome my shyness. For me it happened very, very gradually and painfully through forced social interaction while working at my job. I had job after job of working with the public where I had no choice but to speak to complete strangers. As the years went on my conversations with others would increase in length and would go from boring to interesting. It started to become easy to talk to people I didn’t know and fun too.

Once I realized that what I was saying was not being rejected and was not thought of as stupid or unimportant, the more confidence I achieved. Little by little I ‘came out of my shell’ and began to feel comfortable in group conversations and began to look forward to them. It didn’t bother me anymore if what I said was perhaps not heard or maybe no one took much notice or even flat out ignored it. I understood this to be a part of life and something everyone faces. To enjoy life, you have to be IN life

Women & Self-Confidence

How to Guide Yourself to High Self Esteem and Confidence

Many people think that self-confidence and self-esteem is the same thing. Not so. Self-Confidence is the ability to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you can do something successfully. Self-esteem is the way we feel, deep down about ourselves. It’s possible to know you can accomplish something, but not really like yourself while doing so.

Some women may wonder, how do we ‘turn out this way’? To answer this it’s important to take a view at our childhood. Yes, we’ve heard it all before. And it’s gotten to the point that the word ‘childhood’ has almost a negative connotation to it, unless, of course, you’ve had a stellar upbringing. But few of us have.

As much as we may not want to see it or admit it to ourselves or anyone else, our self-esteem was shaped in our childhood. We were taught how to see ourselves by the way others viewed us. We had no choice. With a fresh, innocent and inexperienced psyche, our only option was to believe what others told us about ourselves. If the people we loved and admired, i.e., our parents, relatives, older siblings or teachers treated us with disdain, told us negative things about ourselves, spoke harshly or called us names, we accepted and believed it. Children have no other basis with which to form beliefs and it’s becomes ingrained within.

How can adult women who were brought up in these types of family situations, which resulted in a poor self-image, ever feel confident? It is important to understand that self-esteem affects how a woman behaves, her feelings, and how she thinks. When you have a poor self-esteem you believe that you can’t do anything right. How a woman feels about herself affects her ability to make the right decisions. If she feels poorly about herself, she’ll avoid trying something new, she’ll act in passive ways that don’t get her anywhere.

How can a woman change this? One thing she can do is to take action. A good start on the road to achieving more self-confidence is by doing things. Take a class doing something you always wanted to do. Think how wonderful you’ll feel knowing you are doing something for yourself while learning exciting, new things.

Something else you can do is talk to the person standing next to you in line at the store. You never know how much a kind word can improve their day and you’ll feel good knowing you helped that person. The idea is to try something new, to step out of your comfort zone. Sure, you may stumble and you may even fail, but you could also feel successful and empowered. Simply having the courage to engage in new activities will build your confidence.

When self-confidence for women is increased, doors open to more personal and professional achievements. Self-confidence will help you feel more comfortable around others and believe it or not, will also improve your appearance!

Self-Confidence For Children

Raising confident children takes work; it’s not something that happens all by itself.

As your child grows older it is critically important that you provide a positive role model for him or her. We learn from childhood to how to respond to others by observing an adult’s reaction to our behavior. Parents don’t often take into account that their response and reactions are being absorbed by their child like a sponge absorbs water and can directly affect their self-esteem and confidence.

There are still some societies in today’s world who feel children are “to be seen but not heard.” How could that possibly instill a sense of self-confidence and a positive self-esteem into a child? What children learn from that is that they are invisible, unimportant and a bother. It’s no wonder children brought up in this type of environment lack a strong belief in who they are. After all, we are influenced greatly in our childhood and it makes us who we are. It’s important to put effort into making positive statements around your children. Give them the chance to be a happy, well-rounded human being and let them feel your acceptance of them.

With our society being one where everyone is so busy working, paying bills and constantly playing catch up on life, children can easily misunderstand why mom and dad are grouchy and ill tempered. They don’t realize it’s the outside world that causes these reactions and they can believe that they have done something wrong.

Try to let the problems of the day go and take your kids out to the park for some fun. Play a board game with them, or other activities they enjoy. There is nothing like hearing a child’s laughter to melt away your problems or worries if only for a little while. All a child is looking for is love and attention from the people they love.

Kids will be more confident in themselves if their parents actually seem to enjoy their company. If their parents make time to play with them and amuse them rather than sending them in to watch TV or play with their toys, they will have higher self-esteem because they will feel important.

TV and computers can be useful devices and a great source of learning, but don’t let them be overused. Certain programs and Internet activities provide nothing to inspire your child. Children are much better off outdoors exploring and playing in the backyard with friends than attempting to be mentally stimulated digitally.

Another way to help your child’s confidence is to let them discover their world for themselves. Let them get dirty, eat an ant or get paint on their clothes. Clothing can be replaced but the memories of a happy, fun childhood cannot.

In this day and age parents are reluctant to allow their children to be children for fear of them hurting themselves. They tell the child the world is a bad place and that all strangers could harm them. As they grow to adults with these presumptions, they become scared of their own shadows. Yes, there are dangers out there and there are people who do indeed harm children, but this is nothing new, it’s happened since the dawn of time. But in today’s society the media reports the negative in the world much more often than anything positive and that can make it seem worse than it is.

