How To Be Relaxed And Confident With Silence
Do you hate being asked the question, “why are you so quiet?”
Do you feel nervous or stressed about silences in conversations, and feel like you have to come up with something to say to fix it fast?
Join Dr. Aziz in today’s episode to discover the real fear behind silence and how to become completely comfortable, confident, and relaxed no matter whether you’re speaking or silent.
Click below to hear this episode!
Hey, everybody, welcome to this episode of the show. I’m your host, Dr. Aziz and I’m excited to be with you here today because I want to ask you a question. Why are you so quiet? That’s really what we’re diving into today. It’s a question I used to get a lot and used to bother the hell out of me and be difficult and challenging and just bring up a lot of discomfort, self-criticism, fear about people asking me that, fear about being too quiet, tons of self-judgment. We’re going to dive into all of that and help you be free of that fear. Free of that fear of not having anything to say, fear of that fear of being too quiet or someone judging you for that or asking you about that so we’re going to dive into that today.
If you’d like to go deeper in the show, go to shrinkfortheshyguy.com. We got show notes there, transcripts, you can also sign up to get my e-book there as well, “Five Steps to Unleash Your Inner Confidence.” There’s a lot of powerful ways to go deeper with this and speaking of going deeper, I’m super excited because in about a week is when the early bird for the Ultimate Confidence Breakthrough weekend starts. And that’s going to be an amazing weekend. It’s in June and I know a lot of you ask questions about the last weekend which we did about a month ago about Conversation Mastery which was amazing. My voice is actually still recovering … you might be able to tell.
I blew it out there which I tend to do so I’m going to work on that so it won’t happen again for the next one but Ultimate Confidence Breakthrough is all about power. Social power, the ability to say what you want, do what you want, stop being so nice, stop being so afraid and just being fucking bold, fearless, powerful and ultimately free to say what you want, go for what you want, do what you want. So, super excited about that. Stay tuned if you want to know about the early bird. Go sign up for the e-book at shrinkfortheshyguy.com or go to my main site, socialconfidencecenter.com, social confidencecenter.com and if you sign up for the e-book then you’ll be able to get updates as well about the weekend and how to get to it for the early bird ticket price. So, that’s going to be super fun and I hope to see you there.
So, why are you so quiet? Has anyone ever asked you this question? I know in my experience, it happened more than I’d like to admit, more than I wanted it to, that’s for sure. And I’d be … sometimes it’ll be with family or with a group of people or some situation or something like that, “Why are you so quiet?” And it … does that feel like a benign harmless question when someone asks us that? No, right? It feels terrible. It feels like they’re saying … there’s a part that they’re leaving off but it’s like, (“What the hell is wrong with you?”) “Why are you so quiet?”
Right so we insert that … it feels like they’re criticizing or implying that we should say more, be doing more, be more expressive, be more outgoing, and most people, that I talked to who have struggled with confidence or social anxiety, have a fear of being that quiet person and have people that have asked about them about that and maybe even had people that judged them for it. Sometimes it’s not judgment, people are just curious so there’s asking but we take it as judgment and there’s a ton of self-judgment there, isn’t there? So let’s dive into that more today. “Why are you so quiet?”
By the end of this show, here’s what I want for you. I want you to feel completely comfortable and relaxed with yourself whether you’re talking or being quiet. Whether you have a ton to contribute in a conversation or when you feel like you don’t and to be fully comfortable and relaxed in yourself. That sounds like a good plan that I feel like it’ll be valuable for you. Awesome. Let’s dive into it so here’s the thing. We learned somewhere along the way that being quiet is bad. Not having something to say is wrong and therefore something bad is going to happen. People aren’t going to like us, we’re not going to be popular, we’re going to be kicked out of the group, people aren’t going to want to be a friend, people aren’t going to want to date us, so where did you learn that being quiet is bad?
Did you have someone that would … I mean sometimes we have people grew up with parents that would explicitly criticize them for that. “Speak up, what’s wrong with you? Why are you so quiet?” Say something, do more, express more and sometimes it’s not direct and obvious, sometimes it’s more subtle, maybe you learned it in school, maybe it was more implied rather than directly spoken to, maybe your parents praised someone else for being that way. Where do you think that you learned that it’s bad to be quiet? Think about that for second … it’s important because when we find out where we learn something, we realize, “Oh I learned this and anything that I learned is not fact, it’s not an elemental truth about life; this is just some belief system, some BS, some story that I picked up that said, “Hey, this is bad and this is better.”
Black t-shirts are bad, brown t-shirts are better, some random thing that we could have picked up. Your shoes and your pants or shoes and belt must always match, right? We have all these rules these things that we learn about what’s good what’s bad and here’s one that we learned which is being quiet is bad. So where did you learn that? And maybe you’ll come up with it right now, maybe it’ll hit you three days later when you’re driving somewhere right before you fall asleep and that’s okay.
You don’t have to know exactly right now, I just want to be thinking and seeing that you did in fact learn this from somewhere. Then the next question is, “Well, how do we unlearn something that we learned? And why are we so scared of it in the first place? Why do we have this tremendous fear about being quiet? So we’re going to share all of that.
