You fear people will judge you, reject you, block you, shame you, laugh at you or hate you if you be yourself and truly open up to them.
Because deep down, you know you’re not who they think you are. You’ve painted a perception of yourself and you want to protect that reputation at all times.
So you protect yourself by wearing a social mask. You hide behind the mask so people can’t hurt you. But the more you hide or suppress yourself, the more social anxiety and fear you develop.
As a result, your anxiety rises and you don’t express who you truly are. This stops you from connecting with people who could have become your lifelong friends if you opened up to them.
So how do you become vulnerable and not get hurt if people don’t accept your true self?
The answer lies in love.
You see, I’m no different from you. It may be because of my introverted personality or my experiences, but I used to struggle with the same fear and anxiety. But then I gave myself the challenge of meeting 2-3 strangers every day for 30 days. And it changed the way I look at others and myself. Here are the biggest lessons I learned:
How To Be Kind To Yourself (And To Others)
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
When you cling onto a perception or expectation, you create space for emotional pain. But when you give yourself permission to always be yourself and give others permission to be themselves, you create space for love and acceptance.
Every person is fighting their own battle. They have their dispositions, faults, imperfections, stories, rational, and so on. They will treat you based on who they are, which has nothing to do with you.
Not every person will agree with you or like you. Not every person values what you value. Not every person wants what you want. And that’s perfectly okay.
It’s not in your hands to make people accept you. But it’s your job to understand and accept them as they are without expecting them to do the same. Because that represents who you are and how big your heart is.
We’re all meant to do our own things, find our own tribes, and be our own selves. It doesn’t mean we need to hate each other for that. We can live in this world acknowledging the difference and loving each other as we are.
Finding Your Tribe
“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.”
You know you’ve found your people when they give you full permission to be and express yourself. Until you find your tribe, you may feel lonely or empty. But that doesn’t mean you should join any tribe in the hunt of social approval.
You’ve probably heard the quote from Jim Rohn that goes like “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. The reason this quote is so true is that you’re always co-creating yourself and others with the people you surround yourself with.
You spread your influence to others while they do the same to you. If you’re not careful about the values and influence of people surrounding you, you could lose track of who you are and who you want to be. If that happens, you’ll not only feel miserable, but you’ll also lose your confidence.
There’s a small caveat though. You don’t have to get rid of all the people who are not like you or don’t have the same interests as you do. It’s good to meet new people to expand your horizons. You should be aware of the bubble you live in and get outside to explore different perspectives. Just be aware of who you bring closer into your life.
Diversifying Your Friendships
“Be genuinely interested in everyone you meet and everyone you meet will be genuinely interested in you.”