We have all experienced that dreaded feeling of intimidation at one time or another. Whether we're intimidated by a situation or a person, that feeling can throw us off balance and lead to devastating results.
Keeping yourself on track in the face of intimidation is hard. Here are five things that will make it easier to cope.
1. Remember that people will talk no matter what
No matter what you choose to do, people will talk. So why worry about it?
And people love to talk about other people. Forget NASA's latest discovery, ending global warming, or the political climate... we usually prefer talking about each other.
We have a famous narrative in Lebanon about a young couple and their camel. The couple decides to walk from one end of town to the other. The young man is leading the camel while the the young woman sits on the camel. People around town see this and say, "Look at this stupid man. He walks and lets his wife sit on the camel." The next day, they switch places so they don't get people talking. But this time, everyone says, "Look at this woman. She lets her man sit on the camel as she does all the walking." So they both decide to get on the camel. That gets people saying, "Look at these people. They put all their weight on the poor camel." Finally, they both get off the camel and do the walking themselves, thinking that will stop all the talk for sure. But, no. This time, people say, "Look at this couple. They don't even use their camel!"
You can't win against people's love of talk, so the best approach to an intimidating situation is to just be you and take Doctor Seuss's words to heart:
"Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
2. You are not alone
Remember that everyone gets intimidated. We are all human. We all make mistakes and all have our insecurities and fears. There is no shame in what you are feeling. It can happen to anyone.
You might consider asking someone you trust about their own experiences with intimidation. You may learn something helpful, but at the very least, you will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
3. Look at the situation from a different point of view
Most of us, when feeling stuck in a difficult situation, can only ever think about the situation itself. We usually have a hard time thinking about anything else.
Choose to look at the intimidation from a helicopter perspective. What does the situation look like from 10 000 feet? What advice would you give a friend who is in the same situation? Don't take the situation personally. Yes, it's directed at you (or feels that way), but this is an intimidator who likes to prey on people.
Step back from the situation. Remove the personal to decide how best to proceed.
4. You have the power to change things
When a person is actively intimidating you, the only way that person will stop is if their behaviour is brought to light.
Speak up. Tell someone what is happening. Get support. Do not keep this to yourself. Do not let your fears stop you from taking action. Better to tell someone of the threat, no matter how shameful it may feel, than to keep quiet and suffer.
In fact, it's your responsibility to speak up and to contact authorities if need be. Otherwise, the intimidator will continue this behavior with others.
You have the power to change things. Use that power. I know it's scary, but it's the only way to break the cycle.
5. Concentrate on the teachings
The best way to handle any situation is to concentrate on what we can do to change it and what we can learn from it.
Look for the lesson and use it to help yourself become stronger and to propel yourself forward. With your experience, you can help others do the same.
There is a light at the end of every tunnel. Don't let an intimidating person or situation block you from seeing it.
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