So let’s talk about the crocodile pit. “Oh yes, the crocodile pit.” So, I was having a session recently with the client and she had this fear of being quiet. She had a fear, well, it shows up as a tremendous fear of silence. So, silence in a conversation was very uncomfortable for her and so she dreaded it and so she did everything she could to try to avoid that silence and any moment of silence felt incredibly awkward for her.
And underneath that was this fear of people being upset with her for being, “Why are you so quiet?” So, we want to uncover what the fear there actually is and that’s where I came up with this metaphor of the crocodile pit. So, what we’re afraid of when we’re afraid of silence is we’re afraid of getting bit by the crocodile and so here’s what it is. It’s like you’re walking on a tightrope above a crocodile pit and that tight rope is that conversation or the interaction with someone and if you make one false move then you’re going to get bit.
And the false move could be you don’t have something to say in that moment or you don’t have the right thing to say or you’re just listening and you’re not speaking a bunch and then you’re going to fall off and they’re going to just bite you. And the reason I use the metaphor, the crocodile pit is because we emotionally … we physically, emotionally react as if it’s really dangerous and really threatening. Something really bad is going to happen and it is almost like a survival fear that can kick in. It’s like if I don’t do this, I’m not going to be accepted, I’m not going to be loved, this person is going to hate me, they’re going to bite me, I’m going to get bit by the crocodile.
So, we want to start to create more space around that. What if it weren’t such a big deal? What if it were more okay to be quiet? Because the truth is, the more comfortable you get with being quiet or being silent in a situation, the less of a deal it becomes to others, the less you might even have people ask you that question and if someone does ask you, why are you so quiet, it might not be that big of a deal. So we need to help you get completely comfortable with silence. So, it no longer feels like you’re getting bit by a crocodile or in danger of being bit by crocodile but that it’s really not a big deal.
So how do we get there? How do we make it not that big of a deal to be quiet or to be silent? Well, if you are totally comfortable with it then you can handle anything. So it’s all about … it’s not about getting other people to be comfortable with the silence and not saying something, it’s about you. So let’s pick something that you are completely comfortable with perhaps already. So let’s say, you are going to make a pot roast tonight for dinner and then your friend comes over and says, “What are you doing? You made a pot roast tonight? Why did you make a pot roast tonight?”
And they’re really upset about it. How would you handle that? What would you do? Perhaps you’d say, “Ah yes, I did, it seemed like a good idea and I thought it would taste good. Is there something wrong with that?” Right? How would you respond? Perhaps you’d be curious, perhaps you’d wonder, “What is going on with this person? Why are they so upset about a pot roast on a Wednesday night? What’s the big deal?” And the key here is that we … if you’re totally relaxed in that situation, it’s because you don’t have any judgment at all about making a pot roast on a Wednesday night.
So that when they come at you with their like, “Ah, why are doing this?” You’re kind of like, “Huh, what’s going on with you?” Interesting, you can be curious, you can be fascinated, really like, “What, what it going on with this person?” What is going on with their model of the world, their belief system that this is wrong? Now what’s interesting though, is I’ve gone … it’s been a little while now but I spent big chunks of my life where I was a vegetarian. And I would kind of be a vegetarian for six months or eight months and then I’d go back to eating meat for three or four months and then I’d go back to being a vegetarian or a vegan and I kind of bounce back and forth and during one of those times where I had been a vegetarian and then I was cooking a pot roast, let’s say, I was off the wagon and someone said, “Oh you’re cooking a pot roast.”
If I had some issue around it and felt guilty about it or bad like, “I know,” then I would have to like defend myself like, “Well, I was a vegetarian for six months or I only eat meat once every Thursday,” and I’d have to explain myself and try to defend myself and it’ll be a problem because I’m not okay with it. I’m not comfortable with it but if you’re okay with it, then it’s not an issue. Do you see my point here? So, how can you get to pot roast level of comfort around being quiet? Is that even possible? Partly you might say, “No, well, I can’t get comfortable because it’s terrible.” It’s like saying, get comfortable with having no teeth and my eyeballs poked out. It’s hideous; it’s totally unacceptable, right?
Well it’s not and we need to learn how to accept it or else we’re going perpetually live in fear and here’s the thing, if you’re living in fear of silence and of, “Oh my God, I don’t want people to think I’m quiet,” and you try to pressure yourself to think of the next thing to say, guess what that does to your interactions? It fucks them up. It makes you worse in conversations, more uncomfortable and so even if you perform okay, you’re still not at ease. You’re still not comfortable in yourself. So we need to learn how to get totally comfortable with being quiet and we’re going to talk more about how to do that, right after this.
To get started on your journey towards lifelong confidence with Dr. Aziz, simply go to socialconfidencecenter.com/coaching.
I want to share with you something from my reality. In my reality, it is completely okay to be quiet in a situation, to have not something to say in a situation. If I do have something to say, I can share it and if I don’t have anything to say yet, I can listen, I can be present, I can be quiet until something comes up, that’s my reality. What if you adopted that as your reality? And you became so comfortable on that, that it was just like, “Hey, when I want to cook a pot roast, I cook a pot roast. It’s the most random example in the world but I hope you get my point.
