3 Secrets to Feeling Less Anxious and More Powerful in Any Social Situation
April 15th, 2013 by Katie Morton
Photo credit: JD Hancock
A lot of us don’t necessarily want to feel powerful in social situations; we merely want to feel comfortable. We worry about what others think and we just want to shed that social anxiety. But feeling powerful leads us to feeling less anxious and more at ease. There’s a secret ingredient to feeling powerful, and that’s feeling connected to others.
We all know what it’s like to be in the presence of someone who feels powerful when we don’t feel connected to them. They might come off as arrogant, imposing, condescending, controlling or manipulative. When a person gives this impression, they’re not truly powerful. They can’t convince us of much when we feel put off, resistant or suspicious in their presence.
So connection is a very important factor when it comes to feeling really and truly powerful and therefore comfortable around others. Here are the 3 secrets to help you tap into your connection with others and therefore your real power.
1. Get comfortable with the knowledge that you are already far more powerful than you realize.
Whether we realize it or not, most of us operate on a day-to-day basis from the perspective of feeling inferior. Who among us consistently walks into a room feeling strong, commanding, and powerful, while at the same time feeling friendly and open to connection? It feels like a difficult balance to strike.
I consider myself to be fairly sociable and confident, but I went to a party several months ago and I didn’t exactly stride in and make an entrance. I was dressed in layers to hide my body because I didn’t feel very fit at the time. I also wasn’t feeling very witty or interesting that evening. Instead, I was feeling very insecure and worried about what others thought of me. No one is confident all time, and everyone knows what it’s like to feel like a fish out of water…completely socially awkward.
Once we realize that we all want to be put at ease at least sometimes, that most of us want someone else to make a friendly overture, to make eye contact and smile, to open up and start a sociable banter, it becomes much easier to go ahead and do so.
When we comprehend that most of us feel like we’re more vulnerable than other people — we’re all in that same boat — it’s easier to take chances by taking social risks: revealing ourselves to others via dialogue, even though we fear rejection or looking foolish. We all fear these things! It’s baked into our humanity. When we get comfortable acting in the face of those fears by knowing others share them, and we connect deeply with others despite feelings of insecurity, a feeling of power emerges.
2. Be who you are.
So many times we try to hide who we really are and put on an act that we think will make us more appealing to others. We think we need to hide our imperfections or pretend that we’re smarter or more put together than we are in real life. The problem with this is that, if people like the act, you’re going to feel conflicted and unhappy while trying to keep up the charade. The other issue is that we can only truly be who we are. Your real self is going to emerge eventually. An arm or a leg is going to come poking up out of the grave you tried to dig for your real self, and my, isn’t that going to be awkward.
If we are open and humble and represent our true selves in the world, two things are going to happen: we are going to attract the people who truly love ALL of us: our mix of star qualities and foibles all rolled into one. And we are going to keep at bay the people with whom we’re not compatible. No one’s time is wasted. Everybody winds up happy and relaxed with how the story goes when we finally tell the truth about who we are.
Back to that party where I was feeling awkward, I became exhausted by trying to put on a cool front. The party was big and loud, and I didn’t think I would be missed; I eventually hid away in a bedroom with my daughter for part of the evening because it was easier to do what she wanted rather than to be “on” for the entirety of the night. By worrying about what others thought of me, it meant I missed out on a chance to connect and be present to the experience of the party.
The truth is no one is universally liked. Stop worrying about the people who don’t want to be part of your tribe. They aren’t your people. If you are subjected to criticism from people who are haters, remember that what they say about you means more about them than it means about you. Secure, happy people don’t need to take the time out of their busy days to offer up harmful criticisms. Note the source of their hostility – it springs out of them and whatever bad feelings are going on in their own lives. Release them back into the pond without trying to impress them.
Being vulnerable, honest and authentic allows us to connect to our tribe. When we hide our true selves, even if we’re surrounded with people, we are alone. When we show ourselves, we find others who relate to us, who love us, and who are comfortable being themselves around us.
3. Know that you are magnificent and perfect EXACTLY as you are.
Accept yourself. Love yourself unconditionally. No matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter how you feel, you are worthy of your own love, kindness and respect. When you make a mistake, spare yourself the feelings of guilt or shame, and learn from whatever happened. Then move on. Each moment is a blank slate. We can start fresh every second of our lives.
Months after that party, I found out that my reticence to put myself out there resulted in some hurt feelings – my behavior was perceived as being stand-off-ish and snubbing others, when how I was actually feeling that evening was self-conscious and insecure. Had I simply been honest with how I was feeling both to myself and others, I wouldn’t have exhausted myself with an act and no one would have felt snubbed. Lesson learned! No one was analyzing my figure or measuring me by my conversational skills; they simply wanted my presence. I’m happy I know now, because it made me tune in to how powerful I am: while I was busy worrying about what everyone thought of me, they were busy worrying about what I thought of them! That’s a beautiful lesson for all of us, in that we’re all more powerful than we realize. Our presence matters.
When we love ourselves fully without conditions and we can make peace with the fact that we are meant to be imperfect as humans and we can love ourselves regardless, we feel secure. What other people think of us doesn’t hurt us when we operate from a place of self-love.
Grandiosity, feeling superior, competitiveness – this is ego and it’s based in feelings of insecurity. When we feel true love for ourselves, we operate from a solid sense of security, and therefore we want to extend ourselves to help other people. A big ego feels competitive, thrives on comparison, wants to win, and feels good about defeating others. These are symptoms of low self-worth. When someone truly loves themselves, they have no need to put others down, to judge, or to make others feel small. Someone who truly loves him or herself wants to elevate others, to let them feel the same joy, the same happiness, the same good feelings they are blessed with. They want to use their power for good.
In order to feel powerful, we need to feel connected. In order to feel connected, we need to recognize that we are already inherently powerful. When you can drop all pretenses and be yourself, you allow yourself to connect with those people who are a match to you, who fit you like a glove. And when we love ourselves without reservations, we can open ourselves up to connecting fully with others and feel truly powerful in the process.
Love yourself despite your imperfections like your life depends on it, because it does.
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