How can I be more confident at parties, especially around girls, and especially around girls I like?
Asked by Charles Edward Cheese
Dear Charles Edward Cheese,
Thank you for your message. It takes a lot of courage to choose to be vulnerable and honest with yourself, I appreciate your effort in doing so.
In a society that values bigger, better, and faster, it can be difficult to overcome your insecurities and become a confident person, especially for men. Yet because no one in the world focuses on you more than you do, beating your insecurities is as much of an internal struggle as it is a battle of self-improvement.
Despite being extremely difficult, admitting your weaknesses can pay dividends in the end. Once you admit to your lack of confidence in your sexual or financial performance, for example, and overcome these insecurities, these aspects of your life will turn from monsters in your closet to facts that you’ve acknowledged and beaten.
Overcoming insecurities is no easy battle, as there are many factors that cause them, and they’re constantly reinforced by daily events. Thankfully, there is a step-by-step method for leaving your weaknesses in the background and leading a more confident existence. With that being said, let's explore how to recognize and overcome your insecurities.
1- Find the root
Think about where you are lacking confidence: Consider where these thoughts come from. There may have been certain occurrences in your life that made you think less of yourself. Once you’ve found the root of the problem, it’s much easier to get a handle on the insecurity, because it was most likely created by one or two isolated instances that have no real importance on your current life. Recognize where that insecurity started, and it’ll immediately seem more manageable.
2- Invalidate the problem
Once you’ve pinpointed the specific incident that created the crater in your self-image, consider why that occurrence doesn’t prove anything about your life as a whole, and think about the times in your life that prove the opposite. We are often too quick to forget the compliments or positive reinforcements that we’ve received from friends or colleagues, dismissing the kind words as pity or politeness.
Don’t focus on your lack of achievement when your cube mate scores a big account at work. Instead, remember when your boss complimented your own work or just how far you’ve come since you were a bottom-feeder at your company. Recognizing your successes will remind you of how great you are and how lucky your company is to have you. This will help you celebrate your coworkers' successes — and remember that it can only be so long before your next big break.
3- Stop comparing yourself to others
It’s easy to become insecure when you constantly compare yourself to seemingly strong, flawless people. For example, if you compare yourself to the guy in the bar who seems so smooth with the ladies, you may come out feeling clumsy and awkward in your encounters with women. But, what you’re likely unaware of is that this guy has his own set of problems that he has to deal with. Instead of focusing on how you stack up against him, focus on what you can do and your skills with the ladies. If you’re a power negotiator at work, you know that you can talk circles around any girl. Now get out there and sell yourself.
If you can’t measure up to your buddy, maybe you should measure up to your own strengths…
It can be equally as treacherous to compare yourself to your friends. For example, when you see your friend — whose downfalls and ineptitude you are familiar with — succeed, you might end up feeling threatened and insecure about your own abilities. If your buddy is the smooth talker in the bar, you might feel jealousy toward him instead of admiration, as you would for a stranger. Don’t begrudge your friend in his time of glory; rather, take it as an ego boost that you’re hanging out with the ladies man in the bar, which can only mean good things about you.
4- Consider your known strengths
A lot of your insecurities come from focusing on the things that you have trouble with. The truth is that everybody has strong and weak points, but successful individuals have learned how to play up their good points — a skill that has helped them flourish. Despite your insecurities, you have achieved a certain level of success in your life because you have great qualities. It's your job to pinpoint and foster those qualities and build a successful life.
Take those qualities, learn to focus on them, and remember that there are more ways to use your set of skills than you think. Although you’re unsure about your ability to attract women with your looks, you know that you can reel them in with interesting conversation and witty remarks. Perhaps you’re nervous about giving a presentation to clients because you’re not very good at making anecdotes or using metaphors. What you seem to forget is that you know the project inside and out; focus on that and answer all of your client's questions before they ask them. Remembering what you can do will give you the confidence not to choke under pressure.
5- Put your insecurities behind you
Once you’re aware that your strengths and weaknesses will balance out in the end, forget about what you lack and draw on where you rock the competition. If you fumbled today at the office meeting, remind yourself of your top sales record for the past three months. You can always enhance your weaker points at a later date.
If you find that you’re focusing on your insecurities, think of the faults that other people have and how they’re able to get around them, or just remind yourself of all the things that you’ve achieved in life. The more you focus on your strengths, the more they’ll be visible to others. In the end, you’ll not only be happier, but you’ll be more successful.
The bottom line for beating your insecurities is this: Everyone has them and the key to success is to identify them, invalidate them and move past them. Focus on your accomplishments and recognize that insecurities are usually irrational fears of inadequacy.
Your faults are no more visible or detrimental to your success than anyone else’s unless you let them get the better of you. Failure tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you worry that you will fail, your performance will lack and turn your ruminations into a reality.
Looking forward to talking with you more,
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)