This article is written by a guest author for Socially Scared
Have you ever been around a group of strangers, and felt like you really wanted to say something, but were too afraid of the possible response from others? Do you fear creating and getting excited about opportunities because you think about the possibility of rejection? Maybe you internalize rejection so much that you start to feel down on yourself and your ideas when it happens.
Well, in this article, we’re going to discuss the idea of how to stop being quiet so you can take more control of your life and really enjoy living your best life.
Why Being Too Quiet Can be Physically Unhealthy
I began to become very frustrated with my social anxiety and started doing research on the topic in my early years of college as a Nursing student, way before I even thought about becoming a yoga teacher.
I learned that not only was being anti-social, bottling up thoughts in conversation, and not knowing my true self making me sad, but it was actually physically unhealthy and had worse consequences than I even knew. Humans are designed to be social and work together, and nature has given us the ability to feel loneliness to push us to be more social.
When we socially isolate ourselves, we are more prone to issues such as dementia, low self-esteem, depression, increased tumor risk, decreased empathy towards others, decreased ability to learn, shorter life span, and inflammation from stress.
I was shocked when I realized exercising at home, sleeping eight hours a night, and a balanced, plant-based diet wasn’t enough. My antisocial behavior was damaging my chances of living a long, happy, and healthy life. It was after much deep thought that I realized I needed to make a change in my behavior if I wanted to transition to adulthood in a healthy and successful way.
The Benefits of Spending Time with Good People
In favor of my new lifestyle, I started by joining a book club at my college, somehow making time outside of my strenuous health science and math classes. We’d all read the same book in our spare time, and then we’d get together to discuss it. While it was challenging for me, it gave me practice to express my opinions and not be afraid to be judged.
Some people openly agreed, some politely nodded, and others expressed opposing views, but in a non-aggressive way. The safe environment got me comfortable, and I went from whispering my thoughts while fidgeting my fingers to expressing my strong opinions and joking around with hand gestures, facial expressions and a smile, as I would with a close family member.
For once in a long time, I authentically believed I was intelligent when I shared my views, and on the days we’d go to schools and read books to children in impoverished areas, I felt I had a purpose to better the world.
I had tears of joy in the bathroom when no one was watching because I finally experienced how beneficial it was to spend time with the right people. When you socialize and share moments with positive beings, you feel better about yourself, you’re happier, you live longer, you’re mentally sharper, as well as many other benefits that you can learn here. All in all, you’re healthier and your mindset is shifted.
If you found my self-growth story inspiring, the health facts shocking, and you’re ready to make a change, I’d like to start sharing my straightforward tips for you to stop being quiet and start living life, so you can feel amazing too!
5 Tips to Stop Being Quiet and Start Living Life
Let’s begin with the concept of who you keep around you.
- Be Yourself Around Others
When you try to be something you’re not, you not only attract people that aren’t in line with your true self, but you can feel fatigue, stress, depression, and low self esteem. I, personally, used to to agree with peers’ opinions, hide my silliness to act more serious, and studied to get straight “A’s” instead of having a well-rounded life, just so I could fit in with the other competitive Nursing students at my college!
It was stressful, confusing, and I realized I didn’t even like those people, but figured I had to try since I was majoring in Nursing, and thought I’d be stuck with these people for a few years.
Once I recognized that I preferred holistic health over western medicine, nature and trees, instead of a sterile, hospital environment, and a slow-pace rather than a fast-pace, I realized Nursing was not right for me. I dropped out, worked at a farmer’s market for a year, and turned my stress-reducing coping mechanism of yoga into a career goal.
Sure enough, I signed up for a yoga teacher training, and for the first time I could relate and honestly converse with people in my career of choice. I had no idea that once of the best stress relief techniques was just to be myself. Moral of the story, embrace who you are, and you will move towards the life you love.
- Learn to Speak With Compassion
When I was growing up, I never thought I had very great communication skills. I was always afraid that I was going to accidentally offend someone, or say something socially awkward and embarrassing, so I would stay quiet to prevent that from happening.
If this is something you can relate with, I highly recommend reading the book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Not only does this book teach you how to speak with compassion, it explains how to set boundaries, ask for help, and alleviate arguments in a socially acceptable way.
Even after reading a couple chapters of this book, I had already gained confidence to make requests to co-workers, have deep conversations with my boyfriend, and set boundaries with yoga students, entirely with authenticity and compassion, where before I would have just ignored challenging situations, or would not ask for help, out of fear of sounding whiny.
