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How Do I Stop Freezing in Front of Men?

In school I was always the popular one. I wound up having a child at 22. Now I'm 27 and I've been single for four years. I use to be carefree and fun loving and I had so much faith that I would eventually meet the right person. But now, it seems all of my self-confidence has dissipated.
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Dear Colette,

In school I was always the popular one. I wound up having a child at 22. Now I'm 27 and I've been single for 4 years. I use to be carefree and fun loving and I had so much faith that I would eventually meet the right person.

Now, it seems that all of my self-confidence has dissipated. I have a great career and a healthy son, and I think I'm smart and funny, but when it comes to meeting guys I freeze up and can't speak to them anymore. If I do speak to them, I end up sabotaging everything and I don't know why.

I guess my main question is how do I learn self-confidence so that I'm not so afraid or insecure around the opposite sex? Thank you very much. - Nicole

Dear Nicole,

Thank you very much for trusting me with your question. Sincerely, I'm honoured.

You've displayed a whole lot of insight and self-awareness, so first, I want to acknowledge you for that.

But one thing I wonder is: Do you freeze up around all men? Or only those that you are interested in?

Somehow, I get the feeling that it's just the men that you'd like to pursue a relationship with.

Allow me to share a little story with you.

When I first started my private practice in therapy and coaching, I hired a marketing coach. And my coach told me "Colette, to get the word out about you and what you do, you have to start hosting workshops and events."

The moment she told me this, I freaked out. I was terrified. I mean, I had just graduated from my masters in Psychology, and who the heck was I to instantly put myself in the position of "expert" while hosting my own workshop!? It felt totally out of my comfort zone and my ability. I thought it was ludicrous!

But never wanting to succumb to fear, I took her advice and ran with it. I hosted my very first workshop within one month of speaking with her (I don't usually waste a lot of time). It was called "Too many Mr. Wrongs -- Time to Find Your Mr. Right!" and to my surprise people actually came to it. Lots of people, 22 of them in fact. Wonderful, successful, amazing women between the ages of 25 to 50. My marketing coach also came so that she could give me feedback about my performance.

On the night of the event, you can believe I was nervous. But I felt the fear and did it anyway. And, I'm still here -- alive to tell about it.

What was the feedback from my coach? She said (and I'm paraphrasing) "Colette, you did great. There were a few things you said that felt incomplete, and sometimes I wanted you to go deeper into questions that were coming from the group, but your information was solid and helpful, and the reason you'll do well at this is because it's obvious that you care -- people feel safe in your presence -- you are completely charming!"

Hmmph! Well that's not so bad now, is it!?

Why did I share this story with you?

Because the fear I was having was not all that different than the fear you might have when it comes to meeting men.

It's a fear of looking bad.

It's a fear of embarrassing yourself.

It's a fear of doing or saying the wrong thing and being rejected.

But most of all, it's simply just fear -- False Expectations Appearing Real -- and all fears are an illusion.

Everyone has fears. From fear of losing your job, to fearing to learn to ski, to fearing what people (men included) think of you.

We all have fears -- and yes -- our fears feel pretty real when we have them. But here's some great advice:

Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain. - Mark Twain

It's a funny thing when you think about meeting-men-fears.

Because really, what's the worst thing that can happen? You don't spark his interest? You don't get a first date? You end up as someone else's "bad date" story? You have an uneasy 20 minutes that you wish you could have back?

The stakes are so low, so very unimportant, that it's truly a wonder we can fear such a situation. Yet, it happens. When you let your fears cloud your perception of reality, you turn something as harmless as meeting a new man into an anxiety-laden stress-fest.

The answer to your dilemma is this:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to acknowledge your fear and move past it.

That's going to be your surest way to increase your confidence with men.

Because unless you have a lot of practice in such social situations, and with men that you find attractive, you won't be a natural. You will freeze up. Your insecurity and fears will paralyze you.

It's just like me and hosting live events -- of course I'm not going to do it perfectly the first time around -- I've never hosted an event before. Of course I'm going to be afraid of saying the wrong thing, and looking bad, or like I don't know my "stuff." But I also know that with experience and practice comes mastery, so the more I do it, the better I'll be at it, and more importantly, the more I'll enjoy it. Same goes with meeting men.

  • Unless you get more PRACTICE, you're not likely to get any better at it.
  • Unless you get more PRACTICE, you're not likely to feel any more comfortable doing it.
  • Unless you get more PRACTICE, your illusional fear will seem real, and you'll stay stuck.

As a formerly fearful workshop leader I'm here to tell you:

  • You MUST ignore your fear.
  • You MUST get more experience.
  • You MUST get yourself out there and practice.
  • You MUST get back up when you fall.
  • You MUST stop making mountains out of mole hills -- after all, he is just a man, and the worst he can do is not notice you.

Remember, fears are nothing but false expectations appearing real. If you think there's something to worry about -- like him rejecting you -- you can bet with 100 per cent certainty it will happen.

Change your expectations about the outcome:

Try some of these thoughts on for size when meeting new men:

I'm going to talk to that cute guy because even if he's not interested in me, it will give me the chance to practice.

Even though the stakes are higher because I'm getting older and I'm a mother now, finding the right guy takes work, and I'm not going to find him if I can't even talk to him.

Despite the fact that I'm scared, it's likely that he's got fears and hang-ups too. We all do.

Just because he's good looking, doesn't mean he's a good guy, or "right" for me. I'm going to approach him so that I have the chance to find out.

Even if I do really like him and he doesn't like me, that doesn't mean I'm "no good" or a "bad person." I just means I'm not "right" for him, and that's okay. Knowing this gives me the chance to move on to the next guy.

Hugs and Love,