So, how can you become way more comfortable with silence? What judgments you need to let go of? What stories or things you learned or what someone told you back when you were nine years old? I mean, we can hang on to that shit forever. Now is the time to just let it go. In my reality, it’s totally okay. And so when you’re in that situation, let’s say you’re sitting around, there’s four people talking or it’s a group or maybe even one-on-one, that’s where we can feel even more awkward, right?
You’re in that situation, there’s a moment where the conversation stops, what do you do? How do you want … well first of all you want to start to get clear in yourself like, “Look. In my reality this is how it is.” Then we want to live in to that and become more and more, like feel it more emotionally. So what you might do is you’re sitting there and silent starts and you just breathe and notice. And what if there’s no threat? What if there’s nothing wrong at all of being quiet? Like there’s nothing wrong with wearing socks and shoes.
It’s just an ordinary period of the conversation, a moment in life, sometimes I’m talking, sometimes I’m quiet. And from that place, someone says, “Why are you so quiet?” Oh I’m … that’s an interesting question, I’m actually just listening and paying attention to what people are saying,” or let’s say, it was just the two of you and it’s totally quiet and you might say that, “I was just breathing and reflecting,” and there’s no reason to defend because there’s not maybe even a criticism in what they’re saying. If you no longer see it as a problem, there’s no criticism.
Now let’s say, someone did come at you and say, “God, do you ever say anything? Why are you so quiet?” If in your reality being quiet was totally, how would you respond? What would you say? “Oh, yes, I was just sitting here and reflecting and noticing my breathing and noticing the sound of the birds. Yes, you seem like you might be a little bit upset with me for being quiet, is that right?” Right, you might even go into it, you might be curious because you realize, it doesn’t have anything to do with you. It has something to do with them and their expectations.
And here’s the thing, here’s the biggest liberating paradox is that the more comfortable you are with quiet and silence, the more okay with it that you are, that means you stop making yourself wrong, you stop beating yourself up for it, the more okay with it you are; the less it happens, right? You just sit in silence for a moment, you breathe and then boom, there’s something to say, or not and that’s okay too because we’re not otherwise bothered by it. But you see, the more we can let go of things, the more we become free of them.
It’s no longer an issue and this is super powerful. In fact, in the last weekend, which I was mentioning in the beginning of the show, the Supremely Confident Conversation Master , we had a lot of people there that were uncomfortable with quiet and silence so we had this extremely powerful exercise, very simple but very powerful. We just had them partner up, stand a couple of feet apart from each other and I timed it and just stand and look at each other in silence for about 40 seconds, sometimes a little longer, sometimes a little shorter, and to breathe and to notice.
And it was fascinating to watch because the first partner, people were kind of like, they’re shifty and uncomfortable and there’s nervous laughter and some people kind of … couldn’t help themselves from chatting. I just encouraged them by pounding on the table and saying, “Everyone, shut up.” No, but I encouraged them to resist the urge and just be. So, people did that and they did it again and they switched partners and they did it again and it was fascinating. By like the fourth or fifth person, just like three or four minutes of this, five minutes to this, you could see it, people’s faces were softer, their bodies were relaxed, their jaws weren’t clenched, they were just like, boom, looking at each other.
It was really simple but really powerful and we got a lot of feedback at the end from the weekend that people found that exercise to be one of most transformative and they said, “It completely changed how I was around other people so making eye contact with others just in the street or at the supermarket or talking to colleagues and friends, just being and not stressing myself to come up with the next thing to say and just allow myself to breathe and be in the moment, a lot opens up and we just give ourselves permission. So how can you give yourself that permission right now? In fact that actually brings us to our actions steps.
You action steps for today it to seek out silence and sit in it. Oh great, it sounds terrible, right? So find a situation where you … maybe there’s some people talking or with your … where you’re with a friend or maybe you’re on the phone with someone. Find a situation where there’s that natural lull or pause or you just don’t have anything to say in that moment and instead of freaking out, hastily trying to grab something, “Oh so, how about that game? Right? Where you kind of scramble for something to talk about, instead, breathe three times in a row and don’t say anything to them.
Breathe in breathe out, notice your body, notice the environment, notice the colors around you, hear the sounds around you, if there’s music playing, if there’s voices, notice the other person, just relax and be for three breaths and see what emerges, maybe they say something. Maybe you say something, you know what, maybe a moment of pause and breath and reflection is what you both need in that moment. There’s tremendous power and freedom in that. So, experiment with that this week, let me know how it goes. Send your messages to draziz@shrinkfortheshyguy. We have a couple of questions that came in recently and we’re answering some of those over the next few episodes and until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome. Talk to you soon.
Thanks for listening to Shrink for the Shy Guy with Dr. Aziz. If you know anyone who can benefit from what you’ve just heard, please let them know and send them a link to shrinkfortheshyguy.com. For free blogs, e-books and training videos related to overcoming shyness and increasing confidence, go to socialconfidenceenter.com.
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