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How to Get Over Your Insecurities

How to Get Over Your Insecurities

Last month, I published an article called “10 Things Insecure People Do That Slowly Destroy Their Lives.” A reader reached out to me on Twitter basically saying, “yeah, so what? You’ve identified the problem, but now you need to tell me how to solve it.” So I pitched this article as a follow-up piece; since I already identified the problems, now I can help offer some solutions. I picked some of the tips that I thought worked the best, especially in conjunction with my previous article. I hope this helps other readers out there as much as it helps me!

1. Be objective.

I’ve found that it helps if I talk to myself like I was someone else. That makes me sound crazy, right? Strangely enough, I actually give good advice to others when they’re facing insecurities or having problems. I just never follow my own advice. So when you’re facing your own insecurities, or can’t seem to get past a difficult speed bump in your life, step back and look at your situation objectively.

What advice would you give to a friend in your situation? If you’re scared of going to a party where you know no one, pep yourself up by saying you never know who you might meet; it’s great to talk to new people and learn about them. Don’t allow yourself any excuses, and push yourself to actually take the advice you come up with. Not allowing yourself a loophole to stay at home instead of go somewhere new will help you feel more secure and confident.

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2. Write down your fears.

Writing might seem like a passive action to take, but it’s a really helpful step! When you write things down, you’re getting them out of your head and looking at them in a different way. Instead of turning negative thoughts over and over in your mind, you have them down on paper so you can read over them.

Be honest when you read them and decide what is a logical fear, and what is irrational, like you being worried about what people think of you, or being considered a failure by your parents. Think about your fears and decide what you can let go, and what you can work to improve. Knowing your fears instead of being blind-sided by them in social or work situations will help you feel more secure in your daily life.

3. Celebrate your successes.

You’re written down your failures, but don’t forget your successes! You’ve gotten this far in life, so of course you’ve done some good. If you were a good student, remember your time in school and be proud of it. If you were just hired for your dream job, make sure you celebrate that instead of focusing on the fear of failing in the position. Celebrate even your smallest successes—sometimes checking a few things off of your To Do list is cause for celebration!

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If you start thinking negatively of your successes by saying it’s been too long since you’ve accomplished something, or anything along those lines, then make sure you turn around your way of thinking and make it positive again. Remembering past positive experiences will help you realize that there is much more good to come, and that you deserve it.

4. Change what you can.

Instead of hating certain things about yourself, try to change what you can. If you hate being short, you’re out of luck, but focus on things you can change. If you hate how you sit on the couch for hours after work, then push yourself to go to the gym and then cook dinner and be social after work. If you’re tired of worrying about every little thing, then start talking yourself out of those worries and making everything more positive.

Even if it takes a long time for you to change anything, just taking the action will motivate you enough to keep going. You’ll know you’re making progress because of the way you’re thinking, and taking control of your life and making change happen will push away those insecurities.

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5. Start saying yes.

When I was going through insecure times, I had a hard time saying yes to anything. It was too easy to say no to any social engagement, or to talking to a friend, or anything. I didn’t want to do anything because it was more secure for me to sit at home. I don’t even really know why I would say no. If I stopped to think about it, nothing horrible would have happened if I said yes.

Once I started questioning why I said no, I realized it was easier to say yes and try to put myself out there more. Just like in step 4, if you start saying yes, then you’re changing a bit of yourself. You’re taking charge of your situation by saying yes and facing new experiences instead of closing yourself off and living the same life day in and day out.

6. Don’t compare yourself to others.

Comparing yourself to others is the easiest way to cut down your self esteem. How insecure do you feel when you compare your outfit to someone else’s, or when you think their life is so much easier than yours? In truth, that person might not be that comfortable in their clothes, and they probably have more problems than you know.

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Though you may not realize it, thinking this way of others is actually a way of judging them. When you look at someone and judge them, you’re cutting them down to trying and raise yourself up—but does it really make you feel any better? You’re just being negative, and even if you judge them in a way that makes them look bad, you’re still comparing yourself to them.

Instead, raise other people up. Compliment them, smile, and see how much of that positivity you get back. You’ll feel better because you’re being more positive, and you’ll feel more secure because people will enjoy being around you more, and will smile and return compliments and goodwill to you.

7. Keep good company.

Have good friends. If someone in your social circle is negative and criticizes you and others for every little thing, you need to get away from them. No matter how good of a person you think you are, that type of behavior is infectious and will impact your own outlook. Be around people who are nurturing, who will compliment you when you deserve it and support you during both good and bad times. Make sure these are people you genuinely care about, so you won’t have to think twice about treating them the same way they treat you.

Featured photo credit: anna gutermuth via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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