Monday, March 4, 2013

Overcoming Shyness & The Fear of Rejection

I had a woman tell me recently that she wanted to promote the challenge, but she added that she couldn't promote, due to her being "shy." Shyness is a learned behavior. Just as you have "learned" to bashful, timid, easily startled, and uncomfortable in the company of others; you can also "UNLEARN" this behavior!

Definition of "UNLEARN"-To put something out of mind; to forget something; to discard something previously learnt, like an old habit.

The first step in the process of overcoming your shyness is to CONFRONT your fear of REJECTION! The fear of rejection is the root cause of shyness. Rejection is a normal part of life. It is difficult to experience love without first experiencing rejection. It is next to impossible to experience success without first experiencing rejection. The ONLY way to avoid rejection is to SAY nothing, to DO  nothing, and to BE nothing.

I had an experience years ago, that provided me with an entirely different outlook on this "condition" known as "shyness." I was a substitute teacher for a 7th grade class at Parkside Middle School. The teacher was on long-term sick leave, and so I received the assignment of teaching the class for two weeks.

The students had an assignment that included conducting presentations before their classmates. There were about 32 students in the classroom. When the day for presentations arrived, each of the students took turns standing in front of the room, and sharing presentations on a variety of subjects. The assignment required that each student speak before the room for a minimum of five minutes.

There was one particular student in my classroom that had a REALLY difficult time with this particular assignment. I will refer to this student as "Lisa" for the purposes of this post. When Lisa approached the front of the room, it was quickly apparent that this was her first time speaking before a group.

Lisa approached the podium with her notes tightly clasped in her shaking hands. She stared nervously at the floor, as her classmates waited for her to begin her speech. Lisa then turned to me, and said, "I can't do it." I never responded. I simply smiled, and waited for her to speak.

Lisa's lips started to tremble, and moments later, tears began to roll down her face. A large part of me wanted to save Lisa in this moment, but an even greater part of me understood that if I forced her to confront this dreadful fear of being rejected by her classmates, that she would develop a new level of courage that would stick with her for LIFE.

After what seemed like a good 10-minute standoff, Lisa reluctantly started her speech. Her classmates were HIGHLY intrigued by her topic of choice. Each time that Lisa glanced up, she noticed the positive feedback being provided in the facial expressions of the students around her. Throughout the course of her speech, her body language slowly started to transform. Lisa wiped the tears away from her eyes. Her slumping shoulders stood up in an erect position. By the end of her presentation, Lisa was looking her classmates right in the eyes, and speaking with BOLDNESS!!!

When the class ended for the day, Lisa pulled me aside, and thanked me for forcing her to present to the class. She told me that this was her first time ever speaking before a group, and that she had feared going in, that her classmates would make fun of her, or that she would do a poor job. Lisa ended up presenting the best performance of all of the kids in her class!!!!

The moral of this story is this: GO FOR IT!! The ONLY thing stopping you is YOU!! Will you experience rejection? Absolutely. Will you eventually run into people who will mock you, and attempt to discourage you from pursuing your dreams? Absolutely! But focus on the NUMBERS, and understand that each time that you make the decision to act IN SPITE of your fears; this makes you stronger, more confident, and more VALUABLE to the world around you! The world NEEDS people that are willing to GO FOR IT!!!

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