If you’ve been following The Positivity Solution for a little while, then I’m certain that you know this:
I believe that fear destroys more lives than any other force on this planet.
That’s why I talk about the dangers of living a fear-controlled life so often on this blog.
While that’s true, there’s one form of fear that I haven’t really addressed up until this point, and it actually might be the most common form of fear that exists.
It’s the fear of other people.
Or more specifically, being intimidated by other people. If you’re in that place now, this one is for you.
The Truth About Power
Before I dive in, a quick disclaimer–I’m not a psychiatrist (obviously), so if you have a legitimate full-blown phobia of other people, then this blog post definitely isn’t for you.
But for everyone else who sometimes feels scared or intimidated by other people for whatever reason, take a minute to fully absorb this quote:
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” -Alice Walker
I’m a 42-year old man, and I’m not embarrassed to share that it took me close to 35 years of my life to get this lesson burned into my consciousness.
For most of my life, I freely gave my power away to anyone who wanted it. Actually, even if you didn’t want it, I was happy to give it to you anyway.
Here are some cuts from the soul-destroying album that played on repeat in my brain every time I walked into a room:
“These people are so much better/smarter than me.”
“I’m not good enough.”
“No one here likes or respects me.”
“No one in this room wants to hear what I have to say.”
“I don’t belong here.”
These beliefs ruled most of my adult life, and the results of these beliefs were devastating. Because I lived in fear of other people and their opinions of me, it almost destroyed my career, my social life, and anything else meaningful in my life.
The only reason why those beliefs didn’t completely destroy my life was that after years of being governed by them, I finally woke up to the truth. Here it is:
All of those beliefs aren’t true.
Yes, every single one of them. I’m done giving away my power by believing in those useless thoughts, and I want the same for you too.
We are so much more powerful than we think, and the key to our happiness is to consistently remember that fact.
Yes, You Belong
I believe that in most cases, the feeling of intimidation has nothing to do with the person who intimidates us. Instead, it has everything to do with our insecurities.
Think about it. How often do we give away our power by allowing our insecurities to create insane stories in our mind about other people?
How many people experience near-paralyzing fear and nervousness when they’re introduced to the CEO of their company (or any other high-profile person) because they believe that they’re not good enough to be communicating with her?
How many people have decided not to talk to the cute girl in the room because they’ve convinced themselves that girls like her would never consider talking to guys like them?
How many people avoid going to parties and social gatherings because they believe that everyone at the party is going to harshly judge them and/or not like them?
Here’s the truth.
The people who are intimidating you are not better than you. They aren’t more special than you are. They poop and fart just like the rest of us (and it stinks too.) In fact, they’re probably just like you in more ways than you could ever imagine.
Most importantly, the story that you’re telling yourself in your mind about how scary they are, isn’t real. Even though your insecurities are trying to convince you otherwise.
I don’t care if it’s the CEO of your company, your dream girl/guy, or even a group of strangers in the audience at your upcoming presentation during the next staff meeting. The key is to remember (and believe) this:
When you walk into the same room with them, you belong there.
Know Your Value
Unfortunately, there are some less-than-positive characters out there who actually enjoy intimidating other people. Case in point:
A couple of years ago, I was asked to give a class to a group of “interpersonally challenged” physicians on how to effectively communicate with their nursing staff.
It didn’t go well.
Let’s just say that I wasn’t warmly received when I walked into the room. I was greeted with folded arms, rude comments, piercing stares, dismissive sighs, scowling, and eye-rolling that followed every word that came out of my mouth.
To call them a “hostile audience” wouldn’t even begin to describe these people. Not only were they intent on intimidating me, they were intent on making sure that I knew with every fiber of my being that I didn’t belong in the same room as them.
I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t an absolutely miserable two hours (because it was), but they epically failed in their attempt to intimidate me.
Because I know that I have value.
This wasn’t always the case. If that class happened 10 years ago, I would have run out of that room in tears and considered throwing myself off of the nearest bridge.
Instead, during that class, I focused myself fully on delivering the information in the best way that I could.
It was easy to keep pushing past their rudeness and hostility because I know that my class has value (thousands of people who went through my classes before them seemed to think so.) I know that there is value in my message of communicating with respect and kindness in the workplace (even if they clearly didn’t.) Most of all, I know that I have value as a trainer and a person.
Nothing that those guys could do ever change that.
Sadly, there are many people in this world who get their jollies from intimidating other people.
Whenever you’re on the wrong end of it, remember this: Stand tall and always remember that you have value.
Here is the most important truth about intimidation:
No one can intimidate you without your permission.
There’s no need to over-complicate this: You either give other people your power, or you don’t.
As awful as those physicians were, they didn’t kill me. I’m not irreparably broken from that experience. I put it squarely in the rearview mirror and I refused to allow it to change how I view myself or my message going forward. Since that day, I’ve trained thousands more people with fantastic results.
As I said earlier, that’s because I’m done giving my power away to other people and ignoring my unique value as a human being.
In life, there will always be scary situations to overcome, comfort zones that need to expand in order for us to grow, and self-love that needs to be constantly reinforced in order for us to fully experience the best that life has to offer.
None of the above can happen as long as we continue to listen to the wimpy voice that’s inside of all of us, saying that “we’re not as good as other people.”
We are as good and as worthy as anyone walking on this earth.
In the end, the power to rise up or the power to diminish yourself will always be in your hands.
It’s insane to believe anything else.
Are you easily intimidated by others? Have you been able to overcome being intimidated by other people? If so, how? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!