I am a thirty‑six‑year‑old single woman with no children…. I am extremely timid and insecure. It embarrasses me to speak to others and, when I do, I think they are going to laugh at me.
I have tried to be more self‑confident and to not be distrusting of others, but I can’t. At times I lose hope.
We are so glad that you have told us your problem! Asking for help is the first step in resolving your problem.
Although it is very probable that untrustworthy people have contributed to your current distrust of others, there are also personality factors involved. Some people are more introverted than others, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. However, when it interferes with your happiness and your ability to have meaningful relationships, it has gone too far.
All of us have a thought life that is inside our heads. Some people choose to reveal to others much or most of what they think about. You, on the other hand, think and analyze in minute detail every interaction you have with others, and then you keep a history of that interaction within your head, mulling over it time and time again, analyzing what you said and how they reacted. You reveal almost nothing to others because you filter your words first in an effort to guess how people will react to each possible comment on your part, and the result is that you decide that it is too risky to say anything. So you keep who you are closed up within yourself. Since all relationships involve disclosing a little of yourself to other people, your fear of their reaction keeps relationships from starting.
One of the most well‑known figures of history is Moses, the patriarch. This Moses, to whom God gave the Ten Commandments, is remembered for the way that God used him to lead the entire nation of Israel out of slavery in the land of Egypt. Do you know what Moses said when God first asked him to be the spokesman for his people? “Moses said to the Lord, `O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’“1
Yes, Moses said he didn’t know how to talk to people. He said his tongue wouldn’t cooperate and he couldn’t get the right words out fast enough to communicate well. Basically, he was timid. But God gave Moses instructions, and Moses followed them. He took action steps and, though it was never that easy for him, he accomplished great things in spite of his timidity.
So we suggest that you begin to care more about making a happy life for yourself than you care about what other people might think of you. We can offer you a few suggestions on how to start, but you must discipline yourself to follow through each day by forcing yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable.
1. Force yourself to greet every person that you pass as you go about your daily business, whether you know them or not. Just a short “Hello!” is enough, and it doesn’t matter if they answer you or not. Don’t expect an answer from anyone; instead, be pleasantly surprised when they do answer.
2. Volunteer to help out at a charity, at least once a week. Twice a week would be better, if you can. Tutor a schoolchild, help cook for homeless people, or be a hospital volunteer. There are many people who need your help, and interacting with them will boost your confidence.
3. Sign up to learn how to do something new. It could be learning another language, knitting, or making pretty baskets. There are low‑cost or no‑cost classes available in most communities. Remember to speak to each person you come in contact with, and don’t worry if they don’t answer back.
In addition to creating more opportunities for interaction with other people by doing what we suggest, there are some things we believe you should not do. Do not replay conversations in your head over and over, trying to figure out what the other person was thinking. Do not belittle yourself if you fail to respond in a charming way to someone else’s comment. And, most importantly, do not give up!
Take some risks! It will be worth it,
Linda and Charles
1 Exo 4:10