So how do we nurture our kids to become confident without them ending up either spoiled or afraid? Since children copy their parents, be aware that actions speak louder than words. If you are constantly shouting at or disrespecting your partner, family or strangers, then you cannot expect your child to learn be respectful to other people.

Be careful not to criticize your child. Recent studies have shown that over 90% of the communication that a child hears before their 5th birthday will be negative. Think about it. We often criticize our kids without meaning to hurt them, but it does. How often have you said to your child “you are so sloppy – your toys are everywhere!”, or “your writing is chicken scratch, who could read that” or “why can’t you behave well like your friend, Emily?”

Most often parents do not intentionally set out to hurt our child in these ways, we think we are teaching them. But we tend to lean toward the negative ourselves without even realizing it. But if a child growing up consistently hears only negatives, then the child will either become rebellious or withdrawn, lacking in confidence and suffering poor self-esteem. Parents will usually blame the child, but what they don’t ‘get’ is that they raised their child this way! This is the result of their upbringing.

Another key element in raising a confident child is to be careful to listen to what your son or daughter is telling you. If your child comes home from school and tells you that ‘all the other kids are smarter or better than me’, hear them, do not tell the child they are silly or wrong. If you do you will undermine their confidence and belief in themselves because they trusted you with their feelings and you have dismissed them. Instead, try and sit down with your child and ask them why they are thinking that way.

While raising a confident child, motivation is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Children who are not motivated are depressed, bored, will act out, etc. Kids are born believing they can do anything. Just look at the face of a toddler who just learns to walk.  She would never believe she could not do it – she falls over again and again but she always gets back up until one day she proudly walks on her own.

Confident Public Speaking

From the first moment you learned you would be required to speak in front of a group of people you became anxious. Maybe you thought, as I did, “I wonder how many shades of red my face will turn” and then “maybe I’ll get a bad sunburn beforehand so no one will notice!”.

Okay, maybe not such a good idea. Besides, sunburn won’t cure the shaking in your voice or the stumbling over your words that you just KNOW is going to happen.

Thing is, you WANT to do this. You WANT to be a master public speaker; you want to NAIL IT!

It may help you to know that even the most seasoned veterans in the public speaking arena get nervous and anxious to a certain degree. They experience butterflies. They wonder if their audience will be interested in what they have to say.

You probably feel that as the day for the speech grows closer, you get more and more nervous. You wonder if you’ve prepared well enough and if you will remember everything that you want to say without shuffling through your notes.

It’s not enough to just go out there, say your speech and leave. You will need to engage your audience and keep them interested. Whether it’s through public speaking or just plain everyday speaking, we convey ourselves not only verbally, but visually as well. Some might be able to speak clearly and decisively but lack a strong vocal quality that tells the listener that you know what you’re talking about and that you mean it.

Being anxious about speaking will make your voice quiver, your body jittery and cause that red face we all want to avoid. Visually, you’ll lack eye contact and you will either rush through the speech or present it with gaps and hesitations, both of which will make you lose the attention of your audience or leave them with the wrong impression.

When you express yourself in a confident manner you are seen as a competent individual.

This makes you a great interviewee for job or a better candidate for a promotion. In order for others to believe what we are saying and to present ourselves in a positive light, we need to raise our self-confidence.

A lot of times people have a negative impression about public speaking because of what they’ve heard from others.  But if those others were poor at giving speeches because they themselves lacked confidence, it’s no wonder they have a poor perception of it.

But, how do you get there?  How do you find the confidence you need to prevent your worst fear that your public speaking engagement will turn into a public speaking embarrassment?

There are many strategies and ways to help you overcome and control your anxiety about public speaking.  One such way is a program I like by top public speaker Dale Mercer called the Step Up and Speak Speaking Secrets. Learn the secrets to confident public speaking now!

Positive Self-Talk

A positive attitude is essential to achieve success.

Without a positive attitude you will stay where you are in your life and how you think about yourself.  People who succeed practice positive self-talk.  They tell themselves they can do it.  They reassure themselves when their doubt rears its ugly head.  They understand that they are good, deserving people and that they can achieve whatever they set out to achieve.

On the other hand, if you tell yourself that you are stupid, an idiot, that you aren’t smart enough or strong enough or just not good enough period, then you will never progress and obtain what you desire in life.  The mind responds to what it hears, it responds to your thoughts whether positive or negative.  It creates or doesn’t create based on what you’ve told yourself.  So why not be nice to yourself, talk yourself up, tell yourself what an intelligent, deserving, capable person you are? If you don’t, who will?  We can’t wait around for others to tell us how wonderful we are, we need to feel it for ourselves and believe it.

Many people mistake this for arrogance, but it’s not, it’s a healthy self-love.  Arrogance is insecurity showing itself as a person who feels they aren’t good enough, so they act as though they are without really believing they are.  It comes off as the person thinking they are better than others and that they are smarter and more capable, and backfires when they turn others away with their self-importance.

We all can have a better future, a happier life and will even stay physically healthier when we engage in positive self-talk.

Remember, by practicing in positive self-talk you can work through self-defeating patterns that rob you of confidence and a healthy self-esteem.

Happy talking!

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