In short, speaking with compassion is about stating your thoughts, feelings, and preferences, without placing blame on others, or making assumptions. If you express your opinion as an opinion, and not as a fact, or if you express you don’t like a specific action someone did, rather than calling an action or the person “bad”, you are speaking with compassion.
Once you learn to speak with more compassion, you can improve your chances of avoiding confrontation, which in turn will make you more comfortable talking to people.
- Volunteer or Join a Meetup Group
Often times, people without a sense of purpose or belonging will be shy, because they feel they have nothing to offer, or a passion to share. This can be easily remedied with volunteering, or joining a meetup group. Use the internet wisely, and check out VolunteerMatch to become a part of a cause outside of yourself, or join MeetUp where you can discuss and take part in activities you’re interested in with like minded people within your area.
There’s been plenty of times in my youth and adulthood where I felt useless and found volunteering to fill that void, and as an adult, Meetup has allowed me to make so many friends and business connections. I still love volunteering to teach yoga to the elderly and cancer patients, and going hiking and practicing meditation with my friends from Meetup.
I notice that when I spend a weekend not volunteering, teaching yoga, or socializing, I feel like I have a lot less exciting stuff to talk about the following week. Only you can give your life meaning, and that’s by actively searching for activities and people that you value.
- Stop Worrying and Think Positively
If you’re the kind to stay quiet or say “no” to opportunities because of worries, I’m talking to you right now. I can relate because I was the worst worry wart possible growing up, and quite frankly, I missed out on a lot of childhood and teenage events. However, I learned that I cannot tell the future or read minds of other people, and most likely, you can’t either.
If you think positively, and put out energy that is confident and happy, people are more likely to give you respect and enjoy your presence, rather than judge you or feel uncomfortable around you. Furthermore, worrying and creating anxiety can make you confused and exhaust you of energy, so if you’re afraid you’re going to blank out when giving a speech, or blow it at a job interview, you’ll allow that to happen by letting your nerves get to you.
Instead, use one of my favorite anxiety relaxation techniques. Prepare for the speech, the job interview, the family gathering, the school reunion, or whatever you’re doing as much as you can, and then accept that it is enough. If you aren’t perfect, it’s okay. Life isn’t easy.
Appreciate what goes right, and learn from what goes wrong. In the moment, focus on the positives or laugh it off. I do it when I teach yoga and mistake saying the “elbow” instead of the “knee” (which often makes for a strange pose). No one discredits me for it, and if they do secretly for something that silly, that’s a reflection of their own insecurities, not my professionalism. Stay positive.
- Agree to New Growth Opportunities
I kind of touched on this topic in the previous point, but now I want to focus on helping you actively agree to and seek out new opportunities. In moderation, having a routine is relaxing and gives us a sense of security, but when everything is the same, we aren’t challenging our brains, we aren’t experiencing excitement, and we aren’t practicing adaptability to change.
We need to be brave and try new things, so we can evolve through life, and experience the highs and lows in emotion that we are meant to have, rather than go through life boring and stagnant.
When I first started teaching yoga some years back, I was perfectly content with teaching similar vinyasa flow yoga classes over and over again because it was a new challenge and I needed practice.
However, over time, I wanted to teach new styles of classes, I wanted to teach private yoga, and currently, I’ve been thinking about writing a book and hosting yoga retreats. If I was still teaching the same vinyasa flows I was teaching years ago, I wouldn’t be able to be authentically enthusiastic teaching my students. I’d be burnt out, and probably would not be a lot of fun to be around.
Instead, I’m frequently finding ways to keep teaching yoga fresh and exciting, so I can hold space for students to feel motivated and at ease, while I also feel excited and challenged. There’s no need to fear moving forward, because you will adjust and there will always be people less experienced or younger to fill your previous spot. Transitions are part of a healthy life. Listen to me when I say not to let life pass you by.
Taking The First Step of Your New Life Now
Don’t start tomorrow to start changing your life. Take a step today, even if it’s small. Sign up for Volunteermatch or Meetup. Decide how you will use compassionate communication to ask your boss for a promotion.
Go through your closet and donate the clothes that don’t really represent you. When you start making decisions now as you are excited for this new life, it will become a snowball effect. Soon enough, you will be regularly making new choices to become an authentic, outgoing, and adventurous version of true yourself!