This was first published on KSL.COM
I was told recently that I come across as arrogant and unfriendly, but this feedback came from a really successful person I always thought was arrogant and unfriendly herself. I think I have an intimidation problem around really successful or beautiful people. I tend to pull back because I don’t feel comfortable talking to them. I also avoid them and am quick to judge these people and find fault with them. I think my whole family does this. They like to rip down arrogant, rich or beautiful people. This isn’t who I want to be though. Any advice to help me change?
First, understand you are not choosing this behavior consciously. Your subconscious programming (that you got from your family and your past experiences) is causing you to react to certain people with fear. The first step to changing this is just recognizing it consciously when it happens, so you have a choice.
One of my favorite things Viktor Frankl said was, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Becoming more mindful and paying attention to your reactions, thoughts and behavior is something that will require practice and patience, but you can do it and you can change your programming. I help people do it every day, but it takes commitment and work. I’ll give you some principles and tips to help you do this.
Here are a few principles of human behavior I want you to understand and watch for in yourself and others. When you understand these you will understand people and yourself at a whole new level.
Principle 1: Everyone on the planet battles a fear of failure (a fear they might not be good enough) every day.
Principle 2: We all project this fear of failure onto other people. This means we usually assume they don’t like us or think we’re good enough either. At the subconscious level we are pretty sure other people see us as badly as we see ourselves.
Principle 3: Both principle 1 and 2 are just perspectives or ideas that exist in our heads. They aren't real, but we believe them and this belief drives our emotions and behavior.
Principle 4: When we believe we aren’t good enough and other people won’t like us, we subconsciously look for faults in the other people so we can see them as worse than us. We do this to make ourselves feel better, but it doesn't work for long. In the end we don't like ourselves for being this unloving. The more intimidated we feel towards someone the more we will tend to judge them.
I call this behavior the Shame and Blame game (because it rhymes and is easy to remember). The more fear of failure (shame) you have, the more you will subconsciously criticize (blame) or find fault in others.
We may have watched too much TV and we now think there has to be a good guy and a bad guy in every situation. We would obviously prefer not be the bad guy, so we constantly look for faults in others so we can cast them as the bad guy. We think if we can cast anyone else as worse than us, that would make us the good one. Watch yourself for this behavior right after you make a mistake or someone criticizes you and triggers your shame. Your first reaction will be to blame someone else.
When you subconsciously see the other person as the bad one, you will also see them as a threat and not feel safe with them. This could make you pull back, be unfriendly or avoid these people. This happens often with people whose assets (appearance, performance, money, car etc.) trigger your fear of failure because you feel less than in those areas.
When you react to any person with fear, you aren’t capable of love in that moment (because you can’t do love and fear at the same time). In a fear state you won’t ever come across very warm, friendly or likable. I am pretty sure this is what is happening to you.
I see this pattern starting for many of us in high school. Because you feel you are less than the popular kids, you feel threatened by them. Because of this you aren’t as friendly towards them and hence they don’t like you and make you part of their group. The truth is not that they don’t think you aren’t good enough for them, the truth is you think you aren’t good enough for them. Your intimidation makes you behave in a way makes friendship impossible.
You can solve all these problems by changing the way you see human value so you feel safer around people and show up with more love. In my book Choosing Clarity I explain exactly how to do this in detail, but I’ll give you some of the steps right now.
I believe these popular, intimidating people may be in your life to teach you to love at a deeper level. Their job in your classroom might be to trigger your fears and show you the limits of your love and the power of your fear. If you see them this way (as a class on love) you can rise to the challenge and shine all over them with your love!
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.