It’s not easy for me to approach strangers. I don’t know if this is a particularity of being an introverted person or just a skill some people have and some don’t. Whenever I want to ask someone for something or just talk to someone, I start considering who this person is, whether he/she is busy right now, in a good mood, would be interested in talking to me. Short: I overthink it.

Do you know the story of the hammer in Paul Watzlawick’s ‘The Pursuit of Unhappiness’? (You can read it here.) This is exactly what is going on inside of my head, and I’m probably not alone with this. Why I do this, I can’t really say. I guess we all have our complexes deep inside of us, and the longer we live, the more experiences we gather, the more difficult it becomes to trace them back to a certain point in our lives.

But I know this – thinking that way about simple encounters does not make me happy. Quite the opposite actually, if you interpret so much into every person without talking to them, worry about what they are thinking about you, you’ll only start seeing your worst (at least what you consider your worst) features.

Fortunately I’ve been getting better at this, but it doesn’t come easy to me. There are days when I feel happy and confident and it’s no problem, but then there are days when I need a little push. I can’t really stop thinking about it first, but what I can do is think in a more positive way. Reminding myself of a few points:

  • If I was the person to be approached, how would I react? I’d be happy to help.
  • What’s the worst thing that could happen? The person could say no. That’s it.
  • How often have I actually gotten a negative response? I don’t even remember a single time.
  • It will be rewarding!!

And the last point really is the reason why we should move out of our comfort zone. Last Saturday, I approached two people asking them for a favour. I asked a barista in a favourite café if I could photograph the coffee making process and got a really beautiful series. She let me come behind the counter to see every step and I got a free cappuccino too! And later on I was trying to take some photos with self-timer on a stairway in Croix-Rousse and a woman who was living there came out for a smoke, so I asked her to take the pictures and we even talked for a little bit. Rewarding!

Do you experience similar doubts in social interactions? How do you encourage yourself?


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