“Pete is very charming, and in an open way that invites you to learn to be charming as well. More than that, he is genuine, and helpful, and will help you find the best in yourself.”
T.H. – San Francisco
Part of me wanted to get close with people, but another part had this intense fear that I wasn’t good enough, and that everyone would find out.
Instead of telling people what I really thought or felt, I tried to think of the cool, funny or smart thing to say, as if there was some “correct” response in each situation. And I beat myself up when I didn’t get approval from others.
I tried to act more confident than I felt inside. Each social situation was like a battle to defend this false persona I was pretending to be. But I hated pretending, so I kept quiet when I could. It was easier that way.
Then I learned how to connect on a deeper level
There was one specific moment after an intensive NLP course (Neuro-linguistic programming) I took where I realised everything had changed.
I’d struggled on the first day of the course. Everyone there was like-minded and I watched them connect with each other easily and become friends.
But I was afraid to share. I held back.
“Why is it so hard for me to connect? How is everyone so much better than me?”
I learned some big answers to those questions that week, and that’s the last memory I have where I remember feeling the way I described above. That course was easily one of the best investments I’ve ever made.
One night right after the course I started a conversation with a group of strangers at a hostel we were staying at. It felt different this time. Lighter.
One of the group was a German girl. I went for a walk with her and we started talking about these deeply emotional things that were going on in her life. About her ex boyfriend cheating on her and about how she felt lost in the world, like she didn’t fit in anywhere.
Then she paused…
“I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I’ve never told anyone before. I’ve only known you for two hours but I feel comfortable with you for some reason.”
But over time I got used to hearing that phrase a lot from people:
“I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I feel comfortable around you.”
So I don’t hide who I am anymore, and I don’t pretend to be someone else. I use my genuine internal thoughts and feelings to truly connect with people on a deeper level.
That feeling of not being good enough, that I’d always felt in the background before figuring this out, is gone.
These were some of the lessons that got me there:
- Stop filtering yourself
- Try using your creative mind (feelings) instead of your analytical mind (thoughts).
- Start conversations with strangers.
- Pause to choose the right words when you speak.
- Drop your guard.
- Listen proactively.
- Accept others.
- Choose honesty & integrity.
- Make mistakes.
- Take the lead. Go first.
- Be curious. Be playful.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway.
- Get comfortable with uncertainty.
- Break rules that don’t serve your best self.