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.”
The biggest mistake you can make while looking for your tribe is expecting people to be perfect. There’s no ideal person if you dig deeper into someone. And that’s what makes people beautiful.
So instead of waiting for perfect people, get inspired by different people for different things you value or want to accomplish. For example, you could have a few friends who are wealthier than you, a few friends healthier than you, a few friends happier than you, and so on.
Take inspiration from all of them to raise your standards in different areas of your life and try to bring out the best in them. It’s important to not expect anyone to be perfect and have all the qualities you admire.
So go into the world and meet new people. Give them a chance and find what’s uniquely best about them.
Avoid The Biggest Killer Of Relationships
“Comparison with myself brings improvement, comparison with others brings discontent.”
Betty Jamie Chung
The biggest killer of friendships is toxic comparison.
You’ll find many people who are better, smarter or luckier than you. Even when you leverage your strengths, you’ll wonder if you’ll ever be good enough. You may even get discouraged at times.
The solution is to turn comparison into inspiration and healthy competition. Here’s the deal: When you do something out of love and passion, you don’t get discouraged when you see people better than you. Instead, you take inspiration from them.
Run your own race and aim for mastery. Focus all your energy on getting better than who you were yesterday. That’s all that matters.
No one can beat you at being you. Your unique and authentic self is a gift to this world. It’s your duty to flourish by choosing greatness and expressing the highest version of yourself.
You make friends to create a support system for each other so you can grow together. Give more than you take and judge your success by the success of your friends. If people around you are succeeding, you’re doing it right.
How To Be Happy With Yourself
“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”
You came here alone and you’ll die alone. Always remember that your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship of all. No one can give you the mental peace and happiness you desire except yourself.
So treat yourself like you treat your best friend. What advice would you give to them when they feel down? What would you say to them when they talk down upon themselves? What would you tell them if they’re slacking off?
You would be honest, kind, compassionate, accepting, loving and encouraging, wouldn’t you? So bring that same attitude when you’re talking to yourself. When you have a healthy relationship with yourself, you’ll even treat others better because you know how to be a good friend.
Letting Go Of Your Social Anxiety
Our basic instinct is to be liked and accepted because that’s how we survived in the past. So it’s normal to feel social anxiety because our people-pleasing instinct is still with us even today.
We don’t want people to judge or dislike us. But no matter what you do, you can’t please everybody. People’s perception of you is not in your full control. All you can do is have a big heart to treat people with kindness, love, and respect.
Once you’ve done your job, it’s up to others how they perceive you. And even when you fail to treat people in an ideal way, all you can do is let go and learn from your mistakes. It’s okay to disagree with people. It’s okay to not say the perfect line during a conversation. It’s okay to upset people sometimes.
You’re here to find your true self and then find the people who bring out the best in you. Don’t let self-doubt or fears hold you back from unleashing the greatness within you.
You’re meant to express. You’re meant to find and share your gifts. You’re meant to thrive. So take a deep breath, acknowledge your anxiety, explore the beauty in people and lead with love.
Prakhar is the creator of Design Epic Life. His mission is to help ambitious people design their epic lives so more people can truly live before they die. Sign up to the DesignEpicLife to stay up to date!