7 tips to overcoming intimidation

beachsideIntimidation is something I continue to struggle with. Being quiet and reserved, I was always easily overwhelmed and intimidated by loud, pushy, and abrasive people. I had a hard time speaking up and was taken advantage of countless times. I didn’t know how to assert myself and I didn’t know how to change the way I was feeling.

I’ve come a long way since then. And I’ve gotten a lot of guidance from friends, family and online. I’d like to share a few things that continue to help me overcome intimidation. If you have any other ideas, or points of view, I’d love to hear them. Like everything else in life, its been a long journey and I’m still learning things to this day. Its my hope that someone can identify with these, and maybe learn things more quickly than it took me 🙂

1. It’s all in your head.
I don’t mean this in a “you’re imagining everything” way, but rather that we often create problems for ourselves because we over-think things. This is especially true for introverts. I was so focused on my own insecurities and fears that I saw myself as inferior to those around me. As a result, I was intimidated by those who were loud, outgoing, successful, popular, etc. And I’d avoid being around them because of how inadequate I felt in comparison. I was judging myself too harshly.

2. Everyone makes mistakes, no one is perfect.
On the outside, the people around us can seem pretty perfect. But what we don’t always see is their struggles and insecurities. When I struggle with being over-stimulated (especially in a group setting) I like to remind myself that half the people in the room are probably feeling the same way. Similarly, when I remind myself that every person in the room has their own share of insecurities, I realize that what I’m feeling is pretty normal. It levels the playing field (in my mind) and makes me feel equal to everyone else there.

3. Respect yourself.
This is a hard thing to do and I’m definitely still working on this. Don’t let anyone walk all over you. You deserve the same respect as everyone else. You are awesome, unique, and interesting, and have something really special to share with the world. And if you don’t respect yourself, others won’t either.

4. Calm down.
When you start to feel intimidated, take deep breaths to calm yourself. Focus on the positive things that you can gain from the situation. And if something embarrassing happens, shrug it off. If you do this, chances are you’ll gain respect, rather than lose it.

A few years ago, I met up with a couple of people for coffee. I knew one of them, but not the other. As soon as I started to take a sip of my drink, I dumped part of it into my lap (don’t worry, it was iced coffee). It ended up breaking the ice because I laughed it off and didn’t get upset.

5. Don’t run away.
Avoiding intimidating situations will not help you to overcome them. Facing your weaknesses head-on is a sign of strength and character (just use wisdom when you do so). Will you always be successful? Of course not. But when you make progress, the confidence you gain will be worth it.

6. Reflect and meditate.
Think deeply about what triggers the feeling of being intimidated. Once you discover the triggers, you can devise ways to counteract them.

When I start feeling intimidated, I mentally step away from those feelings and analyze my thoughts. Why am I feeling intimidated? Is it their attitude, their tone of voice, or personality? Then I remind myself that they’re a person just like me. They have likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. This helps me to relate to them.

Also realize that people only have power over you if you give it to them. Think of it like that final confrontation between Sarah and the Goblin King if you’d like 😉 “You have no power over me.”

7. Think positively.
Try to approach people with a positive frame of mind. Even if they appear standoffish, give them the benefit of the doubt. There are a lot of interesting people out there, who may seem intimidating, but are actually kind, interesting, and unique. If things don’t go well, don’t blame yourself. And don’t let someone else’s negativity ruin your day.

These are just a few things that have helped me in overcoming intimidation. As always, if you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them 🙂

Image credit: “Melbourne Beach, Florida” by Daniel Piraino is licensed under CC by 2.0

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10 thoughts on “7 tips to overcoming intimidation

  1. Warrior Freya says:

    I am sometimes told that I am intimidating because I seem to be so well collected and informed. I guess I am viewed as confident and self assured, and that can make people feel, in a way, less than. Less collected, less sure, less calm, less confident. There is a comparison being made inside their head between themselves and the image they see of me; the image I am projecting to the outside world.

    Of course, when I’m told I’m intimidating I look around, behind me, to the sides, like they’re talking to someone else, because they have to be, right? Me? Intimidating? Me, self assured and confident? Where is this person they’re talking about, because it sure as hell isn’t me.

