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How to Overcome Feelings of Intimidated

This blog is a revised and updated version of a previously published blog.

Overcoming Feeling Intimidated

Intimidation is one of the hardest feelings to work with, it can signify feelings of insignificance, areas of uncertainty and weaknesses. It can also be caused by repeatedly being put down. If left unidentified, it can be catastrophic for your career.

The first step in dealing with intimidation is recognizing the feeling. For me, the feeling is sometimes masked by other emotions, I have to actively work through my feelings to correctly identify it. Sometimes, I don’t even realize I am intimidated, I just think I am nervous and wonder why. This happened just a few nights ago. Talking to people and public speaking are not things which usually make me nervous or cause me to be intimidated. Typically, I am confident and have too much to say. However, my husband made a comment which left me reeling, he said he noticed when I was talking to a group of men I wasn’t matching my nouns to my verbs. Most people would have probably let that go, but I didn’t. I knew he wasn’t saying it to just say it or to be mean, he was saying it because it bothered him. My husband does not like when I give people reasons to doubt my professionalism or intelligence, and I appreciate this.

As we drove home, I pondered his question. Why had my conversation not been fluid? What had triggered me? And then it hit me, I was, rather am, intimidated by older men. When speaking to a man or group of men who are in their 50’s or older, I allow myself to be intimidated. But why? My dad never raised me to be intimidated, in fact, if anything he pushed me to be social, and to be able to talk to anyone. My dad has always boosted my self-esteem. The same can be said for my maternal grandfather and paternal uncles. I was raised around men who respected women and encouraged us to be vocal and speak up. So why was I intimidated by these men?

In my college days and career, I have had more than my fair share of bad bosses and board presidents, and more than 85% have been men, men who were older than me. I have been put down, sworn at, made to feel stupid and most significantly less than these men. They are the reason for my intimidation. The continual put downs, backhanded comments and insults slung at me for the last 24 years by these older men have left me hurt, and scared of being hurt again. Resulting in continual intimidation of older men.

After I realized this, I visited with another colleague. She knew the men I had been visiting with and laughed with me that the men I was intimidated by were the least intimidating men. These men are kind and uplifting and spoke to me as though I was a peer. I was grateful my blunder had been with such a great group of men and realized they probably didn’t even notice it. She then told me she too struggles with intimidation too.

And so I am left pondering how to overcome my intimidation. Perhaps the mere fact that I am aware of it will help me to handle it better. Maybe this newfound awareness will create confidence in me. What I do know is that I will work hard to overcome my intimidation.

If you are struggling with intimidation I encourage you to look into it, to really examine what the root causes of it. Like any challenge in life, when we can name the challenge, we remove some of its power and can actively work to overcome it. While my article stated that as a woman, men can intimidate me, I know the same is true for men. These are universal feelings which cross gender and age. If you notice someone is struggling with intimidation, gently approach them, and tell them you noticed a situation intimidated them. Then tell them you struggle with intimidation too. Together we can lift each other up and help each other overcome these feelings.

Since this realization, I have worked hard to not allow anyone to ever intimidate me. Here are five tips I use daily to help me lose the feelings of intimidation.

Practice Self-Confidence:

Cultivate self-confidence through positive self-talk and affirmations. Remind yourself of your strengths, accomplishments, and qualities that make you unique. Focus on your abilities and what you bring to the table.

Prepare and Educate Yourself:

Knowledge is empowering. Whether you're facing a challenging situation or interacting with someone who intimidates you, thorough preparation can help alleviate some of the anxiety. Research and gather information, practice your skills, and be well-prepared to handle the situation.

Shift Your Perspective:

Change how you perceive the situation. Instead of viewing someone or something as a threat, consider them as an opportunity for growth and learning. Embrace challenges as chances to develop new skills and expand your comfort zone.

Control Your Body Language:

Your body language can influence how you feel and how others perceive you. Stand or sit up straight, maintain eye contact, and adopt an open posture. Taking up space and using confident body language can actually help boost your self-confidence and reduce feelings of intimidation.

Break the Ice and Connect:

Often, intimidation arises from unfamiliarity or the perception of differences. Take the initiative to engage in conversation or establish common ground with the person or situation that intimidates you. By connecting on a human level, you may find it easier to relate and feel more at ease.

Remember that feeling intimidated is a natural response, but it doesn't have to control your actions or emotions. With practice and patience, you can develop strategies to manage and even overcome these feelings. If intimidation is severely impacting your well-being or preventing you from engaging in important activities, consider seeking support from a mental health professional.

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