I recently returned from Easton Mountain where I led several workshops on anal eroticism. At the opening circle we were doing some simple introductory exercises to help everyone get to know each other a bit better. One of the exercises required everyone to find a partner for a simple 2 or 3 minute process. Many of the men in attendance were frozen and couldn’t begin to find a partner – even for a simple short exercise.
The most common issue I hear from guys is around challenges in finding connection with others. Connection is a basic human need, yet sometimes we get in our own way in finding happiness around connection. While there can be many factors that get in the way of connection, I’ve noticed two primary issues come up over and over again: lack of confidence and fear of rejection.
Lack of confidence takes many forms. For some of us we’re worried that we aren’t the right type for someone. Others may have been subject to ridicule at some point and have given up – I think this is especially important for gay men. Many of whom experienced direct ridicule for who we are.
There’s no magic pill to boost your confidence, but there are some things we can all do to change our outlook. Be yourself. We can only gain self-confidence when we are our genuine selves. In some situations we may feel awkward so we succumb to the temptation to do what we think other people expect. We try to be somebody we are not. But, when we are trying to be someone that we are not, we can’t escape the falseness in denying our true self. This denial adds to the lack self-confidence.
Be kind to ourselves and find a chance to succeed. It is a bigger mistake to always hold back. Try inspiring yourself to give some activity – any activity – a chance. When we avoid the situations we fear, we’re stuck and never attempt anything. It’s all about practice and building self-confidence comes one step at a time. We’re often our own worst enemy. If we can’t be kind to ourself – who is going to be? Find ways to be nice to you. Focus, even if just of a short time, on what we like about us.
Fear of rejection can stop us from taking any risks. Learn to take small steps to put yourself out there. Learn how to fail successfully. Failing successfully means learning something in the process so that we can get up, brush off the dirt and try again.
I’ve felt this issue most of my life. For many years, I was the one hanging around the outside while I thought everyone else was having fun. I thought I was too fat, or too unattractive, or not in the right group. It wasn’t until I got tired of standing on the sidelines and realized that I needed to at least try to get in the game. Yes, sometimes I don’t get what I want, but many times I do and that’s why I keep trying!