HOW-2 Meet Women



Chapter 1



They robbed you of your birthright. Family and peer group ripped from you at an early age the innocent social adeptness of the young. The bullying and being "cut down to size" that passes for socialization scarred your psyche. The fearful result is that you are not just shy, but painfully shy.

There is a place for shy, introspective persons. It is not a comfortable one. These are the creative ones, the ones who develop their minds, the ones who think while others act. They are the ones taken for granted, their worth unrecognized. They are the ones who cannot get dates...


Remember the time you could not think of anything to say to the woman sitting across from you in that little cafe. There was a painful lump in your throat, and you stammered when she looked your way. She smiled at you sympathetically, but still, there was no way to reach out to her, to touch her... and you lost yet another chance to make contact.

Remember that party, when you were standing off to one side by yourself, and the other people were stealing brief glances at you over their shoulders, laughing quietly, giggling, some of them. You approached several of the women, but quickly they found excuses to move away. Finally you walked out into the bitter cold night air, only then to realize that your fly was open.

Remember leaving that one dance, and ahead of you, walking home, was the woman you had danced with for hours. She met your eyes, momentarily, nearly smiled (you thought), but kept walking. You could not quite summon up the courage to approach her, to ask if you could at least accompany her to the nearest subway stop. She walked away into the night, and you never saw her again.

You Can't Get There From Here, Can You?

A gaping chasm splits off the landscape of the shy and lonely from the rest of humanity. This is the great divide between losers and winners, so we are told. What radical transformation, then, would it require to reshape a shy person into an extroverted, socially adept one? Where would you find the kind savior to rescue you from the prison of your loneliness and tutor you in the social skills needed to escape from the four walls of your own head? Where can you learn to care for, to love another?

Personality change is virtually impossible under ordinary circumstances. Likewise, saviors are in ridiculously short supply (and not so easy to recognize when they are found). What shapes your fate is your own perceptions, your old ingrained habits of fear and failure. Others sense how you feel about yourself and mirror your self-image back at you. Face yourself, know thyself, and take your life into your own hands. Become a stronger person and depend no more on fortuitous happenstance, on wishing and hoping.

We are all worms.  But I do believe I am a glowworm.
-- Winston Churchill

Only the bridge of self-acceptance and understanding traverses the narrow passage to our fellow humans. We shy people must of necessity become our own rescuers, teachers and saviors. Yet, if the tools for self-transformation exist, they are difficult to use. Social skills can be learned, as a rule slowly and sometimes painfully, but loneliness is a powerful motivator.

The useful social skills are subtle elaborations of what we already know and do, but of a somewhat higher order. Obvious examples include listening, starting a conversation with a stranger, speaking for an audience (notably the not-so-lowly art of telling jokes), effective writing, and dancing.

Developing Self-confidence

"...only the weak are sent on paths without perils."
Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

Self-confidence flows from the courage to make fundamental choices - choosing to accept risk, to confront failure, and to learn from it. It means testing yourself against adversity, and ultimately defining yourself by your resistance to despair, your defiance of defeat, your endurance in the face of suffering. It means surviving rejection, embarrassment, even total humiliation - finding meaning in them, and coming back stronger than ever. It means building a hard inner core of strength on the network of scar tissue left over from old injuries. It means getting up when you fall and bouncing back from defeats. It means accepting and respecting yourself as you are, with all your flaws and warts.

Self-confidence grows as you discover your strengths and learn to accept your weaknesses. It is not a quality that can be ripped out of the context of personal growth, that can be distilled to a simple formula, that can be indoctrinated by repetition of mantras, that can be applied as a veneer to cover up inner doubts and fears. It radiates from within, as a consequence of clarity of purpose and sheer force of will.

Unlike most people, those who sleepwalk their way through life, the ones to whom self-confidence was spoon-fed as part of the socialization process, you stand out as "weak" and unsure of yourself. Of course, those others are self-confident, they belong to a family, a group, a social circle that nurtures and reinforces their belief in themselves. But it is not rooted deeply within their own self, and there is no steel beneath the surface. Their character lacks the fire-hardening of adversity, and is all the more vulnerable and fragile for it. It requires only one sharp blow, one misfortune or bump to disrupt their 'sense of place', their self-confidence, their fundamental identity.

Exercise #1

Desensitizing yourself to failure.

Recall, and record in minute detail the worst and most humbling failure you can remember. [Dedicate a special section of your journal to this painful task]. Construct a 'timeline' of the incident, and systematically dissect each of your actions and the resulting behavior of the others present. How does one follow from the other? What could you have done differently?

Finally, take pride that you had the resolve to continue living and relating to the persons who witnessed your humiliating pratfall. For all the things you did wrong, there were isolated moments of defiant resistance that ennobled and gave meaning to your abject misery.

Exercise #2

Feeling Good About Yourself

Choose one of the good memories from your past history, the success story you are most proud of. Freeze the scene, the expressions of the people looking on, the feel of your muscles tensing as you realized just what you were up against, your quick assessment of the situation and your decisive action. Now, consider what made that particular experience so empowering for you. Cherish the feelings you had at that singular moment of triumph, and carry an ember of that warm glow with you - always.

Exercise #3

Giving Meaning To Your Life

An insecure, purposeless life needs structure, meaningful pattern, a plan. While a job imposes a structure of sorts on the day, it leaves those long hours of leisure to be disposed of by entertainment and simple time-killing. Is it so surprising then, that insecure people seek approval and reassurance from others, that they lack a sense of personal identity, that they need desperately to fill the terrible void inside them?

What areas in your own life lack structure? Does your daily routine have a purpose, or are you just "running on autopilot"? What changes could you make to give your life more 'solidity', a greater sense of order?

Exercise #4


Help someone among your family, friends, or acquaintances with a self-confidence problem. Give them emotional support, and help validate them as a worthwhile human being.


Becoming reconciled to your flaws and weaknesses gives a realistic perspective on life and strengthens you for the challenges ahead. You gradually come to the realization that you are a worthwhile person, that your struggles toughen and ennoble you, that your most painful failures build character. Grow and learn to take your place in the world.

Of life the mingled wine and brine
I sit and sip pipslipsily.
Anonymous (quoted in an essay of Doug Hofstadter)