When I think of the word “intimidation,” I think of high school. (Literally all four years).
During freshman year, I dreaded the daily walk to fourth period Spanish because I knew I would have to pass the hangout spot of the “popular kids,” and this was enough to have me shaking in my boots (my uniform code-adhering, no-more-than-half-an-inch-heeled, too-big-because-Mom-thought-my-feet-were-still-growing boots).
I don’t think that the “popular kids” were trying to make me feel intimidated; in fact, I doubt whether they even noticed me at all. But because I had it in my mind that they were somehow better than me (regardless of whether they actually were or not), I was terrified of them.
Read more: How to deal with an intimidating person.
While there are plenty of bullies in the world who actually will try to intimidate you at some point or another, the truth is that intimidation is a mindset (your mindset). In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” This means that if something that someone says or does makes you feel inferior, it’s because you believed it.
If Eleanor was right (and I believe she was), then the only thing you have to do to combat intimidation (regardless of whether or not it’s being inflicted intentionally) is change your mind about yourself.
For many people, social gatherings can be a constant source of intimidation. This is usually caused by one or more of the following factors:
- Various-sized groups of people, many of whom you may not know
- The inability to know/plan for the exact itinerary of the gathering
- The inability to know/plan for the conversations you will have
Each of these causes of intimidation boils down to the same root problem: you feel intimidated because you don’t believe you’re good enough.
If you’re intimidated because you don’t know everyone at the gathering, it’s because you’re nervous about meeting the people you don’t know. If you’re nervous about meeting the people you don’t know, it’s because you’re worried you won’t say the right thing/do the right thing/act the right way/look the right way. You’re worried you aren’t good enough.
If you’re intimidated because you don’t know the exact itinerary of the gathering, it’s because this prevents you from planning for everything you will do and say. If you’re unable to plan for everything you will do and say, you might have to rely on your instincts instead of your preparation. If you’re nervous about relying on your instincts, it’s because you’re worried you aren’t good enough.
If you’re intimidated because it’s impossible to plan for every potential conversation you may have, it’s because you don’t trust your conversational abilities. If you don’t trust your conversational abilities, it’s because you’re worried you aren’t good enough.
The feeling of intimidation stems from a feeling of perceived inferiority (emphasis on “perceived”). To avoid this feeling, you must remind yourself of all the reasons why you ARE good enough— and allow those reasons to fuel your words, your actions, your body language, and ultimately, your opinion of yourself.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have potential areas of weakness that could stand some improvement. If you know that making conversation isn’t your strong point, brush up on some tips and strategies for being a great conversationalist. If you struggle with self-confidence, work on boosting your self-esteem.
But remember that everyone could stand to improve in some way, and the lack of perfection is not equivalent to the lack of value.
When you begin to recognize the full extent of your own worth, you will notice that feelings of intimidation and inferiority occur less and less frequently. And when you stop feeling intimidated, you will begin to truly enjoy the social gatherings you attend and find yourself reaping the many benefits that socializing has to offer.
Do you agree that “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission”? How has this impacted your social life? Share your stories in the comments!