    In more formal social situations like meetings for work, lectures for my classes, demonstrations for my labs, meeting new people where I have to make an impression…

    On the inside I’m a nervous wreck. My brain is going a billion miles a minute. I’m analyzing everything and having information overload. I’m thinking of all the ways the situation could crash and burn and what my 19 backup plans for all of those individual situations are going to be…

    It’s a lot, and stressful, and all the while I’m looking at everyone else who seems to have their shit together, making it all seem easy, while I feel like I’m barely able to keep from falling on my face.

    And I’m the one who’s intimidating… hardly… But none of that inner conflict is seen on the surface. It’s all inside my own head.

    These may be more of an extreme case, and maybe a little bit of exaggeration, but the moral of the story is that even though people get a certain impression of me, that doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Much like your first and second point. Every one has insecurities and fears, even if you can’t see them. Even the people you view as intimidating.

    I know for me whenever I have an intense social situation I NEED space afterwards, almost immediately. There have been times where I’ve come home and stayed in bed with my eyes covered in the dark for hours because anything else would have been too much. Hanging out alone in the bathroom listening to music for 15 minutes… I’ve done that, too, because it was what I needed to do.

    There have also been times where I have had to leave a situation because I become tapped out. I’ve done my best, and I have reached my limit. Instead of staying I respect my limitations and leave. That took a while for me to learn actually, because for the longest time I viewed leaving as ‘failing’. It’s not failing, though. It’s being honest and true to yourself. Sometimes the better, kinder, and more sensible option is to say, “I’ve done well. I’m done,” and leave it at that.

    I would tag that as a #3 – Respect yourself. There’s always going to be a level of stress. Finding and using healthy ways to relieve it can help make intimidating situations seem less intimidating. The more you understand how to cope with them, the more you understand they’re not going to kill you and you’ll survive.

    One thing that helped me a lot was something I read about public speaking. I wish I could remember where I read it. It might have been Quiet by Susan Cain, but I honestly am not sure.

    Anyway, it was saying how the fear we feel from public speaking is actually natural. Back in the cave man days if we were being watched it was most likely by a predator. So being the center of attention was not naturally a good thing, and our brains are still wired that way. A saber tooth tiger is still going to be scary regardless of if you picture it in its underwear or not.

    Having the realization that my fear was natural, rather than a flaw or a shortcoming in myself helped me immensely in accepting my fear, and amazingly, after accepting it there seemed to be less fear to contend with. It’s as if the more we resist and try to fight it, the more power it has over us.

    I can only speak from my own experience, but it seems to be the same with most negative emotions. The sooner I accept that they exist and that they’re ok, they’re a natural reaction, the less power they have, the less they linger.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      I agree with everything you described above. I’ve also been told that I’m intimidating (until people get to know me) and my reaction has been one of incredulity. Me? I was the one too scared to go up and talk to you.

      I’ve also felt like a failure at times when I was unable to do something that I “should have been able to do”. Or because I had to leave a conversation to go sit in the bathroom. Public speaking was always something I tried to avoid. Not because I disliked talking to people, but because I was the centre of attention, and I’d always freeze up. Finding out that this fear was a natural reaction that most experience helped immensely. It’s so true that the more we resist, the more power we give to this fear.

      You make an excellent point about negative emotions. Society tends to sweep negative emotions under the rug. But negative emotions require our attention just as much as the positive ones, if not more. When we accept that we feel this way, it help us move past them. I used to suppress any negative emotion because I had this false idea that I needed to appear strong all the time. But once the pressure got to be too much, I ended up breaking anyway. In the last few years, I’ve learned to express those negative emotions in a more constructive way and I’ve been so much happier overall. Is life still hard? Of course. But its made things far easier to bear.

      Thank you so much for your input and perspective. I always value your comments 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. satzee says:

    Wonderful points Ally. 🙂
    Loving ourselves also helps. Being an introvert, it might be easy for you to come out of yourself and see you as a person from distant, which will help you to love yourselves tremendously.
    When we love ourselves, most of the seven points follows automatically. By loving ourselves, we start respecting ourselves, we become optimistic, we don’t run away and we become peaceful.
    Good post Ally 🙂 Thank You.

    Liked by 1 person

      • satzee says:

        Thank you Ally.
        I also thought of mentioning “acceptance”, but we often stop with accepting ourselves. When we love someone, we accept them as they are, but still we go beyond the acceptance and make them a better person. Changing a person into someone better, is also love. Acceptance and going beyond acceptance, both will help, only when they are together; one without the other might not be a good place to reside.

        Thank you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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