Let your guard down and be more open

Reaching out to others can feel risky, but its rewards – new experiences, friendships or maybe romance – make it worthwhile


Let your guard down and be more open

We all want people to like us, but for that to happen we have to let down our defences and show ourselves as we are. This takes courage. You want to be part of the social scene, yet you feel like you risk saying or doing something to attract negative attention.

‘You may wish to be valued, to have your contribution recognised and to feel accepted,’ says Lynne Henderson, author of Improving Social Confidence And Reducing Shyness (Robinson, £15). ‘On the other hand, to display yourself sufficiently for people to get to know you can provoke anxiety. Part of learning to deal with social anxiety is learning how to cope with those risks, and facing up to setbacks if they arise.’

Almost everyone lacks confidence in one part of their life, however successful they might be in other areas.

Confidence is the power to be yourself. It brings a sense of entitlement, and makes you feel you’re making a positive contribution. It can involve recapturing a child-like openness and self-belief. We gain confidence by overcoming hurdles, by proving ourselves that what we’ve been told about our (lack of) abilities is not necessarily true. If we don’t deal with our lack of confidence, we risk holding back in any number of different situations, and letting romance or friendship pass us by.

Many of us approach social events worrying about what might go wrong or stewing in shame about a stupid thing we said to someone last time we saw them.

But if we don’t stop worrying and give the present our full attention, we miss what’s going on around us.