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Me make a speech? Oh, I couldn’t “I wish I could pluck up courage to speak to her, but I daren’t”, “I don’t think I could – I’ve never done anything like that before”. “I dread meeting new people”.
These are typical of the phrases uttered every day by a great
number of people who face every fresh situation in life with dread and
Most of us face this situation at
some time or other in which we feel nervous, but this is far different
from the constant dread of saying anything, or meeting anyone or going
anywhere. Shyness to this degree becomes a real burden, and a desperate
hindrance to our true enjoyment of life.
Here, as with all character problems,
we need a certain measure of self – acceptance. The basically shy person is
unlikely to develop into the hearty, extrovert; nor should he desire to do so.
A degree of shyness can be an attractive trait!.
There are, however, certain attitudes
and activities which can be developed that will enable you to handle shyness
positively and creatively.
1. Remember that you are not always shy:
There is nobody who is shy all the
time, in every situation, with everybody. This in itself, ought to be a source of encouragement
to anyone to tackle the problem of his or her shyness and timidity.
Think about the situations in which
you feel happy, and people with which you feel at home. This builds up
confidence. Too often the nervous person is thinking about the situations in
which he is sure he will be unhappy and the people he dreads going to meet.
Instead of concentrating on the real and present and known, he allows his mind to be disturbed by
something that has not yet happened. But to think of what has happened, is to
build up unconsciously a store of confidence for fresh situations.
2. Cultivate the physical signs of confidence:
The very way a person walks and holds
his body can play an important part in building up confidence – or in increasing the sense of timidity. A
slouching posture depresses the spirits; an erect one can raise them up. The
very act of standing straight, with shoulders back and head erect, can make one
face life with a sense of confidence and well – being.
The way you shake hands tells the other person far
more than you suspect about the way you feel about yourself. The limp, dish –
rag type hand shaker is low on confidence. The bone – crusher is apt to be
compensating for a lack of self confidence. He goes to too great an extreme to
impress you that he is really confident. The firm, but not crushing handshake,
with just a little squeeze in it says: “I’m alive. I’ ve got a firm grasp of things”, is the handshake that denotes
Also, remember the importance of the
voice. Hunt out some inspiring passages – poems, passages from the Bible,
speeches of some notable political, social or religious leader. Put your heart
and soul into reading them aloud. Give zest to the cheerful passages
and pathos to the darker ones. Learn some of the memorable pieces by
heart so that you can repeat them at will when your spirits need a “lift”. Not
only will you develop your powers of expression, but your whole mental outlook
will be enlivened and uplifted.
Sensible attention to the matter of
dress can be another valuable aspect in building self confidence.
Looking well is a big step towards feeling well.
3. Find a consuming interest:
Nervousness is very often an
accompaniment to the unfamiliar. We need to centre our attention not upon ourselves, but upon the thing we are doing. So, interest is the
secret. When we are interested, life
becomes interesting and people are interesting and everything about us becoming
Cultivate your interests – in people,
in hobbies, in growing knowledge of your favourite subjects, in pastimes. Interests
breeds knowledge and competence and these lead naturally to confidence.
4. Learn to relax:
If we can learn the art of relaxing
we shall also be able to overcome nervousness and timidity.
A well – known public speaker told me he overcomes
nervousness just before making a public speech by consciously relaxing his
muscles, from top to toe. A little practice will assure you how unobtrusively
this can be done, and yet how effective
it is. In the same way, a series of slow, deep breaths will work wonders in
bringing a sense of relaxation and tranquility.
The tenseness which promotes
nervousness is itself often brought on by violence of
physical action: clenched fists, frowns, irritable or whining tones – all these
tend to disturb and disrupt. On the other
hand, a quiet voice, a smile, help to promote serenity deep within the mind,
and this quality overflows into our outward
life too. As tenseness goes, so does nervousness.
5. Learn to appreciate yourself!
The nervous person is usually
obsessed with his own failures. The secret of the successful, confident person
is that he sets great store by successes and so tends
to perpetuate the strain of success rather than the strain of failure.
Let us give ourselves credit for our
achievements. Let us be genuinely grateful for every gift we possess. Let us make the most of these
gifts – not like the one – talent man of the Gospel who neglected and hid it.
Being yourself – your best self, of
course – is the greatest possible contribution you can make to your own personal
happiness and confidence. And indeed, to the community at large.